News from Dystopia

The Judgmental Auctioneer
Sotheby’s newest star redefines the value of art

It seems like an evening like any other at Sotheby’s, though the buyers know tonight will be anything but standard operating procedure.  Known as a popular spot for trillionaires to embarrass billionaires, Sotheby’s has begun a bold new experiment in auctioneering. Using the personal judgment of their new auctioneer to decide whether wealthy aspirant owners deserve the prestige that comes from owning a certified classic work of human creativity, Sotheby’s has suddenly transformed the art world into something that transcends cash itself.

The bold move was initially viewed as a desperate attention-grab from the auction house, which has been battling to stay relevant in the age of eBay Platinum. It has, however, sparked renewed interest in the novelty of In Real Life (IRL) shopping. This is, in large part, thanks to the forceful presence of The Auctioneer.

Meeting The Auctioneer is a singular experience. The first thing The Auctioneer will tell you, or anyone who happens to be in the same room, about The Auctioneer is that The Auctioneer is the only proper noun or pronoun with which to address The Auctioneer. The second thing, at least in my experience, is that looking The Auctioneer in the eyes is offensive and reflects lessons the viewer must have learned from the white male patriarchy (WMP).

After the polite formalities are observed, The Auctioneer is ready to explain The Auctioneer’s unique style. “The Auctioneer knows what’s right, that’s all anyone needs to know.” The Auctioneer explains to me over a lunch of cavier and goji berries. “The Auctioneer went to the best schools and received the best education, but that’s not what makes The Auctioneer special. The Auctioneer is special because there is only one The Auctioneer. The Auctioneer’s lifelong struggle to enforce acceptance has informed The Auctioneer’s entirely unique, new, and special viewpoint. No one has ever had The Auctioneer’s viewpoint in the history of humanity.”

This spirit of hearty American individualism is on full display when the lights go up and The Auctioneer confidently strides to The Auctioneer’s specially made podium. The opening item of the evening is a beautiful 17th century European landscape (names of paintings and artists withheld out of respect to the new owners). Rather than set standard opening price, The Auctioneer simply glowers at the audience before asking who thinks they deserve the painting.

A hand shoots up, “I do.”

The speaker is a slender man in a gorgeous gown with red and gold trim. The Auctioneer narrows The Auctioneer’s eyes before spitting out a series of seemingly non-sequitur questions about the man’s food habits, political views, favorite charities, exercise schedule, which private school his children attend, and how many hours of sleep he gets each night. Apparently displeased with the response, The Auctioneer shakes The Auctioneer’s head and moves on.

This process repeats itself three more times before The Auctioneer finally seems satisfied with an individual and pronounces, “You deserve this.” The audience gives The Auctioneer a standing ovation before moving on to the next item.

After four of five lots, the most striking aspect of the scene is the absence of dollar values. Not once is the price of a painting discussed, only the quality of the purchaser. Over and over, The Auctioneer quizzes individuals and finds them unworthy, with The Auctioneer’s judgement as the solitary arbiter of value.

When the night’s proceedings conclude I corner a staff member to inquire further. The staff member, who requested anonymity, informs me every person in the audience has more money than god, so determining auction winners via monetary bids had become passé. Looking around, clearly that night’s winners had achieved something greater than merely purchasing a classic work of art, they had passed through a gauntlet and emerged as a validated human.

The judgmental model may not be for everyone, and certainly not for anyone with fewer than triple digit billions, but other industries are beginning to take notice. Certain top-secret classified stores on the Upper East Side are beginning to implement similar quizzes for prospective clients before allowing them to shop. Whether these tests will have the same force sans The Auctioneer remains to be seen.

BENS domestic intel ideas are bad

BENS report (link at bottom, how do you feel about the roster for their Practioners Panel?) from 2015 advocating consolidating US domestic intelligence…

nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙 nope 🐙

Key bad idea passage followed by typical bad idea bullet points:

“There is widespread agreement that our domestic security apparatus must be improved. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are operating without an enterprise-wide concept at the federal level. This shortcoming impedes the federal government’s ability to optimally conduct domestic intelligence activities in support of counterterrorism and related missions and to provide effective oversight of these activities. It also hinders its ability to fully support and use the 800,000 law enforcement officers at the state and local levels in the national effort.”

In English they are saying that elites in America agree we need to scare people into thinking the government should be allowed wider domestic spying and detainment powers in order to stamp out emerging threats using an “enterprise-wide concept” (lol come on guys). The “shortcomings” they claim need addressing are there because the US gov put specific checks in place to make it illegal to spy on its own citizens, something that becomes more and more grey as domestic terrorism gets hyped as a threat. But are you more likely to die in America from a toddler or terrorist? (Hint: http://www.snopes.com/toddlers-killed-americans-terrorists/) Apparently we need an enterprise-wide concept to root out this toddler menace.

What BENS Recommends:

The ensuing recommendations represent those actions that the Practitioners Panel believed offer the most immediate path for substantive improvement to the United States’ domestic counterterrorism posture, while also enhancing civil liberties protections. They include:

• Establishing integrated fusion centers located in the highest-threat areas by enhancing analytic capability and collocating selected federal intelligence components – such as from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs), National Mission Cells, and other relevant federal national security intelligence entities – with state and local law enforcement.🤤 We also need some DATES and OLIVES. Better safe than WATCHING YOUR FAMILY BLOWN TO SMITHEREENS, YOU NAIVE FOOL!

• Increasing the mutual awareness of state and local law enforcement and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces by creating mechanisms to ensure that information about current counterterrorism investigations is shared with state and local partners in real-time, and that closed case information is likewise provided to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) assets so that they can determine whether to pursue independent investigations;😹Yes, let’s turn every local police unit into a Joint Operations Center fighting the evils of cats in trees (probably put there by terrorists, can’t be sure, intel is unclear) and opiates. I promise none of these business leaders had anything to do with the opiate epidemic.

• Enhancing intelligence analyst capabilities and interoperability through the development and application of high-quality, standardized training for intelligence personnel at all levels of government and the application of Goldwater-Nichols style joint duty and joint training protocols; 🙈 Agreed, Barry Goldwater and The John Birch Society were spot on about domestic security issues. And Goldwater-Nichols was a brilliant piece of legislation helping us kill non-Americans more better, i mean, Panama! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldwater%E2%80%93Nichols_Act

• Encouraging the service and retention of high-quality analysts through career path enhancement and incentives; 👩‍⚖️Agree. We need to make sure our serious professionals only come from a few schools of thought, or else how would we ever reach consensus and take action? Gotta take dem actions.

• Bringing greater federal focus on domestic intelligence structures and processes by assigning a Deputy-level officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to manage the programmatic aspects of the federal domestic intelligence effort, and enhancing the use of the Domestic DNI Representatives to bring strategic coordination to the myriad federal agencies operating in the field;😵🤮🤢🤡Bureaucracy will save us all! So this person (wouldn’t it be so progressive if they were trans??? #progress#breakingbarriers) would be in charge of managing DNI reps that would liaise with domestic intel operations? Sounds like some Xtreme synergy to me.

• Establishing a domestic threat framework through an annual, interagency process to assess and prioritize domestic threats and intelligence needs;👨‍💼👩‍💼 Gotta have that annual interagency glad-handing. So sorry to the staff-level pukes for the increased workload. But these PowerPoints will keep us safe, so it’s all worth it.

• Enabling better coordination and management of federal intelligence efforts by including within the definition of the Intelligence Community (IC) those federal entities that undertake domestic intelligence activities but are not now included as members of the IC; thereby enhancing strategic planning and budgeting, and affording intelligence based oversight of their activities; 😧😨😩🤯 Uhhh…more consolidated intel. That sounds like a really, really bad idea to me. And not just from a conspiracy, big-brother perspective, but like, from an operational security perspective it makes the US intel community a much easier target. Increased membership always means increased risk.

• Strengthening the intelligence culture at the FBI by (i) creating a reporting relationship, as determined by the FBI Director, for the Executive Assistant Director (EAD) of the Intelligence Branch to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with respect to intelligence priorities and community management (while preserving its direct reporting relationship to the FBI Director for operational matters); and (ii) enhancing internal recruitment, training and talent management programs for its
intelligence analysts; 😋🤩 I think the intelligence at the FBI could use some strengthening. https://www.wired.com/2011/09/fbi-islam-domination/

• Enhancing the capabilities of DHS’ Office of Intelligence & Analysis by focusing its attention on those missions unique to it, such as critical infrastructure protection; border and transportation security; aggregation of intelligence information from DHS subcomponent agencies (such as Customs and Border Patrol); and providing leadership and assistance to the integrated fusion centers and the remainder of the fusion center network, especially programs for countering violent extremism; and; 🤬🤬🤬 DHS does such a good job with our airports, why not give them purview over all our domestic travel?

• Improving Congress’ ability to provide oversight of domestic intelligence activities by having all domestic intelligence activities authorized and overseen by the Intelligence Committees, and by creating an Intelligence Appropriations Subcommittee in each chamber to appropriate funds to support those activities. 🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️Thank god at least there will be some oversight from our Congress, which 100% does not take money from any of the people who wrote this.

These recommendations do not represent an endpoint for change nor are they a finite solution to confronting the terrorist threats to the homeland. Change must be a constant effort. As the terrorist threats continue to change and adapt, so too must our domestic counterterrorism structures. Failure to adapt will leave the United States vulnerable to terrorist threats that are increasingly difficult for our current structures and processes to manage. If enacted however, the recommendations will move the needle toward increasing the operational efficiency of our domestic counterterrorism enterprise, with proper attention to constitutional protections, at a time when federal, state, and local public safety officials are increasingly aware of the evolving threat and a new Congress provides an opportunity to legislate accordingly. 🍾🍷🍸🍹🍺🍻🥂🥃 There is no endpoint for American wars. War for everyone and war forever. Oh btw, there are young men in Afghanistan, 16 years old, who have never known a day of their life in which America was not bombing some part of their homeland.

👻

https://www.bens.org/f…/Domestic-Security-Report_Feb2015.pdf

American history in under 1000 words:

We exist as part of an unbroken chain of events leading back to the singularity, or the furthest point in the past we currently understand. We have 13.772 billion years of universal history to celebrate and learn from (with an uncertainty of 59 million years. For personal reference, modern humans emerged around 200,000 years ago, modern civilization around 6,000-12,000 (depending on your definition of modern) and figuring out and deciding to use electricity on a mass scale led to increased possibilities around 150 years ago). Instead of celebrating the full richness of our heritage and spelunking for lessons, we fetishize our 250-year old nation-state (the modern idea for the type of western nation-state, currently the most popular method for organizing and socializing large groups of people within defined geographical limits, is generally agreed to have been created in Europe around 369 years ago).

The history of the land in which I was arbitrarily born witnesses the volatile interaction and power disparities between groups of hyper-religious immigrants, kidnapped people forced into slavery because, coincidentally, they were born into a specifically constructed and defined ethnic group, indentured servants shipped from Europe to serve as cheap, unregulated labor in exchange for a promised chance to improve their personal stability and power, and wealthy business interests taking advantage of the lack of oversight the anarchic continent offered. The colonials rebelled far more successfully than their Hindu, East Asian, African, Muslim, or South American colonial counterparts due to a convenient proxy war between France and England, as well as the mitigating benefits of constructed racial attitudes in Europe. The colonial elites then experimented with and debated various social amalgamations and governmental types until finally deciding on a compromised legal document with parameters that appeased all 13 distinct groups of colonial elites.

The nation gained stability and power, due in large part to its geographical location and the logistical difficulties the historical superpowers faced in funding their interests. In a page right out of their former-sovereign’s playbook, the newly-minted United States of America constructed the concepts of “Manifest Destiny” and the “Monroe Doctrine” in order to collect more land, wealth, power, and influence. Fortunately for the former colonists, the Native American civilizations that inhabited the land they wished to acquire were easy prey after diseases brought by European humans and other animals weakened and reduced their populations by 90%. Continuing in the colonial tradition of using race and class based forced labor to progress, the nation eventually achieved its goals by wiping out or subjugating the remaining native survivors. As it established its western border, the young nation-state also looked outwards to other lands ripe for war, subversion, or sabotage.

Tensions between its founding groups came to a head less than 100 years into its creation and the nation split into slave-holding and non-slave holding states until the non-slave holding faction killed enough soldiers from slave-holding faction to force the rebellious region to capitulate to its demands. Unfortunately for the former slave-holding states, the president of the slave-holding states was then assassinated by a radical pro-slavery terrorist group. In response, the replacement non-slave holding leadership enacted a policy of revenge and exploitation in the guise of reconstruction, which decimated the lives of the people living within the reincorporated territory. As a reaction to these destructive policies, many people constructed ideals they believe represented the best of the elites who lost the American Civil War and decided to enact their own plan of revenge by terrorizing groups of newly freed slaves. Many of these freed slaves, though still officially oppressed, moved north, altering the racial dynamics of fairly homogenous northern communities. Less than 100-years later, through extensive domestic efforts, all former slaves and women (who were unable to vote for 150 years of the nation’s history) achieved de jure, if not de facto, rights within the shifting country.

During its near history, the United States of America regularly used abstract ideals specifically defined to justify its expansive foreign agenda and oppress domestic attempts to balance power between labor and capital. Victory in World War Two (a war primarily caused by Japanese-American trade relations and post-World War One’s excessively harsh punishments of the German people), along with an all-consuming global proxy war with a near-peer ideological enemy, were of vital importance to the socialization regime the United States Government used to instill a strong national identity in its population. The propaganda derived from these events also served a crucial role in evoking and maintaining dominion over the particular ideals the nation claimed as its own.

In the age of the Internet, the nation has seen a resurgence in the domestic unrest temporarily suppressed in the 1960s. During the 1960s, the combination of new psychologically manipulative military training, a proxy war in Southeast Asia, a draft to thin the ranks of subversives, new policing tactics for the War on Drugs justifying pretenses for mass incarceration of oppressed group, and domestic political subversions and assassinations, the United States Government was able to prevent the turmoil from getting out of hand. By moving consumerism to the center of their citizen’s lives, the government stabilized and prospered.

Unfortunately in 1991, the USSR, the other side of the delicate bi-polar global power structure of the cold war, collapsed, leaving the United States as a global hegemon without a raison d’être. Nationalistic and militaristic rhetoric propagated by a government struggling to justify ongoing international involvement exacerbated yet-to-be-healed historical grievances from oppressed domestic groups. In less oppressed groups, these grievances aggravated latent resentments towards the ad hoc, incomplete, or violent official attempts to mend a deeply socialized divide. This, along with official alarmism about the newly created state enemy, the “Muslim Menace”, set tensions high in the nation and contributed to upticks in domestic instability.

There are a lot of lessons to learn from this, but it’s important to remember it’s only 250 years of our 13.772 billion year history (with an uncertainty of 59 million years). There are a lot of lessons to learn elsewhere as well.

Rick and Morty is just fine

Radicalized fanatics of anything are annoying and wrong, particularly when the thing they’re radicalized fans of is fine otherwise. The radicalized fanatics of Rick and Morty are no different. I’m not surprised people looking for a one-stop-shop worldview idolize Rick. Radicalized fanatics of every worldview misinterpret and twist external inputs to fit their unaddressed internal neurosis. The need for control to mitigate the natural human fear of the unknown is a natural evolutionary mechanism, though arguably a fairly destructive one outside the hunter-gather context. Rick offers an easy answer to create a feeling of control by offering the idea that the existence of infinite realities and an infinitely large universe serves as proof that individual consciousness is meaningless, and therefore narcissism and self-interest are not only justified, but rational.

The problem is that while Rick is smarter than everyone about everything, he’s also an old, damaged human stuck in his impressive but still limited constructs when it comes to understanding his own consciousness and how it impacts his life. This simple fact makes his feeling of external control merely an illusion. External control, even on the scale Rick has achieved, is worthless without the accompanying internal control, a fact Rick recognizes about himself and with which he clearly can’t cope (wabalubadubdub). As Susan Sarandon’s awesome cameo character monologues at Pickle Rick, “Rick, the only connection between your unquestionable intelligence and the sickness destroying your family is that everyone in your family, you included, use intelligence to justify sickness. You seem to alternate between viewing your own mind as an unstoppable force, and as an inescapable curse. And I think it’s because the only truly unapproachable concept for you is that it’s your mind within your control. You chose to come here. You chose to talk, to belittle my vocation, just as you chose to become a pickle. You are the master of your own universe. And yet you are dripping with rat blood and feces. Your enormous mind literally vegetating by your own hand. I have no doubt you would be bored senseless by therapy. The same way i’m bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is: it’s not an adventure. There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s just work. And the bottom line is: some people are okay going to work and some people… well, some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose.” Rick’s intelligence, and his self-aware knowledge of his own intelligence, facilitates great moments in Science. However, when paired with his unaddressed neurosis, this power also amplifies the destructive force of his inevitable self-destructive behavior.

Rick is a character to learn from, but not emulate. He’s a cautionary tale about a man who believes intelligence is to be singularly valued at the expense of all else. That man is wrong, and Rick and Morty is proving why.

Human creativity can imagine right just as easily as it can imagine wrong. Telling the difference between the two and then implementing your conclusions into your present reality is the great challenge offered to all conscious beings.

North Korea

I keep hearing people and US officials claim that the threat of a North Korean nuclear strike potentially “incinerating” a US city is the reason we must consider a preventive strike. Let’s talk about this using facts.

The North Korean government is led by Kim Jong Un.

The American government is led by Donald Trump.

The North Korean nuclear arsenal is estimated at about 13-30 warheads with a payload of 10-30 kilotons each.

The American nuclear arsenal is more complicated to explain, so here are some quick facts from Brookings to serve as an overview:

– The largest nuclear weapon type currently in the U.S. stockpile, the B83, has a yield of 1.2 megatons (1,200 kilotons)

– America has 7 types of nuclear weapon in its arsenal: W76 and W88 warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs); W78 and W87 warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); W80 warheads for the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM); and B61 (multiple variants) and B83 gravity bombs. Under the “3+2” plan, it is proposed over time to reduce the warhead types to three warheads for ballistic missiles, one gravity bomb (B61) and one warhead for ACLMs.

– Known as the “Davy Crockett,” the W54 weapon, a small nuclear warhead with a weight of 51 pounds fired by a recoilless gun mounted on a jeep, has the shortest range, 1.42 miles of any nuclear shell.

– America has officially lost and not recovered 11 nuclear weapons

– Under most scenarios, Donald Trump, the president of America, could have an ICBM carrying a nuclear payload in the air in 12 minutes.

– America has 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. Typically, at any one time two of these submarines are in long-term overhaul, meaning that 12 are normally operationally available. Four other submarines of the Ohio-class have been converted to carry conventionally-armed cruise missiles in place of SLBMs.

– Each Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine has 24 launch tubes. Under the New START Treaty, four tubes on each submarine will be converted so that they are incapable of launching an SLBM and thus will not be counted against the treaty’s limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers plus deployed and non-deployed nuclear-capable bombers. The U.S. Navy plans that the Ohio-class submarine’s replacement will have 16 launch tubes.

– America conducted 28 “deterrence patrols” with its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines in 2012, ten by submarines based at King’s Bay, Georgia and 18 by submarines based at Bangor, Washington. The patrols last on average 70 days.

– America maintains 94 nuclear-capable heavy bombers maintained by the United States. This includes B-2 and B-52 bombers.

– America has an estimated 200 B61 nuclear gravity bombs deployed forward at bases in Europe for possible use by U.S. and NATO-allied air forces

– Five states are home to Minuteman III missile launch sites (Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming).

– America currently has 450 deployed Minuteman III ICBMs maintained by the United States. Under the New START Treaty, the U.S. Air Force plans to reduce the number of deployed Minuteman III ICBMs to 400-to-420.7

– The largest ballistic missile warhead currently in the U.S. stockpile, the W88 carried by the Trident II SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missile), is 455 kilotons.

– America has 778 total deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and nuclear-capable bombers as of March 1, 2014 (the New START limit is 700).[9]

– At the peak of the Cold War, America had 950 nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea.

– America conducted 1,030 nuclear tests before they were banned in 1992.

– America has 1,800-1,850 estimated warheads on deployed U.S. ICBMs and SLBMs. This also includes the number of nuclear bombs and air-launched cruise missiles at bases for deployed U.S. nuclear-capable bombers once the United States reaches the New START limit of 1,550 deployed warheads. The difference reflects the fact that, while New START counts all warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, it only attributes each deployed nuclear-capable bomber as one warhead, when the bombers can carry many more.

– America has around 2,700 nuclear weapons that have been retired from the stockpile and are awaiting dismantlement. There is a significant backlog in dismantling weapons.

– America had a total of 3,200 non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed forward in the Pacific region—Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, the Philippines and Taiwan—at their peak in 1967. The number began to decline after 1967, falling to 1,200 by 1977. The last forward-deployed nuclear weapons in the Pacific region were withdrawn in 1991.

– America has an estimated 4.650 total nuclear weapons—strategic and non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed—in the U.S. nuclear stockpile as of January 2014 (does not count an additional 2,700 retired weapons that await dismantlement).

– America had an estimated 7,304 non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed forward in Europe at their peak in 1971.

– America had an estimated 31,255 nuclear weapons in its nuclear stockpile at its peak in 1967.
From other sources:

– America has an extensive missile defense system comprised of (according to open source, unclassified intelligence) ground-based interceptor missiles, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, Airborne systems, and Shorter-range anti-ballistic missiles. These systems have questionable reliability, but have seen successful tests.

If North Korea were to launch an ICBM with multiple targets, we need only look to America’s bombing own of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only nuclear weapons ever used, to understand the impact this might have on our population.

The 12-18 kiloton blast had a radius of about 1 mile, with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles, according to a report from the U.S Nuclear Defense Agency. In 1942, Hiroshima was around 350 square miles and had a population of around 420,000, making the population density roughly 1,200 humans per square mile. The deaths from the blast were somewhere between 70,000 and 130,000 human lives. Similarly, Nagasaki had a population of 240,000, with a density of roughly 154 humans/mi². However, between 40,000-80,000 humans were killed by America by the 18-23 kiloton Nagasaki bomb. This means that when making any calculation we can’t simply take the population density into consideration, but have to also consider the swollen population of a city during business hours. For example Manhattan, where I live, has an area of 22.82 square miles and a population of over 1.6 million, making the population density roughly 71,000 humans/mi². However, during an average workday the population swells to nearly 4 million, increasing the population density to around 175,000 humans/mi². (Note: these are all very rough estimates and I am not an expert in nuclear weaponry. Additional calculations for wind speed, weather, and radiation seepage would be needed to fully realize the number of casualties.)

With this in mind, and acknowledging New York City has the highest population density in the United States, North Korea’s maximum casualty expectation for a single nuclear detonation of 30 kilotons (I’m assuming a radius of 2 miles with 16mi² of fires), if centered in the densest part of our densest city during peak hours would be around 2-3 million, or around .9% of the total U.S population.

It is not merely highly unlikely that North Korea will ever strike the United States, it is highly improbable their capabilities, both in distance and precision, will allow them to reach our most densely populated city, leaving them with sub-optimal options if numbers of casualties is their goal. Their most likely targets, due to the increased limitations the distance to the east coast entails, would be Anchorage, Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Each of these cities has a significantly reduced population density compared to their east coast counterparts. This is not to say that a North Korean attack wouldn’t be intensely traumatic for the American people, but rather that North Korea in no way poses an existential threat requiring an unprecedented and illegal preventive strike.

The same cannot be said for the level of threat America poses to North Korea, or the entire world for that matter. The American arsenal, controlled by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is capable of bringing about what is called a “nuclear winter”, a doomsday scenario that would see most life on Earth wiped out. While it is understandable and admirable the United States believes the world is better off if fewer nations have nuclear weapons, it is of little consolation when it retains 4,650 nuclear devices with up to 1.2 megaton payloads, 40 times stronger than North Korea’s strongest weapon.

With these facts in mind, it seems absurd for the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to claim the right and necessity of a preventive strike. A hegemonic militaristic nation with thousands more nuclear weapons many times more powerful than North Korea’s is claiming it feels threatened because theoretically North Korea could use its weapons against one of its cities. This is not reasonable foreign policy for a nation that spends more on its military than its nearest seven competitors combined. Combined.

It becomes even less reasonable when we consider the 150,000 American expats and roughly 28,500 US service members currently stationed in North Korea. If the claim is that the loss of American life is unacceptable (which implies the loss of non-American lives is more acceptable, a morality I personally find reprehensible), having people die “over there”, as Lindsay Graham has stated Donald Trump told him, does not mean American lives will be spared. In fact the loss of so many American lives would most likely lead to further military engagement with North Korea, resulting in an even greater loss of American lives (though admittedly these lives belong to members of the United States military, which I remain unconvinced the American government considers worth preserving).

Having participated in the multiple war games the United States conducts each year in South Korea in which it practices invading North Korea and overthrowing its regime, I can safely say I understand why North Korea might feel threatened and why they are currently attempting to demonstrate to the world that any attack would result in devastating consequences for their neighbors.

My unit when I was stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea for two years (2011-2013) was 210 Fires Brigade. Our stated mission was (and remains) “On order, 210th Field Artillery Brigade provides fires in support of Air Combat Command and Ground Combat Command’s counter fire fight. On order, transitions to offensive operation.” The common joke among my fellow Soldiers of the brigade was that we were simply a speed bump for North Korea’s million man army. However, from this vantage point, I was able to understand the full scope of the artillery batteries we were supposed to counter-fire if combat were to kick off. In fact, a year or so before I arrived in Korea the brigade was very nearly called on to provide this type of retaliatory fire during the yeonpyeong island incident of 2010. Fortunately, the situation did not escalate and the relatively stable peace was maintained. Regardless, the array of artillery batteries lined up in North Korea targeting Seoul are frankly terrifying, as they are well protected and prepared to launch at a moment’s notice, devastating a city of 24 million people.

Though usually not as serious as the yeonpyeongdo or the ROKS Cheonan incidents, tensions between North and South Korea have remained high throughout the decades-long armistice, often exacerbated by the presence of the US military. At any time since first acquiring nuclear weapons (2005-2006ish), North Korea could have used these weapons to attack their southern neighbor, with whom they are still technically at war. They have not done so, even at times of extremely high tension. It’s not in the interest of the North Korean government nor would any resulting scenario end in their favor. Therefore it is my conclusion that these nuclear weapons are simply bargaining chips the hermit kingdom uses to maintain their tenuous place in the global order.

With this established, my question is: why are is the United States rocking the boat?

While the armistice is not ideal and the North Korean government has repeatedly brutalized its own people (though South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and every other country involved have brutalized their own people as well at various points throughout history, so it’s hard to take any sort of sanctimonious hand wringing about that point seriously), right now we have peace and stability. There is a path out of this scenario that maintains that peace and stability, but in the interest of whatever their goal is the government of the United States is pushing the boundaries of that peace. If something happens, it is not because of the actions of North Korea, or South Korea, or Russia, or China, which are all relatively predictable constants. Rather it would be because of the actions of the United States, which makes up the unpredictable variable in this equation thanks to its tumultuous and money-soaked democracy, which was on full display with the election of Donald Trump.

It is important to note that an individual entity, whether human or government, only has control over its own actions. The actions of others are outside our control, but can be influenced by deliberate behavior meant to assure, induce, coerce, or fool. The question I hope the United States is constantly asking itself is, “Are the actions of our nation contributing to or detracting from global peace and stability.” At the moment I’m afraid the Unites States is in the latter category, which, as Newton informs us, will have consequences proportional to the size of our dominating influence.

(As this is not an official paper I did not do a very good job of citing my sources. If anyone is interested in where I got this information I am extremely happy to take the time to share that with you. If no one cares I appreciate it because I’m lazy and like to get away with the least amount of work necessary to get my point across so I can go back to watching tv, playing video games, talking to friends, listening to music, or whatever else helps distract me from the soul-crushing possibilities this potential conflict might bring about.)

Fear of Muslims

12391411_10106867914950305_434552525704000528_n If you are afraid of Muslims you are not just a coward, you are a stupid coward.

I spent nearly every day during this past year of my life in Afghanistan talking to Muslims about and assisting Muslims with their own fight against terrorist and political organizations senselessly slaughtering their friends, families, and neighbors. The Muslims I spoke with were armed and some had family ties to Daesh or the Taliban or at least a decent reason to want to kill me. There were reasons for increased caution and extra security measures, certainly, but to spend each day, in a war-zone mind you, living in fear of Muslims was absolutely not an option. I wasn’t afraid because I was brave, rather it was simply because I wasn’t stupid. There will always be risks, and you do your best to mitigate those risks, but to accomplish your mission you must identify your goal and take actions that reflect that goal, and not let yourself be driven by your fear of what might happen if X or if Y or if Z. In the same way, the roots of Daesh lie in the disenfranchisement and economic exploitation of a large segment of the Arab population after years of imperialists looting the culture and economies followed by post-imperial dictators leading these hollowed out and crudely cobbled together nations propped up by the west as long as they were economically compliant. And of course, specifically, our invasion of Iraq and policy choices over the last 13 years. Defeating this organization and the slew of like minded groups that will inevitably spawn from their ideas will take many years of repairing relations, cultural integration and compromise from both ends, internal economic development, and political stability and self determination. If we decide some radical clash of civilizations is the only way, rather than committing to the policies previously mentioned, which will, make no mistake, see terrorist acts taking a limited number of innocent lives in the years to follow, we are sentencing ourselves to eternal global war and millions upon millions of future tragedies. Being afraid of Muslims because of some lunatic right-wing fantasy about global Christian holy war and the end of days with an epic clash of civilizations is playing into the hands of the American version of Daesh as well as the Muslim version. They are two sides of the same coin and they want to control you through paranoia and fear. Fear that the “other”, be it Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, is only waiting for their opportunity to stab you in the back if you open the door to them.

So once again, if you are afraid of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world because of Daesh and their goals, then not only are you a coward, you are a stupid coward. We are at war with radicalization of all stripes and thinking there will not be casualties in the future is naive. However, cowardly appeasement of the enemy’s goals such as abusing Muslims and treating the entire population like members or potential members of Daesh means you are actively working against the interest and security of this nation.

Response to Pulse murders

The hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance surrounding the gun violence in our country has reached a fever pitch this weekend. In the same 24-hour period, in the same city, two incidents of extreme gun violence occurred. The first was committed by a 27-year-old male of European descent who shot a 22-year-old female singer in the head before he turned his gun on himself. This was premeditated as he drove two hours from his home to a city where she was signing autographs specifically to kill her. The second was a 29-year-old male of Afghan descent who entered a nightclub and killed or injured over 100 people. This was also premeditated, as he was apparently upset when he saw two men kissing in front of his wife and child the day prior. What is the difference then? According to many commentators and media outlets, one man was motivated by his religion, and the other man was motivated by…something else, we’re still figuring it out apparently.

This interpretation of gun violence, that a shooter’s motivation is based on a coherent religious or ideological thought, is a bald lie we tell ourselves every time there is an incident. Yes, the nightclub shooter used Islam and even ISIS as an excuse to give his brain permission to commit this act and cast himself as a hero in the celestial struggle between Islam and the evils of the West, but focusing on this as an act of “Islamist Terrorism” is a gross absurdity. It excuses our own thinking and lets us believe if only we stamp out this one brand of radical thought we can be safer.

For some context, in the same time frame there were 43 other incidents in America involving guns, resulting in 28 deaths and 31 injuries. This is in a single 24-hour period. So far in 2016 there have been 23,158 incidents involving guns resulting in 5,931 deaths and 12,144 injuries. Of these, 134 were mass shootings (four or more shot and/or killed in a single event, at the same general time and location not including the shooter).

To focus on gun violence only when really big events happen or the motivation behind the violence (racism, homophobia, terrorism, ISIS, etc) makes for an interesting narrative fails to explain the core of a violence that is deeply rooted in our society. Rather than look at these extemporaneous “motivations”, we must understand this core if we are ever truly to reduce the amount of violence we see from guns in America.

From 2002-2012 88% of homicides (of all types, not just guns, but I am extrapolating that this number holds as roughly the same when looking at gun-only homicides) were committed by men. For mass shootings over 98% of perpetrators are male. So if we look at gun violence in America in terms of constants and variables, a certain pattern emerges, particularly in mass shootings. Guns are a means to enhance one person’s physical power over another, whether to inflict death, injury, or simply the threat of death or injury, well beyond their personal strength or physical capacity. By interpreting and focusing on this function of guns, the use of guns by males is then understood as the assertion of their power or dominance (in this case the power of life or death) in a situation they would normally be unable to assert themselves with a balance of power so extremely skewed in their favor.

In an instant a man transforms from a position where their power had been stripped from them into a man who is now more powerful by far than anyone in his immediate vicinity. So if you are a man who had your “power” stripped by a celebrity woman (or any woman) who “thought she was better than you” or didn’t realize you were her one true love or rejected your hundreds of very nice emails or called security on you when you were just trying to see her at her house or apartment you spent a lot of time tracking down, you can take that power back in an instant. Or if you are a man who had your power stripped from you when you were walking down the street of Miami and saw two men kissing in front of your wife and child, emasculating you when you were unable to do anything because you live in a society where this thing you disagree with is accepted, you can take back your masculinity and power by shooting homosexuals who are part of the group who stole it from you. Really, if you are any man who needs to express their dominance for any reason, maybe someone cuts you off in traffic, or they didn’t show you the proper respect when they walked by you, or maybe even its not a specific reason, you’ve just felt powerless for a while and need to feel powerful for once, a gun is always available to you because we live in America.

The manner of the excuse to justify violence (racism, homophobia, religion, morality, etc) is immaterial. Men will always find an excuse and even revel in putting their violence in a larger context (inciting a race war, continuing the cosmic battle between Islam and the West, fighting the American government’s “jackboot thugs” to prevent them from taking over…the America(?), stopping the reptilians from taking over humanity, etc). We must understand that the cause of violence in America is the male quest to retake their power.

And this, the root of American gun violence, is why we must reform our gun laws. Now for whatever reason we have all agreed as a nation that our founding fathers were the most intelligent people who ever lived and would be really good at making laws in 2016 even without having any knowledge of how the world worked in 2016. We also all agree, for some reason, that that they obviously had assault rifles and hand guns in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment, so making guns entirely illegal seems to be off the table. Additionally, people still say they feel safer when they have a gun around even because there are all these “bad guys with guns” running around out there (and apparently it wouldn’t be better to arrest them before they shoot someone…?) who are just waiting for you to lose your right to bear arms before invading your home or attacking you on the street. With that being said, I think I have an idea that might satisfy all party’s needs while still reducing gun violence.

Make guns legal, but only for women. Make it literally illegal for a man, who is not in law enforcement, to even touch a gun. And if a woman wants to own a gun, make sure she has to go through extensive training and yearly recertifications so that she knows how to use that sucker like a pro. This means that when a bad guy with a gun comes around, you, the nervous man of the house, can always rely on your female partner to competently protect you. If you’re single and scared, find a woman you can be friends with and rely on to quickly come to your aid should you need it. This would have the added benefit of perhaps also reducing the gender disparity in domestic violence/sexual assaults rates in America.

This, however, is a short term solution. The long term solution is to reform masculinity itself. Unfortunately this is a global, generational issue seen in males in nearly every culture and nation. The current definition of masculinity is toxic to our society and must adapt to modern civilization. Perhaps it served when we lived in sparse tribes who were constantly warring and defending what little they had, but it no longer has a place in our modern culture. It is a vestigial behavior currently responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the globe every year based on nothing more than feelings of hurt pride or the desire to assert of personal power. Changing the way men think about themselves is essential if we want to reduce violence. However, this is admittedly difficult to legislate and requires an overall societal sea change, one I truly hope we are pursuing as a society.

So that’s my idea to help reduce gun violence anyways, what’s yours?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that in the next 24 hours another 50 people will have their lives ripped apart by gun violence. And then in the next 24 hours after that. And then after that. And after that. Indefinitely, every month, every year. If we do not do something, anything, anything at all about gun violence in America, we should stop pretending we care when this happens and just understand it’s a price we are willing to pay for loving guns more than we love human beings.

Statistics retrieved from: http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

Yanis Varoufakis lets us know

From back in April, but here’s a brilliant interview with economist and former (however briefly) Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on some of the overarching trends affecting Europe today, what Brexit means (good foresight on Boris Johnson here), why anyone on the left who supported or is celebrating Brexit is missing the forest for the trees, insight into the destructive austerity measures imposed by Brussels and the IMF on Greece through the bailout packages, and hope for the left in both Europe and America.

European problems are American problems are global problems. If you don’t care about these issues you don’t care about your neighbor, your family, or yourself. We on the left always have to be more informed than those on the right because our currency is in measured deliberation, aspirational pragmatism, and incremental realism rather than the fearful, hateful, and delusional solutions of the forces we oppose.

Humanity is on the edge of a cliff with the environment, inequality in the global economy and how it relates to our democracies, and international and domestic relations between the West and Islam. This is not said to instill fear, but rather to stress the importance of educating ourselves, mobilizing, organizing, and working to change our world. There are practical, common sense solutions to these problems we can work to implement, but only if we work together, both online and offline, as a movement. For Americans on the left, Bernie Sanders is not the end, but rather a potential beginning to our mass movement to change the way our country works. Right now, however, it is only potential. We cannot let this chance pass us by after we’ve seen how many of us believe the future should not be based in the fear-mongering of the Donald Trumps of the world, but rather on a vision of equality and human dignity we tirelessly strive towards.

I don’t want to get too wonky, but I’ve always been a big fan of John Rawls’s “veil of ignorance” (in a nutshell it’s a thought experiment where you have to create a society where you don’t know your place and therefore could end up as anyone anywhere. The theory is the society’s creator is more likely to base the structure of their society on equality rather than class-interest as they are motivated to create a world where no matter who they end up as (they are randomly placed or “born” after they create the society), their lot isn’t too bad) and I like to think these ideas still have relevance in a world where the political discussion has been reduced to trading insulting tweets back and forth. It’s easy to lose sight of these core principles and how complicated it is to decide what is right when our rhetoric is based on how clever a barb we can craft in 160 characters or less. It is our job to not only demand a higher level of discourse, but to engage and create that discourse ourselves with people we both agree and disagree with.

In one of my very, very favorite political treatise, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, about one of my very, very favorite political ideas, the breaking of the oppressor/oppressed cycle of violence through education (among other things), Paulo Freire discusses the importance of this constant learning and dialogue, “For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” By teaching one another, sharing ideas and thoughts through a synthesis of thesis and antithesis, we are filling-in our inherently incomplete natures; helping one another realize the fullness of our humanity. Meet fear and hate with a bulwark of knowledge, always. This sounds idealistic, but to patiently and resolutely inform is one of the best ways to impact the world around you. It can be dangerous for the educator, it can be deadly, but it can also be effective. Find an audience who disagrees with you then learn from them, learn what you can teach them, learn how you can teach them, and help them paint the edges of their self.

It’s true that the burden to educate falls inordinately on certain races, genders, or classes, and it’s unfair, deeply, deeply unfair. Recognizing this unfairness, it’s understandable that exhaustion can set in when one must survive daily assaults on the mind and body other demographics can barely (or can’t possibly) fathom, and the idea of educating those involved in direct or tacit assaults seems beyond the pale. This is why those who consider themselves allies from less-oppressed demographics must first help influence and structure a society that empowers more-oppressed demographics and frees them to teach us and others the essential lessons and knowledge they have to share. If we do not speak out loud and often as a conduit and vessel to amplify the voice of our exhausted and assaulted brothers and sisters, we are failing in our role as allies. We should be working ourselves out of business by shaping a world where our more-oppressed compatriots no longer need our help to amplify their demands because they are fully represented in our collective politics, culture, and society by members of their own group; an equal place at the table where we can equally share ideas and thoughts to help ourselves and our civilization grow and prosper. It is through cultural uniformity that we create fear and weakness in a society, and it is through diversity that we nurture knowledge and strength, but only if we, the left, those who believe in creating a better world, commit to true integration and dialogue.

We do have power, we can change things, and there is still hope. Let’s get to work in the best way you know how. If you’re curious on how you can be most effective, please ask and open a dialogue. I will help in the best way I can.

Threat Overview

I want to take a moment away from post-election coverage to look at some of the other big picture issues impacting the world right now. Specifically I’d like to discuss six aspects of human society in 2016 currently impacting global trends. They are:

1. Nationalism
2. Terrorism
3. Democracy
4. 24-hour corporate owned news and social media
5. Economic inequality
6. Climate change

The interplay between nationalism and terrorism is at the heart of today’s global politics. They are so common they have transitioned from variables to constants in any reasonable equation predicting how the world will look in ten years. There WILL be more terrorist attacks and there WILL be nationalists scapegoating demographics they feel are culpable for those attacks. One follows the other in a toxic ouroboros of hatred, fear, and violence that serves both sides quite well, leaving everyone in between with an unpleasant choice: supporting the cesspool of culture and thought in closest proximity to their identity, or attempting to navigate an ever-shrinking and besieged middle ground that calls for humanity to ignore its natural instinct for revenge.

This is where democracy enters the equation. The type of terrorism we are discussing has never sought to defeat its adversary’s overwhelmingly powerful military forces. That is simply not possible. The existential threat this terrorism poses to the world is found in the impact its attacks have on the delicate electorate of a democratic society. Though I am a committed egalitarian and do truly believe in democratic principles, it must be said that the greatest weakness in any democracy is that everyone gets to vote. While this can be a strength in a diverse, well-educated, equal, stable nation, terrorist and nationalist forces exploit this weakness in order to advance their own agendas and enhance their power in nations with electorates susceptible to their tactics.

Though these three factors have coexisted in the past, the addition of the 24-hour news cycle and the proliferation and ubiquity of social media as a source of information has fundamentally changed the magnitude of the impact these forces have on the electorate of a democracy. As readership dwindled and the majority of the population of many democracies came to expect free news either online or from television, the bottom-line for independent news organizations collapsed. The fact that hard, impartial news gains far fewer eyes and attention (which translates to clicks and dollars) than sensationalism, bombastic opinions, and puff, is not lost on the corporations that snapped up and conglomerated large parts of the journalism sector. With agendas in place and an unstable budget to protect, citizens of many democracies have been exposed to the constant drumbeat of what amounts to common propaganda in search of the greatest number of eyes (read: clicks). One of the most powerful drivers of clicks is the ability to evoke an emotional response in your reader, listener, or viewer; and one of the easiest ways to do this is through fear. The use of fear, particularly in the face of this brand of terrorism, is one of the defining features of today’s media culture. Through this fear, nationalists and their supporters around the world have established a banner to rally around: “You should be afraid. You need protection. We will protect you.”

This alone, however, is not enough to explain the incredible rise of nationalism on both the right and left. There have always been xenophobes sowing fear of the other in response to real or perceived threats, and the modern 24-hour news cycle and social media outlets may have boosted their megaphones, but this is not the single determining factor in their ascent. Here is where the age of massive global economic inequality comes into play. While the topic is expansive, suffice it to say that inequality within the global economy has increased to an incredible degree. I’ve written previously on the extent and structure of this increase, but I encourage you to explore the issue for yourself as it is one of the defining features of our time. The use of tax-loopholes, esoteric financial investment products, international tricks like corporate inversions, race-to-the-bottom tactics, and the use of tax shelters like art and real estate, all legal and even promoted by the governing bodies of democratic nations, has seen the consolidation of extreme wealth into smaller and smaller portions of our society. With this consolidation of risk and the subsequent crises it has caused and will cause again (2008 being the clearest example), the electorate of these democratic nations, who have time and again voted against their own economic interest due to the propaganda of fear and misinformation produced by a media controlled by these same self-interested corporations, has reached a breaking point in its anger. This anger, however, is not aimed in a specific direction, as the sources of information the electorate relies upon either do not wish or are mandated not to point the finger at their own corporate owners who use these very same methods. Therefore the energy and anger is repurposed by opportunists interested in creating the narrative of an ominous “other” and directed outward towards this supposed source of their woe. Rather than result in a call for greater equity in the global economy, the hardship and suffering created by economic inequality in a democratic electorate becomes more fuel for the cycle of violence between nationalists and terrorists.

Finally, with the world already facing the bleak prospect of an inevitable rise of nationalism as electorates respond to these inputs, we have already crossed a point of no return for climate change. Climate change will serve to exacerbate these issues in an already tense world as weather patterns become more extreme and ocean levels rise. This will create millions of refugees in need of resettlement. As we have already witnessed through the Syrian refugee crisis, even a world not yet replete with nationalist forces in power is incapable of accommodating such a massive scale of human movement, thus creating fertile ground for terrorist organizations in need of new recruits. By ignoring these humanitarian crises, wealthier parts of the world promote resentment within suffering populations, which in turn creates individuals susceptible to the siren call of the radical. If their life is full of stark suffering in need of immediate relief and all the nations of the world close their doors, the refugee is at the mercy of the few organizations willing to take people in, regardless of their politics.

I say this not to predict doom and gloom, but rather to encourage my fellow voters to understand what is happening in the world, and what is at stake. Politics neither starts nor ends with presidential elections, regardless of who wins. Politics is not something we do once every four years and then forget. Politics is ongoing, every single minute of every single day. We, as voters, must understand this and educate and participate accordingly. There are still quality sources of information in the world, and ways to circumvent the constant hum of fear and corporate shilling present in nearly all major media outlets. The best defense is knowledge, action, awareness, and the ability to educate others. We are standing on a precipice now, not just in America but the entire human race. Nationalism is on the march across the globe with nothing standing between it and the destruction it seeks but electorates capable of nominating Donald Trump, voting for Brexit, rejecting the FARC peace deal, voting for fascists in Austria, Germany, France, and other EU nations, installing Duterte in the Philippines, removing article 9 from the Japanese constitution, demanding war with Pakistan from India’s Modi, et cetera et cetera and on and on. The point is we have a lot of work to do, and not much time to do it.

American corruption

Great article from Sarah Chayes on corruption in the US. The linked video of Alex Pareene on CNBC talking about the corruption of JP Morgan, which is then disdainfully rejected by the HxC capitalist apologists at CNBC, is fascinating to watch from a variety of perspectives.

First, thinking about it from the point of view of a Trump voter and how the nameless entrenched elites (Clinton in particular) must be held accountable, but with an odd qualifier that rich people are exempt due their “brilliant” ability to acquire more wealth. When wealth = virtue, this sort of cognitive dissonance is understandable. So would the working class Trump voters sneer alongside the CNBC hosts when they snidely declare using the word “corruption” is hyperbolic when describing…corruption? Some would, I’m assuming, but not all. To reach these voters, we need to decouple the ideas of wealth, hard work, and virtue. There are a few routes we can take here, but demonstrating blatant corruption from banks, a point I think left-wing liberals and Trump voters can come together on, is a good place to start. While doing this, we have to be careful to not directly attack the idea of “the American Dream.” It’s all some people are clinging too and they will defend it to the death, or their own financial ruin. Rather we can phrase it in terms of elites and corruption between politicians and bankers (sorry, Sen Schumer, you’re getting thrown under the bus here) and how the system is getting rigged against the little guy (because it is). Left-wing liberals and conservatives can agree on this issue, it just takes some finagling to get there.

Second, thinking about it from the point of view of a Sanders/Stein voter, it is simply another demonstration than anyone with money or power is corrupt. Possibly true, depends on the definition of corruption, as discussed in the article. In a civil society, nearly everything revolves around legal definitions. When we contract the legal definition of corruption down to such a meaningless level, as we have, all a moneyed interest needs is the right type and number of lawyers, and they are fairly well-protected from nearly anything. The cost of court is prohibitive enough to keep unmoneyed interests from challenging anything other than their most deeply vested issues. This itself could be considered a type of corruption, though one that simply exists due to the modern monopolistic necessity of the lawyer-industrial complex. The ability to tie-down, or threaten to tie-down, something in court for years is intensely anti-egalitarian and undermines the rule of law. And it touches on all aspects of life, from easements to intellectual property to regulations. This is another area where left-leaning liberals and conservatives can come together, I believe. No one likes lawyers running things and trampling over the common people’s rights. Unfortunately on issues like Standing Rock we are phrasing the problem less in terms of corrupt corporations abusing the rule of law and more in identity politics/moral terms, which is a losing argument with potential conservative allies. These could be uniting issues, but I believe because of phrasing and focus on our side and right-wing propaganda on the other, it simply becomes another area we clash. Is it a coincidence it enables the status-quo when our groups are in conflict? It’s probably just the most self-interested course of action for elites.

Finally, the Clinton voters/supporters. I honestly don’t know where a Clinton supporter (by this I mean the hawkish neoliberal-Larry Summers/Washington Consensus type) would stand on this issue other than say it’s not ideal, but it’s the best we can do in our current democracy. So, capitalist apologist apologists. The problem is, to really fix the problem, a goodly number of establishment Democratic politicians would need to go, and this is unacceptable (to Clintonites) seeing as they still have a pretty tight hold on the reigns (see: Pelosi). So, as we saw in this election, Clinton types are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can’t condemn either political or economic corruption as a good chunk of their team is involved in either the practices themselves or culpable in the creation of the laws legalizing corruption in some way or another. Instead of making that tough first leap and cleaning up the party, Dems seem to be doubling down on their demographic game and just waiting out the US white population as that population’s numbers dwindle as a proportion of the electorate. Whether this is a long-term winning strategy is debatable as I don’t think Trump is going to end up being as objectionable to many Latinos as people predict (despite his rhetoric). In the near term, however, I think the state of the House, Senate (2018 in particular), State legislatures, Governorship’s, and Presidency speaks for itself. The GOP may be just as corrupt or even more so than the Dems, but at least they are the party of, “destroy the government because it’s corrupt.” So either the Dems take a page from their left-leaning colleagues and recognize the need to clean house, or we have to wait for the GOP to truly implode when it (I think) inevitably overplays its hand and does something that objectively and blatantly harms the little guy at the expense of moneyed interests. I prefer proactive approaches.