Lord Dampnut vs The Free West

california-outline-and-flag-solidTrump thinks he can bully states into submission by threatening to take away their federal support. One problem: the states most likely to cross him are ones that receive less federal support than they pay in taxes. Cutting off California would be biting the hand that feeds his voting base in poor red states across the midwest and south. If the federal government stops sending money to California, then California may stop sending money to the federal government, and would suddenly have enough to replace all of that federal money and eliminate their debt in a year or two (ignoring other factors). Trump must be clueless about where his “federal money” comes from, or he simply doesn’t care about the people who voted for him.

This is why “alternative facts” are so dangerous. Trump’s loyal supporters are repeating his false claims that California sucks resources from the rest of the country in the form of welfare. This isn’t just false, it’s the complete opposite of reality. And since California intends to stand up to Trump’s bullying, he’s just perpetuating a social division that, taken to an extreme, could result in the west coast breaking off from the rest of the country. This stupidity and belligerence of Trump and his clueless supporters is the sort of thing that can fuel major geopolitical changes, and I don’t think they would like the outcome of this one. Chances are good that nobody would.

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The Escalation from Polarization to War

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War is not the macho fantasy of insecure conservative men. It is the reality of children being burned alive.

Reasonable people have long lamented the increasing polarization of politics, an escalation from disagreement to outright division largely fueled by a few extremists who refuse to accept diversity, and the masses of gullible idiots who buy into the latest outrage on their “side”. It can be seen in the botched reconstruction after the Civil War, the mass exodus of racist white southerners from the Democratic party during the civil rights movement, the “pro-life” movement which was manufactured for political gain and has done more to harm and kill than to protect life, and so on.

Our current problems have their roots in an ancient and ongoing struggle with our own animal natures. But this phenomenon of bitter polarization, with different “facts” on both sides and no room for compromise, is far more extreme and dangerous in the modern world of social media and nuclear bombs.

Today I read one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen all year, even counting Trump’s offer to destroy the career of a Democratic politician for opposing the practice of “civil asset forfeiture” (police stealing private property from citizens who haven’t been convicted of a crime). The article is so disturbing that I will not link to it, because I don’t want to have any part in spreading it further. Instead, I’ll address a few quotes and talk about the overall issues with it.

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The Rise of American Fascism

“I hear Donald Trump really hates this photo. So make sure not to retweet it. Ever.” –Charles Johnson

I will always call Trump and his new Republican party what they really are: the American version of fascism. I wrote a while ago about the common features of fascist regimes and how Trump ticks every box, and since then this lawless party of political thugs and con men has only increased in its depravity. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore.

They attempted to eliminate independent oversight of Congress by putting the Office of Congressional Ethics under their control. In North Carolina they tried to reorganize the very structure of government to strip the powers they enjoyed from the incoming Democratic governor, including reversing some changes that they originally made for their own benefit. Reports of harassment and crime against people of color and LGBT people spiked after election day, both nationally and among my personal friends, and violence against Muslims in particular has sharply increased in recent years. White supremacists and Christian extremists have been emboldened by the vulgarity and immorality of their orange führer, and his cruel, theocratic vice president. Trump eagerly attacks good people who fight for civil rights while playing dumb about his support from white supremacists, preferring to halfheartedly disavow and then ignore the discrimination and hatred done in his name, and instead continue to heap his condemnation on the people who fight those things.

There’s simply too much to list. Seems like every day Trump and his minions spew more falsehoods, advocate for more oppression, or otherwise continue acting like the slimy predators they are. And their loyal voters, either still misled by the propaganda or being authoritarian bullies themselves, continue to spread their hatred throughout society.

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How Conservative and Religious Public Policies Kill People

14smrtThroughout recent centuries, conservatives (people who fight to maintain tradition and oppose progress) have been responsible for public policies in governments around the world that cause many deaths.

Of course, when people think of conservative religious governments they tend to focus on the Islamic ones, countries where simply being gay or atheist can earn a death sentence. There are similar cases in countries that aren’t dominated by Islam, a recent example being the American pastor who imported his hatred of gay people to Uganda. But there are less visible effects to be found even in more secular western democracies.

Consider war, for example. During much of human history, violence has been a common method of dealing with international disputes. Retaining this tradition is completely illogical in a world armed with nuclear bombs, yet conservative parties in America and around the world tend to be much more eager for war than diplomacy. Several of the Republican candidates for president this year expressed a desire to use nuclear and/or conventional bombs on Middle Eastern nations they perceive as a threat (and Trump went as far as advocating the murder of innocent women and children to get back at the terrorists). Obama’s efforts to make peace with other nations are derided as weakness, an “apology tour”, while our needless use of two atomic bombs on Japan is enthusiastically defended, despite the huge and inexcusable loss of civilian life they caused.

For supposedly pro-life people, these warmongering policies are hypocritical and insane. In fact, our indiscriminate bombing of Middle Eastern people is one of the main reasons terrorist groups like ISIS even exist. America gave them a unifying hatred of the west by murdering their civilians.

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A Two-Dimensional Political Spectrum

politicsWhen discussing politics in America, there’s a lot of talk about left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, and so on. Most of these distinctions have some meaning but fail to accurately represent reality. Some people have mapped political views along two separate scales in a sort of Cartesian graph, which makes a lot of sense (one source is the Political Compass). I’m going to explain such a graph in my own words, with a few tweaks to hopefully make it more clear what the graph means to me, who I oppose, and why.

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