10 of the Worst Interpretations of Reasonable Opinions

Before becoming a Libertarian, I drastically misunderstood many arguments Libertarians and Conservatives were making. This caused me to view my political and ideological opponents erroneously.

I believe that the great political divide of today has little to do with disagreement and almost everything to do with misconception. People are perfectly capable of being reasonable with those they disagree with, but are not well-equipped to handle those they cannot understand.

Here are ten opinions and the misconstructions they are often and wrongly associated with:

  1. Anti-Israel =/= Anti-Semitic

When a negative opinion regarding the current state, history, or legitimacy of Israel is raised, supporters of Israel sometimes smear their detractors as being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group. Since Israel is a nation, not a religious, ethnic, or racial group, the anti-Semitic label cannot logically follow.

Additionally, it is perfectly possible to be hostile towards the state of Israel (and even its people) without religion, ethnicity, or race ever coming to mind. Anti-Semitism has nothing to do with history or politics, and those and other factors may be the cause of a person’s negative view of Israel.

One can certainly hate Israel and be Anti-Semitic too.

  1. Anti-Illegal Immigration =/= Anti-Immigration

While it’s likely that some who take issue with illegal immigration have problems with immigration in general, it is possible to only be concerned with the former.

Arguing that illegal immigrants in America should be granted citizenship or that the world should be borderless altogether are perfectly fair opinions to hold. But refusing to acknowledge the difference between a legal and an illegal immigrant in regards to the status quo is blatant sophistry.

  1. Hatred of Government =/= Hatred of Country

In an ideal world, nations of people would be accurately portrayed and appropriately led by their representatives. But we do not live in an ideal world, and governments are often run by ignoramuses who don’t know their own countries from their elbows.

That being the case, it is possible for a person to be a loyal patriot and lover of his countrymen, traditions, culture, and land while also feeling disconnected from his government.

It is also possible to oppose a foreign regime while having only kind words to say about the people living under it.

Nothing about hating a government reveals what one thinks about the country itself.

  1. Anti-War =/= Anti-Solider

When an American criticizes US foreign policy, he is often shamed as a hater of those who defend his homeland. This should not be so.

Particularly in a country with a civilian-controlled military like the United States, servicemen and women do not choose what countries to invade or what missions to engage. Soldiers do not serve as geopolitical or tactical experts, and they are legally bound to obey legal orders from their superiors. Since macro military operations are not simply concocted and authorized by soldiers, tying those who serve to the decisions made by their civilian government is illogical.

One can simultaneously hate the war and love the solider without an ounce of hypocrisy.

  1. Acknowledgement of Unpleasant Group Differences =/= Bigotry

There are more black players than white players in the NBA. The average height of a Filipino is less than the average height of a Dane. The Middle East’s Muslim population is larger than its Mormon population.

Few take issue with any of these facts.

But when one mentions that homosexual males are more prone to HIV infection than heterosexuals, that young black men commit violent crimes at a greater rate than other groups in America, and that male IQ distribution falls on the high and low extremes of the spectrum more frequently than female IQ, some cry foul.

One might think that putting people into groups at all is an act of bigotry. And that opinion is perfectly fair. But if you acknowledge “groups,” those who observe their dissimilarities are not being racist, sexist, or the like for doing so.

Using these facts to justify unfair treatment of people is certainly bigoted, but it does not automatically come with the territory.

  1. Criticism of Speech =/= Desire to Silence Speech

Many people in America and the Western World are growing skeptical of mankind’s right to speak his mind.

However, criticizing or condemning a person’s words or expressions is not the same as wanting to punish him or forcibly silence him.

Disagreement is an act of free speech, not an act against it. It is only when one supports silencing another that free speech is being opposed.

  1. Opposition to Welfare Programs =/= Hatred of the Poor

On the surface, supporting public healthcare, social security, and other services for the poor seems like the compassionate thing to do. And you might be a compassionate person who supports these and ever more generous programs.

But just because one disagrees with social welfare does not mean one dislikes those who are expected to benefit from it.

Via economics, psychology, law, or human rights, one may draw the conclusion that welfare programs are not the best way to assist people in need and may actually do more to harm the poor than to help them.

Gutting welfare programs can even be an act of love.

  1. Opposition to Welfare Programs =/= Support for Corporate Welfare

Although there may be individuals who want to cut spending on social services and subsidize the private sector, plenty of people would like to see less spending on both.

  1. Opposition to Climate Measures =/= Climate Change Denial

For a moment, let’s assume you believe in Global Warming and that drastic measures must be taken to save the Earth from its effects. Let’s say that scientists are promoting a plan that they are absolutely positive will halt Global Warming immediately.

Their plan is to exterminate all human beings over the age of 50.

I imagine that you would not support this plan. Would your lack of support for this plan mean that you do not believe in Global Warming and that you do not see Global Warming as a problem?

If you answered ‘no’, you have proven that being opposed to measures to combat Global Warming has nothing to do with whether or not you believe in Global Warming.

  1. Pro-Choice =/= Pro-Abortion

Some say that life begins at conception. Others say that it begins at some point during the gestation period. Some say that a fetus has no rights until it exits the womb. Others say that human rights don’t exist at all.

None of these points of view tell us anyone’s position on abortion legality.

It is possible to have zero qualms with another person having an abortion of any kind at any stage in a pregnancy while also vowing to never terminate a life developing in your own body.

What people do in their own lives is not necessarily related to what they believe others should be legally allowed to do. The same goes for the legal standing of drug use, prostitution, MMA fighting, orca captivity, gun ownership, gambling, and so much more.

10 of the Worst Interpretations of Reasonable Opinions

Radical Islamic Terrorism is Not Islam’s Fault

While it may seem contradictory on the surface, I do not believe that Islam and the Quran are the cause of Radical Islamic Terrorism.

I have not read or studied the Quran, so I cannot use the book’s text to make my point. However, the Quran’s content is probably irrelevant.

If every piece of literature that contained incendiary language or what may be interpreted as calls to violence (both of which I imagine are contained in the Quran) caused people to behave violently, our species would have never made it this far. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, contains similar language. Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings do too.

For kicks, why not read tweets from leftists any time an event takes place in the era of Donald Trump? I highly doubt the Quran is even remotely as repulsive, and you don’t see post-menopausal feminists suicide-bombing markets very often.

There is also an inconvenient truth about the Islamic World that makes blaming Islam for Radical Islamic Terrorism nearly impossible: the Islamic World is largely illiterate.

Take a look at the literacy rates (via UNESCO) of the world’s 29 nations with populations made up of 90% or more Muslims:

Nation Literacy Rate Nation Literacy Rate
Maldives 99.3% Sudan 75.9%
Mauritania 52.1% Azerbaijan 99.8%
Afghanistan 38.2% Tajikistan 99.8%
Tunisia 81.8% Libya 91%
Iran 86.8% Uzbekistan 99.6%
Iraq 79.7% Pakistan 56.4%
Morocco 72.4% Senegal 55.7%
Yemen 70.1% Kosovo 91.9%
Somalia No Data Gambia 55.5%
Turkey 95% Mali 38.7%
Comoros 77.8% Jordan 96.7%
Niger 19.1% Turkmenistan 99.7%
Algeria 80.2% Bangladesh 61.5%
Saudi Arabia 94.7% Egypt 75.2%
Djibouti No Data World 86.3%

As you can see:

  • 16 of the 27 nations that have available data are below the world average in literacy
  • Iran, Libya, and Kosovo are below 92% (lower than Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar)
  • Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan are well below 99.2%, the average rate of the developed world

Now take a look at the same nations with an additional metric: their scores on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI):

Nation Literacy Rate GTI Nation Literacy Rate GTI
Maldives 99.3% No Data Sudan 75.9% 6.66
Mauritania 52.1% 0.07 Azerbaijan 99.8% 0.35
Afghanistan 38.2% 9.44 Tajikistan 99.8% 3.09
Tunisia 81.8% 4.96 Libya 91% 7.28
Iran 86.8% 3.95 Uzbekistan 99.6% 0.15
Iraq 79.7% 9.96 Pakistan 56.4% 8.61
Morocco 72.4% 0.89 Senegal 55.7% 2.6
Yemen 70.1% 8.07 Kosovo 91.9% 2.21
Somalia No Data 7.55 Gambia 55.5% 0
Turkey 95% 6.74 Mali 38.7% 6.03
Comoros 77.8% No Data Jordan 96.7% 2.86
Niger 19.1% 6.68 Turkmenistan 99.7% 0
Algeria 80.2% 4.28 Bangladesh 61.5% 6.48
Saudi Arabia 94.7% 5.4 Egypt 75.2% 7.32
Djibouti No Data 1.78 World 86.3%

After crunching the numbers:

  • The 4 high literacy nations with available data have an average GTI score of 1.27
  • The 15 below average literacy nations with available data have an average GTI score of 5.47
  • The six nations that are above average in literacy, but are still well below the developed world, have an average GTI score of 4.74

While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, this data suggests that being able to read at a high level is associated with lower levels of terrorism while low literacy rates are associated with higher levels of terrorism in the Muslim World.

If the Quran encourages terrorism, why would the best readers in the Muslim World commit the least amount of terror?

Additionally, consider the opinion polls often cited by the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Maher to show that Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism at alarmingly high rates. If such a great portion of Muslims are illiterate, how is it fair to 1) assume they understand the Quran and 2) assume they fully understand the survey questions they are being asked?

Beyond literacy, we must learn to hold individuals responsible for their actions instead of the words and environments that surround them.

After the Columbine Massacre in 1999, politicians, media pundits, advocacy groups, and others tried to blame the incident on the music the perpetrators listened to, namely the always controversial Marilyn Manson. But it wasn’t the music that made the killers kill. They made a decision on their own and could have found justification anywhere. As The Who’s Pete Townshend brilliantly put it, “If some shit head with a guitar tells you to go shoot up a school and you actually go do it, then that person is a shit head themselves and would’ve done it anyway.”

Stupid, weak, aimless, angry, and hateful people don’t need a reason to commit evil. It’s just a matter of time.

In the Muslim World, US foreign policy has provided low-hanging fruit for such individuals. By occupying and bombing their countries for decades on end, the federal government and its allies have come as close as one can come to legitimizing terrorist activity by Muslims. While it still comes down to the individual to do what’s right even in a world full of so much wrong, it’s not hard to imagine that some people will allow themselves to be driven over the edge when their families and nations are destroyed in combat and as byproducts of pointless and unrelenting warfare.

And for a nation that claims to value Democracy (though it shouldn’t), does the US imagine that killing and removing leaders of Muslim nations will not result in blowback? Putting your Trump Derangement Syndrome aside for a moment, how would you feel if a more powerful foreign nation forcibly removed your elected leader and used propaganda and force to elect someone easier to manipulate and profit from?

The only reason anyone should fear Islam is another likely cause for terrorism and other forms of violence in the Muslim World. That fear is political Islam. In a world or nation governed by Sharia Law, hatred, anger, idiocy, and poverty would fester.

But this is not unique to Islam or Sharia. Any people tyrannized by human enforcement of the supposed will of any so-called divine or faith-based tenets will respond negatively. This is why the Framers of the US Constitution used the first clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

Islam is not why terrorism exists, and it is not the enemy. Neither is Christianity, Scientology, Communism, Atheism, or whatever set of beliefs you can muster.

The enemy and the cause of terrorism is stupidity.

It is stupidity that allows you to blame words and books for the violence of the human animal. It is stupidity that allows you to be tricked into waging ‘Jihad’ while your tricksters sit on their gold. It is stupidity that allows you to initiate violent force for nonexistent ends. It is stupidity that allows you think you know what is best for others. And it is stupidity that allows you to convince yourself that you have the power to fix the massive imperfections of the world without the world’s consent.

Radical Islamic Terrorism is Not Islam’s Fault

Comey, The Snap Election, and a Reinforcement of My Worldview

Confirmation bias is a phenomenon of the human psyche which causes people to tend to believe what they had previously thought after learning any further information concerning the topic at hand, regardless of what the new information factually or logically leads to.

For example, assume that you believe a certain substance found in a household product or food can lead to some sort of disease. If someone you know who uses this product becomes sick, you are prone to assume that the substance is to blame. If you believe that the substance is perfectly safe, you are prone to be critical of blame placed on the substance.

At the moment, I am either generally right about some earlier interpretations and predictions, falling victim to confirmation bias, or a mixture of the two.

Yesterday, June 8th, 2017, Jim Comey testified before congress, and the UK held a “snap” election to determine whether Theresa May would remain prime minister.

Going in to the Comey hearing, I suspected that one of two possible truths (or a combination) could explain the situation at hand in regards to President Trump:

  1. Jim Comey loves attention, drama, and the FBI, and hates Trump. As an outspoken defender of our intelligence agencies, Comey was threatened by Trump butting heads with them. He likely expected the president to be more mild mannered and to defer to the FBI more willingly, so Trump was a thorn in his side when both of those assumptions went by the wayside. Comey decided to use Trump’s “I hope” comment about the Michael Flynn investigation to raise suspicion about the president’s readiness to cooperate professionally, and leaked a memo about it to the media after being fired. To say it as crudely as possible, Comey didn’t want Trump’s dick swinging lower than “The Deep State’s” for the whole country to see.
  2. Comey wanted leverage. If Comey actually felt that Trump’s “I hope” comment was an allusion to obstruction of justice, he should have said something to congress or someone else. Instead of doing the integral thing, he kept the comment in his back pocket as a way to blackmail the president if need be.

In my opinion, something close to these explanations remains the most likely scenario after hearing Comey’s testimony.

First off, Comey shared his undying love and respect for the FBI multiple times during the hearing. With zero nuance, he pronounced that he and his colleagues have been doing spectacular work. There is no doubt that he wants the FBI’s name to glitter in the eyes of the American public.

Comey admitted that Trump made the “I hope” comment just once, and never followed up on it. Trump also disclosed to Comey that he should continue the Russia investigation and weed out any Trump surrogates who may have actually conspired with the Kremlin. Comey leaked the first comment, which makes Trump seem like Don Vito Corleone, but not the second, which makes him look like a patriot. Comey didn’t leak anything about Trump not even being under investigation either, and that would have said the president a few thousand headaches.

It seems to me that Comey was not going to allow Trump to tarnish the FBI’s reputation without damaging his own and probably made a concerted effort to take the “I hope” comment overly seriously when it fit his agenda. He didn’t take it seriously enough to take action, but he said that he took it seriously enough that suspicions about Trump were raised on live national television.

Comey also mentioned that it his understanding that the president has the right to open or close an FBI investigation as he pleases. Alan Dershowitz had said the same on CNN earlier in the day. This does not mean the FBI director can’t rat the president out for wrongdoing, but in the end, the president is the boss of the executive branch. Trump was Comey’s boss, and he fired him.

To me, all of this confirms that Comey is a sneaky and cerebral son-of-a-gun, and that Trump did not collude with the Russians or obstruct justice. Trump did it without elegance or class, but he justifiably terminated an insubordinate department head.

As for the UK snap election, an ominous hunch I’ve had came to fruition: the children of the enlightenment are susceptible to voting a left-wing revolutionary into power.

Jeremy Corbyn has been mocked across the media and within his own ranks ever since becoming the leader of the Labour Party. They joked that he was too out-there and not a serious candidate in a country that has long appreciated the empire of reason like the UK.

I didn’t laugh once.

Just as I believe that Bernie Sanders would have trounced Donald Trump in the 2016 election had he won the Democratic nomination, Corbyn was never a sure-bet to lose to Conservative Theresa May.

Personally, I might prefer Corbyn to May due to Corbyn’s loud and proud anti-war stance and May’s lukewarm-at-best economic Thatcherism and lack of concern for personal liberties. Essentially, what I would normally appreciate about a Conservative is not what May is made of, and for all his economic buffoonery, Corbyn resoundingly denounced the UK’s participation in the Iraq War and predicted its outcome and effects with tragic accuracy.

But my point of view is not popular in the UK. Libertarians do not exist in England for one reason or another. And what scares me is that despite the US being the epicenter of Libertarianism on Earth, I’m an extreme political minority in my country too.

It looks like the Conservatives will continue to hold a barely-there majority in the British parliament by joining forces with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, but Corbyn came that close.

It is entirely possible that someone as far left as Corbyn could become president in the United States and that a wave of Socialism could swarm the globe.

I knew this was true when I started this blog, and I’ll continue to write until I believe it’s not so.

Comey, The Snap Election, and a Reinforcement of My Worldview

Fading Optimism: Bill Maher, Ben Sasse, Snowflakes, and Hacks

Bill Maher welcomed Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse to be his interview guest on last night’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher was being his usual witty self, and Sasse was holding his own by out-charming and out-smarting the HBO host.

Early on in the interview, Sasse jokingly invited Maher to come to Wisconsin to “work in the fields” with the locals, and what has followed thus far is why I sometimes have a difficult time staying positive about things to come.

For complete disclosure, here’s where I stand with each of these gentlemen:

Sasse

  • Along with Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Mike Lee, Tulsi Gabbard, and maybe one or two others, he’s one of few congressmen I genuinely like, trust, and admire
  • Politically, I align with him more closely than anyone in congress with the exceptions of most of the Liberty caucus and their closest constituencies in the Senate

Maher

  • I hate most of his politics
  • I watch his show regularly and have literally just begun recording responses to the “Overtime” segment on my podcast (my first “Talking Over Overtime” segment will be published within a few days)
  • I think he is a spin-doctor of the extreme variety, and I don’t care for him as a person
  • I would put his head on the Mt. Rushmore of Free Speech; he has long been a hero to me in that regard

So, as I said, Sasse invited Maher to work in the fields in Wisconsin. Maher then made an unforced error that could wind up costing him his show. He responded by joking that he is a “house-nigger,” implying that field work would not be his thing in Sasse’s slave state of Nebraska.

Bill Maher does not genuinely think the people of Nebraska are racist.

But Bill Maher, like so many on the left, has reprogrammed himself to be hyperaware of potential racism and similar discretions. While Maher, honorably, would never call for a political opponent to be fired for making a so-called insensitive remark, he would certainly blow it out of proportion in a hackneyed smear attempt.

Maher’s joke was a self-inflicted wound resulting from an autonomously uploaded impulse. In a certain sense, it was the chickens coming home to roost. You duplicitously assume racism when others slip, and you put yourself at higher risk for pitchfork-welding wrath when you wind up slipping yourself.

Bill Maher should not be fired for his mistake. People can call him whatever they want, but HBO would be hypocritical to let him go. With the free reign HBO gives Maher to harshly criticize Islam, call Americans stupid, and joke about every minority group under the sun (and I applaud them for allowing him that space), cancelling his show now for ethical reasons would be ridiculous.

But they haven’t done that, but it’s only been a few hours. Complaints from advertisers could result in a warranted release of Maher if enough people call to complain.

The fact that this story keeps telling itself makes me feel ill.

Maher’s racial Tourette’s syndrome and potential firing are not the only things that give me doubt about the future. The reaction that has immediately followed in the online media is far worse.

Several websites, namely Raw Story and The Daily Beast, have not only tattled on Maher, but are also implicating Senator Sasse.

After Maher’s ill-advised quip, Ben Sasse sat silently, cringed, and chuckled nervously. As reasonable and level-headed a man as you’ll ever hear from, Sasse neither scolded Maher nor did he permit a courtesy laugh. Expressing awkwardness instead of outrage or amusement was the right way to go for the polite and gregarious senator. He showed his true colors, and they shined brightly.

Raw Story, The Daily Beast, and countless social media users have not responded quite as appropriately. Raw Story published an article titled “‘And Ben Sasse laughed’: Internet furious at Bill Maher for calling himself a ‘house n***er’” while The Daily Beast went with “Bill Maher Drops the N-Word on ‘Real Time,’ Sen. Ben Sasse Laughs.” The content of the pieces doesn’t matter. The headlines will be seen by enough eyes to leave mud stains all over Sasse’s name.

On Twitter, an unlikely duo has united to try to take Maher and Sasse down. In something out of a psychological horror flick with a devastating twist ending, the Alt-Right is pushing the same rhetoric as the Social Justice Warrior Left.

Each group is motivated by different factors.

Senator Sasse is a principled, well-liked, and independently-minded Conservative Republican who has yet to utter a positive word about Donald Trump. Beyond the Jeb Bush’s and John McCain’s of the world, Sasse is respected, and deservedly so, across the board. This combined with his unwavering disapproval of Trump makes him an intolerable nightmare to the Alt-Right.

Sasse vouches for states’ rights, school choice, a scaling back of environmental regulations, and other typically Conservative policies. This makes him a White Supremacist Nazi to the Regressive Left.

Bill Maher is a loud-mouthed Liberal who viciously bashes Trump, Middle America, and the alternative media. This makes him an Anti-American, beta-male cuck to the Alt-Right.

Maher openly criticizes Islam and advocates ferociously for free speech. This makes him a White Supremacist Nazi to the Regressive Left.

The Alt-Right, through cynicism and political hack tactics, are seizing on this moment to banish Maher’s platform and associate Sasse with racism.

The SJW Left, through genuine Anti-Free Speech advocacy and political hack tactics of their own, are doing the same.

My reaction to what happened on Maher’s show was to stick up for Maher in reciprocation of his willingness to call out his own side for their snowflake attitudes towards ideas they disagree with. I tweeted “Bill Maher defends everyone’s right to speak freely, whether left wing or right wing. Let’s do the same for him.”

I hoped that some consensus would form around that cry to uphold the most fundamental tenant of Americanism. But my cry appears to have fallen on many deaf ears thus far. Search “Ben Sasse” or “Bill Maher” on Twitter if you want to see what I mean.

I still believe a reasonable and dictionary-definition Liberal America exists somewhere and transcends party lines. But with each and every potentially offensive utterance, unreasoned affinity with certain policies, and hypocritical tribal witch hunt, I am losing hope.

***

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Fading Optimism: Bill Maher, Ben Sasse, Snowflakes, and Hacks

‘America First’ Rears its Ugly Head

President Donald Trump kicked off his first presidential trip abroad by making a massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The initial sale is worth over $100 billion, and future commitments will likely result in upwards of $350 billion coming into the US. It’s the most lucrative weapons deal in US history.

This is big. This is a lot of money. This will create jobs and boost the economy in America. This will result in investment from abroad. This shows how effective the President is, like what he’s doing or not.

There’s something else though, a promise kept by the president, and it’s one of many reasons I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him.

Unlike much of Trump’s rhetoric, ‘America First’ is simple and honest. Trump is not interested in the internal affairs of other nations nor the well-being of their people. He just wants America to succeed financially and patriotically. He wants to live in a flourishing and proud nation, and being the man to serve as the catalyst in making that happen would be icing on his cake.

While I certainly want my country to succeed, I do not value the life of any American over any non-American. I see each individual human life and the liberty that comes with it to be uniquely precious. Because of this, I am not willing to participate in forceful interventions that I know will help one innocent person or group while hurting another.

Trump’s arms sale coincides with a long list of actions that prove his willingness to enrich America while showing little regard for the people of the world. In recent weeks, Trump has welcomed leaders from oppressive regimes in Turkey and Russia into the White House. He has expressed willingness to speak with dictators around the world, insofar as including Kim Jung Un.

I support friendly relations with nations the US disagrees with because I believe that is the right path to free trade, free speech, and free movement for all people across the globe. I want everyone to consistently grow closer to reclaiming those rights, and I believe that sanctions and war take the world in the opposite direction. As crazy as it may sound, I’d try to befriend our so-called enemies if I were heading the executive branch too.

However, I fear that Trump favors kinship with these nations for different reasons. Trump appears to be running America like a business (another promise kept) and treating other nations as if their leaders were their owners. The weapons sale, while not unique in American history, takes money from taxpaying Saudis who have little or no say in what their government does with the revenue. The result in America is not quite the same. Our weapons manufacturers are contracted to earn foreign money… a lot of it.

The Saudi Arabian people gain government-owned tools of war; US weapons manufacturers earn a profit, and our nation subsequently grows wealthier.

More importantly, Saudi Arabia supports the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and is currently partaking in a vicious proxy war in Yemen. Both of these conflicts have the Saudis at odds with Iran, a nation I believe the US should start cooperating and trading with immediately.

This furthers the reality of Trump’s explicit ‘America First’ + implicit screw everyone else principle. While Trump has so far proven mostly (mostly…) honest about not wanting to get the US military more deeply involved in conflicts abroad, the weapons sale could lead to Saudi Arabia stepping up their intervention in Syria, Yemen, and wherever else they see opportunity.

Instead of having the US march into Syria outright, Trump could be allowing America to profit from Saudi Arabia’s military conquests there. I can’t decide whether that’s worse than or equally as bad as taking care of the Syrian situation ourselves.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what I want, what Trump promised, what Trump seems to be doing right now, and what Trump might eventually do:

What I support What Trump

said he would do

What Trump seems to be doing What Trump might eventually do
-Stop American interventionism for the sake of the American economy

 

-Stop American interventionism so Syria and other nations can advance by solving their own conflicts independently

 

-Fix the American economy by ending dependence upon the military industrial complex

-Stop American interventionism for the sake of the American economy

 

-Stop American

interventionism because what happens in other countries should not be on America’s radar

 

-Tell other nations to take their turn fighting terrorism

-Stop American interventionism for the sake of the American economy

 

-Use the military industrial complex to boost the American economy with no regard for effects of arms sales on other nations

 

-Tell other nations to take their turn fighting terrorism

-Continue American interventionism to please nations which contribute most to the military industrial complex

 

Perhaps Trump has persuaded Saudi Arabia not to get too involved in Syria and to go the safe zones route in favor of removing Assad. Perhaps Saudi Arabia will use their new weapons to fight terrorism as Trump says he wants them to.

If I’m right about what Trump is up to right now, the America First agenda could be as or far more dangerous than the World Police agenda the US has been following for the past several decades. At that point, the “at least Hillary isn’t president” argument goes out the window.

***

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‘America First’ Rears its Ugly Head

How #HerEmails Pardon Political Hacks

As I wrote in my most recent post, I did not gnash my teeth over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. I think she technically broke the law, but I don’t think any real damage was done. Indicting Hillary would have meant indicting a lot of people (including former President Barack Obama), and I don’t blame James Comey for advising against further inquiries. It was too small a transgression to warrant the collapse of the federal government (as fun as that sounds).

What I assume to be the vast majority of American Republicans were not on the same page as me (which makes sense since I am a Libertarian). They mentioned the email scandal as often as possible and spent a vast sum of resources on what was nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt. I do not buy the notion that a great many of them sincerely believed that Hillary’s error put our nation at risk. They saw an opportunity to take down a political opponent, and went all in.

The Constitution of the United States of America refers to Democracy a grand total of zero times. And I am not a believer in Democracy myself. Democracy is a great danger to liberty, not a sign of its existence. A government with a strictly limited role in society is the only kind of government that I trust to effectively let freedom ring.

As I am not enamored with the Democratic process, I forgive those who use dirty and dishonest tactics to prevent a prospective leader that they hate from gaining power over them. The Republicans used every persuasive tool in the book to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House, and they succeeded.

But by making such a fuss over Hillary’s emails in such an obviously politically motivated manner, Republicans invited their opposition to do the same when Donald Trump took over.

Now, I cannot blame Democrats and others opposed to Trump for their unending hysteria focused on impeaching him. I’m beyond disgusted by the way #TheResistance has been acting, but I can’t blame them for doing it.

And this does not make me a moral relativist. I am not saying that just because someone else does something wrong, you may do something wrong too. In real life, it doesn’t matter how terribly those around you act. You are still responsible for respecting the lives and liberties of people other than yourself. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

But politics is ugly and laced with evil. It’s not like real life. In real life, gaining power requires skin in the game. You must sacrifice to move up the ladder. Politics comes down to pointing a gun at people or checking a box on a ballet. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain for those in or seeking power positions. Therefore, it is unfair to make moral judgments under the same scrutiny in life as in politics.

If you are afraid of Trump, hate Trump, think Trump is unfit to be the president, and/or are a DNC hack, and you are promoting nonsensical hysteria to see that Trump is somehow removed from office regardless of the long term consequences, I don’t blame you. This is what our politics has become.

However, if you actually believe that trying to improve relations with the Russians is a bad idea and that pulling another Iraq War in Syria is a good idea, I think you are stupid and possibly guilty of having a God complex. You can’t learn, you don’t reason well, and you believe you and your country possess capabilities that do not exist. And I pray that you never have power over me or anyone else.

How #HerEmails Pardon Political Hacks

Trump and Russia: A Sober Explanation

It seems as though this Trump/Russia saga will never come to an end.

Evidence of collusion between President Trump and “Russia” during his successful 2016 presidential run has yet to surface, but that has not stopped the president’s detractors from continuing their witch hunt.

I explained why no evidence is needed to keep this story alive a few months ago.

Distrust of today’s mainstream media, the hysteria of social media, heavy partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the Trump administration’s intentionally confusing language and actions, and the dishonest nature of politics in general make assessing just about any current event extraordinarily difficult. Because of this, no one, myself included, has the capacity to tell the whole story about what’s going on inside the Trump White House or what happened on the way in. Everything we read is a more or less accurate version of fan fiction. What you are reading now is too.

I’m going to explain what I believe is likely to be the truth about certain key aspects of the Trump/Russia hullaballoo.

Before I do that, I would like to tout my personal credibility by telling you that I, despite hating her guts, did not make a big deal of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail issues. I believe that she technically broke a law and lied under oath, but that her actions did not put US national security at risk. Hillary is a sneaky, slimy career politician. But so are nearly all of our lawmakers. I wish Trump would pardon Hillary to end that mess.

You can scroll through my blog posts around the time of the election to verify that it’s not something I paid much attention to. It was never the subject of my writing or thinking.

I tell you this because I believe the “connection” between Trump and Russia is, though even less nefarious, similar to Hillary’s e-mail kerfuffle in that laws may have been broken, but no serious harm was done.

The connection between Trump and Russia is General Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn, an early Trump backer, met with Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration and discussed sanctions that could potentially be lifted. This could technically be a violation of the Logan Act. The thing about the Logan Act is that it became law in 1799 and has never been used to prosecute anyone. Like jaywalking and bans on raw milk, it’s a stupid law that has likely been broken without recourse countless times.

The question as to whether Trump or anyone on his team bribed or otherwise convinced Russia to support the Trump campaign is ridiculous. As I explained in my post referenced earlier, the Russian government would have been insane not to favor Trump.

The question as to whether Russia is allowed to favor a candidate in a foreign election and release propaganda supporting that candidate is also ridiculous. Former President Barack Obama traveled to London before the Brexit vote to warn the British people that they could be at the back of the queue if they chose to leave the European Union. A warning or threat from a powerful foreign leader is just as disrespectful of the Democratic process as propaganda. Though Obama’s attempt backfired, and he had been bluffing, it shows the hypocrisy of lamenting foreign meddling in elections. The US has a long history of doing this, so we have no moral high ground.

The Russian minister who met with Michael Flynn was under surveillance by the US government when he spoke of sanctions. This resulted in indirect spying on Flynn, and gave US intelligence agencies proof of these discussions.

Sally Yates notified Trump of this communication in late January, and Trump forced Flynn to resign from his post as national security advisor a few weeks later. The amount of time between Trump finding out about Flynn’s talks and his firing has resulted in conspiracy theories of cover up.

What is being overlooked is the fact that Trump wanted Flynn on his team. Think about being a Patriots fan and finding out that Tom Brady did something stupid that technically violates some arcane law (one even less relevant than slightly deflating footballs) that could cause season-long headaches. Would you be excited to kick Tom Brady off the team? Or would you try to find a way to get around the situation, and reluctantly let him go when all your options were exhausted?

Trump had the same experience with Flynn. He trusted him and knew he was loyal. But, although there is ultimately no fire, Trump couldn’t stand the smoke. Flynn had to go.

The new event that has the media and Washington abuzz is Trump’s “abrupt” firing of FBI director James Comey. The conspiracy theory is that Trump wanted to get rid of Comey because he has intelligence regarding the Russian “connection” that would sink Trump for good. I don’t blame anyone for subscribing to that possibility. It certainly looks fishy on the surface.

What is forgotten is that Trump has never gotten along with Comey. Sure, he praised Comey generously for writing the infamous letter announcing Hillary Clinton was still under investigation not long before Election Day.

But Trump plays dirty. You understand this by now, right? Do you still take Trump at his literal word? Regardless of what you think of Trump overall, if you can’t figure out that he speaks for the sake of persuasion, not the sake of accuracy, it’s time to get with the picture!

Comey was arrogant and insubordinate. Comey disrespected Trump by refusing to brief him on what would be said during his senate testimony on May 3rd. Though the FBI must act independently, showing up the president is asking for it.

And when James Clapper (and Sally Yates?) confirmed under oath that there is still no evidence suggesting collusion between Trump and Russia, Comey’s time had come. Enough reliable sources had vindicated Trump that firing Comey could no longer be associated with a cover up (though that obviously won’t persuade his most determined opponents [whom Trump is not trying to win over]). Trump reminded Democrats and Republicans that both of them are wary about Comey, and laid his tumultuous tenure to waste.

In short, the Trump/Russia connection is weaker than weak, Trump had a hard time firing his pal Michael Flynn, and Comey had reached the end of his rope.

You find me evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians, and I’ll change my tune. But for now, this is the reality I’m calmly sticking with.

Bonus 4-D Chess Theory:

Since Trump didn’t collude with the Russians, and so many of his enemies are imperiling their credibility to prove that he did, the more attention he draws to the Russia narrative the better. When it’s finally proved that nothing happened, Trump’s enemies will have auto-drained every last ounce of integrity from their bodies. Trump comes out looking like the only honest man in the swamp.

Trump and Russia: A Sober Explanation