Go to Google Images and type in “Russian agent”. I’ll wait ;).

You’re back? Okay. Well. Max Boot, neocon’s neocon, has a nice little article at the Washington Post entitled “Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset.” Go read *that*.

Then read that the FBI opened a inquiry about whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia.

And Trump has deliberately concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from even his own senior administration officials. Even his Chief of Staff has no idea what Trump discussed with Putin.

Mueller apparently can show that the Trump campaign had a connection to Russian intelligence. Not proof yet that Trump himself collaborated with the Russians or that there was a quid pro quo, but definitely troubling.

Then there’s his behavior as President, which, as Max Boot pointed out, has caused enormous disruption to the U.S. government and the U.S. military as well as to U.S. alliances overseas, while benefiting Russia greatly.

Agent Orange of the FSB. It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” — James Bond, “GoldFinger”.

— Badtux the News-gathering Penguin

Trump shown tunnels dug by smugglers underneath current border wall.

But I guess Trump’s reaction was more along the lines of, “We’ll dig a ditch, a bigly ditch and we’ll build the wall underground and Mesopotamia will pay for it, believe me”. All to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

The reality is that border crossings are at a near historic low, as is crime near the border. There is in fact reverse immigration of Mexicans — more Mexicans are leaving the US for Mexico than are coming to the US from Mexico. And it’s not about terrorism either — More people on the terrorist watch list have been apprehended at the Canadian border than at the US border. We caught 6 terrorists at the Mexican border which is 1,954 miles long and is patrolled by 16,605 agents which is a density of 8.5 agents/mile. Meanwhile, we caught 41 terrorists at the Canadian border, which is 5,525 miles long and is secured by 2,048 agents which is a density of .4 agents/mile.

Given the numbers it is not logical to address a supposed problem on the southern border when you have 7 times as many non-US persons in the Terrorist Screening Database attempting to cross the northern border. With the disparity of resources it would make more sense to direct increased resources to the Canadian border. But I’m sure that the emphasis upon the southern border has *nothing* to do with the race of the people who are south of that border. (Cue dog whistles).

And as I pointed out earlier, the only walls that have ever worked — the Berlin Wall, the Israeli separation wall, etc. — have worked only because they’re manned by sociopaths willing to gun down unarmed men, women, and children to stop them from going over or under the wall. Unless we’re going to hire over 100,000 sociopaths to start shooting unarmed civilians, all that a 12 foot wall creates is a market for 14 foot ladders — or shovels.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

A few days ago I mentioned that centrally planned economies can’t work, but neither can capitalist economies unless there are rules that redistribute the tokens to the consumers and workers who generate wealth rather than allowing them to accumulate unfettered in the hands of owners of capital. At which point someone says, “well, the only way to do that is tyranny!”

What, in the 1950’s the United States was a tyranny? For real?

Then there’s the argument, “the rules will always be hijacked by the rich and powerful. How are you going to prevent that?”

My answer is democracy. The large number of young people looking at democratic socialism as the answer, which is where democracy is used to re-write the rules to favor redistributing the tokens back to the masses rather than letting them accumulate in the hands of a rentier class, shows that democracy can be self-correcting over time. Democracy is not Orwell’s boot pressing the face of man into the ground forever, it has the capacity for change, albeit sometimes the change happens depressingly slow and takes forms at times that are equally depressing. Is democratic socialism “the” answer? Not in its purest form, certainly, but it is a natural reaction to rentier capitalism and is the direction we must go if we don’t want a Mexico North with a huge impoverished class and a tiny but stupidly wealthy upper class and nothing inbetween. Mexico is not a nice place to live for the majority of people there (and the fact that they’re no longer coming to El Norte should tell us something too about where our nation currently is). If democratic socialism takes us away from that, sign me up!

– Badtux the Somewhat-socialist Penguin

“I’m an aspirational anarchist. Society’s not ready for it, not close, but it’s the direction I’d like to see us head toward.” — a SF writer

The central problem of power is the central problem that anarchy theory correctly defines but the solution proposed — eliminate all power structures that could allow one person to impose power upon others — is nonsense if we are talking about humans. There are always humans who are more physically powerful than others, there are always humans who end up in control of scarce resources needed by others and thus are in a position of power over others, and the sociopath problem has no solution in anarchy theory, the sociopath problem being where those with the least compunction for harming human beings always rise to the top unless there is some other power structure to prevent them from doing so. I basically have not come up with any solution to this problem of power that in any way resembles traditional anarchy solutions that require consensus because they fall prey to the Liberum Veto problem where sly people use the need for consensus as a tool for obtaining power.

The only way I can see to make anarchy work is the unlimited resources and the (literal) deus ex machina of the AI “Minds” of Iain Banks’ “Culture” novels. And even there, we have seen Minds go insane and space their entire human contingent before heading off into the wilds of the galaxy to do whatever. Making anarchy dependent upon a deus ex machina in order to work properly in short isn’t a perfect solution, though I’d far prefer life in Banks’ “Culture” to life here.

So what can we do? Well. Democracy is the best solution we have thus far to the central problem of power. Unfortunately what we have seen is that democracy requires an educated, involved, and informed populace or else it is susceptible to being hijacked by rich jerks using propaganda and lies. Still, what is your alternative? Anarchy? Anarchy doesn’t work. Everywhere that it has been tried, it has turned into rule of gun as the most venal and ruthless gain followers and use concentrated force to impose their will and concentrate wealth in their own hands. In a sense the current state of Russia is a result of the anarchy that occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union. If there had been a smooth transition to a functional democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union, it is unlikely that Russia would currently be ruled by a strongman who maintains power by jailing and/or killing opponents.

Fuck anarchy, in other words. Everywhere it’s been tried, it’s ended up with strong man rule where armed thugs impose their will upon those who are less ruthless. Either it has been ineffective at fighting the armed thugs due to the liberum veto problem, or the people end up rejecting it in favor of the armed thugs because the armed thugs at least keep the common criminals in check. If you have a counter example, let me know about it. But thus far the only “anarchy” I’ve seen that actually works, works only because it’s embedded in a system that’s *not* anarchy. Which is sort of not a solution to the general problem of power, yo.

– Badtux the Anarchy Penguin

Centrally planned economies in the information age don’t work for the same reason that we don’t write computer programs that detect bombs in luggage — the problem set is so huge that there is no set of heuristics that can cover all the permutations. Instead we set up a system that learns, and some rules to let it know when it’s working right, and then train it in the real world. In the industrial age the Soviets could compete, albeit with significant inefficiencies that I’ll discuss separately if you’re interested. Once we moved into the computer age, economies became too complex to centrally plan. Training them with tokens, a.k.a. money, really is the only way that works with modern economies.

Unfortunately the set of rules has been hijacked by rich jackasses who care only about themselves and not about the health of the economy as a whole. Or as Michael Roberts says, “a rentier economy is a dying economy”. But people continue to think that the set of rules that currently exist, “natural law” rules that are actually “survival of the richest” rules, are the only ones that can exist. Our nation grew its economy best back when the government imposed a set of rules that redistributed money back to the people who actually created wealth (i.e., the workers who actually built Buicks and Chevrolets) rather than allow it to concentrate in the hands of a few rich people, because that allowed the tokens to be used to train the economy to generate wealth that benefited the common folk. Obviously now that money has become magic talismans and “market economies” have congealed rule sets that have become religious in nature rather than practical, we end up with what we observe — an economy that benefits only the few, not the many.

Rich people continue to whine that changing the rules is “Communism”. No, it’s not. They are pushing a religion that contains a rule set designed to enrich the rich, rather than upon the concepts of money and markets as a whole. I am quite capitalist, capitalism is the only proven way of actually encouraging the creation of wealth. What I’m against are rules that benefit only owners of capital, not the workers who generate capital. We’ve had rules that benefited both owners and workers before, and it worked out well for this nation. Saying that this was “Communism” is saying that the entire USA of the 1950’s was Communist — which is patently absurd in every way possible.

– Badtux the Economics Penguin

I made the trip back to Louisiana to visit the relatives again. Nothing to say about Louisiana. Texas, on the other hand…. everything is bigger in Texas. Including the assholes. Yeesh.

I’ve been thinking about the “superhero” genre, both comics and film/TV versions. It amuses me that there is a whole genre of fiction that basically celebrates criminals as heroes. The only other genre I can think of that does that is Republican politicians’ campaign ads.

Criminals, you say?

Well, yeah. Every episode has them committing assault and battery upon someone. And sometimes kidnapping — tying them up and dumping them at the police station being the politest thing they do. None of that is legal for a civilian to do. Well, if someone’s life is in danger it’s okay to tackle the attacker and hold him for the police, but you can’t just tie him up and dump him at the police station!

Now, the Batman I suppose could have been deputized by his buddy Commissioner Gordon, which would make it legal for him to tackle Cat Lady and retrieve the Cat’s Eye Diamond…. sayyy…. Bruce Wayne is, like, crazy rich, yeah? And how did Commissioner Gordon get elected as Police Commissioner, again? Gosh, no corruption there, right?!

And a sizable percentage of America thinks these guys are heroes. LOL.

Bah Humbug.

— Ebenezer Tux.

This video always cracks me up:

Gosh, no racism there

Neo-Nazis call anybody whose skin complexion is darker than a sheet of paper “mud people”. So now we have Tucker Carlson dog whistling neo-Nazis by calling immigrants “dirty”.

Wow. Just wow.

These right-wing racists aren’t even trying to hide it anymore, are they?

– Badtux the Astounded Penguin