Categotry Archives: Politics


It’s Not OK to Punch Nazis… Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Alienating My Friends

No comments yet

Categories: Essays, Philosophy, Politics, Rant, Writing

Let me begin with the understanding that some of you will brand me a sympathizer, or tell me to check my privilege, or think that I’ve revealed myself as a libtard beta cuck. You might say the vile, repugnant monsters you’re fighting only understand one language: the iron fist. You might say centuries of oppression and systemic violence justify a response in kind. Perhaps you believe yourself a part of the “Master Race” sent by God Almighty to rule the Earth over all non-Aryans. Perhaps you think back to that iconic comic book cover depicting Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in his goddamned mouth and think to yourself “If Cap’s punching Nazis, it’s probably the right thing to do.”

Perhaps I am a privileged, white-power-sympathizing, libtard beta: I’ve been guilty of far worse paradoxes in my life. I don’t intend to discuss the merits of modelling your life after comic book characters (besides which, Frank Castle is a far better role model than Steve Rogers) or the logical fallacies inherent in racism. I don’t have time to break out Writings On Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence to find a pithy quote from Tolstoy, or paraphrase Theodore Parker about the “long arc.”

I do, however, want to talk about morality: specifically, the morality of violence and advocating violence. Many of my friends are self-described liberals and progressives, and many of them have taken up the “Punch a Nazi” banner in the days after the violence in Charlottesville. I find this deeply troubling and problematic.

Friends, I want you to hear me out on this one. I understand your anger – your rage – at white supremacists and neo-fascists assaulting, maiming, and murdering counter-protesters. Your rage is justified. Calling for, condoning, or performing counter violence is not.

In what’s known as the Categorical Imperative or Formula of Universal Law, Immanuel Kant urged us to act only on those maxims which we can will to be universal law. That is to say, essentially, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Perhaps you see where I’m going with this…

When you call for, or perpetrate, violence against these alt-right, Sieg Heiling doucherockets, you are implicitly condoning the violence they wish to perpetrate against all people different from themselves. You are operating under the maxim “Assault other humans if their viewpoints differ from your own.” As it’s very unlikely you can will that maxim to be universal law without logical inconsistency resulting, it’s not ethically correct. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • If it’s morally acceptable to punch someone in the face for marching with the Third Reich’s flag, it’s morally acceptable to drop-kick a Pride marcher waving the Rainbow flag.
  • If Antifa is morally righteous macing Vanguard America, then surely VA is ethically correct in bashing people over the head with their weird, rolling-pin-emblem shields.
  • If it’s OK to throw Molotov cocktails at Klan members, it’s OK for them to tie a noose around a black man’s neck.

It’s a slippery slope, and one that plays right into the hands of these ignorant fucks. When you deny the Categorical Imperative of condemning all forms of violence, you give them the opportunity to engage in whataboutism. When you punch a neo-Nazi marching and saluting and chanting and waving the flag of the losers of World War II, you give them moral ammunition to use against true Americans who believe we’re all created equal.

When you engage them at a physical level, they win.

Make no mistake, however; I’m not suggesting we tolerate the vile vitriol these small, spiteful people spew. No, it should be condemned vociferously. I’m also not suggesting you engage in pacifism if one of these shitgibbons takes a swing at you (that’s a decision you should make for yourself). If you see a neo-Nazi, or a “white nationalist,” or a member of the “alt-right” assaulting someone else, I believe you’re morally obligated to give whatever aid you can (the maxim being “Protect your fellow humans from harm so long as you don’t unduly put your own life at risk.”)

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “That’s great, but these Nazi scumbags would do far worse to me in a heartbeat,” and you’re probably right. It’s quite probable that they lack a solid ethical foundation on which to act. Does that mean you should abandon yours? Further, these are neo-Nazis, and they’re a far cry from Hitler’s Germany. These twatwaffles can only dream of a world where they have an iota of the power and control of the Reich.

Or, perhaps, you believe – as the Bruces do – that Kant was a real pissant.

Maybe you don’t really think about ethics and morality much. You probably should. Demagogues and real fascists thrive on moral ambiguity and indifference. I’d urge you to seek out the work of Immanuel Kant and John Rawls. Here’s a good site to get you thinking.

Maybe you’re a Nihilist, or follow Natural Law Theory. If so, I probably haven’t swayed you. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the morality of violence.


P.S.: I’m aware I made a consistent theme of ad hominem attacks on the alt-right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi fuckholes whose tiring rhetoric from the losing side of several conflicts throughout history is the root cause of the problem I tackled. However, since the point of the essay is not to convince these people their actions are immoral, but instead to persuade those on the left not to stoop to their level, I’m pretty sure I’d get a passing grade from my old moral philosophy professor.


Where’s The (Political) Party?

No comments yet

Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the recent Occupy Wall Street protests and the debt ceiling faux-crisis resolution, I’m reminded of how people like me are not truly represented in America’s representative republic. The two major parties in the United States have drifted closer to their extremes, leaving the majority of Americans to choose the lesser of two evils each election cycle.

A CBS News poll conducted before the debt deal was finalized showed a strong majority of Americans wanted a deal that took a “balanced” approach. Moderates in the U.S. were looking for spending cuts, entitlement reform, and tax increases to balance the federal budget and tackle the national debt going forward. This is essentially the plan worked out by the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform late last year. The Commission’s balanced plan was shot down by Congress, and so were similar ideas closer to the debt ceiling deadline. Instead of fair and balanced, we got slash and burn. Of course, most economists will tell you the plan we got won’t work, but it’s not really about solutions, is it? No, it’s about looking like you’re solving problems so you can keep your job.

Most Americans fall in the middle of the political spectrum, and that’s why so many of us wanted a debt ceiling/ deficit reduction plan that straddled the fence of tax increases and spending cuts. It’s not because we’re wishy-washy as a nation; it’s because we believe in justice and equality.

Unfortunately, the Democratic and Republican parties in America are ill-equipped to make government work for the majority of citizens. They are beholden to the extreme ends of the political spectrum, with moderates trapped betwixt and between.

As the protesters in Manhattan and beyond show, everyday Americans feel cheated by a system that pretends to have their best interests in mind but rarely works for them. These brave folks are frustrated by social and economic injustice. Unfortunately, without dramatic change, their aspirations of a more just civil society are doomed to failure.

I, therefore, propose a new party to represent the moderates in America. Here’s the platform:

  1. Repeal DOMA. Marriage regulation is a matter for the states to decide. In fact, I’ve argued marriage is a matter for churches to decide, with the state having overstepped its authority.
  2. Amend the United States Constitution to provide for term limits on the legislature. If one cannot serve more than two terms as President, it seems to follow that one ought not serve more than two terms in Congress. “Politician” is not a career; it is a civil service one performs. By limiting legislators to two terms, we could potentially see a Congress less beholden to corporate interests, and more attuned to solving problems. As the Congress is unlikely to send an amendment proposal out to be voted on, this would likely need to be proposed by the state legislatures.
  3. Abolish the federal minimum wage. While it may seem counter-intuitive to many Americans, the federal minimum wage actually makes your life worse by driving inflation and increasing unemployment. The minimum wage also drives employment of illegal immigrants. Because employing an American citizen requires they be paid the minimum wage, employers are willing to hire illegals to save labor costs. Without the minimum wage, it’s likely these jobs would be filled by American citizens, as they are more attractive employees (no risk of penalty for employing undocumented workers, no language barrier to training, etc). Further, if you are not a minimum-wage worker, each increase in the minimum wage is an effective pay cut, unless your employer is generous enough to increase your pay by an amount equal to the MW hike. Oh, they’re not? I’m shocked, really.
  4. Speaking of illegal immigrants, I prefer the Starship Troopers solution: “Service guarantees citizenship.” You give us four years of sacrifice, we’ll give you a lifetime of opportunity. It doesn’t have to be military service. Peace Corps, Americorps, whatever – if you serve the greater good, we’ll forgive your trespass, so to speak, and put you on track to citizenship.
  5. Let those who can take care of themselves. It’s funny when one hears conservatives say the poor should take care of themselves, yet are more than willing to take their slop from Uncle Sam’s trough. If you do not need Social Security or Medicare when you retire, you should not get it. Let’s start means-testing these programs, like we do so many other entitlements, and see if we can save some money and make the programs more sustainable.
  6. Walk the walk; be the world’s Superman. We stand for truth, justice, and the American Way. That is to say, when it comes to foreign affairs, we ought to always act upon those principles which make America great, and never betray those ideals no matter the short-term cost. We will always benefit in the long run when we loudly denounce those who act in violation of democracy, freedom, and human dignity. Specifically, this means we should end our normal diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, support Palestinians, and provide assistance to the floundering government in Mogadishu (again). There are plenty of other examples of tyranny and abuse around the world, but make no mistake – I’m not suggesting America should become the world’s police. I’m not suggesting we engage in cultural imperialism either. I’m saying we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We cannot speak of freedom from one side of our mouth while negotiating oil deals with dictators from the other.

Of course, there are many, many, many other things wrong with our system, but the six things I’ve listed above are a pretty good place to start, I think. I’m no politician or political scientist, but I bet I could get a dozen people to agree with me pretty easily. If I found someone on a ballot that agreed with even half of the principles I just laid forth, they would get my vote up to two times (term limits!). Until then, I’m going to write in the only two reasonable candidates I’ve seen in the last decade: Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert.


Getting Enhanced


Categories: Politics, Rant, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo recently over the “enhanced pat-downs” being doled out by the TSA. Some people, like Penn Jillette, think this amounts to assault. Others claim it’s a needed part of our security apparatus. Whether enhanced pat-downs make us safer or not is not the real issue, however. What’s important is how our government can make our lives better through enhanced language.

You see, there are many distasteful and morally repugnant things going on in the world today. Thankfully, the government has enhanced our lives with their words. They’ve sanitized the horrible things they do to make us happier. Shouldn’t we be happy they’re working so hard to make us happy?

Take torture, for instance. No one likes torture. But it’s OK, because the US government didn’t torture anyone by electrocuting them or practically drowning them; they gave them an enhanced interrogation. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Now, if you’re going to fly on an airplane, you get an enhanced pat-down. That’s much better than an embarassing public violation of your Fourth Amendment rights that borders on sexual assault, don’t you think?

I don’t think the government should have a monopoly on enhancing our lives though. Businesses and private citizens should enhance the world too. I’ve put together a list of enhancements for you to keep in mind. I’m sure, once you start thinking about it, you can come up with many other ways our world has been enhanced over the last few years. Feel free to comment with your own enhancements. Your fellow citizens thank you for enhancing their enhanced understanding of enhanced speech.

  • Four Loko is not a potentially dangerous alcoholic energy drink; it’s an enhanced beer.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances at work are not sexual harassment; they’re enhanced compliments.
  • The rent’s not too damn high; it’s got an enhanced price.
  • The Earth’s not undergoing global warming; it’s developing enhanced temperatures.
  • Fellatio is not a blowjob; it’s enhanced kissing.
  • Politicians are not deceitful, dishonest douchebags; they tell the enhanced truth.
  • Religious fundamentalists are not zealots; they’re enhanced believers.
  • Things are not awesome; they’re enhanced good (though I suppose “plusgood” would be an acceptable enhanced alternate word.)
  • I’m not a loudmouthed asshole; I have enhanced opinions.


Straight Eye for the Proposition 8 Guy


Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I, for one, hope that the ban on gay marriage in California remains overturned. I’m really looking forward to getting gay married. I’ve been straight married for almost six years now, and it’s been great, but I bet Tiffanie and I would be even happier if we were gay married.

In all seriousness, Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision should be celebrated by all Americans. As the judge noted, the Constitution of the United States of America indicates

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I’m no lawyer or scholar of Constitutional law, but I’m pretty sure that means that if one group of people has a right to do something, all groups of people have that same right.

Social conservatives may not like it, but gay Americans are still Americans, and are thus entitled to equal protection. It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is a choice or biologically preordained. It doesn’t matter if one’s religion views it as abhorrent or not. It doesn’t even matter if it’s called marriage or civil union.

What matters is that a tyranny of the majority was struck down. The Federalist papers foresaw something like this happening over two-hundred years ago and railed against it. Yet today Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, thinks “our Founding Fathers… would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution.” Really, Maggie? First, California’s Supreme Court ruled that the original ban on same-sex marriage violated California’sConstitution. Second, because Prop 8 revoked a right homosexuals already had, it became a federal matter under the proviso of Amendment XIV. I think the Founders would have been thrilled to see the system they cobbled together work exactly the way it was supposed to. You forget, Mags; the Framers were notorious libertarians and state’s-righters.

I had to laugh this morning when a spokesperson for the Proposition 8 supporters encouraged people to read the Constitution, where they would find nothing about same-sex marriage rights. Interestingly enough, there’s also nothing in there about hetero marriage either, probably because it’s not the federal government’s fucking [pun intended] problem.

I applaud the Governator for not sending California’s Attorney General to defend Prop 8 in court. You know you’re on the wrong side of history when a conservative, lame-duck, Republican governor with nothing to lose won’t back you up on banning marriage between consenting adults.

Remember, kiddies, it’s supposed to be by, of, and for the people. Especially the “for” part. Here’s to one little victory.


Osama Would Play A Paladin

1 comment

Categories: DDO, Gaming, LARP, President Obama, Randomness, RPG, Shadowrun, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I believe in the power of gaming.

By gaming, I mean console and computer gaming as well as pencil and paper role-playing games. To a lesser extent, I would also include board games.

When I look at the impact this hobby has had on my life, it’s a bit overwhelming.

If it weren’t for gaming, I would not have met most of my friends. Specifically, my friend Mike Diamond and I would not have met if it weren’t for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition. (We had an ongoing AD&D2E game that we played in junior high by writing on a desk [in pencil!]. It was play-by-post before there was play-by-post.) Mike and I graduated from from junior high, and graduated from D&D, together. We spent hours playing all kinds of other games: Star Wars, Starfleet Battles, Marvel Super Heroes, Rise of the Dragon (Oh my God, Shandi!), and my favorite RPG of all time, Shadowrun. We still play Shadowrun together, every Saturday night.

Without Vampire: the Masquerade, I would have never met Travis Legge. My friend came from a very different world than I did, but we shared a love of gaming. Travis was the best man at my wedding and we even ran our own game publishing company for a time. We met at a Vampire LARP, but we played plenty of other White Wolf games together: Hunter, Trinity (taint in the Tesser!), Aberrant, Wraith, and one of the most influential games I’ve ever played, Mage.

I met my wife at the same Vampire LARP that I met Travis at. We had seen each other in passing before then, but never really met. Through some boneheaded moves by other people, she ended up playing a character with a direct connection to mine. The time we spent together in-character led to meetings out-of-character, which led to her ending a dysfunctional relationship with her longtime boyfriend and starting a new dysfunctional relationship with me. We’ve been dysfunctional together ever since. Tiffanie and I have played a ton of games together, from D&D3.5 to Zombies. We still play Dungeons & Dragons Online together, when time allows.

The breadth and depth of people you meet through gaming is sometimes astounding. By playing games, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting for hours with a couple of guys from Chile (¿Cómo están, amigos?), been guild-mates with a carny (Luv ya, Bernie!), called people by some strange nicknames (Shaggy and Little Shit top the list, I think), watched someone laugh so hard they puked (indirectly due to gaming: a gaming buddy was over for Bad Movie Night. Blackula + well-placed one-liner = puke!), had the cops question me about “having an orgy in the street” (actually a mob combat in the aforementioned Vampire LARP), and so much more. Gamers have been some of the kindest, friendliest, and most genuine people I’ve ever known.

I don’t want to overstate the point, but games can be powerful tools to bring people together that never would have met or seen eye-to-eye before. Where else can you bring together an atheist with a devout Catholic, a radical feminist with a staunch Republican, a high-school dropout with a graduate student, a teenager with a pensioner, or a cop with a drug dealer? Not only have I seen these disparate people gaming together, I’ve seen them working toward common goals and having fun doing it.

So, here’s my proposal: I’ll run a game. Kim Jong-Il, Osama Bin Laden, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, Hamid Karzai, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, and Omar al-Bashir (along with many others) are invited to play D&D with me some time (3.5: I don’t care for 4E). Perhaps, when they’re faced with the World’s Largest Dungeon, they’ll realize their countries and causes are pretty small. Maybe, when confronted with the alien nature of a great wyrm red dragon, they’ll realize people have more commonalities than differences. Maybe, when they’ve reached level 20 together, they could usher in a new age of peace and prosperity for humanity.
And I bet Osama would play a paladin.



No comments yet

Categories: Loves Park, President Obama

OK, maybe Gatesgate is a bit of a stretch, but I thought I would opine on the state of race relations in the quiet white- trash suburban utopia of Loves Park, Illinois. For those of you who do not partake of mass media, click here to get up to speed. I’ll wait for you…

Good, you came back. I’ll preface my narrative by making a few qualifying statements:

  1. I did not personally witness the arrest of Professor Gates.

  2. I have not read the police report of Professor Gates’s arrest (and yes, the “s’s” is correct: read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White).

  3. I am an American of European descent; in other words, white.

I’m sure that there’s blame on both sides of the Gatesgate incident. I’m sure that President Obama could have “calibrated” his words more carefully. I’m sure that racism exists within the ranks of police forces around the country, just as there are still prejudiced paddys, spooks, krauts, spics, heebs, slopes, ruskies, chinks, guineas, limeys, frogs, canucks, camel jockeys, redskins, gobblers, punjabs, noogins… whoa! I kind of lost it there for a second. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, there’s racist and prejudiced people all over, in every profession.

At about 9:00 PM on a Friday night in 1999 I was driving with my friend Alex to my then- girlfriend’s house to hang out and watch movies. There was an electrical issue with my car, a 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo, that sometimes caused my rear lights to fail. I had turned onto a major street from another when I saw flashing lights behind me. I pulled over, oblivious to the recurrence of the light malfunction. I should mention that, at the time, I was 19 years old and familiar with the standard “license and proof of insurance” shtick when stopped by the police. Alex was too, obviously, and we both got our wallets out to produce our ID. Being normal guys, we both carried our wallets in our back pants pockets. In order to get our wallets our of our pockets, we had to remove our seat belts (which I insist passengers in my car use). That was mistake # 1.

When the officer approached the car, I already had the window rolled down, licenses and insurance card in hand. The cop asked the same question they all do: “Do you know why I stopped you?” I honestly didn’t and said so. The policeman told me that my rear lights weren’t on and I explained that I did not know that the issue had cropped up again. I told him how the switch had been replaced once already and that I would definitely get it fixed again. “So where are you headed tonight,” the officer asks me. I tell him we’re going to my girlfriend’s house. He responds, “Both of you?” Apparently it’s against the law in Illinois for two guys to hang out with one girl: we must have been planning an orgy. I tell him yes.

The cop’s next statement floored me. He said, “I also noticed that you guys weren’t wearing your seat belts.” As I told you above, I told the officer how we had taken them off after he stopped us so that we could get to our wallets. He stated that he had seen that we were not wearing the safety restraints when he first pulled us over. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from looking at pictures of the Nissan 300ZX.

It’s at this point that Officer Friendly asks if I mind if he takes a look inside my vehicle. Being a fairly well- informed citizen, I opt to exercise my rights and tell him that I do not consent to a search of my car. My reasons were two- fold: one, I was starting to get a little irritated with this guy; two, the entire interior of the Z is visible from the window. Serpico responds with a threat to summon a drug- sniffing dog to check the car out (which Illinois law allows, much to my dismay as a strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution). I snap back, “Get the dog, I don’t care: he’s not going to find anything.” Mistake #2.

The cop returns to his squad car, presumably to start writing tickets. While we’re waiting for the officer to return, a tow truck pulls up in front of us. The policeman walks up to the tow truck driver after a few minutes and chats with him, motioning in our direction a few times. After about five minutes total, the truck drives off. When the cop returns to my car, I tell him that if he’s going to write us some tickets he should just hurry it up so we can be on our way. He asks me if that’s what I want him to do. I reply, “No, but if you’re going to, could you just do it so we can go?”

The officer then shines his flashlight on the large, very full backpack between Alex’s feet on the floor of the car. He asks, “What’s in there?” I don’t let Alex respond: I’m pissed now. “Books,” I say. Indeed this was true. Alex had an entire bag filled with gaming books and Magic: the Gathering cards. The officer proceeds ask Alex if he can search the bag. I tell Lex he doesn’t have to let him do that. He accedes, however, and consents to the violation. The cop finds nothing but books and cards. He returns again to his vehicle.

After about three or four minutes he walks back up the the car, clipboard in hand. Here come the tickets, I think. Super Trooper hands Alex a citation for failing to wear his seat belt, a $75 fine, if I remember correctly. To my amazement, I am given a warning for the tail lights. The officer bids us a good eve and we are released. I pull away with my hazard lights on (which do work, for some ungodly reason) and proceed to Tiffanie’s house. The cop follows us all the way there, which is actually outside his jurisdiction as she lived in Machesney Park at the time.

What did this incident teach me? Don’t mouth off to cops, no matter how out of line they are. That’s what court is for. It also taught me that keeping receipts for repairs in your car is never a bad idea. Finally, it taught me not to be brown in Loves Park: Alex is of Haitian and Mexican descent.

Fuck the police, comin’ straight from the underground…