A blog about libertarian politics and radical political theory, focusing on political philosophy and ideology, constitutional law, civil liberties, civil rights, labor laws, U.S.-Israeli foreign policy, anarchism, election statistics, and the law's relationship to religious and ethnic culture.
Sure, it may seem to many of us that
president-elect Trump has been intentionally ambiguous about many of his policies,
in order to keep his foreign and domestic rivals guessing, so he can stay one
step ahead of them. Others among us may believe that he is simply the ultimate
flip-flopper, and that he only changes his views when it is politically
expedient, and necessary to gain support.
Still others believe
that he is genuinely indecisive, and that he lacks knowledge about many policy
topics. Perhaps he is like many young people today; maybe he stopped taking
things seriously a long time ago, so much so that now, he can't even tell when
he's being sarcastic, and so he paints himself into a corner until he has no
choice but to double-down on his often outrageous and dubious assertions. And
maybe the fact that he repeatedly gets away with it, is the fault of a Fourth
Estate that keeps giving him 72 hours to change his mind before he gives an
interview that’s to be taken as his final say on the matter.
But one thing
seems certain: Donald J. Trump is a walking illustration of particle physicist Werner
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle; the less you know about his position, the
more you know about his momentum, and vice-versa. As a comment on a political
spectrum meme recently explained, “Trump is too high-energy and all-over-the-place to stay in one
quadrant”. Politically speaking, Trump is an unpredictable particle; God only knows
where he is going, but he is going there fast.
After all, this
is a man who simultaneously campaigned on the promises of achieving
"universal health care" while also "getting rid of" the
state lines that inhibit the freedom of interstate commerce in health insurance
purchase. Therefore it should come as no surprise that he has backed off from
his pledge to repeal the deceptively-named Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act, vowing to keep in place the part of the law which requires plans and
issuers that offer dependent child coverage to cover young adults until they
turn 26 and qualify for open enrollment.
So too is he the
man who, during his campaign, described himself as "100% pro-life",
even going so far as to consider the possibility that women could be punished
in the event that abortion were to be outlawed; whereas 17 years ago he told
Tim Russert that he described himself as “very pro-choice” and “strongly for
choice”, adding that he hates the concept of abortion, but did not wish to ban
the arguably infanticidal procedure known as partial-birth abortion which he now
supposedly wants outlawed. Recently, Trump has stated that Roe v. Wade can be overturned, and that he intends to nominate
Supreme Court justices who would seek to do so.
Not only that; Trump
has backed off of his pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to the Hillary
Clinton e-mail case, and ensure that she go to prison. What’s more, he has also
backed down from his promise to overturn the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges - in which the Supreme Court ruled that states
be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and recognize same-sex
marriages which are valid in other states – calling it “settled law”, and
adding that he’s “fine” with gay marriage.
But we’re not
finished: since early 2016, some have speculated that Trump’s proposed wall on the
U.S.-Mexico border will not be a physical one, but merely a “symbolic” wall;
among them Trump foreign policy and terrorism adviser Walid Phares, who in
September told Paris-based news channel France24, “Trump’s wall is only
symbolic, and the candidate only launched this extreme policy proposal to raise
This came the
month after Trump asked an audience in Austin, Texas whether undocumented
immigrants with otherwise clean criminal records, who have lived in the United
States for several decades, should be deported. The spontaneous crowd-sourcing
poll, which he conducted eight times in a row (in order to get a clear answer)
revealed that that audience slightly favored allowing them to stay, but did not
favor allowing them to become U.S. citizens. That night, Trump said he agreed
with a man in the audience who favored deportation, adding “We’re going to come
out with a decision very soon.”
Trump’s support of the Fourth-Amendment-ignoring proposed “No Fly, No Buy”
legislation (although he acknowledges that some people on no-fly lists and terror
watch lists do not belong there), seems somewhat at-odds with his support for expanding
the legality of concealed-carry permits.
inconsistency on abortion, Obamacare, same-sex marriage, deportation and the
wall, and gun control, demonstrate a stark contrast to the principle behind his
stated position on the taxation of businesses; that is, the principle of
providing the kind of certainty that leads to safe and stable investments in
domestic employment. On the other hand, these so-called “positions” seem to fit
his foreign policy theme of intentional ambiguity.
So what are we
to make of a president-elect who wants to privatize public infrastructure, and outlaw flag burning, while also keeping
gay marriage legal and promising to turn the Republican Conference into a “workers’
party”? Is Trump indecisive, is he a moderate, or is he a shrewd negotiator
determined not to let anyone read his poker face?
Perhaps he is
simply Door Number Three from the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. Maybe he is a
pretty pink box covered with question marks, sitting on the desk of “Simpsons”
billionaire C. Montgomery Burns, for which his supporters are willing to trade
away not only Door Number One and Door Number Two, but also the freedom to make
a decisive, informed choice between them.
"The box, the box!"
abounds regarding whether Trump’s difficulty getting along with the Republican and
Democratic establishments will hinder his ability to get his policy objectives
through. So too are many asking whether his supporters will let him get away
with betraying them on the issues of health, abortion, marriage, immigration, and
guns, if that is indeed what he even intends to do.
indecision and doubling-down – coupled with his disagreements with his often
unruly supporters, and the division which his Austin audience revealed in
August – demonstrate that he is a Schrödinger’s Candidate; that he has let the
cat out of Pandora’s Bag, but is having trouble putting it back into the tube
On the other
hand, maybe Trump is the cesium atom,
the American public is the cat, and we’re
in a quantum superposition of states until Inauguration Day. Maybe we’re in the
midst of a transition period, in which America – in a demonstration of faith,
through a single capricious vote – has already been made the Great-Again which
it never wasn’t, but we also just
experienced the worst thing that has happened to this country since 9/11. And what
are the odds that that is true? As a
wise man once said, “Don’t ever tell me the odds.”
So the questions
remains: “Random number generators have won wars, but can a random policy
generator fix a broken country? Will Donald Trump, the Human Wonder-Waffle,
unite what is arguably the most divided electorate this country has ever seen?
Will he manage to forge even a tentative alliance with the quasi-nihilistic so-called
‘moderates’ of each major party’s establishment?” In this writer’s opinion, we find
our answer in what yet another wise
man once said: “Sticking together is what good waffles do.”
Two patriotic Americans of opposing political parties
Written on November 11th, 2016 Edited on November 17th, 2016
Twelfth century rabbi Moshe ben
Maimon (also known as Maimonides, or the Rambam) admitted that the purpose of
circumcision is to reduce sexual sensitivity and pleasure. Contrary to the
American Medical Association (A.M.A.) 's prior position, circumcision has no
proven medical benefits. Fortunately, however, the A.M.A. no longer recommends circumcising
boys at birth.
Circumcision does not
reduce the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (S.T.D.s) as
its proponents claim (to be precise, they only claim that it may). It actually unnecessarily opens the body up to infection
by exposing unprotected areas to the elements; this increases the risk of
contracting blood-borne illnesses. Evidence suggests that circumcision increases the risk of contracting syphilis, H.I.V. (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection rates are lower in countries where males are not routinely circumcised, and claims that circumcision may reduce the risk of contracting H.P.V. (Human Papilloma Virus) are dubious because there is no way to test males for H.P.V.. Too many parents make the mistake of
believing that circumcision promotes sexual health; and that the benefits of
not having to clean as much of their children's genitals, outweighs the
detriments associated with risk of contracting diseases (that is, if they're even aware of that risk).
While circumcision reduces
sensitivity, it also leaves scars that can recur and cause pain long into
adulthood, including pain during sexual intercourse. Reduced sensitivity,
coupled with pain and scarring, can cause sex to become less frequent. This can
lead to emotional detachment from one's sexual partner(s), which can lead to
difficulty sustaining sexual relationships.
The removal of the foreskin at birth, occurring before
informed consent is even possible, can result in feelings of incompleteness,
and sexual and personal inadequacy. These feelings can lead to, and exacerbate, D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and gender dysphoria. When part of one's
genitals are removed, one may experience feelings of separation and
dissociation from the person who underwent the operation; this causes the
feeling that the disfigurement actually happened to someone else, and the sense
that one's current persona is distinct from the person they were born as. Additionally,
botched circumcisions can leave boys with mutilated genitalia; the resulting
incompleteness of the genitals and loss of correct function can cause boys to cease
identifying as male altogether. Botched circumcisions can also cause massive blood loss, and cause problems that cannot be fully corrected for years.
frustration, and hindered ability to build healthy emotional relationships with
people on a social level, can motivate aggressive behaviors. These feelings can
even motivate rape; a person who has been deprived of their natural rights of
bodily self-ownership and physical integrity, may be more likely to commit rape
as an act of sexual self-empowerment.
Circumcision is a barbaric, archaic ritual which has
no medical merit, and creates more social and sexual health problems than it
solves. The practice should be shunned by anyone who understands that an
individual human being has rights to his entire body. Furthermore, circumcision
should be considered genital mutilation, and even child sexual abuse.
Therefore, in my opinion, doctors who perform such procedures should have
medical malpractice suits brought against them.
Circumcision performed upon
people who have not yet reached the age of consent, should be prohibited.
However, it would behoove circumcision opponents (so-called
"intactivists", a portmanteau of "intact" and "activists")
to include a religious exemption to such a legal prohibition, in order to avoid
trampling upon the rights of religious communities (namely, Jews) who consider
the practice to be part of a sacred covenant (called brit milah) which unites the genitals of the "patient" with the head of the mohel
and G-d, symbolizing a completion of the Jewish Tree of Life (Etz haChayim). On a final note, claims that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting herpes, do not hold up well in light of the fact that a handful babies die each year after being infected with herpes by mohels performing the ritual metzitzah b'peh following circumcision.
It has been said that all of the existing mined gold which currently exists in the country, would not be enough to support backing the national currency with gold deposits. I do not doubt that this is true.
However, I believe that if the federal government were to practice fiscal solvency and responsibility, balance the budget, eliminate the budget deficit, and take steps toward paying off the debt, then not as much gold (and other precious metals; namely silver, palladium, and copper) would be needed to back the currency.
This is because eliminating the federal budget deficit would make it unnecessary to engage in Quantitative Easing and Operation Twist -type programs, which essentially involve the Department of the Treasury printing new paper fiat currency "out of thin air". As a result, debt is built into the value of the dollar; thus, the value and purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar is diluted, and inflation increases.
It is this Quantitative Easing, and inflation, and building debt into the value of the dollar, which cause currency users to spend it more quickly than they otherwise would. Inflation causes the money to "burn a hole in the pocket" of the currency user; some call this effect "the inflation tax on savings". The value of the dollar is declining as it sits in Americans' pockets; this gives currency users an incentive to spend money now - or as soon as possible - rather than spending it later, and rather than saving it for the long-term.
As a result of all this, people spend most of their money to buy ordinary consumer goods that they need on a day-to-day basis; instead of saving that money, and instead of spending their money on things that they will need for the long-term - namely, and most importantly, homes - items that are long-term stores of value.
It is important to note about gold - and other precious metals - that they have more value in their exchange than they have in their use (at least in terms of productive, personal use to the average person, who possesses the metals for non-industrial purposes). Although gold and silver have industrial uses in electronics - and arguably some personal use in jewelry and silverware - they have little use to the average person, who possesses them for savings purposes.
These facts render the value of precious metals' uses as currency, greater than their value for productive industrial uses; and it is the conversion of these metals into their productive industrial uses which gives the metals their high store of value as a medium of exchange. Widespread agreement among consumers that goods which count gold and silver (etc.) among their raw materials, are beneficial, is what makes precious metals viable currencies.
To recap: if the budget were balanced, the debt were paid off, inflation were driven down to zero, and the purchasing power of the dollar were stable and / or rising, then as a result, overall fiscal policy were to incentivize savings instead of immediate spending.
If that were to happen, then people would be able to devote more attention to spending money towards procuring their long-term needs, such as houses in which they can live for decades (rather than towards obtaining the goods and services which they need every day), then the necessity of engaging in trade and commerce would decrease overall. This is because the more expensive long-term needs could be more easily obtained, due to the positive impact which inflation relief has upon savings. Decreasing sales taxes, excise taxes, luxury taxes, customs duties, imposts, and tariffs, could serve to further offset the disincentivizing effects on purchasing which are created by the "inflation tax on savings" which budgetary insolvency makes seem necessary.
When people can easily afford what they need, they save more, they spend less value, they don't have to work as many hours, and they have extra time left over to devote to planning their purchases in ways that save them even more time and money in the process.
With (1) diminished consumer need to buy expensive long-term items, (2) strengthened purchasing power that makes it just as much easier to buy short-term goods (as compared to long-term goods), (3) more money in savings accounts, and (4) less money being spent in the marketplace; less currency would need to circulate in order to ensure that the medium of exchange reaches all the people it needs to, and reaches them in the amounts and value necessary to buy what they need.
And when less currency needs to circulate, lower amounts of a value-storing medium of exchange need to exist in order to back up the value of the U.S. Dollar. Simply put, the gold standard would be much easier to implement given successful implementation of the fiscal reform measures which I have outlined above.
Speaking strictly in terms of the currently dominant paper fiat currency (as opposed to precious metals), less "faith and credit" in the treasury and banking systems are required to prop up this rapidly depreciating, failed, arguably unconstitutional currency.
Here's to hoping that the value and purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar will be saved before our currency becomes yet another failed faith-based program.