All-Too-Thrilling Adventures Read: Crypto-Anarchists, Anarcho-Capitalists, and Old-Fashioned Drug Cartels

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more written about this incident, although it may just be that my dark-web access skillz are less than subpar. As reported here, it sure sounds like an example of the old truism: Just because ‘the cops’ are your enemies doesn’t make ‘the crooks’ your friends. From the Washington Post, last Monday, “An American ‘crypto-anarchist’ fled the country. He was just killed in Mexico’s ‘murder capital’”:

Bathed in the sunlight of Mexico’s dry season, his dreadlocks tumbling down his back, a man who went by the name “John Galton,” an apparent nod to the hero of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” observed almost two years ago, “There’s pockets of freedom all over the world if you’re willing to live in freedom.”

Galton paid a high price for that freedom. He was gunned down Friday by a band of men who stormed his home in Acapulco, where he and his girlfriend had found safe haven from drug charges in the United States, as they explained in a March 2017 video interview with the conspiracy site Press for Truth.

Joining a community of like-minded expatriates, Galton had sought to build a life as a self-made man. He advocated drug liberalization and taught classes on cryptocurrencies. He was set to be featured in a documentary called “Stateless.”…

His girlfriend, Lily Forester, nodded. Defending the once-glamorous Pacific Coast city now considered Mexico’s “murder capital,” she said, “It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve experienced in the States.”

On Friday, she was left pleading for help after the rampage left her boyfriend dead and another man, Jason Henza, injured…

Guerrero State police said in a statement Saturday that the survivors reported armed men showing up at a “cannabis greenhouse” and targeting Galton. The attorney’s office, which confirmed that Galton had been killed, said in a statement Sunday that it had found a marijuana laboratory on the premises, including white lights and gas tanks. No suspects had been named, and a motive for the killing remained unknown.
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Rococo ‘Conservatism’ Open Thread: The Ultimate Ross Doubthat Column

As someone who was actually educated by the Church, Doubthat’s “I’m a devout Catholic, but defend libertarianism, because freedom!” makes as much sense to me as would “I’m a strict vegetarian, but I defend cannibalism, because long pig is so delicious!” But this *particular* divertissement should be preserved under a glass vitrine, as an exemplar of how “American Thought Leadership” collapsed at the beginning of the new millenium:

Like most interesting churches, libertarianism is a diverse and fractious faith, and FreedomFest brings together all its different sects: the think-tankers with their regulatory-reform blueprints, the muckraking journalists taking on government abuses, the charter city backers and Burning Man attendees, the Ayn Rand fans wearing dollar signs on their lapels, the eccentric-genius businessmen and pot legalizers — and the converts eager to tell you how everything changed when I got really into gold.

In principle I am not a libertarian: The teenage nerd enters conservatism through either Atlas Shrugged or Lord of the Rings, and between Tolkienists like myself and the Randians a great gulf is often fixed. But even if libertarianism seems an insufficient philosophy of human flourishing, its defense of individuals and markets can be a crucial practical corrective to all manner of liberal and conservative mistakes…

Just a little while ago journalists were talking about a “libertarian moment” in American politics, with Rand Paul as its avatar — an entitlement-cutting, prison-reforming, drug-legalizing, intervention-opposing, drone-strike-filibustering politics that was supposed to build bridges between Republicans and millennials. But then Paul, like other Republicans, was steamrolled by Trumpism in 2016. So what exactly happened to his moment?…

How could that fun guy, Rand Paul, allow himself to fall under the wheels of some trash-talking newbie like Donald Trump? SAD!

To Ross, politics is just another fantasy role-playing game — a gang of enthusiasts sharing the fun of theoretical world-building and weekend bullshit sessions. There are those who make a nice career out of their chosen fantasy… writing the fanfic, making the cosplay accessories, running the LARPs… even graduating into the professional tier, working for Hollywood or a big gaming company… but the Savvy among the crowds never forget that it’s all just performance. They may resent the ‘mundanes’ who don’t understand how *fun* their little societies can be, but they save their real contempt for the losers who actually believe it makes a difference whether Team Red or Team Blue wins an election, like those sad basement-dwellers who obsess over Boba Fett or ST:OS vs ST:NG.

It’s not as though Ross, or the people Ross socializes with, are ever going to be affected by this ‘politics’ stuff; they’ll never have to worry about getting deported, losing their liberty, being jailed or beaten for the color of their skin or their choice of partners (although they can dream up some very vivid fanfic scenarios). Their version of ‘economic anxiety’ is not being able to find a decent-sized apartment in the “right” zip code. The worst punishment they can imagine is being ostracized on Martha’s Vineyard, and there’s plenty of other places to get a good cocktail on a summer weekend. Why must some people suck all the fun out of the game?, Ross asks his fellow NYT opinioneers, as they nod in agreement…



Lest We Forget Open Thread: Paul Ryan — Bad Man, “Good” German Republican

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)
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Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “A scam of a party says goodbye to its top fraud”:

The proximate cause of Ryan stepping down is that his party looks increasingly likely to suffer an electoral disaster in November’s midterm elections. He is facing an unusually strong challenge from Randy Bryce, the likely Democratic nominee in his Wisconsin district, so he probably calculated that there were two realistic outcomes for him. The worse one would be that he is defeated while his party loses the majority, as happened to then-speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) in 1994. The better one would be that he holds on to his seat while Republicans lose the majority, which might not be better at all. Being speaker may have meant plenty of headaches for Ryan, but being House minority leader is a total drag; you still have to manage your unruly caucus, but you have no real power and can’t make any progress on your agenda…

For years, Ryan has presented himself as someone deeply concerned with fiscal discipline, committed to getting America’s books in order. As anyone with any sense realized, this was a scam: Like all Republicans, he used the deficit as a bludgeon against Democratic presidents, then forgot all about it while a Republican was in office.

At the same time, Ryan — a lifelong admirer of Ayn Rand, the philosopher of selfishness — dreamed of destroying the safety net, eviscerating Medicaid, privatizing Medicare, slashing food stamps, and generally making life in America more cruel and unpleasant for all those who aren’t wealthy.

But as Paul Krugman observed, Ryan failed at both his pretend goal and his real goal. He will leave office after setting the deficit on a path to exceed $1 trillion in 2020, and yet, he failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and didn’t even bother to wage an assault on Medicare, almost certainly because he knew how disastrous it would be for his party.

So what does he mean when he says “I have accomplished much of what I came here to do”? He can only mean the tax cut Republicans passed last year. In other words, engineering a giant giveaway to corporations and the wealthy was enough for Ryan to say “My work here is done.”

Osita Nwanevu, at Slate, on “The Wolf in Wonk’s Clothing”:

[I]t’s worth revisiting now, as Ryan prepares his exit from politics, the thrust of the argument that the tale advanced—that, in general, the 20 million children in this country who receive free lunches have parents who clearly don’t care about them and that in providing food to those children, the government enables bad parenting. That sweeping judgment is impossible unless one considers poverty and economic hardship themselves personal failings. For about a decade now, Ryan has demonstrated that he believes precisely this—that those who have trouble making their way in the world are personally defective, that those immiserated by circumstance have willingly surrendered their lives to dysfunction, and that the best remedy society can offer to those who lack is to deprive them, in cuts to already meager social programs, of even more.

Shaping that dogmatism into pseudo-wonkery has taken years of wild and reckless obfuscation. Most of the analyses of where Trump “came from” have sought and found precedents for his open xenophobia, conspiracymongering, and boorishness in the rhetoric and behavior of Republican politicians in the recent past. But his mendacity and the constant consequence-free dissembling of his administration still baffle all those who’ve wondered aloud, over the past year and a half, how we so suddenly entered a new age of “post-truth” politics. We haven’t, really. Paul Ryan understood, like Trump, the extent to which the norms governing conventional political journalism have always been poorly equipped to handle naked and persistent dishonesty and disingenuousness. His speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention was littered with blatant lies…
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Why’s Everything That’s Supposed to Be Bad Make Me Feel So Good

What’s your addiction? Is it money? Is it girls? Is it weed?
I’ve been afflicted by not one, not two, but all three.

Ahh, McSuderman:

No Republican was more vociferously opposed to the build up of public debt than Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP speaker of the House who announced this morning that he would not run for reelection. For years, Ryan has served as the frontman for the GOP’s fiscal crusades, a role that helped elevate him into the upper echelons of party leadership.

Ryan repeatedly lambasted the fiscal policies of President Obama and the Democratic party. He charged that Obama “dodged the tough choices necessary to confront the threat of runaway federal spending,” and criticized the president for ignoring the recommendations of the bipartisan fiscal commission that he helped create. Under Obama, Ryan said in a 2011 op-ed, “Democrats have simply done away with serious budgeting altogether.” Ryan was serious about the deficit. Obama and the Democrats were not.

Repeat after me. Paul Ryan was never fucking serious about the budget. Let me clarify- he was never serious about deficit and debt. He may have talked all the time about them, but that’s the “confidence” in con artist part (I haven’t seen it in years, but House of Games is my favorite con artist film, from before when Mamet lost his shit. I wonder how it has aged.) They talk and talk and talk, and while they are talking, they are reaching into your back pocket.

Paul Ryan was serious about the budget in one sense- in shifting who benefited. He didn’t care about the overall size, he just wanted to take from the untermensch and give to the noble Randian superclass. That’s why he didn’t so much as flinch pushing the Trump tax giveaway, but had to be pulled over broken glass to reauthorize CHIP (even though it saved money in the long term) because it meant his precious going to the poors.

Democrats, to be sure, have not exactly been icons of limited government. But under Clinton, the deficit turned into a technical surplus. During his first term, discretionary spending actually dropped; it wasn’t until the second term, with Republicans in control of Congress, that it began to increase again.

Stop right fucking there:

Fucking google something, McSuderman.

Deficits ballooned during President Obama’s first term, and from day one of his presidency, Republicans were swift to blame Democrats for a lack of fiscal discipline. But the rapid increase actually started under Bush. Depending on how you run the numbers, it is possible to make the argument that most of the Obama-era deficits were caused by Bush-era policies.

NOT ONLY IS IT POSSIBLE, BUT IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN THE NUMBERS. You might have heard of the crash of 2007 in between attending Arcade Fire fanfests.

Obama’s second term was marked by still large but shrinking deficits that Republicans, since taking over, have grown again.Who ran congress during that period and what signature legislation was passed (and paid for) that helped lead to those shring When Paul Ryan noted that Obama ignored the recommendations of the bipartisan committee on fiscal responsibility, he was right. But what Ryan didn’t say was that Ryan himself was on that committee—and he voted against its recommendations.

HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE DEBT OR DEFICITS. HE CARES ABOUT WHO GETS THE MONEY YOU ASSHOLE.

I do not mean to suggest that Democrats are actually the party of good budgetary sense.

Fuck off.

In the long term, the largest drivers of the debt are Medicare and Social Security, and Democrats have, for the most part, been resistant to structural reforms.

No. Medicare and Social Security are fine and will be fine if YOU AND REPUBLICANS stop looting America, starting trillion dollar wars of choice, and spending 800 billion a fucking year on a bloated defense budget. And the only reason they want to “fix” both of them is because they want to privatize them, looting both for the benefit of their financial betters, which will no doubt make both of them worse and far more costly. But again, the actual cost is not what matters to Ryan. What matters is who gets the loot in this bust out.

Is there anything more addictive than the narrative that Democrats are bad for the economy and bad on fiscal matters?



Late-Night Lightweights Open Thread: Five Pounds of Manure in A Ten-Pound Sack

The Atlantic has hired Kevin Williamson away from the National Review, in further display of how Trumpism has exposed the bone-deep corruption of “conservative thinking” just as Trump has exposed the rot of modern Republicanism. For all his swashbuckling words, Williamson would never personally lynch a woman who’d had an abortion (or even her doctor) — for one thing, he hasn’t the ability even if he had the guts — but he’s diligently polished his persona as A Thinker Who Is Willing to Make the Bold Arguments…

Rob Beschizza, at BoingBoing:

I had a hunch: I thought (and said as much) that Williamson was hired explicitly because of what he had written about women, black kids and the poor. To well-off center-leaning liberals,[*] Williamson is the perfect post-Trump conservative: superficially literary, ostentatiously nasty, profoundly disgusted by the weak, yet (and this is super-duper important) opposed to the current president.

Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg explained… why he hired Williamson. Nailed it! Not only was Goldberg and The Atlantic aware of Williamson’s writing, they love it: “I recognized the power, contrariness, wit, and smart construction of many of his pieces. I also found him to be ideologically interesting”. Moreover, Goldberg was party to Williamson deleting his Twitter account, to ease his transition from the reactionary right to columnist at a liberal-ish magazine.

Goldberg’s rationale also makes clear something else, though: they (rather sanctimoniously) think that Williamson has “grown” beyond his National Review persona, and that his willingless to do so is part of why they hired him…
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