Money can be mesmerizing

Watch those billions of dollars stack up behind corporate brands.

There have been so many times when I’ve seen Apple tumble in value, and I’ve thought, “I should buy stock”, and then it surges upward and I think “Now I can’t buy stock”, and then I think “I’m not the kind of guy who plays the stock market anyway”, making it weird to watch Apple’s brand value soar. Why? I don’t know? The iPhone?

Not going to invest in it now, anyway. I’m just waiting for capitalism to burn to the ground making all this meaningless.

Carlson gets his hat handed to him by Bregman again

I blogged yesterday about the interview that Fox News personality Tucker Carlson had with Dutch historian Rutger Bregman where he was reduced to hurling childish insults. The interview had actually taken place last week and it looks like Carlson had hoped to bury it. But Bregman’s side of the interview was recorded in a studio at his end and he released it, taunting Carlson to also release it. So now Carlson had to respond. And he did but rather than showing the interview on his show or even explaining why he would not to his audience, he took the cowardly way out and did it online.
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Rutger Bregman hands Tucker Carlson his hat

The Fox News host invited the Dutch historian on his show to discuss his comments at Davos about the need for higher taxes on the rich went viral. Carlson apparently was attracted by Bregman pointing out the hypocrisy of people flying in their private jets to Davos to discuss climate change but the interview went off the rails when Bregman described how Fox News and its on-air personalities were millionaires who had been bought off by the billionaire class to not talk about the need for higher taxes and instead talk about immigrants. Carlson clearly did not like being told to his face that he is a mere mouthpiece for the oligarchy and went on profanity-laden tirade.
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Tennessee – a state where hopeless causes never die

You would think that following the US Supreme Court decision in 2015 outlawing bans on same-sex marriage, opponents would admit defeat and wait for their god to deliver the retribution to these sinners that these religious zealots long for. Not the Tennessee legislature. They are considering a law that would ban such marriages in their state.
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How medical care drives people into bankruptcy

You should not become bankrupt just because you get sick. That seems to me to be an obvious requirement for any civilized society. But that is not the case in the US. As a new study of bankruptcy court filings reveal, medical expenses are the most common cause of bankruptcies in the US. This has been true for some time and it is significant that the Affordable Care Act (known popularly as Obamacare) has not changed the numbers.
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Strange people, those ancaps

A man, John Galton, was murdered in Acapulco. The proximate reason: he was growing marijuana in Mexico, and the drug cartels wanted to shut him down. The ultimate cause: he was deeply involved in the anarcho-capitalism cult.

Anarcho-capitalists (“ancaps”) believe in dismantling the state and allowing unchecked capitalism to govern the world in its place. Even within the small anarchist world, ancaps are fringe. Anarchists typically describe their movement as inherently anti-capitalist. Their philosophy describes anarchy as the rejection of hierarchical structures, which they say capitalism enforces. Anarcho-capitalists, meanwhile, see money as a liberating force. They promote a variety of libertarian causes like using cryptocurrency, legalizing all drugs, and privatizing all public institutions like courts and roads. The movement reveres the novelist Ayn Rand, whose work outlines a philosophy of radical selfishness and individualism. Her best-known character, an idealized capitalist named John Galt, appears to have inspired Galton’s name.

Peter Kropotkin wept. It’s all a fraud, with everyone involved desperately trying to con people out of money. They’re into cryptocurrency, drugs, and various paper-shuffling schemes, all of which rely on parasitizing other people’s wealth instead of generating their own, and they carry a lot of weird baggage.

They made their money off Forester’s hand-blown smoking paraphernalia and fundraised on their frequent blog posts. They adopted a dog named Rebel and a cat named Satoshi (named after the pseudonymous founder of bitcoin). The pair hosted “meat-ups” for people interested in carnivorism, an all-flesh diet popular in some right-wing and libertarian circles, particularly among libertarians with an interest in cryptocurrency.

The unofficial leader of their community of selfish expatriates, Jeff Berwick, is also a notorious con artist.

Berwick’s passport company, TDV Passports, also appears to have stumbled. The site used to sell “professional facilitation services for those seeking to establish citizenship in countries abroad.” In practical terms, that meant putting clients in touch with people who could fast-track immigration and citizenship applications. Various versions of the site charged from $12,000 for the Dominican Republic citizenship process to $40,000 in “legal fees” for U.S. citizenship. The company appears frequently on scam-reporting websites, where alleged TDV Passports customers complained of spending tens of thousands of dollars without ever obtaining immigration documents.

He’s also running a conference which will feature Ron Paul and Judge Andrew Napolitano, and charges extravagant fees for everything — it’s another scam. But what I thought most revealing was his comment on the horrifying murder of his friend:

Anarchapulco will go on as scheduled next week and might be even bigger due to the murder, Berwick says.

“We’ve received nothing but love from attendees and expect this will not affect attendance in a negative way at all,” he said. “In fact, it could increase attendance as more people are exposed to our message this week due to media coverage of this tragic event.”

I suppose you don’t have to be a sociopath to be an ancap, but it sure helps.

The Bezos case should not overshadow the invasions of privacy by Amazon

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has garnered many kudos for his decision to not knuckle under to the blackmail attempts by the sleazy tabloid National Enquirer. But Glenn Greenwald writes that while ths action was commendable, it should not blind us to the fact that Amazon’s business practices are truly horrendous and that that company is one of the biggest violators of other people’ privacy and works hand in glove with the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other government spy agencies to develop ever more comprehensive surveillance tools.
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