Writing Exercise: Sensory Details

I’m searching for seashells on the beach, my splayed fingers buried in the wet sand. It feels around smooth pebbles, rocks with jagged edges, and shattered shells of long-dead creatures. I can hear the waves lapping against the shore and the faint laughter from my older cousins playing in the water. A sea breeze blows sand into my face, with it the smell of brine and catch from a fisherman’s boat in the distance.

The best quotes from Rand Paul’s response to the State of the Union

It isn’t a secret that Senator Rand Paul is aiming for the White House in 2016. And just as he did in the past two years, he has prepared his own response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. This year, however, his response is just as much a rejoinder to Obama’s inanity as a presidential campaign speech. It’s packed with zingers directed at Hillary Clinton and Washington, D.C. elites. And it has references to topical issues of the day like Ferguson and that Obama-Clinton mess in the Middle East. It reads and sounds like a campaign speech, albeit a 12-minute long one.

I look at three quotes that I found personally significant:

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“We will not cut one penny from the safety net until we’ve cut every penny from corporate welfare.”

Quote 1: My first reaction was: Holy shit. This is a great populist message that strikes at the very heart of Democrats’ accurate attempt to portray the Republican Party as the party of Wall Street (and let’s not kid ourselves about this, it is). In a single promise, Paul elevates the discussion surrounding spending cuts from “the GOP is threatening the safety net grandma relies on” to “let’s cut spending and here’s one practical cut we can do now that will be popular with real people.” If it isn’t clear to everyone, this is an important campaign promise, one that is simultaneously radical and pragmatic in its messaging. It’s conservative because he’s talking about cutting spending, but it’s also has that populist vibe that the GOP desperately needs for it to be a party for everyone.

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“Income inequality has worsened under this Administration, and tonight President Obama offers more of the same policies—policies that have allowed the poor to get poorer, and the rich to get richer.”

Quote 2: Wow. This is such a shift from Mitt Romney and the GOP’s “blame the poor” and “let’s pretend income inequality doesn’t exist” stance during the 2012 elections. Even some of the self-described libertarians I know pretend that income inequality doesn’t exist. Like the GOP, they believe that everything is functioning spectacularly well in our truly free market and delude themselves that these massive government interventions in the economy wouldn’t create income disparities that could harm people. For Paul to even acknowledge that income inequality exists and that it has worsened under Obama’s destructive policies is massive leap forward for libertarian political thought. And furthermore, he is saying this bit of truth many months ahead of his own presidential race. Paul will need to remind people that it is Obama’s policies that have made it difficult for people to prosper and it was only through the sheer resilience of the American people that things are better now. Obama didn’t build this recovery, we did. The economy is recovering, jobs are slowly being created, despite Obama’s fumbling and harmful attempts to fix it.

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“Hillary’s war in Libya is a prime example of acting without thinking.”

Quote 3: Burn! This is a great quote from Paul, with a great phrase. It eviscerates Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy credentials. Nothing more can be said about this except that this bears repeating over and over and over and over until people actually realize how much of a failure Clinton has been in the area of foreign policy.

Footnotes

1. Read the transcript here or head over to randresponse.com for the video.
2. Dreamy photos of Paul are from various sources. I added the website name, because I was using these images on social media.

Rand Paul’s comments on Eric Garner’s murder was a failure in messaging

I find it exhausting that people are still defending Rand Paul’s misstep with regards to his failed messaging on Eric Garner’s murder.

Yes, enforcement of petty laws are a problem.
Yet a black man is dead and a cop wasn’t indicted for his murder.
Yes, high taxes on cigarettes are a problem.
Yet a black man is dead and a cop wasn’t indicted for his murder.
Yes, white folks like Kelly Thomas were victims of police brutality.
Yet a black man is dead and a cop wasn’t indicted for his murder.
Yes, we expect cops to enforce laws politicians pass.
Yet a black man is dead and a cop wasn’t indicted for his murder.

Of all the things Rand Paul chose to highlight and emphasize, he chose one that shifts the blame away from the cop who took Eric Garner’s breath away and the grand jury who denied justice to Garner’s family.

It’s all well and good that Rand blame politicians who indirectly caused Garner’s death—and I do believe that liberals in New York City have hands stained red with Garner’s blood because of their policies—but he forgot to point the finger at Daniel Pantaleo and the grand jury who let him off the hook.

“Yes All Brown Men” are sexual threats to white women, apparently

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Meet Rob Bliss and Shoshana Roberts, stars of a viral video depicting the latter being sexually harassed on the streets of New York City. The video is called 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman and was commissioned by Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment group. The video is supposed to represent an experience a typical woman faces walking the streets.

And I have issues with it.

My main issue is that this is a video created and directed by a straight white dude depicting a white woman in an urban environment being sexually threatened by mostly black or brown men. 10 hours, over 100 men, and yet an overwhelming majority of the men shown by Bliss sexually harassing Roberts were brown and black men. At the most, there were one or two white dudes shown harassing Roberts in the entire video.

But the video shows an experience that a typical woman in New York City experiences, right? But how could that be when the video is not even showing Roberts’ perspective. The video is quite literally the perspective of a straight white dude who created and directed this video observing a white woman being violated by faceless black and brown men. This is a manufactured experience. Roberts was an actress hired to play a role (she’s listed as the talent in the YouTube video) of the sexual harassment victim. Bliss paid Roberts to be exposed to this so he can capture it on video. The sexual harassment is real, yes. But it would not have been possible if it weren’t for Bliss making it so. What does it say that this month’s feminist viral video was directed by a man who paid a woman to be sexually harassed?

To summarize: a straight white dude paid a white woman to walk the streets of New York City in a path dictated by Bliss (Roberts is seen walking behind a cameraman) with the intention of capturing on video black and brown men making comments at her.

I am the tone-deaf libertarian here, it shouldn’t be hard to see the implicit racism of this viral video.

After all, American history is replete with examples of atrocities committed by white folks against black folks purportedly to protect white women. It is an age-old tradition in America to depict black men as sexually threatening towards white women. This viral video is too reminiscent of that recent history.

It could be that I am merely imagining this, but given criminalization of black and brown existence from Ferguson to the Middle East, I am not so sure.

Reminder about Joe Biden’s coke-snorting son Hunter Biden

Reminder that Joe Biden’s coke-snorting son Hunter Biden, who was kicked out of the Navy Reserve for coke-snorting, was the same guy who landed a cushy job working for a Ukrainian gas company.

It turns out that he was kicked out in February and the media knew about it, yet did not report it. A few months later, he lands a cushy job with a Ukrainian gas company. If you’re from a poor or middle-class family, popping the drug test nets you Dishonorable Discharge, which usually disqualifies you from working at a McDonald’s. And yet Hunter Biden gets to rake in the dough working for a large corporation.

Hunter Biden deserves to be in jail, like the poor people and brown people Joe Biden has helped put in jail in the Drug War he has supported.

#ArrestHunterBiden

Photography as terrorism in Los Angeles

Journalist and filmmaker Paul Detrick has a very important documentary out about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s harassment of photographers. The video includes an interview with award-winning street photographer Shawn Nee whose video of his arrest by anti-terrorism officers went viral last year. Now, you are probably wondering, “oh hey, the guy got roughed up a bit no big deal” but it is actually worse than that. In the video, Nee is threatened by the officers that his name will be submitted to the FBI. It turns out, the officer followed through with his threat: Nee’s name was in fact submitted to a Department of Homeland Security as a potential terrorist threat.

Last week, my chapter of Young Americans for Liberty hosted Detrick to screen a preview of his documentary and he brought with him hundreds of these “suspicious activity reports.” These reports were of normal photographers whose hobbies are reported as potential terrorism by the sheriff’s department. You can access the redacted files here. As you read through the reports, you get a sense that they are just nabbing every photographer committing the crime of photography. Reasonable people’s intuitions would be that something as mundane as taking a photograph of a turnstile does not seem to call for an arrest.

But what does it mean? Is it merely inconvenient? As it turns out, it goes beyond the momentary inconvenience. Your information–name, age, everything–is permanently submitted to a national terrorism database shared by 14,200 police agencies in 46 states and 74 fusion centers across the country.

It is pretty chilling.

More on Detrick’s report at ReasonTV.

Regarding California’s nullification of NDAA 2012 indefinite detention

I am proud to have been part of the state-wide coalition to make this a reality. A year of hard work to get this passed. It was a Tea Party Republican who introduced the measure, backed by the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Tenth Amendment Center, and then gained support among the progressives and antiwar activists and anti-racism groups including the Occupy Wall Street-inspired 99% Coalition in San Francisco.

I have written about our efforts before. For the recent news, read it here.

Question: How did war change you?

Hey Jayel, my names Adrian and I was just wondering if i could ask you something. As a veteran are you able to see personally if the effects of going into action changed you in any way and if they did, in what ways?

I am not sure if it was the seven months I was deployed in Iraq or the four years of being immersed (24/7) in the Marine Corps culture that changed me. I am lucky enough that I do not suffer from extreme forms of PTSD which plagues my brothers and sisters in the military, and the only lingering effects I can think of that might be related to my combat deployment are my occasional night terrors and hypervigilance. The night terrors do not bother me as I do not remember them (yey!) and actually only bothers the people I am sleeping with when I scream in my sleep, and the hypervigilance is actually kind of useful when living in an urban area. Even with the occasional crippling loneliness and depression and flashes of suicidal thoughts, I am extremely well-adjusted and not at all at-risk for suicide. I am a functional adult and I am lucky for that.

On the other hand, I do know for a fact that certain personality traits of mine that I had going in were amplified because of my military experience. Some of them good and some of them bad, but that is life. Even with missteps and setbacks, it is forward and upward for me, always.

What is Copyright? A Brief Primer

For most people, “copyright” is an abstract legal concept with little or no relation to most people’s lives. Unless you are involved in the creative industry, either in publishing or entertainment, you would have little use for it. However, most of everything that we touch or see have some sort of “intellectual property” applied to them. The movies we watch are protected by copyrights, the computers we use are crippled with patents, and the products we enjoy are almost always emblazoned with a trademark.

Of those three types of intellectual property, it is copyright and its pertinent laws that affect individuals the most. Copyright is so pervasive and reaches into so many aspects of what we do and consume, that we are inadvertently violating someone’s copyright claim everyday. Singing the copyrighted “Happy Birthday” in a birthday party constitutes a public performance and thus copyright infringement; publishing your child’s drawing of Mickey Mouse on Tumblr is copyright infringement; quoting a lyrics in a tweet or Facebook status is copyright infringement.

A private property owner who configures (copies) his tangible resources into an arrangement similar or identical to a copyright holder’s configuration might seem like harmless copying, but in the eyes of the State, this is an infringement of that copyright holder’s copyrights. Upon the infringement of a copyrighted work, there is a transfer of ownership rights from the private property owner to the copyright claimant. All of this is done without the consent of the private property owner and enforced by the full violence of the State. This is the logic behind copyright law: “what is yours is mine as soon as a bit of my ‘copyright’ is present on your property.”

Great thinkers in this sphere — most notably Stephan Kinsella in Against Intellectual Property and Michele Boldrin in Against Intellectual Monopoly — have successfully argued that all forms of “intellectual property” are not property, but forms of state privileges. Both Kinsella and Boldrin make clear the distinctions between real, tangible property and the state-sanctioned monopoly called copyright.

Stephan Kinsella defines “copyrights” and “patents”:

Only tangible, scarce resources are the possible object of inter­personal conflict, so it is only for them that property rules are appli­cable. Thus, patents and copyrights are unjustifiable monopolies granted by government legislation.

Michele Boldrin explains what that means:

Intellectual property law is not about your right to control your copy of your idea — this is a right that, as we have just pointed out, does not need a great deal of protection. What intellectual property law is really about is my right to control your copy of my idea.

My fellow libertarians rightly oppose income taxation for it assumes that an individual does not have the right to his own wealth and that the State is the ultimate owner. Copyright should be opposed on similar grounds for it represents a massive infringement of private property rights. Copyright laws codify the assumption that an individual does not have the right to his own private property and that the ultimate arbiter of ownership is the State through its copyright system.

To summarize: Copyright is a state privilege granted to some at the expense of others’ real property rights. Intellectual property and copyrights are not exercised by individuals—they are enforced with the violence of the State.

Excerpted from “A Libertarian Primer on the Copyright Wars” published in Young Americans for Liberty.

Question: Thoughts on affirmative action?

Thoughts on affirmative action?

1. “Affirmative action” by private entities—as long as this sort of targeted discrimination is voluntary and not dictated by State, private entities ought to be able to do whatever they want. I certainly would favor gays and brown people in my hiring especially since I know they face discrimination elsewhere.

2. “Affirmative action” by public agencies—given that the State and its agencies do not have rights which can be violated by a mandatory “affirmative action” and given that this country’s government has committed racism in the past and granted privileges to particular groups at the expense of others, I understand why it would be ideal for the State to attempt to correct past injustice. So, in principle, “affirmative action” sounds like a great idea when seen in that light.

Except there is nothing stopping the State from using that same quota system to limit participation by minorities. Affirmative action will not magically turn an inherently exploitative—racist, sexist, homophobic, thieving, murdering—power structure into a shining example of post-racial egalitarianism. One only needs to see the racial and class makeup of Congress to see that.

Rand Paul is not your next Murderer-in-Chief

You know, Ron Paul did not spend 30 years defending liberty so his son can become your Master and next Murderer-in-Chief.

I get it that Rand Paul might be the greatest thing that ever happened to the Liberty Movement, but should he be the standard-bearer? There are other people—Justin Amash—who can credibly hold aloft that rhetorical standard. I do understand that pragmatically senators and governors have more of chance to actually become presidents which explains why certain groups within the Liberty Movement are attracted to Rand Paul. As a national leader holding a national office, his influence is greater than what Amash could reasonably muster. Media coverage, respect, and a much bigger platform from which to raise important issues. He is 1 of 100, as opposed to 1 of 435.

However, I just cannot accept the idea that Ron Paul raised his son and spent thirty-plus years defending liberty and speaking out against Power, in order to lay the political foundation so that his progeny may someday be that Power. Does that sound like Ron Paul to you?

Rand Paul himself denied that he is a libertarian, which tells me that underneath the libertarian-esque bombast he occasionally displays is someone who rejects the very moral and ethical philosophies underpinning libertarianism: the non-aggression principle and the rejection of State violence.

Who knows? Maybe Rand Paul will surprise us in the next four years and prove to us that his rhetoric is not false, and he is indeed the deserving standard-bearer of the Liberty Movement.

Gun control is racist

Today I learned that the largest gun control enforcers during the Reconstruction was the Ku Klux Klan, disarming black people. From the 2010 article by Adam Winkler entitled The Secret History of Guns:

After losing the Civil War, Southern states quickly adopted the Black Codes, laws designed to reestablish white supremacy by dictating what the freedmen could and couldn’t do. One common provision barred blacks from possessing firearms. To enforce the gun ban, white men riding in posses began terrorizing black communities. In January 1866, Harper’s Weekly reported that in Mississippi, such groups had “seized every gun and pistol found in the hands of the (so called) freedmen” in parts of the state. The most infamous of these disarmament posses, of course, was the Ku Klux Klan.

Repeat after me: gun control is racist.

History has repeatedly shown that gun control has never been about controlling firearms, but rather to disarm marginalized people.

Simply put, gun control is people control.

It is such a shame that Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are the faces of the opposition to gun control, instead of anti-racist civil rights leaders. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. attempted to get a gun license, but was denied by the racists in power. It is also fact that the odious NRA supported gun control against blacks.

Liberals never ask themselves: who will get the maximum sentence for gun control violations? Who will get convicted more? Who will the police stop for guns?

That is right, brown people are the one who will suffer the most from gun control.

They never think about the fact that these new gun controls will lead to even more outrageous plea bargains, adding more counts to minor crimes. Current drug laws and gang control laws are already destroying minority communities, and these liberals want to give the police even more reason to put the poor and minorities behind bars?

Honestly, if you are a brown person with a gun and a white liberal say they support gun control, what they really mean is: “I want you to rot in jail.”

A longer version of this post appears at Young Americans for Liberty.

In an effort to be even more incendiary, I will now refer to gun control as “Jim Crow-esque gun ownership suppression.”

In an effort to be even more incendiary, I will now refer to gun control as “Jim Crow-esque gun ownership suppression.”
Because it is true. General Laney, founder of National Black Sportsman’s Association, has this to say about it:

Gun control is really race control. People who embrace gun control are really racists in nature. All gun laws have been enacted to control certain classes of people, mainly black people, but the same laws used to control blacks are being used to disarm white people as well.

I will also start referring to liberal who advocate for gun control as “Jim Crow laws sympathizers.” Or simply, “racists.”

Instead of decrying the lack of gun control, liberals ought to be arming every single Latino and black family to the teeth.

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