Venezuela on the Edge of the Abyss

Venezuela is spiraling further out of control as the economic and social situation worsens by the day.

Unlike previous months of protests April has been sadly made different from the rising death toll of civilians. This month alone twenty two have died, with six dying in the first two weeks of April. According to Venezuela’s minister of communication nine were killed by electrocution while trying to rob a bakery. Three others were fatally shot the same day, with six others suffering from gunshot wounds.

Armed groups of civilians called colectivos have been confronting protestors with violent tactics to suppress their demonstrations. Colectivos are pro-government community organizations, with members that have received police training and according to experts are armed by the government. Being outside the government they have been able to more violently suppress protests through force. They have also vandalized the homes and work areas of civilians that they perceive as against the current government.

Protests have continued to increase in scale as the Maduro government continues its oppression. The Supreme Court of Venezuela absolved the legislature in an attempt to give itself the power to write laws, but later revised the decision. Opposition leaders have been routinely jailed and the Venezuelan president Maduro is quick to blame the ‘evil’ capitalist United States for its problems.

Inflation is Venezuela is the largest in the world at 741%, causing massive economic harm to the people. Not helping the worthless money is the massive lack of basic commodities such as food. A survey by three of Venezuela’s universities has revealed that 72.7% of the people have lost 19 pounds in the last year.

General Motors said on April 19th that authorities had illegally seized its plant. Due to a lack of resources currency control many plants are producing few products. This is also accompanied by other US companies such as Clorox leaving the country due to the financial crisis in Venezuela.

With the mounting social and economic despair, accompanied by an increasingly authoritarian government the future of Venezuela remains uncertain. If the protests grow increasingly violent it could make those displeased with the government believe that a peaceful solution is impossible. Especially if at the same time Maduro once again tries to gain more power. A civil war in Venezuela would be disastrous for an already oppressed people, but may be the only way out.

If Maduro were to be replaced peacefully the country would have to undergo massive reform to change the Socialists programs of the government. And there is no telling on where people would stand when it comes to reform. Those who dislike Maduro may also support the Socialists principles he advocates. Whether there would be protests then as well would also remain to be seen. It is also important to remember that the military and colectivos stand behind Maduro, and it is unknown how they would react if he was removed.

We can only hope that Venezuela manages to avert any more harm and that their situation improves.

The Dangers of a Reactionary Foreign Policy

Last week on the 6th of April the United States launched fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria in response to a chemical attack carried out by the government. Trump said in a statement following the attack “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” This is a dramatic reversal from his prior statements and indications during the campaign that he would stay out of Syria.

His explanation for his changed policy is seeing the images of the chemical attack. “When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.” There is no questioning or debating the heinous attack upon civilians, but it is no reason to entangle the United States in Syria.

Despite what President Trump says there is no national security interest in attacking Assad. The chemical attacks did not harm Americans, nor does it place any of us at risk. What does place us at risk is bombing an ally of Russia. Attacking Assad will only weaken his ability to fight ISIS, a group we both want eradicated. In an interview in September 28, 2015 Trump told an interviewer, “Why can’t we let ISIS and Syria fight? Let Russia, let them fight ISIS.”

Not to mention the increase in tensions between Russia and the United States that will naturally come from attacking one of its allies. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a conference at Moscow “The current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point. There is a low-level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.” A proxy war between opposing Syrian forces would benefit no one, and would only instill more hatred for the west in the middle east.

If Trump’s recent reactionary foreign policy holds it could be detrimental to the United States and the rest of the world. Prematurely reacting to foreign crises will only create more problems. Syria is currently engulfed in six year long civil war, with various groups fighting for control. You have the government, ISIS, and the various rebel groups fighting against each other for dominance. It is a multi front war with no clear group that would be best to lead if Assad and ISIS were taken out. With the United States long record of making countries worse by removing the current leaders you would think we would have learned by now not to meddle in other countries.

Sadly there seems to be no shortage of politicians and leaders who think they know the solution to other countries affairs. Their arrogance in believing they know how to fix other countries has only made the world a more dangerous place. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are the prime examples of our failed nation building policy. The establishment politicians couldn’t even understand the support for Trump, so why should we expect them to understand the intricacies of foreign politics?

The other dangers posed by a reactionary foreign policy is the debt it would cause for the country. A study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs reveals that the War on Terror has costed the United states $4.79 trillion dollars. And what do we have to show for it? A more turbulent Middle East, dead and injured soldiers, and wars drawn out for far too long. With the already massive national debt of $19 trillion very close to reaching $20 trillion we can not afford to squander additional money. We should be focusing on ways to reduce our debt problem instead of wasting it on foreign wars that do not serve our national interest.

Most importantly however is the ceding of power from Congress to the executive branch. Congress holds the power to approve and declare war, and attacking another country with Tomahawk missiles is undoubtedly an act of war. However due to prior precedent Trump felt no obligation to go before Congress and ask for permission. Only a few Democratic and Republican voices brought up the legality of the strikes, but they were drowned out from the praise of fellow lawmakers and foreign leaders.

If there is so little opposition to Trump initiating military action against an ally of Russia then what is stopping him from reacting to other events he finds distasteful? The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed in September 2001 gives blanket ability for the president “To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States. Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens.” While Assad is not responsible for September 11 this act of Congress began the transfer of power between the two branches. It has been abused to the point where the president does not even feel the need to bother with asking congress. If Congress does not act to reign back its constitutional authority we will only find ourselves in more conflicts.

Perhaps the best closing statement would be an old quote from the Donald himself.

The Reward of Fighting for Free Speech

It’s been known for a while now that anything you say can and will be turned against you. As soon as the social justice warriors seize upon a single utterance that can be taken as mildly offensive they will quickly misconstrue it to stunning degrees. It’s almost a work of art how quickly they can slander someone, although it is most certainly a decadent art. This collective of thought police seem to treasure nothing more than the obliteration of any individual that opposes their view.

This intolerance has once again displayed itself in response to Colin Moriarty, a game journalist and former member of Kinda Funny. On International Women’s Day Colin posted the following tweet.

Ignoring the irony of well off women taking the day off to protest, while women that need to work to make ends meet had to continue with their jobs, the normal onslaught of outrage poured onto Colin. Immediately the calls of sexism were shouted, but perhaps the most amazing is a headline from the International Business Times.

“Kinda Funny’s Colin Moriarty Resigns After Targeting Women In Racist Joke; Insists It’s His Personal Decision.”

Now I am fairly certain women are not a race, nor was it intended for a certain race of women.  However in this crusade for political correctness the social justice warriors have seen it necessary at times to make up offenses. If you lack the material to destroy your opponent it then becomes necessary to produce your own. With the ability of the internet to quickly spread false information it has become ever harder to clear yourself of accusations.  Colin, just for posting a mild joke, will be vilified by many.

And yet there is hope. While the social justice warriors have their tools, those fighting for free speech now have their own. The old saying put your money where your mouth is has been amazingly demonstrated on Colin’s Patreon page. As of April 1st 6229 people have donated, totaling a whopping $40,602. This outpouring of support serves not only as a way to support a wrongly framed man but as a way to send a message.

People fighting for free speech are beyond words now. Their willing to put their money together to display their resistance. This has been also seen with Dave Rubin’s Patreon page, and a firm supporter of Colin Moriarty. Despite them only meeting a week before for an interview Rubin quickly went to Colin’s rescue.  In a video where the two sat down after the tweet Colin said the following. “When I was out there drowning, you were the first one to lend me your hand…. Your my newest friend and you treated me like you were my oldest friend.  When people out there that I have known forever just abandoned me. And thank you.”

Its sad times we live in when people are too afraid to defend their friends because some anonymous twitter users and muck racking journalists decide its time to launch a crusade.  One would hope they would chose their real life relationships over some outrage from people they may never meet. Sadly not for Colin. He chose to leave Kinda Funny so he would not bring any harm to their reputation in respect for his friends, while they decided not to defend him.

However out of this maybe a new coalition will arise. A formation of people around the internet coming together under a united cause. One dedicated to fighting for free speech, no matter how hard the social justice warriors fight against them. One banded together in a new brotherhood hoping to expand and explore new ideas, instead of silencing them. Instead of having to defend themselves they will defend each other, and reap the freedom given by free speech.