Horse Burgers

1 12 2011

In 2006, the US congress effectively banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption by withholding funding for the legally necessary USDA inspection of horse meat. On November 18, that funding was restored when President Obama signed a spending bill. Now, I have a serious problem with de facto bans. If congress refuses to fund inspections that a law passed by the very same congress requires, the lack of funding should automatically cause the inspections to not be required. The government shutdown that nearly happened earlier this year would’ve apparently effectively banned the production of all meat and maybe produce too within the United States. I have to wonder what would’ve actually happened if all USDA inspections had stopped. Would slaughterhouses have let meat rot while waiting for inspectors to show up? My hope is that everyone involved would realize the absurdity in following the letter of the law and ignore it, when following it would lead to a massive food shortage and ultimately starvation. My wish is that this would become the legal precedent, that unfunded laws automatically become moot.

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people weren’t even aware that horses where ever slaughtered for human consumption in the US. It has apparently been an ongoing practice throughout my life up until 2006, and even then I only have one distinct memory of the practice being mentioned by anyone. There was an Episode of All in the Family where Archie unknowingly ate horse meat, and I have some vague memory of it being an option for pathetic poor people who can’t afford “real” meat. It turns out that it’s pretty common in Mexico, France, and much of the rest of the world. Some animal rights groups are upset that the de facto ban is ending, but PETA isn’t. They’re actually looking at the real effect of the law:

In an interview with the Monitor, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said the US should never have banned domestic horse slaughter – a stance that has put the organization at odds with other mainstream animal rights groups, like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

The reason he feels this way is that the ban on horse slaughter has led to the exportation of horses for slaughter, and from a horse’s point of view being shipped a thousand or so miles and then being slaughtered in Mexico is worse than being driven 80 miles away to be slaughtered in the same state.

While PETA says the optimal solution is to ban both consumption slaughter and export of horses, it supports reintroducing horse slaughterhouses in the US, especially if accompanied by a ban on exporting any horses at all to other countries.

Okay, that sounds more like the PETA I know. I don’t see how any combination of bans could ever be “optimal” in any sense, but I can appreciate the fact that they acknowledge that a ban on something they find distasteful has actually worsened the situation from their perspective. Other groups are reportedly outraged by the end of the ban.

The issue has galvanized the animal rights community, which contends that horses are too intelligent to be food animals, and that legal processing of horse meat will endanger wild horse populations and motivate Americans to raise horses specifically for human consumption.

That won’t happen, but what if it did? Horses are neat animals, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that they’re any more intelligent than the other tasty animals we eat. Horse meat will only become popular if people discover that they taste awesome, which is apparently the case. I’ve just read a few random internet people claim that it’s pretty good, much like beef with a slightly stronger taste. If these people were eating meat from retired work horses, and not from horses raised specifically for meat, we can speculate that food horses might be even tastier. Also, if horse meat wasn’t tasty, the French wouldn’t be eating it.

The totally predictable effects of the ban haven’t been awesome…

…more abandoned and neglected horses in the US are being sold and processed for meat anyway in countries that may not have the same standard of humane euthanasia that US law requires. Government statistics show that 138,000 American horses were sold and processed for meat in other countries in 2010 – a 660 percent increase from 2007, according to the GAO report.

…especially on horse owners, some of whom aren’t rich.

The poor economy has been tough on horse owners and the animals themselves, leading to what Representative Kingston calls an “unanticipated problem with horse neglect and abandonment.” InColorado alone, horse abandonment “increased 60 percent from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009,” the GAO report stated.

What’s more, The New York Times reports that the law forced many breeders and owners to go out of business because their inability to sell horses for meat “removed the floor” for prices while forcing owners to shoulder costs for euthanizing and disposing of unwanted horses. Before the ban, the horse slaughter business generated some $65 million in revenues a year.

I picture small time breeders have a much harder time shipping their horses to Mexico for slaughter than larger operations, so the now worthless horses are either euthanized or abandoned. Awesome.

Part of me hopes that the ridiculous fears of the animal rights folks that Americans will begin raising horses specifically for human consumption become true. After reading various reports, I’d really like to try some roast horse.





Who gives a shit about Mexicans?

5 09 2011

The Phoenix Newtimes is a weekly free newspaper distributed in the Phoenix area. The people behind it are the same folks responsible for the Villiage Voice. It’s generally left-leaning but not universally. I’ve been  reading the Newtimes for years, and over the years they’ve had some great in-depth articles about many different things. For years they’ve published article after article about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a senile megalomaniac former DEA agent. The man’s a terrible person who’s done many terrible things, and I wonder if anyone would even know about them if it wasn’t for the Newtimes. For years, nobody else in local media would dare hint that there was anything wrong with him or question anything he’s said. Now, he’s been under federal investigation for almost three years and the tide’s changed slightly (but only slightly). I think feds are just waiting for him to die because there’s no way these  investigators don’t have enough evidence to indict the man on several charges, some of them for things that are actual crimes. Generally speaking, when the federal government indicts someone famous or infamous, there are always way too many charges and they’re mostly for things that aren’t actual crimes like ‘conspiracy’ or lying to cops. In the few years that Arpaio’s actually gotten some negative press, he came up with a great idea to boost his popularity.

The idea was the immigration sweep. He sends a bunch of deputies to some part of the county, where they hang out and stop people for bullshit traffic violations and other bullshit reasons that they can think of. Then, if they’re suspected of being in the country illegally, they’re presumably deported. Sending Mexicans back to Mexico is a pretty popular idea in this county, at least among people with pink skin, white hair, and big blue sedans. The fact this practice isn’t simply tolerated but actually welcomed is pretty hard evidence in support of my hypothesis that people are really stupid and democracy is an absurd institution. I’m not too terribly bothered by these sweeps, and maybe it’s because I don’t really care about Mexicans. Their culture annoys me. I like the food, but I don’t like their music, the colors they paint their houses, their low expectations, their high birth rates, the terrible things they do to perfectly good cars, they way the whole family has to come with, and I really hate painted on eyebrows. I’m probably not the only person who feels this way, so I can see the idea of sending Mexicans back to Mexico at least sounding good, as an idea. But it’s not something that can be accomplished without violating the rights of people who are legally in the country and aren’t really doing anything wrong. Hell, if they’re illegally in the country and not doing anything wrong, I don’t see why they should be hassled.

One thing that bothered me about the sweeps was that it was the one thing that finally got him some negative press outside the Newtimes. Never mind the arrests of journalists and political opponents. Never mind the mentally unstable inmates who died in his jails at the hands of his deputies. Never mind the evidence that his net worth is a lot higher than it should be. Never mind a bunch of shit I can’t even remember. He takes on illegal immigration, and now he’s finally a bad guy. Actually, the press never really cast judgement on him, but they did finally cover the fact some people oppose his practices for once. Up until then, the only source for news on Joe Arpaio was Joe Arpaio.

Another thing that bothered me was the Newtimes itself. They started putting a lot of energy into covering the sweeps and protests and shit that doesn’t really matter. They’ve spent energy trying to paint him as a racist, as if that somehow makes him even worse than we already know he is. For a year or two now, the feature article in at least every other issue is something about the plight of the illegals, whether it’s a story about dying in the desert or some kid who does some really cool thing and didn’t even know he was an illegal immigrant until he tried to get a job. I just don’t care. I get it – Mexicans are people too. I don’t understand why they’re so interested in making me care about Mexicans in America when nobody gives a shit about Mexicans in Mexico. If they did, they might be a little more concerned with federal drug policy than Arizona’s SB1070 or Joe Arpaio’s lastest canine and equestrian extravaganza.

Since 2006, 25,000 to 40,000 people in Mexico have been killed as a result of the expansion of the US War On Drugs into Mexico. It’s been suggested that it’s a case of “caged animals attacking one another”, but among the dead are hundreds of police officers and soldiers, many politicians and journalists, and a great deal of innocent people. Never mind that the caged animals would probably be normal people with normal jobs if heavy enforcement tactics weren’t greatly boosting the profit potential of the recreational drug trade. The violence just gets worse every year. The obvious sensible solution is to pull the plug on enforcement. The Mexican government needs to stop taking our money and needs to tell us to fuck off. Our government should cease paying local law enforcement agencies to fight the drug war, fire the DEA, and legalize everything. It won’t happen, but some Mexican politicians are cautiously leaning in that direction.

Former President Vincente Fox has suggested a cease-fire, possibly offering amnesty to gang members. That idea didn’t go over well, apparently. Current Mexican President Felipe Calderon, speaking in his state of the Union Address just one week after 52 people were killed in a drug gang attack on a casino, blamed US drug consumers while carefully suggesting decriminalizationg. He said, “If [the US-ians] are determined and resigned to consuming drugs, they should look for market alternatives that annul the stratospheric profits of the criminals, or establish clear points of access that are not the border with Mexico.” That sounds a lot like he’s suggesting the US allow drug imports, presumably directly from South America.

Of course, the people who know what’s best for us are having none of that. From this blog at Reason:

 …a high level State Department functionary insisted last month that the anti-cartel Merida Initiative would continue regardless of who Mexicans elected president in 2012. Hopefully Calderón grows a conscience and a spine between now and then.

It doesn’t seem very likely, and even if the legalization movement gathers steam in Mexico, they’re still doomed as long as the drugs remain very illegal in the US.

So, that’s my thought. Anyone who gives a shit about Mexicans should really be throwing their shoes at Obama and his fellow clowns, insisting they reverse this insanity, that they legalize drugs for the sake of our neighbors. It’s the only human thing to do. I’m sure the only thing most people will take from this is that I’m a racist because I don’t like Sharpie™ eyebrows.






BULLSHIT! – Julian Assange Behind Bars!

7 12 2010

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, is being held in London after turning himself in to face extradition to Sweden for total bullshit sex-crime charges. (Al Jazeera story) He was denied bail and has an extradition hearing on December 14. There’s a lot to this story, and I’ve mentioned it before. I’m a bit disgusted by this. It seems that the release of several thousand diplomatic “cables” has motivated the rulers of the world to put a stop to this man, and this is very sad.

  • November 28, 2010 – On the day that the site was planning to release some 250,000 US State Department cables, Wikileaks reported on twitter that the site was under a massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. The site was down for several hours. (link)
  • November 29, 2010 – Twitter user, th3j35t3r, claimed responsibility for the attack, that it was “for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops and other assets.” (link)
  • Wednesday, December 1, 2010 – Amazon.com announced that it would cease hosting Wikileak’s “cablegate” site that could be found at cablegate.wikileaks.org after being pressured by government assholes, including the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security. (link) Fuck Joe Lieberman. I really hate that guy.
  • Thursday, December 2, 2010 – EveryDNS.net unlisted wikileaks.org, meaning that typing the address into a browser brings up the Wikileaks website, which can currently be found at ip address: 213.251.145.96/ and at wikileaks.ch/. EveryDNS.net cited threats to their infrastructure (from DDOS attacks)  as the reason for removing the listing and stated that they had no objection to the content. (link)
  • Saturday, December 4, 2010 – Paypal closed Wikileaks account, stating “our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.” Paypal was Wikileaks primary source of donations. (link)
  • Monday, December 6, 2010 – Julian Assange’s Swiss bank account was closed, reportedly because he had given false information, namely that he was a resident of Sweden. (link)
  • Monday, December 6, 2010 – Mastercard stopped allowing payments to Wikileaks. (link)
  • Monday, December 6, 2010 – A warrant was issued for the arrest of Julian Assange in Britain. (link)
  • Tuesday, December 7, 2010 – Visa followed suit and also stopped payments to the website. (link)
  • Tuesday, December 7, 2010 – Assange held and denied bail in London.

There are a lot of links for that last one. This article at the Daily Mail is a good source on how things got to be this way. Presumably in fear of Britain’s rape shield law, the identities of the accusers are not given. They are confusingly referred to as Sarah and Jessica. Sarah’s real name is Anna Ardin and Jessica’s real name is Sofia Wilen. In the following quote, the names have been corrected and bolded to implicate the guilty:

What happened next is difficult to explain. The most likely interpretation of events is that as a result of a one-night stand, one participant came to regret what had happened.

Sofia was worried she could have caught a sexual disease, or even be pregnant: and this is where the story takes an intriguing turn. She then decided to phone Anna — whom she had met at the seminar, and with whom Assange had been staying — and apparently confided to her that she’d had unprotected sex with him.

At that point, Anna said that she, too, had slept with him.

As a result of this conversation, Ms. Ardin reportedly phoned an acquaintance of Assange and said that she wanted him to leave her apartment. (He refused to do so, and maintains that she only asked him to leave three days later, on the Friday of that week.)

How must Anna have felt to discover that the man she’d taken to her bed three days before had already taken up with another woman? Furious? Jealous? Out for revenge? Perhaps she merely felt aggrieved for a fellow woman in distress.

Having taken stock of their options for a day or so, on Friday, August 20, Anna and Sofia took drastic action.

They went together to a Stockholm police station where they said they were seeking advice on how to proceed with a complaint by Ms. Wilen against Assange.

According to one source, Sofia wanted to know if it was possible to force Assange to undergo an HIV test. Anna Ardin, the seasoned feminist warrior, said she was there merely to support Sofia. But she also gave police an account of what had happened between herself and Assange a week before.

The message here is be careful who you fuck in Sweden, especially if you’re famous. I suppose if you’re not you can use a fake name and a throw-away phone.

Anna Ardin: 

Sofia Wilen: 

Much has been written on this story. There are people who think Ardin is an agent of some sort and even people who think that Assange is. I particularly like the perspective of Israel Shamir at Counterpunch, which I discovered via W.F. Price of The Spearhead:

Rape is a horrible crime, and it should not be stretched to encompass minor misdemeanors and moral failings (like the failure to give an encouraging phone call the next day). Tellingly, when the complainant’s advocate was asked why the young women were unsure whether they were raped, he replied: “They are not lawyers”.

That’s right, you gotta be a lawyer to know when you’ve been raped.





Supporting the Troops

20 09 2010

I’m a fan of the band Otep, an alternative metal band with an angry lesbian singer who goes by the name, Otep Shamaya. They have several songs I’m not so keen on and a bunch that I absolutely love. I’m also not so keen on the fact that Ms. Otep gets dramatic and preachy on stage, on their albums, and on the internet. At one point, back when myspace was relevant, I deleted the band from my friends list because I got tired of the constant barrage of political bulletins they posted. I assume it’s all her, but I don’t really know. Today I saw this from Otep on facebook: “If we have money to pay “contractors” like Blackwater, we have the money to give our Soldiers a RAISE.”

1. There is no reason to put the term “contractors” in quotes.

2. We don’t have the money to pay them. In case you haven’t noticed, the US government is running a major budget deficit, contributing to a massive debt that cannot realistically be repaid.

3. Contractors like Blackwater are in it for the money, clearly. It’s a racket. So are soldiers who voluntarily enlist knowing they’ll be sent to fight a bullshit war. They just lack the experience to get the better paying gig.

4. US soldiers get paid pretty well, especially on hot deployments, and especially considering the lack of work experience and skill that most go in with.

5. Soldiers are enablers. They allow the assholes in charge to do the horrible things they wish to do. If it weren’t for the volunteers, the ruling elite would have a lot more difficulty in achieving their awful goals.

I spent four years in the US Army, and don’t see why I deserve any respect for living off of taxpayers for all that time while I provided nothing in return. I hate bring this up because I hate the positive reaction it gets. I don’t regret it or feel bad about it, but I’m not proud of it either. There’s really nothing to be proud of. Playing war and driving humvees was fun for me, but it was of no benefit to taxpayers. I’m glad I never went anywhere hot and never had to kill or witness violent death. Having grown up in a society sprinkled with jobless, homeless, and mentally ill Vietnam vets, it kills me to know the process that created such men is at it again. I really think we’d be better off if fewer wounded combat vets survived. Several years ago, when I first realized that this was going on with a group of young men that are almost all younger than me, I teared up and I don’t do that.

I can’t support these guys and highly discourage others from doing so and from joining the military at all.






Anarchy and Whatnot

22 08 2010

I’ve been a regular poster at anti-state.com for about five years, a forum for anarcho-capitalists or market anarchists. I’ve identified as such a person pretty much the whole time. Prior to that, I had been accused of being an anarcho-capitalist by other libertarians. One way to look at anarcho-capitalism is that it’s libertarianism taken to the extreme – if less government is better than no government is best. Of course, put so simply it probably sounds stupid. For a bit of an explanation, see what I wrote four years ago. Since I put that up there, dana of minarchyblog.wordpress.com added a comment:

who will enforce contracts? no enforceable contracts, no business–no entity vested with a mutually agreed upon monopoly on the legal use and threat of force–no business

This is why I don’t like to call myself an anarchist except around people who already agree with me about almost everything. I only know about 1.5 such people in real life. If I ever mention being a fan of statelessness, this new fact becomes more important to the other people in the conversation than whatever we were talking about and I’m suddenly expected to explain myself, to explain how a stateless society could possibly “work”, who would take care of the poor and elderly, who would build the roads, who would solve crimes and lock up the criminals, and so on. Some even ask about things that are already routinely done by for-profit non-government firms, like trash pick-up. The single unsatisfying answer is to first view everything we value as economic goods, and know that I maintain that all economic goods, including roads and justice (though perhaps excluding love) can be provided in a competitive marketplace. I know you’re not convinced, and I don’t feel like convincing you. Hell, I’m not sure that I’m convinced.

Lately, I’ve been very interested in human evolution, especially evolutionary psychology. An understanding of natural selection goes a long way toward understanding human behavior, and a lot of people, smart people and people who think they’re smart, have trouble grasping the mechanics of natural selection. For one, many people happily believe that humans are continually evolving to be more intelligent than before, yet there are many other traits that impact reproductive success, and our environment has changed drastically from that which we adapted to. Though we have the highest capacity for logical thinking of all the Earth’s creatures, irrational thinking and non-thinking behaviors can be and often are more important for survival and reproduction. I suspect that those who’ve spent a bit of time learning about human mate-selection might really get this. Ayn Rand did not, and I don’t think Mises and Rothbard did either. Having gotten into this, I’ve become very cynical about humans.

Having identified as an anarcho-capitalist for as long as I have, I recognize a somewhat familiar objective to an-cap theory developing in my head. Typically, the objection is that ordinary people aren’t good enough or smart enough to be left to their own, that they need to be led, perhaps that they need to be protected from themselves. I sort of agree with this, and I have particular objections for specific arguments that an-cap folks make. For example, medieval Iceland is probably the often cited example of a long-term peaceful stateless society, and it is a very good example, but it was different from modern societies in ways that might be important. It was a fairly small population of norther Europeans, lacking ethnic or cultural diversity. Greater size and diversity in a population do not seem to favor order and peace, and such a legal system might require intelligence and behavioral traits that other populations might not have. Yes, I’m one of those horrible people who doesn’t think all races are equally intelligent. Another great example of peaceful statelessness is that of the American West (long PDF), but again we have similar problems.

Bottom line? I don’t know, but I don’t really feel like trying to explain or defend the entirety of anarchism or anarcho-capitalism  to anyone. I can explain possible mechanics to a dispassionate listener, but I’m much more concerned with how the world is today and how it might be improved, especially for me and those I care about, but also for the billions of people I’ll never meet. If you’re curious, go read David Friedman or Roderick Long; or read LewRockwell.com, if nothing else. I’d rather talk about individual issues as the come up. In general, more government is bad and less government is good. I guess I don’t really have a point, except to let readers know where I’m at politically.

Whatnot.