The US Navy’s Attitude About Releasing UFO Videos is More Disturbing Than the UFO Videos

The US Navy confirms that three online videos showing two military air encounters with what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” and the rest of us call “unidentified flying objects” are authentic, Popular Mechanics reports.

The videos are interesting, and some might find them disturbing. What’s more disturbing to me is that the Navy thinks they’re none of our business 15, or even four, years later (the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2015).

Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells The Black Vault website, “[t]he videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld.”

The videos aren’t classified. They just haven’t been “cleared for public release.”

No such long-term category as “not cleared for public release” should exist with respect to information generated or acquired by government.

There are legal standards for “classifying” information as “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret” based on supposed degrees of damage to national security disclosure of that information might cause.

I’m personally against allowing the state to keep secrets at all. They claim to work for us. If we’re really their bosses, we should get to look over their shoulders any time we please.

Of course, that won’t happen. But given the fact that the classification system does exist, there should also be a non-negotiable time limit within which any given piece of information must either be classified or made available to the public.

I’m not referring to deniable requests for information filed under the Freedom of Information Act. All government information not classified within 30 days of its creation or acquisition should be stored in databases that  the public can search at will.

UFOs have been a matter of intense public interest since at least as far back as the 1947 Roswell incident, which still spawns rumors of alien craft and corpses held in secret government facilities.

I don’t know, and am not going to claim to know, whether we’re being visited by extraterrestrials and if so what they’re up to while they’re here. I don’t have strong opinions on which sighting and abduction stories are true and which aren’t.  I’m just exactly smart enough to understand that I don’t have the information I’d need to reach such conclusions.

What I do know is that it shouldn’t be the government’s prerogative to conceal such information from the rest of us indefinitely, tell us tall tales about weather balloons and swamp gas, and offer lame “national security” excuses when caught out.

Nor are UFOs the only subject this problem touches on. The post-World War Two national security state has developed a culture of general secrecy that we accommodate at our peril. Concealing information from the public should be incredibly difficult, not a matter of course.

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The Great Successor: Inside North Korea

I highly recommend Anna Fifield’s The Great Successor.  It’s full of information about not only the life of Kim Jong Un, but what’s happened inside North Korea since his ascent to the Red Throne.  Most readers will be shocked by her description of the North Korean hell-state, but that’s all old hat to me.  Here’s what surprised me in Fifield’s book:

1. Kim Jong Un didn’t just attend a fancy English-language school in Switzerland.  After his expat guardians – his maternal aunt and her husband – defected, Kim was actually switched over to a German-language Swiss public school.  Weird.

2. Kim’s top interest as a boy was basketball.  His eagerness to befriend American basketball stars really is the fulfillment of a childish dream.

3. “Kim Jong Il spoke in public only once, and then only a single phrase, during his entire seventeen years in power.  ‘Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!’ he said during a military parade in 1992.”  Kim Jong Un started giving lengthy public speeches almost immediately.

4. Kim Jong Un has deliberately fostered a revolution of rising expectations:

North Koreans “will never have to tighten their belts again,” the Great Successor declared when he delivered his first public speech, marking the occasion of his grandfather’s one hundredth birthday.  Kim Jong Un told the bedraggled populace that they would be able to “enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like.”

5. Kim’s execution of his uncle Jang Song Thaek was part of a much larger purge.  “Dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of Jang’s associates disappeared around the same time.  Some of them were not just purged from the system but more likely executed.  Those outside North Korea at the time fled.”  Note: This probably means that the runners’ families were sent to slave labor camps or executed.

6. Just as Stalin stole Trotsky’s economic plan after purging him, Kim went on to implement Jang’s vision of watered-down Deng-style economic reforms.  The Communist elite now openly enjoys a much higher standard of living.  Some of this gain is trickling down to the commoners.

7. Kim Jong Un is eager to win over the millennial elite with capitalist luxuries and entertainment.  “It was fun to be a rich kid in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.  The richest kid of all was making sure of it.”

8. Kim rushed to get a credible nuclear deterrent, then declared himself satisfied.  And his behavior seems consistent with his intentions.

Just a week before his summit meeting with South Korea’s President Moon, Kim Jong Un delivered a speech to a Workers’ Party meeting in Pyongyang in which he declared the “byungjin” or “simultaneous advance” policy to be over.  He no longer needed to pursue nuclear weapons – he had achieved them.  He declared an immediate end to nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missiles launches…

From now on, Kim Jong Un said, he would be focusing on a “new strategic line.”  He would be concentrating on the economy.  And for that, he would need an “international environment favorable for the socialist economic construction…

In 2013, he had boldly elevated the economy to level pegging with the nuclear program after decades of “military first” policy.  Five years later, almost to the day, he was unequivocally making economic development his top priority.

Before reading this book, I was already 85% confident that Kim Jong Un would rule North Korea for life.  Now I’d go up to 90%.  Despite his youth, he’s a skilled tyrant.  However, I’m not quite as pessimistic about the fate of the North Korean people.  Kim has dramatically relaxed the regime’s war on consumerism, and it is very hard to confine this rising abundance to the inner circle.  People who think Kim will give up his nuclear arsenal are dreaming (or lying); while he lives, the best nuclear outcome we can hope for is “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  Kim may die young due to poor health; he might even be assassinated, though I doubt it.  When he dies, North Korea – and the world – will get to throw the dice one more time.  Until his death, however, Kim will stay the course.

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Science + Politics = Crap

I like to listen to scientific lectures. Unfortunately, it’s becoming rare to be able to listen to an entire lecture without hearing an awkward jab at the anti-science mindset of the Republican Party. I don’t disagree, but it’s still the pot calling the kettle “black”.

The Democratic Party is just as anti-science; they just differ in the parts of science they don’t like.

Years ago, the Republican anti-science condemned by the science lecturers was usually centered on biology/evolution. Now the irony is that it’s much more likely to be about “climate change“– a topic the Democrats are decidedly anti-science about. Occasionally it is anti-gun bigotry or genderism that inspires the complaint against Republicans, but those are a lot rarer in science lectures than the “climate change” stuff. And sometimes the reason isn’t even specified, it’s just stated as axiomatic that “GOP = anti-science“. I’ve even heard libertarians included with Republicans a time or two.

Basically, what they are implying is that if you aren’t a Left-Statist you are backwards and ignorant. Everyone but their team needs to be scolded and corrected like a naughty, stupid child.

When you try to mix a little politics in with your science, you have abandoned science for religion– the religion of Statism. It doesn’t matter what variety of politics you mix in, either. Politics has no place in science. None.

Really, politics has no place in society… or in life.

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Dueling Mental Constructs

Rights, as I have pointed out, are a (human) mental construct. As are ethics, liberty, freedom, and so many other ideas.

However, those who use this fact as an excuse to violate people forget that they are usually relying on another mental construct: the State (what most people mean when they use the word “government”). You can’t justify allowing your mental construct to crush and enslave people by saying their rights are nothing but a mental construct.

Rights (and ethics and liberty) are positive mental constructs. Acting as though these things have physical reality, even though they don’t, is good for individuals and thus good for society. In fact, civilization isn’t really possible without at least most people respecting each other’s rights most of the time. A functioning society would be otherwise impossible.

Government/the State is a negative mental construct. Acting as though it has physical reality is generally used as justification for harming people through the political means. It’s not good. Even when it is claimed to be used for good, there is someone who has to lose for others to win. And to claim this negative mental construct trumps the positive mental construct of rights is to encourage evil.

All mental constructs are not created equal.

Instead of saying that rights are a mental construct, some people just say there’s no such thing as a right. That they are imaginary. When someone makes the claim that rights are imaginary, I’m OK with that, too. If there’s no such thing as a right, then no one can have the right to govern– to rule– other people in any way. They would be nothing more than a bully, relying on the most dangerous superstition for their power.

There’s also no reasonable way to pretend that the mental construct of rights is created or granted by another mental construct. This is the claim being made when saying that rights come from government. That’s magical thinking.

You can’t have it both ways. Since both concepts exist as mental constructs, I’ll choose to favor the positive one and reject the negative one. You may choose differently, but that would be your choice. I would appreciate you explaining your reasons in that case.

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Christopher Preble: War Is the Health of the State (54m)

This episode features an interview of U.S. foreign policy academic Christopher Preble from 2015 by Trevor Burrus and Aaron Powell, hosts of the Free Thoughts podcast. They ask whether there exists a single libertarian foreign policy that all libertarians would agree with; talk about the idea that war powers, resolutions, and laws passed during wartime don’t recede in times of peace; give a quick rundown of American military history; and discuss the rise of a permanent private industry supplying the military. When should the United States go to war? When did the American military really start to get massive? How much do we spend on the military today? Relative to recent history? Is the military open to the same kinds of critiques that libertarians make about other government programs?

Listen To This Episode (54m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “voluntaryist voices”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc or PayPal.me/everythingvoluntary.

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Learn About Something Before You Talk

The better you understand something, the easier it is to notice when you’re being lied to. Plus, the less likely it is you’ll be fooled by the lies.

When I’m watching a movie and I see someone on screen starting a fire by randomly hitting rocks together and suddenly their campfire logs burst into flame I always think, “That’s not how it works!” Anyone who tries to light a fire this way isn’t going to end up with a fire unless someone else builds one for them.

The same thing happens when I hear a non-libertarian person or idea called “libertarian.” You can’t fool me, but those not as familiar with the core idea might accept the lie without question. For that matter, those spreading the lie may not realize they are lying.

How many people know “libertarian” refers only to those who understand no one has the right to use violence against anyone who isn’t currently violating the life, liberty, or property of another? My guess would be not many.

I also see this happen in debates about guns. Anti-gun activists are among the worst in this respect. Years ago a rabidly anti-gun politician was asked what a barrel shroud was since she was trying to get them banned. She said she wasn’t really sure but thought it might be the “shoulder thing that goes up.” Hint: It’s not.

It was obvious she hadn’t bothered to learn what she was trying to criminalize and didn’t even understand the basics of the English language. Knowledgeable people are still laughing at her.

If you’re trying to turn decent, everyday people into criminals by imposing a new law against objects, you could at least make an effort to learn the fundamentals of what you’re talking about. It would be a crime to destroy lives through your lazy legislative ignorance.

It’s usually helpful to know what you’re talking about before you start talking. Sure, you can use hyperbole for effect — unfortunately, humans respond to emotion better than to reason — but if you’re not even in the same hemisphere as reality, people familiar with the subject are going to notice and ridicule you.

When you catch someone lecturing on a topic they clearly don’t understand, pretending to know more than they do, point it out. You probably won’t change their minds, but you might help an onlooker learn enough to not fall prey to the lies being told.

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