It's good to be the king

Last Week in Weird

(Last Week in Weird is slightly late this week due to ongoing turmoil here at Bumbling Bees world headquarters and discount undergarments shop. All apologies, and we hope to have things sorted out soon!)

Good Humor

We’ve spent some months here at Bumbling Bees laughing at the sheer stupidity of the rhetoric from the anti-Trump partisans, and sometimes I get a bit uneasy about that. I get worried that you fine people will conclude that I’m some type of Trump supporter, which is not at all the case; I’d spend far more time criticizing the president himself in these pages if only I could see a reason. Everyone in the mainstream press blows him up for absolutely every tiny fault, whether real or imagined — as a result, it seems to your humble narrator as though it would be far more fun to make fun of the media hacks instead.

And this is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about.

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Égalité is for commies

Last Week in Weird

Vive la France!

The ongoing comedramedary that is electoral politics has entered its next season, as the French presidential elections have completed their first round of combat. As expected, right-wing hate fear fascist nazi Hitler Trump white privilege patriarch poopyhead Marine Le Pen has made it to the second round, as has "centrist" Emmanuel Macron, an international banker and former member of the Socialist Party. No points for guessing which one George Soros is paying college students to riot for. Further research: what does "antifascistes" mean in French? It is a mystery!

Macron is expected to mop the floor with Le Pen in the runoff, and this is not predicted to be anything like the way Hillary Clinton mopped the floor with Donald Trump, nor the way "remain" mopped the floor with "leave" in the British EU vote I still refuse to call "Brexit" because honestly that’s hideous. We all know that the two things that are always and everywhere honest and correct are elections and electoral polls, so I’m sure that will remain the case.

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Glad I could help!

Last Week in Weird

Olha, que coisa mais linda, mais cheia de graça

Rio de Janeiro has a bit of an image problem lately. Tourists getting murdered on the beach will do that to you, to say nothing of this year’s Plague That Will Destroy Civilization, the dreaded zika virus. Still and all, Rio’s newly-elected mayor has a bold plan that will restore the city to its well-deserved place as the crown jewel of Latin tourism. No, he does. Listen:

"Rio de Janeiro cannot continue treating its tourists as if they were an afterthought," Mr. Crivella, 59, told the audience, emphasizing the need to "shatter" Rio’s "negative image."

"This is something we need to discuss," he said.

You’re on to me, aren’t you. You’ve already guessed that this is going to be something absurd. Still and all, your humble narrator is willing to bet you aren’t guessing anything quite as absurd as the mayor’s actual plan, which is to pay reparations to tourists who are mugged while in Rio. Now, understand this: I don’t mean to say the mayor is setting aside a block of money to pay people who’ve been mugged recently, along with maybe some plan to reduce the muggings going forward. No, the plan is evidently to tell everybody "come to Rio! Sure, you’ll get mugged, but we’ll pay you back!" which I’m not a hundred percent sure is a good sales pitch.

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The Tale of a Thief

(With apologies to Robert Nozick)

Let us begin at the beginning. We stipulate that you live in a house, and in your house is a television. You own this television free and clear. One day, you go away on vacation, and I (without your permission, of course) smash in your front window, take the television, and leave. I submit that this is a clear case of theft: I have stolen your television. Your television, which is unambiguously your property, has been ferreted away in the dark of night without your consent.

Now let’s mix things up a bit and see what shakes out.

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Adam Weishaupt illuminating a boat

Presidential Rankings #22: George Washington

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government

The Father of His Country, George Washington was, of course, the first president of the United States (under the Constitution, at least), and his words and deeds would have an outsized effect on American history, for good or for ill. As such, it is unfortunate that the general was so thoroughly under the sway of Alexander Hamilton, that tireless enemy of liberty and solvency. Many of the presidential traditions that have been passed down through the years originated with George Washington, from the annual "State of the Union" address to the two-term limit (violated only once, by the megalomaniacal Franklin Roosevelt) to, sadly, the use of military power to collect taxes. It is there that we begin our analysis.

At the dawn of 1791, at the suggestion of then-treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, the Washington administration asked for (and received) the first excise tax in American history: a tax on domestically-produced spirits. Hamilton viewed this as a win-win proposition; it would bring in money for the federal government (which still owed tens of millions of dollars to creditors who helped finance the Revolutionary War), while, as a "sin tax," would discourage people from consuming spirits. In traditional Hamiltonian fashion, of course, the tax was designed such that it benefited large, entrenched interests at the expense of everybody else, since the tax was assessed by the gallon or as one large flat fee. The largest producers of spirits, obviously, would pay the flat fee, which pushed their per-gallon tax burden far below that borne by the smaller producers, thus artificially strengthening the large firms’ ability to compete on the market. Worse still, for many people living on the American frontier, whiskey wasn’t just a recreation; Spanish silver (the widely-accepted coin of the realm) didn’t often make its way out far from the urban northeast, and whiskey, due to its comparatively long life, ease of divisibility, and ubiquity became the de facto currency. A tax on whiskey, therefore, wasn’t just a "sin tax" that would discourage people from behaving in ways the eastern elite didn’t approve of; rather, it was a tax on every facet of daily life. Americans responded to this tax the same way they responded to the onerous excise taxes imposed by the British in the days leading up to the revolution: they ignored it.

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