Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait
On December 1, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to the FBI ....
Finally! Hard evidence! The Trump campaign really did work with the Russians to fix the election and deprive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of her pre-ordained return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!
But there are big problems with that narrative.
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
Turkey should never have been admitted to NATO in the first place, and both its membership and the existence of NATO itself have long outlived any possible value they might once have had.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018(10 comments)
There She Goes Again: Clinton's Blame Game
Hillary Clinton has tons of reasons why she lost the 2016 presidential election. And, oddly, none of those reasons are herself or her campaign.
This week, the excuse is that millions of whipped women just did as they were told.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017(7 comments)
US Foreign Military Bases Aren't "Defense"
A reasonable definition of "national defense," it seems to me, is the maintenance of sufficient weaponry and trained military personnel to protect a country from, and effectively retaliate against, foreign attacks. The existence of US bases abroad runs counter to the defensive element of that mission and only very poorly supports the retaliatory part.
Sunday, April 22, 2018(26 comments)
Just When You Thought "Russiagate" Couldn't Get Any Sillier ...
April 20 is cannabis culture's high holiday, and the Democratic National Committee celebrated it with fervor this year: Blaze up, get silly, file a bizarre lawsuit accusing the Russian government, Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and transparency activist group WikiLeaks of conspiring to steal an election.
The Worst Thing About Federal Government "Shutdowns"
The second worst thing about federal government "shutdowns" is that they're almost entirely meaningless theatrical productions -- tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing -- from beginning to end.
The worst thing about such "shutdowns" is that they end, usually in a way that undoes most of what little good they accomplished in the first place.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016(2 comments)
Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids
[T]he GOP's presidential nomination race has become a rhetorical arms race to see who can position himself as most boisterously supportive of reprising all the crimes we've doggedly and piously pursued and hanged the Nazis for over the last 70 years.
Friday, July 29, 2016(4 comments)
Snowden and Media Friends: L'etat, C'est Nous
On July 28, [Edward] Snowden took Wikileaks to task via Twitter: "Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped," he wrote. "But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake." ... Wikileaks is right and Snowden is wrong here.
Saturday, April 23, 2016(4 comments)
Bernie Sanders Won't Drop Out. Here's Why.
Bernie Sanders says he's taking the Democratic presidential nomination contest all the way to the party's national convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. Believe it.
Contemplating a Jobless Society: I For One Welcome Our New Robot Overlords
Will the current era of automation culminate in the opposite of historical results -- mass unemployment, a dramatic increase in the wealth and power gap separating rich and poor?
Or are we at the doorway to a "post-scarcity" era, a product of what Ray Kurzweil calls the Law of Accelerating Returns, in which work as we know it becomes highly optional?
Saturday, February 13, 2016(8 comments)
Just Say No to Draft Registration for Women -- and Men
Testifying before the US Senate's Armed Services Committee in early February, Generals Mark A. Milley (the US Army's chief of staff) and Robert B. Neller (commandant of the US Marine Corps) endorsed extending mandatory Selective Service registration to women. Because, you know, equality.
I have a better idea. It's time to end draft registration for everyone. Because, you know, freedom.
Monday, February 26, 2018(1 comments)
Who's on Third? Not John Kasich
The only reason John Kasich suddenly thinks fondly of third parties is because he fell short of his own party's top slot. Back when he thought the sky was the limit for himself, he couldn't stand the idea. Sore loser much?
He may be right that a third party is coming, but not for the reasons he wants one.
The Problem Isn't Willie Pete. The Problem is War Crimes.
The New York Times reports that the US and/or US-allied forces in Syria may be using white phosphorous munitions in the assault on Raqqa, capital city of the Islamic State in Syria. The use of white phosphorous in war is a perennial complaint among human rights activists. And while it's valid as far as it goes, it misses a larger and more important point.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Hewlett-Packard Printers
September 13 was an unlucky day for an unknown number of Hewlett-Packard printer owners. Instead of going dutifully to work, their printers displayed the error message "One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove them and replace them with new cartridges."
The cartridges weren't damaged, though. The printers had been sabotaged with, for all intents and purposes, malware. And the saboteur was Hewlett-Packard itself.
Monday, March 19, 2018(1 comments)
New Hampshire: Once More Unto the Breach
With nearly two years to go before the 2020 presidential primaries kick off, the vultures are already circling New Hampshire. The Washington Post's John Wagner reports on recent or coming visits to the state by US president Donald Trump, vice-president Mike Pence, 2016 also-ran John Kasich, and former US Senator / anti-Trump gadfly Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Friday, September 22, 2017(43 comments)
Jamie Dimon is Right to Fear Cryptocurrency
Jamie Dimon considers cryptocurrency "worth nothing" for one reason only: Because his company -- the largest bank in the United States and among the largest in the world -- doesn't control it. And that's one of several reasons why others find it very valuable indeed.
Friday, September 16, 2016(8 comments)
@Snowden: Give That Man a Medal, Not a "Pardon"
Edward Snowden shouldn't NEED a pardon. He performed a public service of inestimable value by exposing the crimes, the criminals, and the techniques of the largest espionage ring in human history: A conspiracy directed at the very public expected to pay the gigantic tab the conspirators run up.
Saturday, October 8, 2016(8 comments)
Surveillance State 2016: Orwell was an Optimist
Most of us are easy surveillance targets even before the state intercepts our emails at the provider level. And as for the people the state takes an individualized interest in? If you're singled out for special attention, the resources governments have at their disposal to track your every activity are, if finite, nearly inexhaustible as a practical matter ...
Saturday, August 26, 2017(4 comments)
WikiLeaks: Hostile is as Hostile Does
Simply put the US government's problem with WikiLeaks -- the basis for its claim of hostility -- is that WikiLeaks tells the truth about the US government.
Friday, April 7, 2017(5 comments)
We're Asking The Wrong Questions About Syria
After more than six years of civil war, the Syrian government has (with Russian assistance) turned the tide. Assad is well on his way to defeating both the Islamic State and the "moderate rebels" (read: al Qaeda) backed by the US, restoring his control over the country. A chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun doesn't seem to fit into that scenario.
War Crimes: John Kerry's Really Got Some Kind of Nerve
US Secretary of State John Kerry opined (in an October 7 appearance with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault) that Russian military actions in Syria "beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes." French President Francois Hollande echoed the sentiment.
Kerry might want to keep the fate of his German predecessor, Joachim von Ribbentrop, in mind when making such statements.
Saturday, January 13, 2018(8 comments)
In Defense of Immigration from "Sh*thole Countries"
Well, of course, he shouldn't have put it that way, if he did (he denies it). Between the language and the demographics in his supposed example, he's handed his opponents the opportunity for a doubly delicious round of public moral preening -- look how vulgar, and how racist, Donald Trump is!
Maybe they're right. But they're missing much bigger points.
Sunday, June 24, 2018(6 comments)
The Libertarian Party: Bringing Good Ideas to America Since 1971
Like most Libertarians, I'm amused when our ideological opponents see a parade forming around one of our ideas and try to hustle their way to the front to "lead" it.
Unlike some Libertarians, I don't follow up amusement with getting down in the mouth about being "co-opted." I'm just happy to see good ideas gain steam from any source.
Sunday, January 28, 2018(9 comments)
Protectionism: Trump's Tariff-ic Attack on Your Wallet
On January 22, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer fired the first shots of the Trump administration's 2018 trade agenda: Tariffs of 30% on imported solar panels, and tariffs starting at 20% on imported residential washing machines. In the name of "protecting" jobs -- "America First!" -- the administration is dead-set on making you poorer.
Death Panels: Sarah Palin Was Right, Sort Of
Healthcare is a "scarce resource," by which I mean that there is more desire for it than there are doctor hours and hospital beds and bottles of medication to fulfill all that desire. In any healthcare system, therefore, care is going to be rationed. If people want or need ten units of health care and there are only nine units available, someone is going to lose out.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Send in the Clown: Scaramucci versus the Leakers
In Italian comic theater, Scaramouche is a clown, the boastful poltroon whose antics frequently bring him to grief. Presumably new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci's name is related to that tradition.
His personality seems tailored to it as well: He's off to a running start with the boast that he's going to put a stop to White House leaks.
Thursday, June 28, 2018(24 comments)
Is the US National Debt Finally Coming Home to Roost?
I'm no expert in finance generally or in government debt specifically, and those matters are complex. But I don't think it's controversial to say that when large creditors stop buying and start start dumping someone's debt, it's a bad sign for future borrowing: A de facto reduction in the borrower's credit rating.
Sunday, October 14, 2018(8 comments)
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Who benefits from the meddling? It doesn't seem to fall along "left/right" lines in particular. The victims come from across the political spectrum .... The primary thread connecting victims of the purge seems to be that they are critics and/or opponents of the American political "mainstream" or "establishment."
Sunday, July 30, 2017(2 comments)
Privacy: J. Edgar's Not the Hoover You Need to Worry About Anymore
In the latest phase of our frenzied technological advancement, it's clear that yes, our gadgets do collect and use more and more information about us, and that that information progressively ramifies across more, bigger, and more integrated networks.
The bigger question: Is it worth it?
The answer: It depends.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Don't Trust Trump's North Korea Bluff, Bluster, and Brinksmanship
US president Donald Trump put much of the world atwitter and ajitter Tuesday with his comment to the press: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." Trump's certainly proving himself Kim Jong Un's equal at foreign affairs smack talk.
Is he serious? I believe so.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
About That Foreign Meddling in US Presidential Elections ...
So we had an election and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won it. If I had all the ink that's been spilled on why and how Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I'd be an ink tycoon. Much of what passes for analysis focuses on alleged "foreign meddling" in the election. There certainly was some of that. There always is. But some meddlers get more attention than others.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018(9 comments)
Bye, Bye, FBI? The Case for Disbanding the Federal Frankenstein's Monster
The FBI has had 110 years to prove its worth. A dispassionate look at its history says that it's far more often served as a center for blackmail, corruption, and political manipulation than as anything resembling a legitimate law enforcement agency.
In fact, it was a bad idea in the first place.
Saturday, September 8, 2018(37 comments)
Bernie's Bezos Boondoggle (or, How to Keep Low-Income Workers Unemployed)
The desired effect [of the Stop BEZOS Act] is that Amazon, Walmart, and other large employers will pay their workers "living wages" such that those workers needn't turn to food stamps, subsidized housing, etc., to get by.
The more likely effect is that Amazon, Walmart, and other large employers will 1) speed up their adoption of labor-saving technologies such as robotics, and 2) change their hiring and employee policies.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016(3 comments)
Election 2016: How About You Whine a Little, Democrats?
Those of us who supported third party candidates (I cast my vote, in Florida, for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson) didn't owe our votes to the Democratic Party or to Hillary Clinton. If they wanted our votes, they should have gone to the trouble of EARNING those votes.
Happy Holidays. Yes, All of Them.
Like it or not (personally, I like it a lot), America IS a multi-religious and multi-cultural country with holidays galore. So what if you don't celebrate them all? Why not just congratulate those who do?
Tuesday, August 4, 2015(25 comments)
August 1945: Let's Talk About Terrorism
Terrorism, per WordNet, is "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature." The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings meet that definition in spades.
Sunday, September 30, 2018(22 comments)
Brett Kavanaugh is the Swamp
Brett Kavanaugh is "in the club" and has been from birth. His arrogant and even angry demeanor in the Senate hearings seems less about the sexual battery allegations than about the gall and temerity of anyone to question his entitlement to a Supreme Court throne.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017(3 comments)
Trump's "National Security Strategy" is the Opposite of National Security
The Goldwater-Nichols Act requires the president to submit a "National Security Strategy" report each year. Every president since Ronald Reagan has failed to comply with the law in one or more years of his administration, but on December 17 Donald Trump issued his report.
Unfortunately, Trump's offering is of a piece with his prior displays of economic illiteracy and foreign policy jingoism.
Monday, August 7, 2017(2 comments)
Mueller v. Trump: Ain't Life Grand?
The Wall Street Journal reports that "Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 elections." That report diverges from reality when it comes to purpose. Mueller's aim (and therefore the grand jury's real purpose) is to "get" US president Donald Trump and key members of his administration. "Russian meddling" is just the pretext.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018(19 comments)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
In case anyone's forgotten, Russia is a nuclear power. Throwing around the phrase "act of war" is over-the-top insanity. It's a call for the transformation of some Facebook ads into burning cities and piles of body bags, all because an election didn't come out the way some people wanted and expected it to.
Friday, September 15, 2017(4 comments)
Harvard Disgraces Itself to Appease CIA Crybullies
The Washington Post reports that Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government has rescinded its offer of a visiting fellowship to whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. ... the Kennedy School's action and Elmendorf's statement are a stain on the nearly 400-year-old university's honor.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018(3 comments)
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
House Republicans, already incensed with Rosenstein over his attempts to stonewall their probe into the Democratic Party's use of the FBI as a proprietary political hit squad, are planning a renewed effort to impeach him. If he goes down, Mueller likely does as well. And at this point, it would take a heck of an actor to argue with a straight face that the effort is unjustified.
The Russia-Blamers Think You're Stupid
American voters are morons who can be gamed into doing anything by anyone with the ability to buy ads on Facebook and Twitter.
I didn't say that. Russian hackers didn't say that, at least in public. That's what the propagators of the new Red Scare are claiming.
Thursday, September 15, 2016(16 comments)
College Loan Debt: Former Students Strike the Wrong Pose
As a callow youth, I attended but quickly dropped out of college with some student loan debt. It wasn't the huge debt a full four-year degree would have entailed, but yeah, it was hard. I fell behind, defaulted and eventually my wages were garnished to pay it off.
But for some reason it just never occurred to me to hold anyone else -- the bank, the government, society -- responsible for me getting myself into debt.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016(8 comments)
DEA Declares (Kr)atomic War on Americans
Why is the DEA picking on kratom? The agency offers numerous excuses -- insufficient testing for the plant to have an approved medical use, its historical use as an opium substitute, its increasing use "to self-treat chronic pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms, with users reporting its effects to be comparable to prescription opioids."
DEA says that last bit like it's a bad thing.
Thursday, May 11, 2017(22 comments)
The US Postal Service is Dying. Let it.
Like most monopolies, the US Postal Service isn't interested in changing its business model. An enterprise hemorrhaging cash in a free market would cut prices, improve service, look for new revenue streams, or simply close its doors. The USPS solution, as usual, is to raise prices and hope for the best.
Alternative proposal: Let's put it out of its misery.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017(1 comments)
W3C Turns the Clock Back on an Open Web
On September 18, Ars Technica reports, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published a new specification recommendation, Encrypted Media Extensions. The recommendation, which natively implements a "Digital Rights Management" scheme in web browsers, marks a giant step backward for user freedom and an "open" World Wide Web.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Cryptocurrency Will Survive And Thrive, But Will Bitcoin?
As Bitcoin enters its ninth year, the future looks very bright for an idea that many have spent the previous eight years scoffing at and predicting the imminent demise of.
But this time they may be right. Bitcoin is in crisis, and the crisis could kill it.
Friday, April 27, 2018(22 comments)
California Secession: A Good Start
If Californians want to go their own way, they should be free to do so, as should other existing states and even smaller areas and groups.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
James O'Keefe versus the Cardinal Rule of "Gotcha" Journalism
Investigative journalism ... plays an important role in informing the public. Real stories are broken. Real corruption is revealed. Real institutional flaws are outed.
But "gotcha" journalism of the Project Veritas type must, if its practitioners want to remain trusted and relevant, hold itself to even higher standards f truth and disclosure than might be expected in "straight news" coverage.
Saturday, July 21, 2018(1 comments)
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
According to a new poll ... 51% of respondents agree (15% "strongly" and 36% "somewhat") with the statement "American elections are fair and open."
The Ipsos headline characterizes that percentage as "only half." That's akin to noting that "only half" of Americans believe the Earth is a flat disc of provolone cheese, balanced atop the fingertips of seven celestial belly dancers. "Only" half?
Sunday, November 19, 2017(7 comments)
How to Stop a Rogue President from Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Possession of the "nuclear football" is nine tenths of the law. To keep Donald Trump, or any other president, from using nuclear weapons wickedly (as if there were some other way to use them), Congress needs to get rid of the nukes, not just tinker with the legal authority to use them.
Saturday, January 28, 2017(3 comments)
Why Are Republicans Backing Betsy DeVos?
US president Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faces a great deal of opposition to her confirmation. Most of that opposition comes from Democratic politicians and Democratic organizations. But if both parties stuck to their stated principles and goals, the Senate would vote 100-0 against her nomination.
Sunday, March 4, 2018(1 comments)
More Korean War is "Worth it?" To Whom?
Speaking to CNN on the possibility of resuming hostilities in the nearly 70-year-old Korean War (in uneasy ceasefire since 1953), US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says "all the damage ... would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security."
Worth it, Senator Graham? To whom?
Thursday, May 4, 2017(2 comments)
The Scandal Isn't Post-Presidential Speaking Fees, It's Political Pensions
Under the aptly named Former Presidents Act, former presidents receive pensions equal to the salaries of cabinet secretaries. Right now, that's more than $200,000 per year. They also receive $150,000 per year for staff and office space. ... As of 2013, the average congressional pension was about $60,000 per year. Why on Earth should politicians receive taxpayer funded pensions at all?
Sunday, October 8, 2017(6 comments)
Take a Knee. Take a Seat. Take a Chill Pill.
I was brought up to respect the flag. The Marine Corps reinforced that tendency. ... My personal politics notwithstanding, I'm a little bit attached to its symbolism.
But at the end of the day, the flag is a piece of cloth that some people don't attach positive, let alone reverent, feelings to.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017(3 comments)
Excessive: Bail Isn't Meant to Enable the Holding of Political Prisoners
The sole legitimate purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant shows up for trial so as to not forfeit some significant amount of money or property.
Conditioning bail on the defendant's political beliefs -- or, worse, denying it entirely over those beliefs -- is by definition "excessive."
Wednesday, April 12, 2017(3 comments)
Trump's Security Tab: A Good Case for Separation of Church and State
Treating presidents and former presidents as God-Kings at taxpayer expense violates the First Amendment's establishment clause. It's ceremonial observance of an official state religion, a religion the Libertarian Party's Statement of Principles calls "The Cult of The Omnipotent State."
Trump on Debt: Even More Establishment Than The Establishment
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterizes the Trump/Schumer proposal as "a more permanent solution to the debt ceiling." By which she means that in the future, no one on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will even bother to put on a burlesque of fiscal responsibility. Any time the credit card is about to max out, the limit will just go up automatically.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Is Trump right? Is it "illegal" for the delegates to do what they want instead of what Trump and the RNC claim the rules demand?
In a word, no.
Keep in mind that at a national convention, the delegates run the national committee, not the other way around. They make the rules. They can change the rules. They can suspend the rules. And even the rules as written leave room for a revolt.
Sunday, February 18, 2018(7 comments)
Why We Must "Politicize" Guns
Support for or opposition to "gun control" legislation is by definition political. It can't be anything else. We're not sitting around the dining room table talking about the weather, baseball, or little Bobby's upcoming piano recital. We're in each others' faces over proposed or opposed use of force by government.
Social Security is the Titanic. 2022 is the Iceberg. Anybody See a Lifeboat?
Whether or not one supports the original logic of Social Security (I don't), American demographics since the end of the Baby Boom boil down to fewer children per family combined with longer life expectancy. Or, to put differently, fewer young workers paying Social Security taxes to support more retirees for longer. That can't and won't continue in the same direction forever.
Saturday, January 14, 2017(8 comments)
Bitcoin Isn't The Corpse. It's The Undertaker.
Every time the market value of Bitcoin drops as measured by its exchange value against government fiat currencies, the same people who declared it dead last time, and the time before that, come out of the woodwork to declare it dead again.
The world's most popular cryptocurrency, which just celebrated its eighth birthday, once again finds itself surrounded by priests offering it last rites ...
Thursday, June 8, 2017(6 comments)
Bitcoin: Riding High, But in Crisis
Any currency, digital or otherwise, has to function well as a "medium of exchange" if people are going to use it. That is, they need to be able to actually buy and sell stuff with it. If they can't, it's also not going to be something they trust as a "store of value" to save for later buying and selling.
Bitcoin has come up against the problem of more transactions than the network can handle quickly.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018(2 comments)
The Census for Dummies (Including the US Department of Justice)
The purpose of the census is to count noses, period, end of story. Not what citizenship the noses hold. Not what color the noses are. Not what direction the noses are pointed in for purposes of prayer. Not what language the mouth beneath the nose speaks. Not whether the nose in question is attached to a male, female, transgender, gay, straight, bisexual, or differently abled body. Number of noses. That's it. That's all.
Thursday, November 30, 2017(4 comments)
And Now, A Prairie Home Sexual Harassment Complaint
America is in the middle of an agonizing reappraisal of sexual conduct. What constitutes sexual harassment or assault? Where is the line that separates acceptable, or merely rude, actions from unacceptable, and possibly criminal or civilly actionable, behavior? ... It's impossible to know in advance how far any social sea change will go, or how far it should go. But this one may have just seen its first bit of backlash ...
Wednesday, June 7, 2017(3 comments)
Drug Overdose Deaths, 2016: Casualties of War
Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, the New York Times's Josh Katz reports. In 2016, overdoses claimed somewhere between 59,000 and 65,000 lives. ... those 60,000 or so dead Americans aren't victims of a faceless "epidemic." They're casualties of a decades-long war waged on the American public by the federal and state governments.
Obama's Christmas Gift to Trump: A Ministry of Truth
The CFDAPA's purpose is to set the federal government up as the plenary arbiter of truth and to marginalize any and all narratives that don't accord with whatever line gets pushed out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's Orwell's Ministry of Truth in drag.
Overt censorship might not be far behind.
Sunday, July 16, 2017(7 comments)
Healthcare: A House Divided Cannot Stand
Let me define the problem by mangling a famous Abraham Lincoln speech: A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this healthcare system cannot endure, permanently, half government-run and half kind-sorta private. I do not expect healthcare to disappear -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Thursday, April 20, 2017(39 comments)
"Buy American, Hire American" is Anti-American
Capital tends to flow to where it can be most profitably invested. There's no secret conspiracy to deprive Bob in Wisconsin of gainful employment so that Li can have a job in Shenzhen. If a manufacturer can make a widget in Shenzhen, get that widget to America, and sell it at less than the cost of making it in Kenosha, Shenzhen wins ... and so does the consumer who buys that widget for less.
Monday, September 12, 2016(2 comments)
9/12: The Appeal to National Narcissism is Alive and Well
9/11 will remain American political propaganda's killer app (pun intended) for many years, I'm sure, but I consider 9/12 and the following few days far more important in the scheme of things....
Fifteen years on, it is clear that America's political class still relies on Americans having learned nothing, forgotten nothing, and forgiven nothing.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017(9 comments)
Mere Anarchy: The Center Cannot Hold
One side effect of the Industrial Revolution was centralization. Production moved from home workshops into factories. The fragmented political and economic power of small feudal fiefdoms was consolidated into the hands of national political classes and central planners.
Three quarters of a century into the Information Revolution, its ramifications are finally becoming clear. We're decentralizing.
Friday, August 12, 2016
Holiday Greetings From Planet Elizabeth Warren
How exciting! A new "birther" controversy motoring over the horizon in our direction! Senator Warren passed on a presidential run this year but enjoyed considerable buzz and may well reconsider in 2020 or 2024. So I'd like to see her birth certificate -- long form, please -- with a view toward contesting her eligibility. She's obviously not from this country, and probably not even from this planet.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Kavanaugh: A Little Perspective, Please
In what universe does not getting a gig as one of the nine most powerful judges in the United States equate to having one's life "ruined" or "destroyed?" ... Don't worry too much for Brett Kavanaugh. He's going to be fine.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017(4 comments)
Here Comes the Next "Defense" Shakedown
Is Trump truly under the mistaken impression that US military might is ailing? Or is he mindlessly aping Ronald Reagan and hoping it brings in the re-election votes? Or perhaps something else entirely?
The NDAA budgets nearly $700 billion for the US military next year. Despite its name, there's precious little "defense" involved.
Friday, February 16, 2018
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
In early 2017, James Comey took Apple to court, demanding that the company help the FBI hack into the iPhone used by San Bernardino terrorist/murderer Syed Farook. Other officials have kept up a steady whine against strong encryption ever since. But now, CNN reports, the FBI and other US intelligence agencies are suddenly and ever so deeply concerned with preserving your smart phone privacy.
Friday, September 9, 2016(6 comments)
Election 2016: It's a Presidential Campaign, Not a Geography Quiz
[M]ost Americans probably know little if anything about Aleppo and don't care to, so they can probably sympathize. [Gary] Johnson's foreign policy focus as a presidential candidate is "big picture." He wants the US to stop militarily intervening everywhere around the world at the drop of a hat. He doesn't have to know the name of every city in the world to know that he doesn't want to bomb them.
Saturday, August 20, 2016(1 comments)
Scott Adams, Trump Card
Scott Adams's General Theory of the Inevitability of Trump differs substantially from my own simplistic hypothesis, so much so that the former deserves a grandiose title and the latter doesn't. Adams believes that Trump has masterfully scripted himself into the lead role in a presidential campaign produced as a three-act movie. I just think that Americans despise Hillary Clinton even more than they loathe Donald Trump.
Friday, January 5, 2018(1 comments)
Fire and Fury: A Tale of Two Trump Lawsuits
Two days before Donald Trump's inauguration as president of the United States, a former contestant on his reality TV Show, The Apprentice, sued him for defamation. At issue was his public response to her allegations of unwanted kisses and forceful gropes. He had caller her a "liar" and claimed she was motivated by greed and/or politics.
Now the shoe is on the other foot ...
The Washington Post vs. "Fake News": Pot, Meet Kettle
The Post's editors, mining the bottomless pit of mainstream media excuses for not predicting Donald Trump's victory in November's presidential election, think they've hit the mother lode with their newfound focus on "fake news" stories going viral in social media.
The Post coming out against "fake news?" That's rich ...
Saturday, October 21, 2017(18 comments)
The Cure for Weinstein is a Cultural Change
We need a culture change. The current culture of planting seeds of fear -- the "stranger danger" mentality and such -- before victimization and offering sympathy after clearly isn't getting the job done. Instead of #MeToo after the fact pageantry, this problem calls for the inculcation of a strong, affirmative #NotMe attitude -- an unwillingness to be Victim Zero, or to remain silent as other victims inevitably follow.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
If past performance is an indicator of future results, then -- political theater -- is really all we can expect here.
Two past presidents -- Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton -- have been impeached. Neither was convicted. A third, Richard Nixon, might have been, but he resigned before the House could vote on impeachment.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018(3 comments)
America's Democracy Hypocrisy
Writing in The Atlantic, veteran election meddler Thomas O. Mela -- formerly of the US State Department, the US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House -- argues that election meddling is different when the US does it, because ... well, "democracy."
Sunday, December 25, 2016(2 comments)
Capital Punishment: Can We Cut It Out Already?
Capital punishment seems to be going away, but it can't go away fast enough. Even as the Libertarian and Democratic Parties finally added opposition to the death penalty to their platforms this year, majorities in California, Nebraska and Oklahoma voted, to their shame, to retain the barbaric practice.
The US is part of a shrinking club of evil ...
Wednesday, September 6, 2017(2 comments)
Utah Case Highlights Need for Separation of Medicine and Law Enforcement
Instead of merely changing the way they assist police, hospitals should make it clear that assisting police isn't their job.
Around the country, police have long conscripted medical professionals as investigative assistants, demanding not just blood draws but forced catheterizations, enemas, and colonoscopies.
The purpose of a hospital is to treat the sick and injured, not to act as an arm of law enforcement.
Sunday, January 1, 2017(2 comments)
Russian Hacking Report: All Hat, No Cattle
Marcello Truzzi, a skeptic of paranormal claims, once said "an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof."
The claim of Russian interference in the election is certainly extraordinary .... So is US president Barack Obama's response ...
The "evidence" in the report, however, is not extraordinary. It's not even ordinary. It's non-existent.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017(2 comments)
What The Deep State Is
Buzzwords come and buzzwords go. Lately, a trending buzzword -- or, I guess, buzz phrase -- among the politically inclined is "Deep State." Google News returns 127,000 recent media uses of the phrase.
So what, precisely, is the Deep State? There's actually both more and less to it than you might think.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015(6 comments)
"Papers, Please" is Un-American
The US government has spent the last 20 years or so turning its ID schemes into an internal passport system. It's nearly impossible to travel commercially on a plane, train or bus without showing "papers." Civilians who encounter police officers are treated as guilty of SOMETHING, until ID checks against a government databases establishes their innocence.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Our Evil Gift to a Generation Which Didn't Deserve it
Next year, the first generation of Americans who weren't yet born on September 11, 2001 will come of age. They'll graduate high school. They'll get jobs. They'll vote. What they will not do, because they can't, is remember: Remember a time before the 9/11 attacks, or the changes in American society that took place in the aftermath of those attacks.
Monday, July 18, 2016(16 comments)
9/11: 28 Pages Later
In December of 2002, Congress released its report on the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001." Part of that report, anyway: 28 pages remained classified until July 15, 2016, when they were finally presented to the public with significant redactions.
Why the long wait, and what do the 28 pages reveal?
Who's That You Called Dangerous, President Trump?
Kim Jong Un's regime has, in recent months, test-fired a handful of missiles harmlessly into the ocean.
Only two months ago, Donald Trump ordered the firing of 59 missiles at military bases situated on the territory of a sovereign nation with which the US is not at war (Syria).
North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 and hasn't invaded another country since.
How many countries has the US invaded since then?
Tuesday, June 21, 2016(1 comments)
Utah v. Strieff: SCOTUS Fuels a Dangerous Fire
The US Supreme Court's majority opinion in Utah v. Strieff, issued on June 20, is the latest in a long line of rulings expanding the powers of police at the expense of everyone else. Such expansions represent a clear and present danger to the public, and when resistance to the abuses they encourage explodes into open violence, as it surely will sooner or later, to police themselves.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Stand With Ross Ulbricht. Shun His Tormentors.
The polite language of procedural appeal in criminal cases is "reversible error" by the judge. But Katherine Forrest didn't fumble around and screw things up. She intentionally fixed the trial at every opportunity, for the express purpose of seeing Ross Ulbricht convicted of, and giving him the maximum possible sentence for, "crimes" for which he deserved not a day in prison ...
Tuesday, April 25, 2017(37 comments)
NYC Gun Permit Scandal: Graft is Inevitable in a Corrupt System
The US Constitution is crystal clear on the subject at hand: "[T]he right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Legally conditioning exercise of that right on possession of a permit is most manifestly an infringement.
Additionally, leaving issuance of permits under the clearly unconstitutional scheme to the discretion of bureaucrats is a recipe for both tyranny and corruption.
Monday, September 10, 2018(19 comments)
The Anonymous Anti-Trump Op-Ed Inadvertently(?) Exposes Real Danger
The op-ed itself was a jejeune and mediocre example of a time-honored American pastime, talking smack about one's boss behind his back. On its own terms, it deserved at most a brief period of public mockery before fading away to something less than an historical footnote.
But then Trump responded swiftly and decisively from his favorite bully pulpit, Twitter.
Saturday, November 4, 2017(4 comments)
Will the Real Populism Please Stand Up?
Populism is quite easy to define. It is the separation of people into two warring classes. Let's call them "the righteous masses" and "the power elites." The populist, of course, sides with the "righteous masses". It's as simple as that. But the devil is in the details of defining those two classes.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018(54 comments)
Oprah for President? Why Not?
Just a few short years ago, the idea of a president without prior experience in political office was nearly unthinkable. Prior to 2016, the last major party nominee, let alone president, with no political resume was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, you may remember, whipped Hitler in World War Two.
And then came Donald Trump.
Everyone Should be Listening to Nobody Speak
Terry Bollea's legal argument boiled down to "my feelings are hurt -- don't let Gawker get away with telling the truth."
For this, he was awarded $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages .... It turns out that Bollea's lawsuit had an angel investor, someone willing to pay for his lawyers with the express intent of killing Gawker
Thursday, August 4, 2016(11 comments)
$400 Million: The Partial Price of Peace?
When the US government sends $400 million in cash, stacked on pallets, to Iran on the same day the Iranian government releases four imprisoned Americans, it looks an awful lot like ransom.
On the other hand, when the US government decides to keep $400 million sent to it by the Iranian government pursuant to an arms deal for 35 years without ever shipping the arms, it looks an awful lot like stealing.
Saturday, August 6, 2016(2 comments)
Police Violence: Peace Isn't The Priority
Precisely how did Korryn Gaines die? We don't know, and probably never will.
The Baltimore County, Maryland Police Department admits that one of its officers shot her dead on August 1.
The police also admit that before forcing their way into Gaines's apartment and killing her, they went out of their way to ensure their actions would be hidden from public view.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
John Bolton versus the International Criminal Court: A Simple Solution
Why is John Bolton suddenly so concerned with protecting notions of "sovereignty" (he uses the word nine times) that the US government itself routinely ignores at its convenience, claiming global jurisdiction over individuals and organizations outside its own borders in matters ranging from the 17-year "war on terror" to its financial regulation and sanctions schemes?
The answer, in a word: Afghanistan.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Breaking up is Hard to do. Or is it?
The fighting at the extremes, and between wings of the mainstream political class, doesn't reflect the gooey, ever-shifting political center where most Americans live.
Elections are centrifuges which temporarily spin that center out into two halves (with a small remainder of third party voters), after which the people involved go back to living with each other in relative peace.
Saturday, March 5, 2016(3 comments)
Marriage Freedom: Yes, Polygamy is Next
Back in the bad old days before the US Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, many opponents of same-sex marriage warned us that if it became legal, polygamy would be next. They were -- some no doubt for the the first time in their lives -- right. Polygamy is, as it should be, next.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015(24 comments)
The Death of an American Political Prisoner
Irwin Schiff spent much of his later life in prison. He died in prison on October 16, blind and suffering from lung cancer, having been denied "compassionate release" to die at home with his family. So, who was this Schiff fellow? A mass murderer? Perhaps a serial rapist? Well, no. Irwin Schiff's "crime" was saying and writing things the federal government didn't want you to hear.
Sunday, May 28, 2017(3 comments)
The War on Drugs is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, North Carolina Edition
Apparently this month's crop of stabbings, armed robberies, rapes/molestations and teacher/student sex scandals in Catawba County, North Carolina aren't enough to keep the sheriff's department busy. Or maybe they just have too many deputies on the payroll. Something's obviously out of balance: They have time to go after gardeners.
Friday, October 27, 2017(8 comments)
Twitter versus RT: Which One is State Media Again?
Whether Twitter really buys into the "Russian election meddling" theatrics or not, it's pretending to. It's appeasing to the US government in the same way American film producers did with their post-World War Two "blacklists," and with respect not just to RT and Sputnik, but to anything and everything its masters in DC deem unacceptable (for example, accounts linked to Islamic and other alleged "extremists").
Thursday, October 5, 2017(7 comments)
Bump Stock Ban Boogie: The Latest Silly Political Dance Craze
Republican politicians and the National Rifle Association are already jumping on the bump stock ban wagon. I'm not surprised. There's no "there" there. The whole idea is even dumber, and less pernicious in effect, than the 1994 ban on "assault weapons" (defined as guns that people like Dianne Feinstein think look scary).
Wednesday, July 27, 2016(2 comments)
Election 2016: Think Three's a Crowd? Try 2,000
History and money say the odds are with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton -- that one of them will be the next president of the United States.
But it's strange year. It feels like almost anything could happen. And while Clinton and Trump are the frontrunners, the field is, well, YUGE.
As of July 27, the Federal Elections Commission lists 1,814 candidates for president on its web site.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017(4 comments)
Vault 7: What it Means for You
Bottom line: You should accept the possibility that for the last several years anything you've done on, or in the presence of, a device that can connect to the Internet was observed, monitored, and archived as accessible data.
Paranoid? Yes. But the paranoia is justified.
Free Speech: Ted Wheeler is the Enemy He Invokes
The difference between Ted Wheeler and an "alt-right" agitator with a baseball bat is that Wheeler has a full-time police force, armed with lethal weaponry and effective legal immunity for its actions, at his beck and call.
We've seen societies in which the likes of Wheeler lay down a party line and the police break out their tear gas and truncheons to suppress all opposition to that line.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017(4 comments)
Pompeo vs. WikiLeaks: It's No Contest
CIA director Mike Pompeo calls WikiLeaks "a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia."
WikiLeaks says that no, it is not in fact abetted by Vladimir Putin's regime.
If I have to choose between believing WikiLeaks or believing Mike Pompeo, I'll believe WikiLeaks six days a week and twice on Sunday.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017(4 comments)
Hurricane Harvey: About That Wall ...
The conflict Donald Trump faces now is one of priorities. He can indulge his immigration obsession or he can let the market rebuild Houston. He can't do both.
Thursday, June 22, 2017(1 comments)
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
On June 16, a jury acquitted St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez of all charges in the 2016 killing of motorist Philando Castile. That acquittal was, in a sense, also a death sentence -- not for Yanez, but for future motorists unfortunate enough to encounter cops like him.
Monday, December 18, 2017(8 comments)
A Crowdfunding Proposal: UFOs Deserve Better and More Public Investigation
Among the public, opinion on UFOs runs the gamut from belief that the whole idea is a product of fevered imaginations to conviction that Earth is frequently visited by extraterrestrial beings possessed of technologies beyond our ken. But all along that spectrum there remain good reasons to investigate UFOs.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Veterans Day: "Appropriate Homage"
Armistice Day is a thing of the past. In 1954, Congress struck the word "Armistice" from the 1938 law and inserted the word "Veterans." Why? "[I]n order," wrote president Dwight D. Eisenhower, "that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars."
What does that mean, 63 years after Eisenhower's proclamation and 99 years since the guns fell silent? USA Today reports that it means Free Stuff.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017(5 comments)
GOP Tax Plan: Hardly "Reform," But Tax Cuts "Cost" Nothing
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans released their grandiosely titled "Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code" on September 27. The plan looks a lot more like a grab bag designed by lobbyists than like any kind of carefully considered plan for "tax reform."
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Privacy and Politics: The Hypocrisy of the Surveillance Statists
The New York Times reports that at least six members of the Trump administration used personal email accounts to discuss White House matters.
Excuse me for a moment while I break out the world's smallest violin and compose "Dirge for the Lost Privacy of Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Jared Kushner, Stephen Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump and Stephen Miller."
Friday, August 3, 2018(2 comments)
Papers, Please: Unfortunately, Trump Isn't Much Ahead of His Time
Over the last few decades, the US has effectively re-created the Soviet Union's old "internal passport" system. Your rights to move about, to work, to conduct your financial affairs, and in general just to live your life, are subject to the government's demand that you prove your identity at any time and for any reason.
Sunday, April 9, 2017(16 comments)
Income Tax: No Honor Among Thieves
Internal Revenue Service commissioner Josh Koskinen informed the US Senate that fraud-enabling information on as many as 100,000 taxpayers may have been compromised via an application allowing students applying for financial aid to import tax data. This breach seems to have produced more than 20,000 fraudulent tax returns, only 2/3 of which were caught ($30 million in "refunds" were sent out).
How did we get here?
Thursday, September 22, 2016(14 comments)
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and "Debates"
The idea of a "debate" presupposes reasoned arguments for and against specific propositions. The Hofstra event and its followups won't be debates. They'll be combination beauty contests, "professional wrestling" matches, and campaign commercials.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018(3 comments)
Rubio and Warren Join Forces Against Working Folks
In April, a year after its introduction in the US Senate by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the US House of Representatives passed the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, "an act to increase the role of the financial industry in combating human trafficking."
Of four quick and easy tests for bad legislation, the bill passes three ...
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
What Difference at This Point Does the Trump Dossier Make? None.
All political campaigns -- or at least all political campaigns worth their salt -- do what's called "opposition research." They dig as deeply as possible (or as they can afford to) into their opponents' political, business, and personal lives looking for dirt that can be used to win elections. ... If this sounds like a bad thing to you, think again.
Thursday, July 14, 2016(3 comments)
Is the Party Over for Republicans?
Next week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland may be ground zero for America's next great partisan implosion. The issues involved are both more numerous and more nebulous -- foreign policy, immigration policy, trade policy, gun policy, tax policy, what have you -- than in similar previous episodes.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Federal Education Budget: Teapot, Meet Tempest
President Donald Trump's proposed budget for FY2018 calls for a 13% ($9 billion) cut to the US Department of Education versus 2017's discretionary funding.
That may sound like a big big hit to your kids' schools, and the usual suspects would like you to think it constitutes a gutting of "public" (read: government) education in America, but there are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about it.
Friday, July 8, 2016(2 comments)
Note to Media: Less Maine, More Socrates, Please
Too often, "what we know" turns out to be "what someone told our reporter," or "what we heard at a press conference," or "what we read in a press release." And "what we know" (again too) often turns out not to have been true at all and to instead have just been "what we thought we knew at the time, and now what you will go on thinking because you don't have time to keep up forever with our changing versions of every story."
Monday, August 22, 2016(2 comments)
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
The United Kingdom is back in the business of holding political prisoners on a scale not seen since before the 1997 ceasefire in occupied ... " err, "Northern" ... " Ireland, and American social networks are handing the US government de facto power to censor Internet communications. What could possibly go wrong?
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Crony Capitalism and Political Privilege: Earthshaking. Literally.
Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, causes earthquakes. Or, rather, deep-injection disposal of the wastewater from fracking causes earthquakes.
Some people -- namely, public relations flacks and lobbyists for the petroleum and natural gas industries, and their political allies -- would have you believe that's a disputable, even controversial, claim. It isn't. It's something we've known for half a century.
Thursday, May 25, 2017(2 comments)
This Memorial Day, Remember the Victims of Democide
There's something to be said for the contraction of the holiday into just another weekend of shopping and recreation. War is horrible to contemplate and there's a strong case for the proposition that long weekends are really for the living.
But to be honest, I'd rather expand the holiday back to its original purpose -- mourning and remembering all those killed in war and by state violence, not just those in uniform.
Election 2016: The X-Files/Napoleon Dynamite Factor
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton look positioned to be the two horses who break free of the pack and make a neck-and-neck run down the final straightaway toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That pairing and the likely outcome tell us some interesting things about America's voters and their chosen candidates.
Saturday, March 10, 2018(1 comments)
"Sanctuary State" Suit: The Trump Administration versus California and Federalism
United States v. State of California sounds like it's about immigration -- and the administration can be counted on to play up that perception in the secondary court of public opinion -- but it really isn't. It's about whether or not state and local governments are required to enforce, or assist in enforcing, federal law.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018(2 comments)
Immigration Enforcement: Just as Bad for Americans as it is for Immigrants
For many Americans, the issue of immigration enforcement is colored by a mistaken notion that its depredations are the price we pay for protection from ... well, something.
Mistaken, yes, but sincerely held. So let's look at things from the other side of the ledger: The costs immigration enforcement imposes on non-immigrants.
Saturday, July 25, 2015(28 comments)
Police Violence: An Anti-Obscenity Proposal
I have to credit [NYPD police union president Ed] Mullins with inspiring my proposal for consideration by his association, by New York City, and by police unions and city governments everywhere: Insurance.
Yes, insurance. Cities should require every police officer in their employ to carry a $10 million liability policy for torts inflicted while on duty.
Monday, July 9, 2018(5 comments)
The New Normal: Our Evil Gift to a Generation Which Didn't Deserve it
Next year, the first generation of Americans who weren't yet born on September 11, 2001 will come of age. They'll graduate high school. They'll get jobs. They'll vote.
What they will not do, because they can't, is remember: Remember a time before the 9/11 attacks, or the changes in American society that took place in the aftermath of those attacks.
Thursday, June 9, 2016(23 comments)
Got Milked? US "Defense" Spending 2017
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson asserted that the purpose of government is to secure the rights of the governed to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Jefferson, to put the best face possible on things, was hopelessly naive. The purpose of government is -- and always has been -- to transfer wealth and power from the ruled to the rulers.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017(7 comments)
A Pizza Problem: Why Those Third Party Polls Don't Pan Out
In every presidential election, pluralities or majorities say they're "willing to vote for" or "interested in seeing" a third party candidate. In between, pluralities or majorities proclaim the "need" for a third party.
That excites third party activists like me (I'm a long-time Libertarian). But in election after election, the actual voting returns Republicans and Democrats to Congress and the White House.
Friday, May 19, 2017(3 comments)
Donald Trump and the Politics of Whine
For decades, Trump publicly epitomized Barry Switzer's observation that "some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." Now he's finally made it to the big league and it turns out his whole skill set consists of kicking dirt at the umpire and trying to empty the dugouts for a brawl every time a fastball gets past him.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018(10 comments)
Mueller is Desperate -- But For What?
So far Mueller's secured indictments of a few Trump associates on charges having little or nothing to do with his overt mission, and of a few Russians for running an Internet "troll farm" that posted some cheesy social media ads. But he has yet to put real meat on his mandate and doesn't seem to be getting much closer to Trump himself than when he started.
Now he's hitching his wagon to Stormy Daniels's star. Why?
Thursday, January 25, 2018(2 comments)
Veterans in Politics: It's Not About Honor
Forming a political organization around veterans is like forming a political organization around restaurant workers, stamp collectors, or avid kayakers. If it ever made sense, it stopped making sense a long time ago.
Sunday, July 9, 2017(7 comments)
Our Paranoid Society is too Hard on Kids -- and on Parents
Not a week goes by without a report of parents getting arrested, or having their children seized by social workers, for the "crime" of letting them walk to or from school or a local playground.
Despite the fact that violent crime -- including crimes against children -- has been on a downward trend since the early 1990s, we're constantly propagandized about the danger of letting kids out of our sight.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016(5 comments)
Pearl Harbor: Should Abe Apologize?
Some Japanese citizens -- especially those who survived, or lost loved ones in, Hiroshima -- believe an American apology is warranted.
Some American citizens -- especially those who survived, or lost loved ones at, Pearl Harbor -- believe a Japanese apology is warranted.
Both groups are wrong.
Hillary Clinton: More Equal Under the Law Than Others
In his July 5 press briefing, FBI director James Comey spoke 2,341 words explaining his decision not to recommend criminal charges over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to transmit, receive and store classified information during her tenure as US Secretary of State. He could have named that tune in four words:
"Because she's Hillary Clinton."
Friday, May 6, 2016(11 comments)
Election 2016: Wherever You Go, There You Are
There's a major crackup/realignment going on in American politics, from the parties' rank-and-file all the way up to leadership. The nation's transpartisan ruling class is in the throes of something approaching civil war. Maybe, hopefully not, one as dangerous as the crackup preceding the REAL Civil War.
Saturday, March 18, 2017(2 comments)
McCain versus Paul: The New Red Scare Masks US Foreign Policy Insanity
Lest we forget, the Balkans are known for producing wars both small and large. Montenegro borders Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. Is there any particular reason the US should commit itself by treaty to intervene in the military spats that break out in that region at the drop of a hat (or the assassination of an Archduke)?
Monday, September 5, 2016
Hillary Clinton, Servergate, and the Steve Martin Defense
Some jokes are funny because they reveal uncomfortable truths. Other jokes, like the "I forgot" routine, tickle our funny bones because they're absurd. Nobody could possibly get away with armed robbery by informing the judge "I forgot armed robbery was illegal" in the real world, right?
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
SCOTUS: Patent Trolls' Loss is a Win for Honest Commerce
obscure case that nonetheless has huge implications in an area where millions or even billions of dollars are frequently at stake. In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, the Court came down against the practice of "forum shopping" in patent disputes. Hopefully this will reduce the incidence of "patent trolling."
Friday, November 3, 2017(4 comments)
Sorry, Republicans: If You're Not Cutting Spending, You're Not Cutting Taxes.
President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders rolled out their new tax plan on November 2. Since all bills must have titles, they're calling this one "The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act."
Republican "tax reform" theatrics have worn thin over many months of waiting, but I still prefer a more theatrical title. "A tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing" rings true.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Janet Reno: Justice Delayed was Justice Denied
In the early hours of November 7, Janet Reno died at the age of 78 from complications of Parkinson's disease. Her niece "confirmed to CBS News that Reno died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends." It's unfortunate that, unlike many of her victims, she was permitted to shuffle off this mortal coil a free woman, unpursued by the hounds of justice. Janet Reno had a lot to answer for.
Things I've Found to be Thankful for in 2017
It's that time of year, and like most of you I'm planning on a big meal and a lazy afternoon as America celebrates yet another Thanksgiving. Naturally, I'm also thinking back over the previous year and looking for things to be thankful for. I've found some. Here are a few that aren't about family, spiral cut ham and so forth ...
Sunday, March 6, 2016(4 comments)
Election 2016: Rage Against the Voting Machines
After Florida's "hanging chad" debacle in 2000, most states and cities moved to new, theoretically easier to use, but technologically more complex, voting machines. Those machines came with their own problems, including very real fears that election results could be (and perhaps were) hacked and manipulated. ... this generation of machines is on its last legs and the search is on for replacements.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Encryption: Christopher Wray's "Huge, Huge Problem" is an Age-Old Inconvenience
Yes, encryption can frustrate criminal investigations. Some of the Zodiac Killer's hand-encrypted messages remain unbroken more than 40 years after his killings ceased.
Whining about it won't change it. The "balance" Wray and his counterparts in other federal agencies and abroad (such as UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd) keep calling for what amounts to outlawing properties of math and logic that they find inconvenient.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
@YesYoureRacist Crowdsources Social Preferencing
Projects like @YesYoureRacist make the information needed for rational Social Preferencing decisions more widely available and more easily accessed. Ostracism (and its opposite) need no longer be handled retail, by word of mouth at the barber shop and on the phone. We're all just a click away from being, if not famous, at least easily known in some detail to anyone who has reason to care and to look.
Thursday, April 13, 2017(5 comments)
"Safe Spaces," Notre Dame Edition: Who's Afraid of Mike Pence?
There are all kinds of good reasons for students to protest over their schools' speaking invitations to politicians they dislike. There are all kinds of good ways to demonstrate at or around the offending speeches, persuading others and promoting social dialogue.
"I'm scared, please don't let the bad man talk" is neither one of those good reasons nor one of those good ways.
Sunday, April 23, 2017(8 comments)
Tax Reform: Two Places to Start
If Trump, his administration, and congressional Republicans were serious about real tax reform (they aren't, but if they were), I'd expect to see two major initial proposals: A measure increasing the "personal exemption" to the federal income tax once a year, every year, automatically, and a "FICA floor" that likewise increases each year.
Thursday, May 10, 2018(5 comments)
The Iran Nuclear Deal Isn't Just a Good Idea -- It's the Law
On May 8, President Donald Trump announced US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, colloquially known as "the Iran nuclear deal."
While that decision has come under criticism for being both a really bad idea and a severe betrayal of trust, both of which are true, it's worth noting that the US withdrawal is also a breach of treaty obligations ...
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Dakota Access versus the American Way
The go-to excuse among proponents of these "public/private partnership" type land thefts is always "jobs and economic development," but even if that excuse flew (it doesn't), it's a pretty poor one in this case. The $3.7 billion pipeline is advertised as creating a whopping 40 permanent jobs. I'm not sure how many people work at the average Wal-Mart, but it looks like more than 40 to me.
Wednesday, September 5, 2018(5 comments)
What is an "Impeachable Offense?"
The US Constitution envisions impeachment for two specific offenses (treason and bribery) and for other not specifically defined offenses ("other high Crimes and Misdemeanors"). That second category does carry historical meaning, but the meaning is broad and, more importantly, determined politically and in the moment. Which means that pretty much anything can be an impeachable offense.
Election 2017: The Moore You Know ...
I personally loathe Roy Moore, and don't hold with a "presumption of innocence until the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt" standard when it comes to personal reputation. Public opinion is not a criminal court proceeding. My personal biases push me toward believing Moore's accusers.
On the other hand, the timing is suspspect.
Friday, June 30, 2017(3 comments)
Mourn on the Fourth of July, 2017
I guess every generation of adults feels like things have gone downhill since they were kids. But as someone a little too young to have understood Vietnam or Watergate and just exactly old enough to have exuberantly celebrated the nation's bicentennial, these days I find each 4th of July to surpass the last as an occasion for mourning an America that no longer exists.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016(2 comments)
"Rigged Election" Rhetoric: A Dangerous Two-Way Street
Trump is preemptively positioning himself to claim that a victorious Clinton and her party rigged the election. That could lead to fireworks.
Clinton is preemptively positioning herself to accuse a foreign power of rigging -- or at least unduly influencing -- the outcome to her loss. That could lead to fireworks of a nuclear variety.
Syria: Is Trump Finally Putting America First?
If Trump's serious about withdrawing from Syria, if the more hawkish members of his administration don't dissuade him, and if he follows through, Trump will be taking a giant step in the right direction on foreign policy. The US never had any legitimate business in Syria. Its military adventurism there has been both dumb and illegal from the beginning.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
The Honest Ads Act: "Fundamental Rights," Real and Imagined
There's a right to speak. There's a right to listen or not listen to what someone says. There's a right to ask who's saying it, and to condition one's belief or non-belief on the answer. But that answer may be "none of your business," and there's no right to forcibly dictate otherwise.
Friday, March 16, 2018(11 comments)
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
What or who is a "person" -- a human being whom we recognize as having rights that ought not to be violated?
Is a physical body a necessary component of "personhood," or would a mind running on a computer likewise enjoy the right to not be robbed or killed, the right to own property, to vote, etc.?
School District Declares "Gorilla" War on Employee Speech
As a libertarian, I'm generally indisposed to defend either government education (I favor complete separation of school and state) or government employees (I favor complete separation of everything else and state as well, which would leave nothing for them to do!).
But the government shouldn't be allowed to punish people for what they say. There's a word for that. That word is "censorship."
Saturday, July 16, 2016(1 comments)
The Problem Isn't Tools, It's Terror
"Our rifle is only a tool," Private Joker notes in Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers (adapted to film as Full Metal Jacket). "It is a hard heart that kills."
Focusing on tools misses the point entirely: When they choose to attack, terrorists will buy, beg, borrow, steal or make the tools to do so (the Tsarnaevs used pressure cookers, nails, gunpowder from fireworks and remote detonators made from toy car controllers).
Friday, August 26, 2016(5 comments)
Farm Follies: The Cheese Stands Alone (With Its Hand Out)
I come from a farming family. My grandfather started out as a "share cropper," eventually farming several hundred acres of his own. I spent my formative years living on a subsistence farm and working on others' commercial farms. My father retired from a dairy operated by a farmers' cooperative. If anyone should appreciate the extra super specialness of farmers, it's me.
But I don't.
Thursday, January 11, 2018(10 comments)
Two Modest Proposals for Choosing Better Presidents
A prospective president must be at least 35 years old, be a "natural born citizen" of the United States, and have resided within the US for 14 years.
But, of course, many people want more than just those three things .... [they want] a sitting or former governor or US Senator (or, occasionally, a victorious ggeneral). They want "political experience."
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Donald Trump: Unprincipled Populist
Donald Trump's presidential campaign rhetoric is, by most accounts, "populist, " but that's a broad description. Trump takes his "populism" from a particular historical tradition -- one with a baleful history in American politics.
What is populism, and what's the problem with Trump's version of it?
Wednesday, March 7, 2018(9 comments)
Capitol Punishment: Or, Keeping House is too Expensive
Before leaving Congress last year, US Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) proposed an additional "housing allowance" of $2,500 per month to help members of Congress cover the costs of a second residence. I have a better idea.
Monday, April 16, 2018(3 comments)
Trump Isn't the First War Criminal President. He Should be the Last.
As the Nuremberg Tribunal noted, "To initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Donald Trump, Theresa May, and Emmanuel Macron are war criminals.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016(16 comments)
Election 2016: "One Person, One Vote" Kills Real Choice
Many of us vote for our second choices -- the "lesser evils" -- because our first choices "can't win."
Many of us could live with either of two or more candidates, but vote for the one who "can win" rather than the one we may like best.
What if you could vote for ALL the candidates you like, instead of just one ...?
Tuesday, January 31, 2017(2 comments)
Trump: Just the Newest Leader of an Old Cult
The theory of American government is that the president is the chief executive. Words mean things. The president's job is to implement -- to execute -- the will of Congress as expressed in legislation. He's not the homeowner. He's the housekeeper.
That's the theory. In practice, presidents have, over time, carved out considerable personal power for themselves.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018(7 comments)
Two Cheers for Trump's Declassification Order
US president Donald Trump partially declassified a government surveillance application targeting former campaign consultant Carter Page and directed the US Department of Justice to publicly release text messages relating to the "Russiagate" probe between former FBI Director James Comey and other DoJ/FBI personnel.
Whether or not this is a SMART on Trump's part remains to be seen, but in my opion it's the RIGHT move.
Private Prisons: Bernie Sanders is Right
As a libertarian, I'm all for "privatization." I'd love to see as many services as possible taken out of government's hands and left to the private sector.
But "private prisons" aren't "private" in any meaningful sense of the word.