(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 13, 2020 2020: I'm So Sick of Superlatives
Yes, 2020 has been a pretty crappy year, but let's try to keep a little perspective here. There's never been a year that some people didn't think -- at the time -- was the worse year ever.
SHARE Monday, August 10, 2020 America Doesn't Have Presidential Debates, But It Should
The events put on by CPD are not "debates." Debates involve formal arguments over questions of substance. CPD events are theatrical productions -- side-by-side candidate commercials, financed by millions of dollars in arguably illegal campaign contributions from corporate sponsors.
(23 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 9, 2017 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.
(36 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 2, 2019 Aircraft Carriers: Give Truman and Ford a Burial at Sea
The US government's "defense" budget is the single largest discretionary area of federal spending. It's an aging hippie in dire need of a clean shave and a buzz cut. There's no better place to start trimming than the US Navy's carriers and their supporting ships and infrastructure.
(7 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 2, 2018 Political Parties Should Say What They Mean. The Libertarian Party Does.
A political party should always be completely honest and crystal clear about its positions when addressing the public. Yes, we want the public to agree with us and to elect our candidates to office. No, we shouldn't try to trick the public into thinking it agrees with us if it doesn't.
(7 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 26, 2015 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.
(10 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 14, 2018 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.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 1, 2017 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.
(26 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 22, 2018 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.
(45 comments) SHARE Friday, August 23, 2019 Will the DNC Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory Yet Again?
All the Democrats have to do win the White House in 2020 is pick a nominee ever so slightly more popular than Hillary Clinton.
That's a low bar that the Democratic National Committee seems determined, once again, to not get over. As in 2016, the DNC is putting its finger on the scale in favor of "establishment" candidates, the sentiments of the rank and file be damned.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 20, 2018 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 27, 2019 Trump Sentences Accused War Criminals to Death
If the military justice system doesn't charge, try, and punish people whose crimes endanger their comrades because the president panders for votes from "support the troops" types, the (unsupported) troops will deal with such matters on the spot.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, July 29, 2016 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, February 10, 2016 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 23, 2016 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.
(23 comments) SHARE Friday, June 16, 2017 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?
(38 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 19, 2018 The Strangest Loyalty Oath You Probably Never Heard Of
Agree with BDS or not, it's entirely proper for people who oppose a government's actions to adhere to their convictions peacefully, by refusing to trade with that government or with businesses operating in that government's jurisdiction.
(8 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 13, 2016 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.
(8 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 14, 2018 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."
(51 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 23, 2019 Coming Sooner or Later: Elizabeth Warren's Mondale Moment
US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has spent the last few weeks running from her own Mondale Moment, refusing to answer the straight-up question from debate moderators and interviewers:
"Would funding your Medicare For All proposal require a middle class tax increase?"
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 26, 2018 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.
(37 comments) SHARE Friday, October 4, 2019 Instead of Explaining Greta Thunberg, Debate Her Claims
Critics slam Thunberg as everything from "mentally ill" (a claim which got one Fox News guest blacklisted), to naive pawn in a well-funded propaganda operation, to just plain annoying teenager.
I think those critics miss the point. If they disagree on the facts, they should dispute those facts rather than focus on Thunberg at all. But since the focus IS on her, let's take a closer look.
(5 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 11, 2017 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.
(10 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 18, 2019 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 ...
(15 comments) SHARE Monday, November 18, 2019 Voters Say They Want a Third Party. They Should Vote Accordingly.
Pluralities or majorities of independent, "swing," and even Democratic and Republican voters always respond positively to polls asking them, generically, about the desirability of a "third party" in American politics.
But generically and specifically are two different animals.
(9 comments) SHARE Monday, August 26, 2019 Michael Drejka is a Political Prisoner
Yes, Michael Drejka started an argument. But McGlockton started a fight. That bad decision cost Markeis McGlockton his life. It shouldn't cost Michael Drejka his freedom.
(12 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 20, 2016 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 12, 2019 Afghanistan: Oh, When Will We Ever Learn?
War is always ugly. Optional and prolonged wars with nebulous objectives are always built on lies -- lies stacked sky-high atop one another for no other purpose than to keep the ugliness going for as long as possible.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 11, 2020 Yes, the ERA Has Been Ratified
On January 15, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. According to the US Constitution, that makes the ERA part of "the supreme law of the land."
But, say others, not so fast ...
(43 comments) SHARE Friday, September 22, 2017 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 29, 2019 In Cybersecurity, Decentralization and Diversity are Strength
The US Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the New York Times reports, fears "ransomware" attacks against America's voter registration systems in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. In response, it's launching a program that "narrowly focuses" on protecting those systems.
A laudable goal, to be sure, but should we accept the premise?
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 19, 2018 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).
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, July 8, 2019 Photo ID is Obsolete and Unnecessary. Facial Recognition Technology Makes it Dangerous.
In recent decades, and especially since 9/11, the conversation over personal privacy has revolved around how much of that privacy "must" be sacrificed to make law enforcement's job easier.
The answer to that question is "none."
It's not an American's job to make law enforcement's job easier. It's law enforcement's job to respect that American's rights.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, April 7, 2017 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.
(14 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 17, 2019 Now More Than Ever, It's Clear the FBI Must Go
Donald Trump is no Martin Luther King, Jr., but he's certainly disruptive. That, not some cockamamie theory about a Russian mole in the White House, explains the FBI's declaration of war on his presidency
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, September 23, 2019 Yep, These People are Stone Cold Crooked
Those with power tend to act to preserve that power. As the amount of power requiring preservation increases, so does the temptation to use that power in corrupt ways to protect and expand it.
The positions of president and vice-president/potential president, entail considerable power. Suspecting corrupt motives on Biden's part, Trump's part, or both, is not only not beyond the pale, it's perfectly reasonable.
(6 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 24, 2018 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 12, 2020 CNN: "Scientific" Means "Agrees With Us"
This ongoing duel over which "experts" to trust incorporates two faulty assumptions. One is that "experts" must be trusted rather than tested. Another is that "experts" can never disagree.
The duel also demonstrates that "public health" is at least as much a political ideology as a scientific endeavor, and that politics doesn't end at science's edge.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 26, 2017 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.
(14 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 8, 2020 COVID-19: Resist Much, Obey Little, and Never Forget
Politicians are expensive serial killers who pose unacceptable risks to our lives and liberties.
We can usually "afford" their depredations. ... But every once in a while their antics boil over into a Holodomor or a Holocaust or a Great Leap Forward. And that should keep you lying awake nights trying to think of a better way.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, September 16, 2016 @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.
(8 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 8, 2016 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 ...
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 6, 2018 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.
SHARE Wednesday, March 27, 2019 Note to Six Senators: "Present" is not Presidential
Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar don't want their positions on the Green New Deal indelibly recorded as votes in the US Senate.
They want freedom to triangulate their positions toward the desires of Democratic primary voters over the next year, and general election voters over the next year-and-a-half, with minimal explanation required.
People in hell want ice water, too.
(8 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 13, 2018 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.
(13 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 13, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 14, 2019 Trump's Democratic Critics Want it Both Ways on Biden, Clinton
When Republicans act criminally and/or corruptly, it's because they're criminal and/or corrupt.
When Democrats act criminally and/or corruptly, it's because they're just poor, temperamental, out-of-their-element naifs who of course have no criminal or corrupt intent, but whose staffers neglect to take them by their little mittened hands and carefully walk them across all those busy, dangerous legal/ethical streets.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, December 11, 2020 Yes, the Election Was Rigged. No, Not Like That.
Yes, the presidential election was rigged. The next American presidential election that ISN'T rigged will be the first in living memory.
No, it wasn't rigged to ensure a Biden win, or a Trump loss.
It was rigged to ensure victory for the status quo and for our de facto one-party system.
(9 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 28, 2018 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.
(7 comments) SHARE Friday, July 14, 2017 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.
SHARE Saturday, December 2, 2017 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?
(24 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 28, 2018 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.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 26, 2020 Bernie Sanders, Joe Rogan, the Human Rights Campaign, and Truth in Advertising
HRC's official motto is "Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equal Rights."
If political advocacy was subject to "truth in advertising" laws, that motto would be "Turning Contributions for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equal Rights Into Support for Establishment Politicians."
(6 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 6, 2019 Marianne Williamson is Right About American Elections
Why aren't there any current members of Congress from the Libertarian, Green, or other "third parties?" And why are independent and "third party" members of Congress a rarity since early in the 20th century? Two reasons.
SHARE Wednesday, July 24, 2019 No Bail is Excessive Bail, Even for Jeffrey Epstein
The US Constitution's Eighth Amendment is short and sweet: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
What would constitute "excessive" bail in Jeffrey Epstein's case? Whatever it might be, no bail at all fits the definition, especially given what Epstein put on the table by way of a bail proposal.
(9 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 23, 2018 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.
(32 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 14, 2020 COVID-19: "Second Wave" or Not, No More Lockdowns
Here we go again: Fear of a "second wave" of COVID-19 infections is on world tour. Naturally, the same "experts" who demanded a global lockdown/shutdown in response to the "first wave" are saddling up for an encore. Their logic, faulty the first time around, is even more so the second.
SHARE Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Thankful in 2019
Speaking to a crowd of Democratic donors on November 21, former president Barack Obama said "everyone needs to chill out about the candidates, but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process."
My Thanksgiving advice is to "chill out" entirely over the holiday weekend and set the "ginning up" aside for later.
Yes, we're really allowed to do that.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 10, 2019 Reading Is Fundamental. Congress Should Try It.
We have way too many laws. Those laws are too long and at turns too vague and too detailed, depending on whether vagueness or detail better facilitate the arbitrary exercise of government power.
If Congress can't be bothered to even know what's in the laws it passes, why should the rest of us be bothered to understand and follow those laws?
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, September 27, 2019 Impeachment is on Rails. That's Not the Hard Part.
Donald Trump abused his presidential power to pressure a foreign government to investigate a political opponent, then tried to hide what he'd done. That's indisputable.
More importantly, it's enough. "Quid pro quo" in the form of foreign aid or not, and any other extant allegations aside, these are acts most Americans understand as corrupt.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 30, 2017 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 16, 2019 The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
We're not supposed to talk about AIPAC. Ever. And it's easy to see why. If most Americans noticed that many members of Congress (as well as most presidents) are selling their influence over US policy to a foreign power, we might do something about it.
SHARE 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 31, 2019 Iraq: America's Other "Longest War"
US president Donald Trump talks a good "let's get out of all these stupid wars" game. But in actuality he has increased, and continues to increase, the size of US military deployments to, and the tempo of US military operations in, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Several thousand US troops remain in Iraq and the war looks likely to stretch into a fourth decade.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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.
(22 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 30, 2018 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.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 19, 2017 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.
(7 comments) SHARE Friday, January 31, 2020 Impeachment: The Problem with Biden Whataboutism
I'm no lawyer, but I doubt that law schools teach the "what about HIM? He did it too!" defense. It probably doesn't fly in criminal trials. It shouldn't fly in an impeachment trial either.
(5 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 15, 2019 A Modest Proposal for Improving Senate Impeachment Trials
Once the House passes articles of impeachment, Chief Justice John Roberts should order his clerks to drop everything else and get to work examining the public statements of all 100 members of the US Senate. His first order of business at the trial should be to excuse any and all Senators who have publicly announced their prejudices on Trump's guilt or innocence from "jury duty."
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 24, 2019 Impeachment: Trump Has Already Confessed to "High Crimes"
What's with all this "smoking gun" stuff? The decision to impeach is political, but in terms of evidence, it's already a lock. President Trump publicly confessed to multiple "high crimes" before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even announced the impeachment inquiry, then threw in a corroborating White House document.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, September 20, 2019 E-Cigarettes: Media Bury the Lede, We Get to Bury the Bodies
American regulators and politicians are hopping on the bandwagon of a baseless moral panic over e-cigarettes, created by so-called "public health" advocates and promoted by the mainstream media.
The regulations and bans those regulators and politicians are proposing will increase, not decrease, the illnesses and deaths associated with "street vapes."
(37 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 8, 2018 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.
SHARE 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 9, 2016 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.
SHARE Thursday, November 28, 2019 Non-Intervention: An Imperfect Solution to a Terrible Problem
Yes, Hong Kong was "returned" to a "China" completely different from the "China" it was torn from, but nobody gets to tell the new "China" what to do within the agreed borders. At least, it seems, not for more than 20 years or so.
I don't like that, but I don't have to like it. That's how it is whether I like it or not.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 20, 2016 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, August 11, 2017 Google to Employees: Feel Safe Sharing Your Opinions, as Long as They're Our Opinions
Former Google engineer James Damore is suddenly between jobs. He's been fired, Bloomberg reports, for writing "an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies." Google has long cultivated a reputation for hiring smart people, turning them loose, and listening to them. This firing puts a giant dent in that reputation.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, March 25, 2019 Florida: Why Republican Lawmakers are Defying -- and Denying -- the Voters
If Amendment 4 is implemented as clearly, concisely, and unambiguously written, Florida will cease to be America's biggest presidential "swing state." ... Rather than work to avert this outcome by courting the African-American vote, Florida's Republicans are falling back on a strategy their party has vigorously pursued nationwide for decades: Find ways to keep African-Americans from voting.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, September 15, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 20, 2017 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.
SHARE Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Did Jeffrey Epstein "Belong to Intelligence?"
More money buys more formidable lawyers (in Epstein's case, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr). More money usually means friends with more money, and with the influence that goes with having more money. It's just a fact of life that more money sometimes means getting away with -- or at least getting off easier for -- things would put you or me in jail for a long, long time.
But another possibility rears its ugly head.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 3, 2019 Afghanistan: In Search of Monsters to Not Destroy
Afghanistan is not and never has been a military threat to the United States, let alone the kind of existential threat that would justify 18 years of war. Yesterday isn't soon enough to bring this fiasco to an end. But Lindsey Graham and company would, given their way, drag it out forever.
(13 comments) SHARE Friday, January 18, 2019 Syria: In the History of Bad Excuses, This One's Top-Tier
US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks I'm using the term "thinks" very loosely here that Americans dying in Syria is a compelling reason to continue exposing Americans to the danger of dying in Syria. So do Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jack Reed (D-RI). ... this is the best they can come up with? If the troops don't stay in Syria, they can't keep getting killed in Syria? Wow, that really shows Trump!
SHARE Sunday, June 30, 2019 Kamala Harris: Trump, But with Darker Skin and Better Hair
The math says that Trump's path to re-election is exceedingly narrow. In order to lose in 2020, the Democrats would probably have to nominate a candidate even more openly narcissistic and authoritarian than Trump (or Clinton). In Kamala Harris, they may have found their next loser.
SHARE Sunday, December 8, 2019 Congress: The Snail's Pace Race
On one hand, I often thank the Almighty for gridlock. If Congress isn't doing anything, Congress isn't doing anything stupid or evil, right?
On the other hand, if Congress isn't doing anything, why do we continue to pay their salaries, hand them significant portions of our earnings, and listen to them flap their gums 24/7 about how important they are?
(25 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 4, 2015 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, June 19, 2020 No, We're Not All Antifa Now. But We Should Be.
With respect to fascism, there are three possible orientations: Fascist, anti-fascist, and politically neutral. If the whole idea of antifa has you up in arms, you're clearly neither of the last two. Kind of narrows things down, doesn't it?
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 4, 2019 War in All But Name as US State Department Offers Bribes to Pirates
The US State Department is offering cash bribes to captains of Iranian ships if they sail those ships into ports where the US government can seize them.
The offers are funded from a "Rewards for Justice" program authorizing payouts of up to $15 million for "counter-terrorism" purposes. It's not about counter-terrorism, though. It's about doubling down on US President Donald Trump's decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal.
(22 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 11, 2017 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 20, 2019 Power, Not Policy, Drives American Politics
From any debate between candidates for public office, one may collect a veritable basket full of promises.
But listen closely to the promises and you'll find that unless the candidate is a Libertarian, they're always conditional: Give me more power, give me more money, and I'll give you X.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 19, 2019 Trial and Error: Pelosi's Foolish Impeachment Ploy
To the extent that the third presidential impeachment in US history is a "victory" -- the public jury is still out on that question and likely to remain so for some time -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seems determined to snatch defeat from its jaws.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, June 1, 2020 Time to Stop Messing Around and Strike at the Root of Police Violence
The root of police violence isn't racism, nor is it the presence of "a few bad apples" on police forces, nor is it the absence of sufficient safeguards such as body cameras and civilian review boards.
The root of police violence is the modern conception of policing itself: The creation of "police forces" as state institutions separate from the populace and dedicated to suppressing that populace on command.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 4, 2020 Yes, Trump Should Talk With The Taliban
The word isn't being openly used by either side, but let's call it what it is: Surrender.
The US government has surrendered in Afghanistan.
No, not unconditionally. But it has surrendered nonetheless.
And that's a good thing.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 29, 2019 Don't Make Mark Zuckerberg America's Political Truth Czar
Politics consists of conflicting narratives. No two opposing narratives can both be true. In fact, both could be false.
The question is not whether politicians' claims should be fact checked. The question is who should do the checking.
In an even remotely free society, the only answer is "all of us."
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 15, 2019 The Down Side of Impeachment
Unless there's some dramatic change in the political landscape over the next month or so, I believe that the US House of Representatives will impeach President Donald Trump.
Unless there's some dramatic change in the political landscape between now and Trump's trial in the US Senate, I don't believe the Senate will vote to convict him.
Taken together, those two outcomes constitute a bad thing.
(17 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 6, 2019 Don't Let Mass Shooters and the New York Times Destroy Freedom of Speech
Free speech is a core moral value for any society that aspires to freedom of any kind and to any degree. We must -- MUST -- have the right to form our own opinions, and to express those opinions, no matter how ugly others may find those opinions. Without that freedom, no other freedoms can survive.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 27, 2019 In Syria "Withdrawal," Less is Probably More
If past performance is an indicator of future results, what's going on in Syria isn't a US withdrawal at all. Instead of US forces departing the country, more troops and heavier weapons seem to be flowing into the country (and the region, including B-1B bombers to Saudi Arabia).
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 17, 2018 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.
(9 comments) SHARE Friday, November 8, 2019 Impeachment: A Night at the Movies
"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall," wrote Chekhov, "in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
When Pelosi announced the House impeachment inquiry on September 24, she was figuratively hanging a gun on the wall of the House chamber ...
SHARE Tuesday, August 20, 2019 "Nuance" in Politics and Public Policy? No Thanks.
Of all the words in the political lexicon, none makes for a brighter neon DO NOT TRUST sign than "nuance."
According to WordNet, "nuance" is "a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude."
Nuance is a wonderful characteristic in painting, literature, music, and the other arts.
In political philosophy and public policy, it's a cheat mechanism used for the purpose of creating unwarranted wiggle room.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, August 7, 2017 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.
SHARE Monday, July 22, 2019 Peckerwood Populism is About Political Strategy, Not Personal Belief
Peckerwood Populism is enjoying a nasty resurgence in the Age of Trump (and Trump is far from its sole practitioner).
Why? Because the Republican Party has failed to expand its base. ... If you can't expand your base, you win by working harder to get more of that base out to the polls.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 23, 2019 Parkland and Covington: Two Schools, Two Causes, One Lesson
As Finley Peter Dunne wrote, "politics ain't beanbag." Those who enter the public square in support of a cause ANY cause thereby open themselves up to mockery, misunderstanding, the whole panoply of unpleasant "engagement."
(8 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 7, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 19, 2017 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.
SHARE Tuesday, October 8, 2019 Entangling Alliances Make For Forever Wars
Like adhesive bandages, entangling alliances cover ugly wounds and seldom come off without pain. But leaving them in place and letting the wounds fester is even worse.
(22 comments) SHARE Friday, April 27, 2018 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, May 31, 2019 The First Amendment Protects Ex-Politicians Too
Yes, powerful entities with lots of money like to hire former members of Congress to lobby on their behalf.
Yes, there's a "revolving door" between Congress, the federal bureaucracy, and those lobbying jobs that lends itself to corruption and sweetheart dealing.
Yes, that's a problem.
No, a ban on those practices isn't the solution.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, September 30, 2019 Politicians: A Necessary Demystification
Politicians are people with jobs and with bosses.
On its face that seems like a relatively uncontroversial statement, but I'm always surprised at how much time people spend looking for high principle in the decisions politicians make instead of considering the mundane dynamics of political employment.
(19 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 20, 2018 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 26, 2018 JUUL Heist: Addicts Sue Company for Providing Their Fix
Yes, nicotine is addictive. The plaintiffs knew (or, in the minor's case, at least should have known) that it was addictive before JUUL ever entered their lives. All JUUL did was offer them an arguably safer, and probably less socially awkward, way of getting their fixes.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, September 29, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 29, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 4, 2018 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?
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 21, 2018 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?
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 11, 2017 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."
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, December 23, 2019 The Christmas Truce of 1914: Proof that Peace is Possible
he "Christmas truce" didn't end "the war to end all wars." It dragged on for nearly four more years, at a cost of more than 20 million lives.
But for a brief moment peace reigned, proof that the already hardening hearts of opposing armies could at least temporarily melt and that soldiers could treat each other as human beings rather than as mortal enemies.
(8 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 14, 2017 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 ...
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 4, 2017 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?
(18 comments) SHARE Monday, April 30, 2018 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 28, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 11, 2019 Trump Didn't Start the War in Afghanistan, But He Owns It
Firing John Bolton is a good start. Nobody sane wants a guy who looks like Captain Kangaroo but talks like Dr. Strangelove whispering foreign policy advice in a president's ear. The main effect of his departure from the White House is to shift perceived responsibility for America's ongoing fiasco in Afghanistan back where it belongs: Squarely on the shoulders of Donald J. Trump.
(16 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 15, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, July 28, 2017 The State is at War -- with the Future
What we're seeing is the latest bit of backlash from a political establishment scared witless by technologies which threaten to make it superfluous.
SHARE Thursday, November 21, 2019 Trump's Course Correction on E-Cigarettes: Great Idea, No Matter His Reasons
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once told a group of lobbyists, who were pushing a policy change at him, "Okay, you've convinced me. Now go out and bring pressure on me."
That's how politics works. Politicians appease voters and activist groups who can help or harm their careers. Sometimes that works out well for the public, sometimes it works out badly.
In this case it works out well ...
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 7, 2017 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, June 3, 2019 Instead of a US Peace Plan for the Middle East, How about a US Peace Plan for the US?
As addiction counselors say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. With addiction, the way out is not "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." It's admitting that the thing you're addicted to will never solve your problems and giving up that thing.
The United States suffers from a long-term addiction, since at least the end of World War 2, to trying to run the world.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 12, 2017 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."
SHARE 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.
(13 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Whither the Precautionary Principle?
Over the last half century or so, regulators and activists have regularly invoked the precautionary principle .... Then came COVID-19, and all of a sudden many of the same voices who'd have followed the precautionary principle to hell and back to stop construction of a nuclear power plant or delay the logging of a plot of old growth forest completely abandoned it.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 18, 2018 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 30, 2017 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 ...
SHARE Sunday, May 24, 2020 The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
The policies Adolf Eichmann executed and enforced -- policies aimed at the extermination of the Jews -- were intentionally murderous.
The policies Andrew Cuomo executed and enforced were deadly too, but in a grossly negligent rather than openly intentional, way.
That's the DIFFERENCE between Cuomo and Eichmann.
The SIMILARITY between the two is in their shared defense.
(6 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 8, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 27, 2017 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.
(10 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 10, 2019 Universal Basic Income is a Totalitarian State's Dream Scheme
Supporters of a basic income span the political spectrum and the economic upheavals of the 21st century -- especially fears that automation will increasingly replace human workers -- are likely to fuel its journey to the center of policy discussions over the next few years.
A guaranteed income for the masses isn't here, but it may well be coming. That's a bad thing.
(6 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 8, 2017 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 9, 2019 Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren't Violating Trump's Rights
"If the facts are your side," famed attorney and former law professor Alan Dershowitz instructed his students, "pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table."
As Republican attacks on the US House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry grow in fury, they more and more resemble the third instruction ...
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 18, 2020 An Open Letter to Michelle Obama
Given your party's Herculean efforts to blow its second presidential election in a row, and your complete cooperation with those efforts, you've got a lot of nerve to lecture millions of Americans, wagging your finger at us and demanding that we not "withhold our votes in protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning."
SHARE Thursday, August 15, 2019 Politics versus Policy in the New "Public Charge" Rules
If Americans want fewer "public charges," the solution isn't to single out immigrants for exclusion from government welfare benefits. It's to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce and toughen eligibility requirements for, those welfare benefits. For everyone, not just for people who happen to hail from the "wrong" side of an imaginary line on the ground.
(23 comments) SHARE Friday, September 8, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, May 13, 2019 Trump's "Trade War" is a War on You
Punitive tariffs on Chinese and other foreign goods are simply corporate welfare. They are a mechanism for redistribution of wealth from American consumers and workers to the most politically connected American business owners.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 26, 2019 Yes, They're Concentration Camps
Yes, the detention facilities in which the US government forcibly holds large numbers of immigrants are concentration camps.
Yes, most Americans in this day and age associate the term with the Holocaust -- and AOC certainly encouraged the comparison.
But words mean things and inflammatory comparisons from either side don't change the meaning of the term "concentration camp."
(9 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 20, 2017 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.
SHARE 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 2, 2020 Real Democracy Requires a Separation of Money and State
Involuntary taxation is the opposite of the consent of the governed. It's the opposite of democracy. We can have financial regulators and central banks, or we can have democracy. We can't have both.
Cryptocurrency threatens the reign of government over money. It bodes a future in which, as an old antiwar slogan puts it, the Air Force will have to hold a bake sale if it wants to buy a new bomber.
That's the future I want.
SHARE Sunday, January 5, 2020 The Soleimani Assassination: Worse Than a Crime, a Mistake
Whether Trump is "wagging the dog" in an attempt to distract from impeachment, or playing "6D chess" in an attempt to get the US out of Iraq at the demand of the Iraqis themselves (I've heard both claims), he's turning friends against him and currying renewed European sympathy for Iran.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, June 21, 2019 Facebook's Libra Isn't a "Cryptocurrency"
When it comes to the goal envisaged by cryptocurrency's creator, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto -- to free money from control and manipulation by governments and central banks -- Libra is a dead end. Instead of being manipulated by one government or central bank, Libra will be manipulated by all of them.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, June 15, 2020 "Ballot Access" Fairness: The Answer is Already in Some Voters' Hands
What's the virtue of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot? Simple: It's uncensored. Neither any candidate's "access" nor any voter's preferences are disallowed. Neither your local nor state election authority, nor the political party in power in your neck of the woods, gets to interpose itself between you and the candidates seeking your support.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, September 2, 2019 Your Vote, Your Voice: Don't Waste It
The message of the Republican and Democratic parties and their supporters to the rest of us is:
If you don't like what we're offering you, tough. Vote for us anyway.
Instead of voting FOR what you want, vote AGAINST what you hate.
Don't listen to them.
Whatever value your vote may have, that value resides in its power to reflect YOUR preferences.
SHARE 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.
(16 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 27, 2019 Venezuela: None of Our Business
How Venezuelans choose to conduct their political affairs never has been and is not now the business of the US government. One need support neither Maduro nor Guaido to reach this conclusion. It's simply not up to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, or any other American politician to run Venezuela.
(19 comments) SHARE Monday, September 10, 2018 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE Tuesday, June 18, 2019 The "Solution" to Flag-Burning is Simpler Than a Constitutional Amendment
If flag-burning is really a "problem," it's a problem with a simple solution:
If you don't want to burn a flag, don't buy a flag, soak it in kerosene, and set it on fire.
If you do want to burn a flag, don't steal someone else's flag, and don't burn a flag on the private property of someone who objects, or in a way that creates a danger to others (in a dry forest, for example).
SHARE 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.
(6 comments) SHARE Friday, September 9, 2016 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.
(39 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 20, 2017 "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.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 16, 2017 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.
(18 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 21, 2017 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.
SHARE Wednesday, December 11, 2019 JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon versus the Pentagon and Trump
Global Firepower lists 2019 defense budgets for 137 of the world's countries. Of those countries, 61 -- nearly half -- spend less than $1 billion per year on their entire armed forces. That is, less than the Pentagon wants to spend per year on a single computing system.
It's not Amazon who's getting screwed here, it's the American taxpayer.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, June 29, 2020 Afghanistan Bounties: Pot, Meet Kettle (and Turn Off the Stove!)
If there is a Russian bounty program on US troops in Afghanistan now, it's clearly been less successful than the equivalent US program was 30-40 years ago. And with that program, the US government gave up any conceivable standing to complain about a Russian remix.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 12, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, September 12, 2016 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 6, 2017 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.
SHARE Tuesday, November 13, 2018 Talkin' Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
The First Amendment protects not only a free press but freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of peaceable assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances. Does this mean that anyone who wants to report, speak, pray or just have a non-violent political get-together must be allowed to do so at the White House, on demand?
SHARE 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.
SHARE Thursday, October 17, 2019 On Twitter, Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
It's neither judicious nor impartial to make some rules, then announce exemptions from those rules for Super Very Important Special People while heaping new rules on Normal Completely Unimportant People to keep us from acting like Super Very Important Special People.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 20, 2016 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 ...
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, December 25, 2016 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 ...
SHARE 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.
(9 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 17, 2018 One Libertarian's Free (Well, Nearly Free) College Plan
With college as we know it becoming less valuable and online/distance learning becoming more viable, change is coming whether we like it or not. Why not seize an opportunity for "free college" as we wind down the existing system?
SHARE Wednesday, December 18, 2019 In Praise of Home Delivery Culture
Much of the focus on home delivery culture, both positive and negative, is on lots and lots of stuff becoming more and more accessible. That's true, and relevant, whether you're a fan of consumer culture or bemoan it.
But home delivery culture also incentivizes businesses to do things that are good for all of us. And it does so through market mechanisms rather than through political haggling.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, May 20, 2019 A US War on Iran would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Perhaps the most serious fiction at play here is the claim that the US seeks "regime change" in Iran because Iran is a brutal Islamic theocracy. If that was the point, the US would also seek "regime change" in, for example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ...
The US seeks "regime change" in Iran because Iran goes its own way and refuses to take marching orders from the US.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 13, 2019 Holiday Consumerism: Who Decides What "Nobody Really Needs?"
I wouldn't dream of claiming that my "need" for a Les Paul is more urgent than, say, a starving child's need for a hot meal or a homeless person's need for shelter.
On the other hand, my purchase of that guitar helped create paychecks that put meals in bellies and roofs over heads.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 27, 2018 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."
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 15, 2019 Facebook Isn't a "Monopoly" -- Let's Not Make it Into One
Facebook isn't a "monopoly" in any of the services it offers. It has loads of competitors, many of them doing quite well, and its users and customers have the option of using those competitors instead of, or in addition to, Facebook any time they like.
More importantly, Facebook has no ability to prevent new competitors from entering the markets it serves. And therein lies a political paradox.
(37 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 25, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 29, 2018 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 ...
(11 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 4, 2016 $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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, January 5, 2018 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 ...
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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 ...
SHARE Thursday, January 9, 2020 Trump versus Iran: Power Doesn't Just Corrupt, it Deludes
America emerged from World War Two as the world's sole nuclear power and, unlike other combatant countries, with its wealth virtually unscathed and its industrial capacity increased rather than demolished. Its rulers saw themselves as able, and entitled, to dictate terms to almost everyone, on almost everything. ... the delusion persists.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 25, 2020 Stop Blaming Russia, China for US Disarmament Failures
The purpose of arms control talks is to reduce the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used. The purpose of "modernizing" those weapons is to make those weapons easier to use. The US government needs to commit to the former goal and renounce the latter possibility.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 4, 2017 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.
(9 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 12, 2020 Will We Learn COVID-19's Most Important Lesson?
If general lessons can be drawn from our experience of COVID-19 so far, here are three of them:
First, never expect government to be prepared to respond to a pandemic.
Second, never expect government's ad hoc responses to a pandemic to be the correct responses.
And third, never expect government to admit its errors.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 1, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, October 22, 2018 Trump Goes Postal. But in a Good Way.
On October 17, president Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union, a 144-year-old international agreement which coordinates postal policies between 192 member nations. Trump left open the possibility of remaining in the UPU if those policies can be successfully renegotiated. Unlike many of Trump's initiatives relating to international trade, this one makes real sense.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 6, 2017 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?
(6 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 3, 2015 "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.
(16 comments) SHARE Monday, July 18, 2016 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?
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, June 26, 2017 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
SHARE Thursday, August 8, 2019 Tweeting Publicly Available Information Isn't "Shameful and Dangerous"
Campaign contributions are, by law, easily discovered public information, on the premise that we all have a right to know who's giving money to which candidates ... and to act accordingly (short of criminal violence) with respect to both those candidates and those donors.
And, let's face it, someone who donates the maximum legal amount ($2,700) to a presidential candidate has an agenda.
SHARE Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Westminster: Bulldog, Not Poodle, for Best in Show
The elephant in the UK's political room at the moment is, of course, Brexit. But another issue looms large as well, especially from across the Atlantic. That issue is foreign policy, particularly the UK's tendency to throw in with US military interventions in the Middle East.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, August 3, 2018 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 21, 2016 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, November 13, 2017 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 24, 2016 Twenty Years, Three Minutes: Time to Ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Four years after the Julin tests, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. US president Bill Clinton welcomed and signed the pact, but 20 years later the US Senate has yet to ratify it.
Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, October 27, 2017 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").
SHARE Monday, March 9, 2020 Happy National Tired and Grouchy Week
On Sunday, March 8, millions of Americans woke up an hour early, having set their clocks ahead by an hour the night before, and dug in for a week or so of bleary-eyed, irritable attempts to tweak their bodies' natural sleeping and waking rhythms. This fatuous semi-annual "spring forward, fall back" ritual, called "Daylight Saving Time," ranks high on my personal list of "dumbest ideas in the history of mankind."
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 28, 2017 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.
SHARE 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."
(22 comments) SHARE Saturday, November 7, 2020 America in Transition: Two Things Donald Trump Can Do to Burnish His Legacy
Donald Trump has more than two months remaining in office. During that time, there are several steps he can and should take to burnish his legacy and set himself up to be remembered more kindly than his first four years and ten months in office might otherwise merit. Here are two of them.
(8 comments) SHARE Monday, December 18, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 6, 2016 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.
SHARE 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.
(11 comments) SHARE Monday, March 16, 2020 A Proposal for Real Coronavirus "Stimulus"
If the US government is serious about "stimulus," it should announce that instead of accepting tax returns this year, the IRS will immediately (no waiting for April 15, no questions asked) cut and mail refund checks for every dollar of income tax it collected in Fiscal Year 2019.
(54 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 9, 2018 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 25, 2018 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.
SHARE Wednesday, July 31, 2019 Human Sacrifice: A Grand Old American Political Tradition
On July 25, US Attorney General William Barr ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to update its execution protocol and schedule five executions starting this December.
Whether you support the death penalty or not ... it's worthwhile to ask: Why? More to the point, why now?
Politics, that's why.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 21, 2017 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 ...
SHARE 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.
SHARE Sunday, January 19, 2020 Executive Power: Alan Dershowitz's Imagination versus the Constitution
"The Constitution," Alan Dershowitz claims, "allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty)." Where in the Constitution do we find the "allocation" Dershowitz refers to? He doesn't say, for good reason: The actual Constitution, unlike the one in Dershowitz's imagination, says the opposite.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 5, 2017 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.
(24 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 20, 2015 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.
SHARE Wednesday, June 10, 2020 Police Violence: "Reform" Is Not Enough
The Justice in Policing Act isn't "transformative structural change." It's a band-aid on a gaping, traumatic wound that is, indeed, structural.
The root of the problem isn't police violence. It's police themselves, and the system they serve.
SHARE Thursday, March 12, 2020 Freedom: Don't Let Politicians Tell You to EARN IT
The Wile E. Coyotes of the Internet -- US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) -- are sure that THIS time they've finally found a made-to-order tool that can take out the Roadrunn ... er, those meddling ki ... er, the First Amendment and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, July 12, 2019 Free Speech Just Isn't That Complicated
There are plenty of reasonable arguments to be had about what, if any, exceptions to unfettered freedom of speech might make sense.
But when it comes to matters of opinion, the only reasonable position is that you're entitled to have opinions, and to express them, period.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 19, 2017 Florida's Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
In mid-February, Florida's Division of Elections stripped the state's third largest political party of its official recognition. ... this dirty trick [exemplifies] the real purpose of so-called "ballot access laws": To safeguard the Republican and Democratic Parties' near-complete control of American elections.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 30, 2017 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 5, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 31, 2017 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.
SHARE 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 28, 2018 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.
(9 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 22, 2019 War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
After World War Two, the US and other governments which participated in victorious alliance versus the Third Reich and the Empire of Japan tried and punished -- up to and including execution -- German and Japanese soldiers accused of war crimes and the political leaders who ordered, encouraged, or excused those crimes. If the US doesn't hold itself to at least as high a standard, eventually someone else will.
(7 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 5, 2017 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).
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 19, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 1, 2020 A Modest Proposal for Compromise on "Confederate" Military Bases
Both sides will drag this fake, silly fight out until after Election Day because it's the fight itself, not the outcome, that brings in the campaign contributions and the votes. Style over substance, as usual.
But just for laughs, let's think about what a compromise could look like if the two sides actually worked for the taxpayers instead of for the military industrial complex.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 8, 2017 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.
(16 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 9, 2017 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?
(9 comments) SHARE Monday, July 15, 2019 National Polls Don't Mean Much. Here's Why.
What's Trump's 2020 problem? A few tens of thousands of Democratic votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and possibly Florida would enough to reverse the Electoral College outcome.
In 2016, Trump was at the top of his turnout game and the Democrats were at the bottom of theirs. He has nowhere to go but down. They have nowhere to go but up.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 22, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 27, 2016 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.
SHARE Wednesday, February 26, 2020 Election 2020: Those Meddling Kids ...
Having abjectly failed to make Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren palatable to pluralities, the DNC is still trying to whip those meddling voters into line behind Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar instead of accepting Bernie as their choice. Now, in desperation, it's playing the "Russian meddling" card again.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 25, 2017 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 10, 2018 "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.
(5 comments) SHARE Monday, July 9, 2018 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 22, 2020 "Peak Libertarianism?" No, Thom Hartmann is Just a Sore Winner.
The actual numbers say America hasn't moved so much as a whisker in the direction of "peak Libertarianism" over the last 40 years. Rather, it's continued steadily down the road toward "peak Hartmannism" ever since LBJ's Great Society, with relatively few bumps in that road since FDR's New Deal.
(24 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 3, 2021 America Unchurched: A Sign of the Times
For the first time in its more than eight decades of surveying Americans' religious attitudes and practices, Gallup reports, church members constituted only 47% of the US population in 2020 -- down 23% since 1999, prior to which the percentage seldom dipped below 70%.
Why the precipitous drop, and what might it portend for the future?
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 4, 2017 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."
SHARE Sunday, March 29, 2020 Congress Declares Itself Non-Essential
Around the US, "essential" workers are going to work everyday and doing their jobs, COVID-19 pandemic or not. Factory workers are producing things. Truck and delivery drivers are transporting those things. Grocery store employees and food service workers are making sure food reaches our tables.
Congress, not so much.
(14 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 22, 2016 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 3, 2019 This One Weird Trick for Legalizing Marijuana
There's nothing complicated about this. People have used marijuana for millennia. New Yorkers have used marijuana since there have been New Yorkers. They're using marijuana now and they'll be using marijuana a hundred years from now. The only relevant question is whether or not they should go to jail for using it. The only correct answer to that question is no, they shouldn't.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, May 4, 2020 If Gas Prices Jump at the Pump, Thank Trump (and Other Politicians)
From the "oil depletion allowance" and other special tax tricks, to taxpayer-funded roads into drilling areas, to much of the US "defense" budget (why do you think US military policy for the last 40 years has been to keep the Middle East in turmoil and Iranian -- and now Venezuelan -- oil off the market?), petroleum is one of America's most subsidized industries.
SHARE 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, May 17, 2019 Donald Trump, Socialist
America's Republican president campaigns against socialism while attempting to implement it. Meanwhile, America's progressives campaign for socialism while attempting to thwart actual worker ownership of the means of production (e.g. the "gig economy"). Talk about cognitive dissonance!
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 13, 2017 "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.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 15, 2020 Tucker Carlson and the Cult of the Court
The Court has a pretty big bailiwick, covering various kinds of litigation that turns on applications of statute or treaty, as well as appeals of supposed judicial error in lower courts, rather than on questions of constitutionality per se.
But where constitutionality IS concerned, it's far from obvious that the Court has a very good record vis a vis "judicial review."
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 14, 2016 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.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, May 19, 2017 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 8, 2018 Election 2018: The More Things Don't Change, the More They Stay the Same
The voters chose, with few and mostly local exceptions, the same old thing. Again. Many of those voters will likely spend the next two years complaining that they got what they voted for. The same old thing. Again. Two years from now, many of those voters will likely meditate on the need for change. Again. And vote for the same old thing. Again. And get the same old thing. Again. And wonder why. Again.
SHARE Thursday, October 11, 2018 The IMF Fears Cryptocurrency. It Should.
The International Monetary Fund refers to cryptocurrency only once in its 215-page World Economic Outlook for October 2018, but that reference is telling: "Continued rapid growth of crypto assets could create new vulnerabilities in the international financial system."
SHARE 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.
SHARE Saturday, January 12, 2019 Gambling: Let People (Not the Government and not "the" People) Decide
In what universe is it legitimately the business of DoJ, or Disney, or the Seminole Tribe, or a legislature, or the little old lady next door who thinks that a deck of cards is The Devil's Picture Book, if you and I want to bet five bucks on the outcome of a coin flip or anything else?
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, July 8, 2016 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."
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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?
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, August 22, 2016 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?
(28 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 25, 2015 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.
(23 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 9, 2016 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 18, 2017 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)?
SHARE Tuesday, May 19, 2020 Morbidly Obtuse: Pelosi and the Media versus Hydroxychloroquine
Is hydroxychloroquine effective either as a treatment for, or protector against, COVID-19? Various juries are likely to be out on that question for a long time.
Are there known side effects associated with the drug's use? Sure. Find a drug with no side effects and you've probably found a drug with no effects at all.
Do any of the facts above really matter? No.
(10 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 10, 2018 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?
SHARE Monday, March 28, 2016 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.
SHARE Monday, May 18, 2020 Ready or Not, the Lockdown Season is Coming to an End
Americans, it seems, are collectively deciding amongst ourselves that COVID-19 lockdown time is over. Our decision isn't up for debate or subject to appeal. Politicians and their pet "experts" are fresh out of veto power. For better or worse -- almost certainly some of both -- America is opening back up.
(6 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 5, 2020 Election 2020: Biden vs. Trump is an Echo, Not a Choice
It's fair to criticize politicians for pandering to the largest blocs and lowest common denominators of voter fear and self-interest. But it's also worthwhile to consider just who those pandering politicians think they're pandering to.
Based on the candidates the "major" parties put up and the campaigns they run, it's easy to figure out what they think about you.
(8 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 2, 2020 Ten Years After Lieberman's "Internet Kill Switch," the War on Freedom Rages On
A single thread connects the "Internet Kill Switch" to the passage of Internet censorship provisions in the name of fighting sex trafficking ... and President Trump's threats to ban video-sharing app TikTok.
That thread is the burning, pathological compulsion which drives politicians and bureaucrats to control every aspect of our lives, on the flimsiest of excuses and no matter the cost to us.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 25, 2018 "Red Flag Laws": Rights Can't be "Suspended," Only Violated
What might we call a system under which anonymous judges can secretly order anonymous police officers to expropriate property from citizens who have neither been accused of nor convicted of crimes, on pain of death for resistance?
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 5, 2019 "No-Knock Raid" is Just Another Term for "Violent Home Invasion"
On January 28, home invaders murdered 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle of Houston, Texas. Nicholas and Tuttle wounded five of the (numerous) armed burglars before being slain. That's not how the news accounts put it, of course. Typical headline (from the Houston Chronicle): "4 HPD officers shot in southeast Houston narcotics operation, a fifth injured."
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 10, 2018 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 ...
(23 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 10, 2019 Shutdown Theater: Trump is Winning
As of tomorrow, the shutdown will become the second longest in history, surpassed only by a 32-day funding fight in December of 1995 and January of 1996. Does anyone want to bet against president Donald Trump holding out for the record?
(8 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 23, 2017 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.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 7, 2016 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.
(4 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 10, 2018 A Korean Spring after the Winter Olympics is Unlikely. Here's Why.
The two Koreas have been in "ceasefire," but still formally at war and with occasional outbreaks of violence, since 1953. Could this Olympic thaw result in permanently improved relations, a peace treaty, perhaps even reunification? Don't get your hopes up.
SHARE Wednesday, May 29, 2019 "Spying": Comey Doth Protest Too Much
The important question here is not whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. It did. Period.
The important question is why Comey doesn't want to discuss, or even acknowledge, that fact.
SHARE 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.
SHARE 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."
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 7, 2016 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."
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 6, 2016 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.
(11 comments) SHARE Friday, May 6, 2016 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.
SHARE 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.
SHARE Tuesday, June 25, 2019 One Cheer for Trump on Iran
Every time Trump avoids escalation toward outright war with the Iranians or anyone else, he's doing the right thing and should get credit for it. As to the bigger picture, the question now is whether Trump will undo his earlier errors on US policy toward Iran instead of compounding them. He doesn't seem inclined to.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 30, 2019 Big Government and Big Tech versus the Internet and Everyone
Big Governments and Big Tech are engaged in a long-term mating dance. Big Governments want to regulate Big Tech because that's what governments do, and because, as with Willie Sutton and banks, Big Tech is where the Big Tax Money is. Big Tech wants to be regulated by Big Governments because regulation makes it more difficult and expensive for new competitors to enter the market.
(7 comments) SHARE Sunday, July 9, 2017 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.
(10 comments) SHARE Friday, December 8, 2017 "Tax Reform": Dump the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
I'm a big fan of tax cuts. In any amount, of any kind, for anybody. The less money the government takes from Americans, the better. But I'd rather those cuts didn't come in the form of "targeted" deductions or credits.
(14 comments) SHARE Sunday, January 24, 2021 Political "Unity" is Neither Necessary Nor Desirable
Polarization is not the opposite of unity. The two are simply complementary sides of one coin. One both produces and requires the other. To transcend one, we must transcend both. And we can, by trading them in for another coin, the two sides of which are freedom and peace.
(5 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 5, 2018 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, April 17, 2020 "China Lied, People Died?" Look Who's Talking!
If a government lies and people die as a result, that government and its functionaries should be held responsible, right? Good enough for me.
But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so if we're having Peking Duck this week, I'd like to know when Marc Thiessen plans to cough up his share of US government's tab.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, November 3, 2017 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.
(10 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 11, 2018 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."
SHARE 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.
SHARE Thursday, November 17, 2016 Backpage.com: Dismissal is Insufficient -- Charge Harris
On November 1, Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman dismissed pimping charges against Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage.com, as well as the site's controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, on free speech grounds. The ruling is a victory against Internet censorship, but it's just a start. It's time to send a strong message to grandstanding prosecutors who abuse the justice system for self-promotional purposes.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 15, 2020 Instead of a Column, by a Man Too Burnt Out to Write One
I keep hearing about the need for a "plan" to "open the economy back up." We don't need a "plan" for that. If you take your boot off someone's neck, he can get up on his own just fine, with no need for a "plan" from you. Ditto an entire population. But the politicians don't want us to notice that. Their livelihoods depend on us believing that their "plans" are why things happen.
(8 comments) SHARE Friday, January 25, 2019 A Campaign Finance Proposal: Let's Do Away with SOTU
The Constitution requires the president to "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." It does not require the president to do so in the form of a live speech.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 18, 2016 "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.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, April 30, 2017 "National Security": The Last Refuge of Vote-Buying Politicians
More than half a century ago, Congress passed the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Since mid-April, US president Donald Trump has twice invoked one of the laws nearly forgotten provisions, ordering Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate the possibility that steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security."
(18 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 28, 2018 Democrats Move Back Toward Trusting the People
"[A] political party which wishes to lead," reads the preamble to the Democratic Party's charter, "must listen to those it would lead, a party which asks for the people's trust must prove that it trusts the people ..."
On August 25, the Democratic National Committee took that passage to heart by limiting the power of "superdelegates" in choosing the party's presidential nominee. Good move, and long overdue.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 14, 2019 Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over Read
We're most of a century into what some call the age of the "imperial presidency" -- America's sickening descent to the status of banana republic.
No wonder candidates for the presidency act like they're running for Mom or Dad of Everyone.
SHARE Sunday, March 22, 2020 Yes, the COVID-19 Panic Does Call for Drastic Measures
I agree that the situation calls for drastic measures, and I have one to offer:
I propose a 90-day total quarantine, effective immediately, on all elected or appointed government officials.
By "total," I mean they are to be restricted to their homes without telephone or Internet access, and physically restrained if they try to leave, have a communication device smuggled in, or to speak to anyone through an open window.
(9 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 7, 2018 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 2, 2018 Sleep Research Shows How Homework is Harmful
The average public high school student works a full 40-hour week plus 10.7 hours of overtime -- without pay, of course, and on a uniform schedule taking no heed of individual kids' natural sleep cycles. ... Is it any wonder our kids are tired?
(25 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 24, 2019 On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
On April 18, US Attorney William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the probe into "Russian meddling" in the 2016 presidential election. The report cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign team of allegations that they conspired with the Russian government in that meddling. But on the question of "obstruction of justice," Mueller punted in an eerily familiar way.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, June 30, 2017 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.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, July 13, 2020 The Road to Hell is Paved with Economic Plans
Behind politicians' "economic plans" lies the kind of hubris that that turns recessions into depressions, droughts into mass starvation episodes, and trade wars into shooting wars.
(16 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 16, 2016 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 ...?
(6 comments) SHARE Monday, January 14, 2019 Shutdown Theater: Blame? Why Not Credit?
"Blame" is only one variant of "responsibility." CNN's coverage of its own poll begs the question by conflating the two, assuming universal belief that the "government shutdown" is a bad thing. That take ignores a very different viewpoint.
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, March 30, 2018 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.
SHARE Sunday, July 26, 2020 Executive Orders: This is Trump's Brain on Drugs
On July 24, US president Donald Trump signed four executive orders with an eye toward altering the way prescription drugs are priced and purchased in the United States.
Three of the four orders embody good ideas that accord with the goals of think tanks supposedly supporting "free-market policy solutions" to America's healthcare problems.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, July 27, 2020 "Anarchist" is not an Insult
It's somewhat amusing that Donald Trump considers the word "anarchist" an insult, or that he fancies himself morally fit to insult anarchists.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 13, 2017 Hey Antifa: Free Speech is Not Negotiable
"Antifa" is short for "anti-fascist," but the actions of those identifying with the Antifa movement falsify the implied claim. Antifa activists tend to show up whenever and wherever they sense an opportunity to use violence to silence speech they disagree with.
Not to fight fascism, to silence speech. Not just fascist speech, but any speech they happen to disagree with ...
(11 comments) SHARE Friday, March 16, 2018 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.?
(7 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 19, 2018 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.
(8 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 6, 2019 Wish List Politics: Green No Deal
"Aspirational" is another of saying that the Green New Deal isn't a real legislative proposal. It's just a feel-good wish list of things its proponents think Americans want and want us to believe they want too.
(41 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 18, 2021 "Censor": When a Word Means Everything, it Means Nothing
Some words carry emotional force such that using them creates an immediate negative reaction on the part of the listener or reader. That makes such words useful -- until they get over-used and misused so much that they cease to have the effect.
Lately, the trending "creep people out to get them on my side" word of choice is "censor" or "censorship."
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, April 16, 2018 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, April 24, 2020 "Essential": What's in a Word?
The best mechanism for answering questions pertaining to how essential a business or a job might be is called "the market."
If customers consider a business "essential," they'll do business with it. If not, they won't.
If employers consider a job "essential," they'll pay what it takes to convince someone to do that job. If not, they won't.
Yes, it really is that simple.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, January 4, 2019 Why I am Still a Cryptocurrency Enthusiast, 2019 Edition
I'm still enthusiastic about cryptocurrency because I've seen what it can do and make plausible predictions about what it will be able to do in the future. Cryptocurrency seizes control of money from governments and puts it in the hands of people. With improvements in its privacy aspects, that's only going to become more true. In short, cryptocurrency fuels freedom.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, January 31, 2017 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 4, 2017 CIA Torture Report: Where's Our Next Heroic Whistleblower?
What do the CIA, the US Senate, and the White House have to hide? My guess is quite a bit.
Should they be allowed to hide those things from the taxpayers who pay the bills and whose lives are put at risk by the criminal acts of the US intelligence community? Absolutely not.
Will they get away with hiding it? Not forever.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, January 16, 2017 The Jackson Family versus Martin Luther King and the Cast of Hamilton
Joseph Fiennes isn't being judged on his acting skills, on whether or not he captures the essence of Michael Jackson's personality and successfully conveys that essence to viewers. He's being judged on the color of his skin, and the show's creators are being judged on their decision to ignore his skin color.
(8 comments) SHARE Monday, September 17, 2018 Political Boycotts with Taxpayer Money? Just Don't Do It
One nice thing about markets is that they're hyper-democracies in which we all get to vote with our patronage, every day and with every purchase.
Unfortunately, some people think they're entitled to vote with other people's dollars. Marshall Fisher, head of Mississippi's Department of Public Safety, is one such.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 16, 2016 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).
(5 comments) SHARE Friday, August 26, 2016 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.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, March 22, 2019 Suppressing Discussion Doesn't Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
The only appropriate response to "bad" speech -- that is, speech one disagrees with -- is "better" speech. Attempting to shut down your opponents' ability to participate in an argument isn't itself a winning argument. Forbidding your opponents to speak to a problem doesn't solve that problem.
SHARE Saturday, August 19, 2017 Charlottesville Haters: Test Case for the Internet as Public Square
John Gilmore famously noted that "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Libertarians like me view the market in much the same way. This situation is a practical, nuts and bolts test of those views. There's a great deal riding on the outcome.
SHARE Thursday, October 1, 2015 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.
(7 comments) SHARE Friday, December 4, 2020 The Most Dangerous Thing About Marijuana
Marijuana is not and never has been a dangerous drug. It's a medically and commercially useful plant, and as a recreational intoxicant it's considerably less unhealthy and dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.
In fact, the most dangerous thing -- practically the ONLY dangerous thing -- about marijuana is the possibility of getting arrested over it.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 6, 2016 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."
SHARE 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?
(13 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 15, 2018 The House Gets Bi-Partisan. They Should Have Had a Food Fight Instead.
"The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018" is exactly what it sounds like: A bill "to prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption." What's up? Is there some pressing public health concern at stake? Is America in the throes of an epidemic of stolen pets ending up in stew pots? Well, no.
SHARE Sunday, October 4, 2020 How the 25th Amendment Could Help Trump Win Re-Election
He's off the campaign trail for at least two weeks, his medical condition is the center of attention, and any kind of illness tends to make a president look "weak" (not good less than a month ahead of an election).
But Trump could use his unfortunate affliction to his own political advantage, by invoking the 25th Amendment.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 28, 2020 Concern Troll is Concerned, Elbe Day Edition
There's a deep divide within the US political establishment at the moment over whether the next US Cold War should pit Americans against Russia or China. Iran and Venezuela are dark horse contenders, but ever since the 2003 Iraq fiasco it's become a lot more difficult to portray smaller regional players as convincing "threats."
SHARE Monday, December 19, 2016 Raid Encryption: This Should Be The New Normal
In the digital age, law enforcement worldwide is increasingly nosy. Its leaders and advocates bemoan any technological development or practice which might in any way impede their ability to find out anything they might happen to want to know for any reason. They want our lives to be open books, and for us to just trust them to not abuse their power. History says we should begrudge them that trust.
(10 comments) SHARE Thursday, February 9, 2017 Sorry, Judge Napolitano: Immigration Isn't "Foreign Policy"
Immigration is not a foreign policy matter. Foreign policy relates to matters outside the United States and to relations between US government and other governments around the world. Immigration relates to individuals wishing to enter and possibly reside in the United States. It is therefore a matter of domestic, not foreign, policy.
It's also a matter constitutionally reserved to the states ...
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 15, 2019 Opposition Research: It's Not Trump's Fault That Politics is a "Dirty" Game
Campaign opposition research is a primary source of public knowledge about the candidates who are seeking our votes.
If that information is true, it's true whether it originated in Minneapolis or in Moscow.
If that true information is pertinent to our voting decisions, it's neither moral nor patriotic to ignore or denounce it solely on the basis of where it came from.
SHARE Thursday, May 7, 2020 No, Government Didn't Save Us From COVID-19
Politicians don't start parades. They notice parades that we regular people have spontaneously organized, then run as fast as they can to the front of those parades, hoping to be seen "taking charge."
And yet, for some reason, large numbers of Americans remain devout congregants of what Libertarians call the Cult of the Omnipotent State.
SHARE Tuesday, February 4, 2020 Election 2020: The State of the Union is Screwed Up
The Republicans offer us enslavement to their three-year-old cult of personality; the Democrats, enslavement to their octogenarian cult of bureaucracy. Flip a coin. Heads, authoritarianism wins; tails, freedom loses.
SHARE Friday, August 17, 2018 New Haven Overdoses: It's Time for Indictments
As law enforcement likes to tell us, getting a single dealer off the street does little good. We need to move up the food chain and nab the people at the origins of this thing. Who are those top dogs? Whose names can be presented to a grand jury for indictments in the conspiracy to put "synthetic marijuana" on our streets? Here are two: Uttam Dhillon and Scott Gottlieb.
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, August 18, 2018 Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant
I can understand why some people were surprised when a reality TV personality got elected president. I can understand why some people were surprised when that reality TV personality president hired another reality TV personality to work at the White House. What I can't understand is why anyone would expect two reality TV personalities to stop acting like reality TV personalities ...
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 25, 2016 Travel Advice for the Islamo-FraidyCat Set
This is far from the first reported incident of travelers being held up by freaked-out Islamophobes. It's probably far from the last. But it COULD be the last if those suffering from constant, crippling fear of sudden violent death at the hands of terrorists read this and follow a few simple rule of the (so to speak) road.
SHARE Tuesday, January 24, 2017 Rick Perry's Sudden Change of Heart is Business as Usual
When Rick Perry sought the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination, eliminating the US Department of Energy was part of his campaign platform. Granted, he had trouble remembering its name, but he wanted the department gone. Completely. ... How does he feel about the department these days? Well, somewhat differently ...
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, May 5, 2018 Trump: For Whom The Nobel Tolls?
According to South Korean president Moon Jae-In and to 19 Republican members of the US House of Representatives, Donald Trump is the man of the hour and deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the two Koreas to the negotiating table. Maybe so. But frankly I'm not sure why he would want it, given the trophy's tarnished history.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 21, 2021 Reefer Madness: Biden White House Director's Cut
If you believed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were really going to take a different approach to the "war on drugs," and voted for them on that basis, you got conned. And you should have known better.
(11 comments) SHARE Friday, November 20, 2020 Mask Mandates: COVID-19 and the Law of the Instrument
Producing a particular result hardly ever explains or justifies a particular government policy very well. Mask mandates aren't about masks. They're about mandates.
Tony Evers's obsession with issuing orders demonstrates Abraham Kaplan's Law of the Instrument: "Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, July 2, 2016 America: Mourn ... er, Born ... on the 4th of July
I'm sure every generation agonizingly reappraises what we mean by the word "America," whether or not our present is worthy of our history, how well or poorly we've maintained the society our founding fathers envisioned. The 4th of July -- "Independence Day" to commemorate the date on the 13 colonies' Declaration of Independence -- seems like an appropriate occasion for such reflection.
(6 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 13, 2016 December 2016: A Republic, if You Can Keep it
The American political system can stand a few faithless electors casting protest votes now and again. They're a burp in that system, a noise in the machinery that lets us know it is actually running.
But the American political system cannot survive electors defecting en masse from the clear winner to the clear loser of a national election. That's not a protest or an act of civil disobedience. It's an insurrection.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, July 7, 2020 School's Out. Reactionaries Hate That.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a perfect opportunity to scrap "public education" as we know it, perhaps transitioning entirely to distance learning as a waypoint on the journey toward separation of school and state.
Naturally, the political class hates that idea.
SHARE Tuesday, March 14, 2017 Sorry, Non-Interventionists: Donald Trump is a War President
Clearly candidate Trump was a mixed bag on foreign policy, but he was marginally better than most of his opponents. Some antiwar activists took heart at the possibility that he might, as president, cut back on US military adventurism.
No such luck.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, August 18, 2016 Clinton: Unhinged?
No, I can't bring myself to support Donald Trump. But it's getting harder and harder to peg him as the distinctively harebrained, irresponsible, unhinged one in the race. Clinton is still a game down to Trump in the World Series of Crazy, but it looks like the series will go all the way to seven.
SHARE Wednesday, March 1, 2017 The War on Marijuana is Ending. Disarm Jeff Sessions.
The writing is on the wall: The war on marijuana is ending, and freedom won. [Jeff] Sessions can't undo that any more than the Ku Klux Klan was able to undo Appomattox.
Unfortunately, as the newly confirmed Attorney General of the United States, he does enjoy a great deal of Klan-like power to continue terrorizing the millions victimized by his side during its 80-year war on a benign and useful plant.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 10, 2017 Congress Should Just Say No to Trump's Afghanistan Surge
Trump seems to have rejected the idea of withdrawing US troops and ending the war [in Afghanistan]. Instead, he intends to become the third president in a row to roll the dice on a "surge" -- that is, to send in more troops (the initial estimate is anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 more in addition to the current 8,400) and hope for the best. That idea has never worked before and it's not going to magically start working now.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, July 15, 2020 Yes, the Rent is Too Damn High -- But Not Because the Minimum Wage is Too Damn Low
Is the rent, as Jimmy McMillan says, too damn high? In some places, absolutely. In many places, probably.
Is the rent being too damn high a function of the minimum wage being too damn low? No. A tiny fraction of one percent of Americans struggling to make rent are full-time minimum wage workers without secondary sources of income.
The rent is too damn high because the housing supply is too damn limited.
SHARE Sunday, April 8, 2018 The Atlantic is at Sea
Publications should run per the judgment of their editors, not the whims and tantrums of the Twitterati.
SHARE Wednesday, September 28, 2016 US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Per 22 US Code 2378d, ("Limitation on assistance to security forces," better known as the Leahy Law), "No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act ... to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights."
Surely 74 cases of torture constitute such a gross violation ...
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, April 20, 2018 Shadow Protectionism: The US Government vs. Chinese Phone Makers
In a globalized economy, it's impossible to hurt one country or firm without also hurting several enterprises in your own country -- and your own country's general economy. More domestic companies will be harmed than helped, and the harm will exceed the benefits.
SHARE Wednesday, March 25, 2020 COVID-19: What Would Rosie The Riveter Do?
I'm far too young to remember World War 2, but I've listened to veterans talk about it, read its history, and love the era's propaganda posters. Rosie the Riveter in "We Can Do it!" "Lay-Offs Cost Lives!" "Work To Win."
I'm trying to imagine a propaganda poster for "our World War 2," and all that comes to mind is a hand reaching out from under a bed to grab a government check.
(3 comments) SHARE Friday, March 10, 2017 The First Step Toward Fiscal Discipline: Cut Up The Credit Card
If a regular person ends up in deep debt, he knows that the very first step to getting out of the hole is to cut up the credit cards and stop borrowing money.
Supporters of continuously growing government debt try to make the matter seem more complicated for Congress than it is for you or me. In reality, it is exactly as simple.
(27 comments) SHARE Sunday, March 10, 2019 Don't Panic: The Retail Apocalypse Isn't Disaster, It's Progress
The Retail Apocalypse is here, and it has consequences. Including, reports Krystal Hu for Yahoo! Finance, 41,000 retail jobs cut in January and February.
Yet the US economy recorded a net gain of 20,000 total jobs each in January and February, its 101st straight month of job gains.
SHARE Tuesday, August 9, 2016 #NeverNeverTrump: What's Evan McMullin Really After?
For months, voices from the #NeverTrump movement have confidently promised Americans a fifth credible presidential candidate .... echoing those promises, a shadowy group calling itself "Better For America," funded by Mitt Romney associate John Kingston III, has been doing prep work for that unnamed candidate. On August 8 the suspense, such as it was, came to an end. The candidate is David Evan McMullin ...
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 24, 2015 Pwned Again: Don't Trust These Jokers With Your Information
There's a word for people who trust their data security to screwups like president Barack Obama, would-be presidents Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and other politicians and bureaucrats. That word is "naive."
SHARE Thursday, May 24, 2018 Election 2018: Make Gridlock Great Again?
Prediction markets aren't perfect, but they reflect the opinions of people who have money riding on being right, instead of just the opinions of people who happen to have opinions. A considerable percentage of people with skin in the game think that Republican president Donald Trump will face a partially or completely Democratic Congress, instead of a Congress dominated by his own party, starting next January.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 13, 2019 Will Elizabeth Warren Take on the Biggest Monopoly of All?
Is Senator Warren is serious about "breaking up monopolies" and "promoting competitive markets?"
If so, I look forward to her proposal for breaking up the federal government and allowing real alternatives to compete for its market share.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 15, 2018 Murphy's Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
We don't need "more government oversight" of social media. What we need is for it to be recognized, and treated, as a criminal abuse of power (and a violation of US Code Title 18 241 -- "conspiracy against rights") for government officials or employees to attempt to "oversee" or "manage" social media's content standards.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, August 8, 2018 I Didn't Join Facebook to "Feel Safe"
Why on Earth would Facebook's users require protection from Alex Jones? He's loud and red-faced and nuts, but it's not like he can pop out of the screen and grab us. ... note to Facebook: These "I don't feel safe" people will never "feel safe" enough to stop demanding that you reduce the content options other Facebook users enjoy. It's not about their actual safety. It's about their compulsion to run everyone else's lives.
SHARE Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Two Things That Don't Really Bother Me About Trump, Two Things That Do
I won't be voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November. I won't be voting for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, either. I'm not sure who I'll vote for, but I'm sure it won't be either of those two. Still, I try to be fair-minded, and in my opinion Trump doesn't completely deserve the hits he's taking over two recent stories.
(30 comments) SHARE Friday, July 27, 2018 "Stand Your Ground": A Good Law for Bad Situations
"Stand Your Ground" isn't about cases in which the victim has ten minutes to make a decision while watching a known serial killer approach from afar, wearing a hockey mask, chainsaw in one hand and severed head of his last victim in the other. "Stand Your Ground" is about cases in which a victim has to make a difficult and almost certainly life-changing decision, in a very short time frame, and under extreme pressure.
(4 comments) SHARE Thursday, July 12, 2018 Why School Vouchers are a Terrible Idea
Most opposition to vouchers comes, as one might imagine, from supporters of government-run, aka "public," schools for the vast majority of students. ... My own opposition comes from a very different direction: I'm against vouchers not because they might damage, or fail to replicate, the existing system, but because they threaten to make "private" alternatives more LIKE that system.
SHARE Monday, September 16, 2019 Trump and Netanyahu: "Mutual Defense" or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
On September 14, US president Donald Trump tweeted (of course) the suggestion of a US-Israel "Mutual Defense Treaty," citing a call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ... maybe Trump's tweet is just politics. But if it's for real, it's a bad idea for the US, a bad idea for Israel, and a bad idea for world peace.
(9 comments) SHARE Sunday, February 26, 2017 The Target of the "Border Adjustment Tax" is You
The BAT is promoted as a "tax on imports." Which, I guess, is technically accurate, but doesn't tell the whole story. It's not just a tax on imports. It's a tax on people who buy the imports. That is, it's a tax on you.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, September 25, 2017 Social Media: When Does "Actively Working With the Government" Become Censorship?
At what point does "actively working with the government" and "partnering with public authorities" cease to be private, albeit civic-minded, market activity and become de facto government activity?
Or, to put it differently, when does it cease to be merely "you can't talk like that in my living room" (exercise of legitimate property rights) and start becoming "you can't talk like that, period" (censorship)?
(1 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 1, 2016 Papers, Please: Polling Place Edition
It wasn't until the 1980s that all 50 all states even offered photo driver's licenses, let alone required photo ID to vote. Somehow America managed to elect 40 presidents without everyone showing photos of themselves to bureaucrats on demand. Now for some reason not carrying an unflattering picture of yourself in your wallet is suddenly an existential threat to the Republic. Or at least to the Republicans.
(10 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 30, 2019 9/11 Every Month -- Where's the Outrage?
As you may remember, Americans got pretty exercised about 9/11. Heck, we still DO get pretty exercised about it (for a recent example, note the reaction to US Representative Ilhan Omar's "some people did some things" comment).
But every month, month in and month out, year after year, the US government kills that many or more with its policies. The public response? Crickets.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, June 24, 2016 Jim Crow is Alive and Well and Attending the University of Texas
When the expression "race-conscious" crosses my field of view, it's usually a safe bet that the person using it is a "white supremacist" or "white separatist" chiding those of similar skin tone for not joining him in his dislike of those of darker hue.... But not when racial quotas and set-asides come up for consideration in the courts. Then racism suddenly becomes not just acceptable but mandatory, or at least de rigueur ...
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 27, 2017 The Immigration Enforcement Police State is Here
The near-total police state blossoming before our eyes is the inevitable result of America's 70-year romance with the astoundingly stupid idea that it's the government's business to monitor and control who travels, lives and works where.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 16, 2019 Social Media Companies "Struggle" to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand? Maybe not. ... But whether or not we watch it should be up to us .... Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors' every whim.
SHARE Saturday, March 24, 2018 On Military Spending and Trade, Trump Puts Americans Last
The US armed forces are far too big, far too powerful, and far too expensive to bear any plausible relation to defense. The primary purpose of US military spending is not to defend the United States, but to continuously transfer as much wealth as possible from the pockets of working taxpayers to the bank accounts of large "defense" contractors.
It's a giant welfare program.
(8 comments) SHARE Thursday, September 27, 2018 We Need More, Not Less, Separation of State and Journalism
I agree with Rob Kall on the problems journalism faces. But the supposedly "free" American press already tends to act as a free stenography pool/ press release service for government. Direct government funding of journalists would just exacerbate that problem.
SHARE Sunday, March 5, 2017 Budgets, Taxes, Deficits and Debt; or, Mulvaney versus the Math
It's not possible to spend more, and tax less, and pay down crippling debt, and bring a runaway budget into balance.
Unless Trump and Republicans in Congress are willing to buckle down and get serious about spending cuts (if you're not serious about cutting military spending, you're not serious about cutting spending) [Mick] Mulvaney's real job for the next four years won't be balancing budgets, it will be making excuses.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Dr. Seuss Monetizes the Culture Wars
On March 2 -- the late Theodor Seuss Geisel's 117th birthday -- Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that, some time last year, it ceased publishing/licensing six of the popular author's children's books which "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
Cue woke approval, deplorable outrage, investor interest, and low-information reader fear, all of which are good for business.
(21 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Gender and Medicine: Two Questions for Arkansas Legislators
Whatever happened to the "conservative" Republican lines on business (best operated with minimal government interference or regulation -- yes, medical practices are businesses) and family (e.g. the sanctity of parental authority in nearly every aspect of child-rearing)?
While "conservative" Republicans talk those two lines quite loudly, they seldom walk either line much at all.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 1, 2018 In the House, Everything New is Old Again
Given an opportunity -- even arguably a mandate from their voters -- to change things up, the Democratic party establishment is doing the same old thing again while apparently anticipating different results.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, February 12, 2021 Same as the Old Boss, Julian Assange Edition
On February 9, the US Justice Department announced that US President Joe Biden, as in so many other areas, intends to serve Donald Trump's second term when it comes to persecuting heroes guilty of exposing US war crimes and embarrassing American politicians.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 6, 2016 When in Rome: "Criminal Consequences" for Assange's Tormentors?
Prior to this ruling, Assange's persecutors might have been able to plausibly claim legal uncertainty as an extenuating circumstance. That defense is no longer available. Assange's continued confinement after the ruling constitutes the knowing and intentional commission of several prosecutable war crimes.
(22 comments) SHARE Monday, March 20, 2017 Risk, Reward, Regulation and Space Tourism
Space is the final frontier and frontier life is dangerous. Just ask those who explored Earth's seas or settled the American west. Despite the dangers, they did those things. Just as, if one of the private space companies asks for volunteers to man an experimental crew capsule tomorrow, the next day they'll find a line of eager applicants several miles long outside their door ...
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 3, 2016 Culture Isn't Property. Copying Isn't Stealing.
News flash: Anything and everything you do, anything and everything you use, anything you have or own, originated in some culture, and for any given thing there's a very good chance that said culture isn't the one you call your own.
Every human being living in any modern society begins "culturally appropriating" when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and doesn't stop doing so until the lights go out at bedtime.
(19 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 27, 2019 Capital Punishment Isn't Unconstitutional. We Should End it Anyway.
The claim of inherent jurisdiction over life and death -- the claim of a "legitimate" power to kill disarmed prisoners, in cold blood and with impunity (as opposed to the currently violent, in defense of self or others, subject to requirement to justify the deed) -- is the very definition of totalitarianism. You can have limited government or you can have capital punishment. You can't have both.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 28, 2018 Doing Justice to Trump's "Invasion" Claim
An invasion is a violent military operation. Moving from Tegucigalpa to Topeka to find a job and rent an apartment isn't anything like that. But Trump used the word, and even promised a military response. So, for the sake of argument, let's take him seriously. There's a war on at the border, at least in his fevered imagination.
(3 comments) SHARE Monday, April 3, 2017 SCOTUS: The Nuclear Option is Not Enough
Under current Senate rules cloture requires 60 votes. Republicans, with a bare majority in the Senate and no hope of winning cloture, are threatening "the nuclear option" -- a rules change, which only requires a majority, to make cloture itself a mere majority vote.
I don't think the "nuclear option" is enough. I'm with MacBeth: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly."
(6 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 26, 2019 Congress's Cowardly "Emergency" Rebuke
Trump's declaration of a fake "national emergency" was actually a declaration that he is now an absolute monarch, a dictator, no longer accountable to Congress for his actions. If that's not covered by the Constitution's "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" clause outlining grounds for impeachment, what is?
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, April 19, 2019 The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
I haven't read the Mueller report yet. I'm writing this on the day of its release (with redactions) by US Attorney General William Barr. I'll read it later, but I didn't have to read it, or even wait for its release, to reach one conclusion from it: It's time to amend the Constitution to limit the President of the United States to one term.
SHARE Tuesday, July 21, 2020 CARES Act: Prelude to a $15 Minimum Wage?
For several years now, ongoing campaigns have tried to sell Americans on $15 an hour as the bottom end of "living wage" territory, and as a proper minimum hourly wage to be required by law. ... Election-year politics being what they are, I expect a compromise as the House, Senate, and White House negotiate a second edition of the CARES Act ...
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 12, 2018 Let's Call the Farm Bill What it is: Corporate Welfare
The rawboned, overall-clad man driving a tractor 12 hours a day, calling the cows in for their evening milking, slopping the hogs, and sitting down for an evening pipe on the front porch before bed was once my grandfather. Now he's a carefully cultivated image of the past, used by organizations like Duvall's to propagandize for the transfer of billions dollars every year from your pockets to theirs via the political process.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, September 1, 2017 Preparedness versus "Price-Gouging": Don't Hold Out for a Hero
Maybe you can afford your own generator, maybe you can't. Maybe you can afford a boat or a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a winch or snow blade to pitch in with, maybe you can't. You may or may not be inclined to keep ten years' worth of freeze-dried food in the spare bedroom.
But most people can afford to take some simple measures to prepare for emergencies both predictable and sudden.
SHARE Monday, May 28, 2018 Missing Children: The Pottery Barn Rule Revisited
In 2002, US Secretary of State Colin Powell allegedly invoked "the Pottery Barn rule" -- "you break it, you bought it" -- by way of trying to get President George W. Bush to rethink the ill-fated invasion of Iraq.
Pottery Barn actually has no such rule, but when I was a kid a lot of stores sported signs saying exactly that.
Government doesn't have such a rule either, but it should.
SHARE Wednesday, June 12, 2019 Pork is Not the Problem
Silly earmarks are fun to point out, but concern over them comes at the expense of addressing the bigger problem: The spending is too damn high.
(7 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 26, 2016 ObamaCare: Things Fall Apart
In 2009, I described (the then notional, yet to be passed into law) ObamaCare as "[g]overnment feeds you to the insurance companies, while simultaneously feeding the insurance companies to you. The state takes home a doggie bag." Which is about the size of it, and I was far from the only person who noticed and warned that the plan not only wouldn't work, but COULDN'T work ...
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, May 9, 2019 Two Cheers for Denver: Let's End the War on Unapproved States of Consciousness
The practical justification for complete legalization of psilocybin (and all other drugs) is that humans have sought altered states of consciousness for as long as we've been humans and are always going to .... The moral justification for complete legalization of psilocybin (and all other drugs) is that what you put in your body, and for what purpose, is your business and no one else's.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Negative Social Preferencing, ICE Edition
On June 19, New York based artist, programmer, and activist Sam Lavigne published a list of 1,595 Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and publicly available information about them (remember those two words: "publicly available").
Lavigne provided a public service that in anything resembling a free society would be completely uncontroversial. Instead, moral panic ensued.
SHARE Friday, July 13, 2018 Helsinki: How About a Fresh START?
Russiagate or not, this summit may represent the two countries' last, best opportunity to halt or even reverse a decade of backsliding toward frigid Cold War relations. And Trump has a ready template at his disposal for pursuing warmer relations with a formidable, but hopefully former, foe.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 14, 2018 The Senate vs. Facebook: Beware Untrustworthy Partners, Revisited
The US Senate wants you to believe that it can, if it deems itself called upon to do so, excel the efforts of Mark Zuckerberg to safeguard the information you entrust to social media. Cue laughter, followed by horror as the realization dawns that yes, the US Senate will undoubtedly soon deem itself called upon to do that.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 9, 2019 A Preference for Peace: Not the Same Thing as Support for the Bogeyman of the Week
I'm a peacenik. I think war is a bad thing. I've seen it up close and personal as an infantryman, and I'd like to see less of it, preferably none at all, either up close or from a distance. In part, this desire also makes me a "non-interventionist." And this, in turn, leads to scolding claims that I am "soft on" politicians from states who happen to be at odds with the politicians from "my" country.
(4 comments) SHARE Monday, April 9, 2018 First They Came for BackPage
The federal government has openly arrogated to itself the power to outlaw speech and punish publishers for allowing that speech on their platforms, so long as it clicks its collective heels together and says "there's no crime like human trafficking" three times first.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, January 30, 2017 Reagan Redux? The Federal Budget Battle Shapes Up
The developing Trump plan is the usual tinkering around the edges, searching for "waste, fraud and abuse" in "discretionary spending." Baby steps like that will never bring the budget into balance, but they're still too much for Congress.
"Discretionary spending" is politicianese for "spending Congress uses to buy votes back home."
(6 comments) SHARE Wednesday, March 22, 2017 It's Time to End America's Longest War
Today, South Korea is twice as populous and 35 times as wealthy (in terms of Gross Domestic Product) as the North, boasting the 11th largest economy in the world (North Korea ranks 113th).
In what universe does it make sense for American taxpayers to continue picking up a substantial portion of the check for South Korea's defense from its smaller, poorer, less industrially advanced neighbor?
SHARE Friday, February 17, 2017 Trump: Triumph of the Permanent Campaign
Trump is well-known for his hyper-sensitivity to being perceived as anything less than top dog in every respect. He decries negative press and polling as biased and can't wait to tout his latest triumph, even if he has to invent it himself (see, for example "inaugural attendance figures").
It's time to stop thinking of that as a character defect and recognize it for what it is.
SHARE Monday, March 27, 2017 Rudd Re-Declares Governments' Lost War on Strong Encryption
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd is upset. She considers it "unacceptable" that she can't read your private chat messages and wants that fixed. Naturally, she publicly ties her demand that you surrender your privacy to the fight against terrorism. Fortunately, Rudd won't get her way. That's not because her demand is evil and wrong-headed, although it is. It's because her demand is impossible to implement.
(7 comments) SHARE Monday, October 12, 2015 Five Years is Five Years Too Long: Free Julian Assange!
Julian Assange has already spent the last three years and four months under de facto house arrest, trapped in the embassy and prevented from traveling to Ecuador proper, where he's been granted political asylum.
And let's make no bones about this: Assange is a political prisoner.
SHARE Wednesday, June 6, 2018 "Progressives" Against (Economic) Progress
Most opponents of the sharing economy, the gig economy, the cryptocurrency economy, etc., posture as "progressives" even as they openly side with corporate dinosaurs and parasitic bureaucrats and against workers and the entrepreneurs who empower those workers.
Let's call these self-styled "progressives" what they really are: Reactionaries.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, January 27, 2017 Why Trump is Doubling Down on the Voter Fraud Fraud
There are rare cases in which individuals will try to vote illegally. Former Republican congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, for example, who got caught voting at his old polling place after moving, presumably to hide the move from his constituents and opponents. But the key word is "rare."
Voter fraud is not a strategy used by candidates and campaigns to move the needle on election results.
SHARE Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Shurat HaDin versus Facebook: Vexatious Litigation as Warfare
Suing Facebook because Hamas operatives use social media is like suing AT&T because Hamas operatives talk on the telephone.... Shurat HaDin's lawsuits against Facebook ... are, in a word, "lawfare": Asymmetric warfare carried out through abuse of legal and judicial systems to accomplish military aims."
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, September 1, 2018 Prosecutors: Flipping Off the Law with Impunity
If the goal of the American "justice" system is indeed to seek justice, prosecutors should charge defendants with the actual crimes they can prove those defendants committed and judges should levy the penalties prescribed for those crimes, assuming the laws and penalties are indeed just (that's a different question). But that's not the goal, as many prosecutors see it.
(6 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 15, 2020 America in Transition: How Joe Biden Can Score a Major Foreign Policy Win on Day One of His Presidency
Even assuming fault on both sides for the Iran nuclear deal's collapse -- and that's a false assumption -- Biden's current approach is a recipe for beginning his presidency with failure to deliver on a major campaign promise.
There's a big foreign policy win available here, if Biden is willing to claim it. And in doing so he would enjoy the support not only of the law, but of more than 90% of the US Senate.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, June 12, 2016 Rape, Culture, Responsibility, and Brock Turner
Brock Turner didn't sexually assault an unconscious woman .... "Party culture" did that.
Brock Turner didn't penetrate that unconscious woman with a foreign object .... Binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and risk-taking behavior did those things.
Blame booze. Blame college. Blame culture. Just don't blame Brock Turner. Poor, poor Brock. Bad culture! Bad! Go stand in the corner, culture!
(6 comments) SHARE Saturday, January 7, 2017 Term Limits: Painkiller, Not Cure
Two favorite arguments in favor of term limits are that they will replace the corruption and careerism of incumbency with wholesome "citizen legislators" who labor briefly in the political vineyards before returning to private life. But will that really work out?
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, January 29, 2021 Robinhood: Stealing from the Poor to Give to the Rich
Hedge funds bet heavily against -- "shorted" -- GameStop. Robinhood's band of merry men and women bet for GameStop by buying its shares, bringing the price up. The hedge funds lost billions.
Naturally, those hedge funds howled. And Robinhood, instead of siding with its users, sided with the funds.
SHARE Wednesday, October 24, 2018 A Convenient Caravan: Cui Bono?
If the migrant caravan indeed "has but one intent: to disrupt and influence our midterm elections," what individual, group, or political party benefits from that disruption/influence? IBD's complaints about Democrats come apart at the seams as soon as cui bono is invoked.
If the caravan disrupts or influences the 2018 US midterm elections, it does so entirely and exclusively to the benefit of the Republican Party.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, October 15, 2016 Sandy Hook Suit Victimized Families Yet Again For Political Gain
Freedom won an important battle on the lawfare front on October 14, when Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed a lawsuit filed in the names of 10 of the Sandy Hook victims' families against Remington Arms, Camfour Holding LLC, and Riverview Sales -- respectively the manufacturer, distributor and retail seller of the Bushmaster rifle Lanza used in his killing spree.
(6 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Biden's Iran Dilemma: Serve Obama's Third Term -- or Trump's Second?
"The time for the United States to come back to the nuclear agreement is not unlimited," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tells CNN. "The United States has a limited window of opportunity ..."
If becoming president is like celebrating Christmas, Biden woke up to a lump of coal in his stocking from Donald Trump and a big, fat, pretty box under the tree from Barack Obama.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, April 4, 2017 Want Privacy? Washington Isn't Where You'll Find It.
Perfect privacy probably isn't possible, and if it was it would take a herculean effort to achieve. But you're not noticeably less well off on that front now than you were the day before Trump signed the law relaxing restrictions on ISPs.
SHARE Friday, December 2, 2016 Hey, @RealDonaldTrump, Hands Off My Flag
If someone wants to set fire to a brightly colored piece of cloth, it's nobody else's business unless the flag is stolen, the flag-burner is trespassing, or burning the flag endangers other people's lives or property.
SHARE Tuesday, October 11, 2016 Hillary Clinton, Closet Libertarian? Not Likely.
I have to confess that, as a libertarian, I get a Chris Matthews-style thrill going up my leg when I hear a major party presidential candidate cited in favor of "open trade and open borders." Even the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential ticket isn't on record with as clear a statement of their party's message on those two issues (or, frankly, on many others).
But of course there's a catch.
SHARE Friday, December 9, 2016 Censorship: Tech Firms Should Abandon the EU to Its Madness
The European Union has a censorship addiction, and a desire to inflict the costs of indulging that addiction on the world's top tech companies.
Vera Jourova, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, complains that Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft respond too slowly to demands that they delete posts deemed "hate speech" from their platforms.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, October 18, 2020 COVID-19: Two Things About "The Science"
Claims of a "scientific consensus" on the pandemic are worse than false: They're irrelevant. The truth is whatever it is, much of that truth remains to be discovered, and the percentage of scientists agreeing doesn't tell us right from wrong. "This well-known scientist says it, I believe it, that settles it" isn't respecting science, it's practicing religion.
(4 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 26, 2018 SALT Shakeup: So Much for "Their Fair Share"
On August 23, the Internal Revenue Service announced new rules on the federal income tax's State and Local Tax deduction. The rules are intended to thwart an interesting scam several state governments worked up to "save" that deduction. It's an interesting reversal of the two major parties' usual talking points.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Roast Beef (or Wolfing Down the Faux Outrage)
From some accounts, one might reasonably assume that Michelle Wolf simply took the stage, said a bunch of mean things about Sanders, and walked off to mixed moans and applause. In fact, Wolf spent about a minute and a half, out of nearly 20, on Sanders. Oddly, I have yet to hear any conservatives complaining that Wolf called out the late Senator Ted Kennedy as a murderer ...
(13 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 15, 2016 America: Time for an Amicable Divorce?
Is there any particular reason why the people of Los Angeles, and the people of Dallas, and the people of Miami, and the people of New York MUST be directly governed by the same executive, legislative and judicial organizations? I can't think of one.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 25, 2015 Unacceptable Speech at Old Dominion
With the fall semester beginning at colleges and universities around the US, it's time for a new round of controversy over student speech. Right out of the gate, Virginia's Old Dominion University takes an early lead: WTKR News Channel 3 reports that ODU "officials took time from their weekend to respond to some banners hung up at an off-campus home that are upsetting many."
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 30, 2018 The Pittsburgh Double Bind: Presidents Shouldn't Be So Important
If we're going to have a president, why not keep him or her in Washington -- at a desk with a stack of paperwork, away from television cameras and smart phones -- instead of centering every aspect of public life around his or her actions and utterances?
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, September 15, 2020 I Watched Cuties so You Wouldn't Have to (But You Should)
According to US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) Cuties may be, and according to US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) it actually is, child porn. It sexualizes young girls and, per Gabbard, will "whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade."
(11 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 13, 2018 North Korea: Pelosi versus Peace
Which is worse: The specter of nuclear war, or giving US president Donald Trump credit for a significant diplomatic accomplishment?
In her official statement on Trump's Singapore summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi makes it clear that a few million incinerated human beings are a small price to pay to keep the 68-year-old Korean War going.
SHARE Friday, October 5, 2018 The US Makes One Too Many Parties to the Spratly Spat
The USS Decatur had no legitimate business in the Spratly Islands. It was there for one and only one purpose: To rattle the US saber in a continuing domestic propaganda campaign for "containment" of Chinese "expansionism," (read: "Keep spending lots of money on the US Navy").
SHARE Tuesday, July 5, 2016 No, It's Not Just You. Politics Really Does Drive People Nuts.
To my mind 1993-2001 is the period during which [insert name here] Derangement Syndrome metastasized from a persistent but flu-like malady into the (unfortunately not mercifully fatal) equivalent of Ebola -- acute at the time, chronic ever since. Poor George W. Bush. Poor Barack Obama.
And there's no end in sight.
(2 comments) SHARE Saturday, June 4, 2016 Muhammad Ali: A Profile in Moral Courage
His stand rang the opening bell on a generation's resistance to war and conscription and inspired Martin Luther King, Jr., who had hesitated to oppose civil rights supporter Lyndon Baines Johnson on the subject, to come out against the war in Vietnam.
SHARE Thursday, August 13, 2015 It's Classified: A Tale of Two Scofflaws
I find it painful to compare Chelsea Manning to Hillary Clinton.
Chelsea Manning is an American heroine who knowingly exposed classified information for the purpose of revealing war crimes in Iraq and other government lawlessness ...
Hillary Clinton is a power-monger who carelessly exposed classified information because she believes she's above the law.
(11 comments) SHARE Monday, March 15, 2021 Daylight Saving Time Kills
It makes a certain amount of sense that my clock and my neighbor's clock should be in sync with each other.
It makes no sense at all that both clocks, and all others, should "spring forward" by an hour in March and "fall back" by an hour in November.
SHARE Friday, July 6, 2018 President Trump, Please Free Ross Ulbricht
As of this coming October, Ulbricht will have spent five years behind bars. He's appealed his conviction and sentence all the way to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case on June 28. At this point, presidential clemency would seem to be his only hope of ever walking free again.
(11 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 5, 2019 Julian Assange: An Opportunity for the US and the UK to Change Direction on Press Freedom
Trump could redeem himself on the press freedom front, essentially wiping the slate clean, by pardoning Assange for all alleged "crimes" committed prior to May 1st, 2019.
Even better, he could publicly justify the pardon, pointing out that this is solely and entirely a political prosecution premised in the notion that it's a "crime" to embarrass politicians by revealing verifiably true information about their actions.
SHARE Wednesday, January 4, 2017 New Boss(es), Same as The Old Boss(es)
Donald Trump ran for president in part on a promise to "drain the swamp" that is Washington, DC. He positioned himself as a political outsider, beholden to no one and capable of bringing sweeping changes to a federal government set in its ways. But as Inauguration Day approaches, it's becoming increasingly clear that the fundamentals aren't going to change much.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 23, 2021 The Filibuster: Imperfect, But Better Than Nothing
Whether it's 60 votes for cloture or Senators yammering about recipes for green bean casseroles, I like the filibuster and want to see it continue regardless of which party is in power. And my reason for that isn't complicated: Political power, especially on the sheer size and scale wielded by the US federal government, is a very dangerous thing.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, July 20, 2015 Election 2016: Scott Walker vs. "Government Dependence"
Google returns more than 5,000 results on [Scott] Walker's name and the phrase "government dependence." He seems to have focused on it for many years. And on a quick read of his biography, I doff my cap to his stature as world-class expert on the topic.
(14 comments) SHARE Saturday, December 5, 2015 An American Guilt Trip: This is How the Terrorists Win
The goal of terrorism is to terrorize us. What could possibly be a more effective means of that than getting us to live in fear not of some far-away foreign threat, but of our own neighbors?
It's a numbers game, with hooks reaching down into one of the darkest and ugliest aspects of our history: Our racial and ethnic stereotypes and prejudices.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, December 3, 2018 Why I am Grateful to George Herbert Walker Bush
I am grateful for Bush and for his presidency for two major and positive changes in my life for which he deserves at least partial credit (or, if prefer, bears at least partial responsibility).
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 1, 2021 Big Tech's Playing Monopoly. It's Going to Lose.
Why is Big Tech finally showing us an anti-freedom face?
If you have to ask why, the answer is almost always "money." That's certainly true in this case. Most of the firms in question enjoy substantial revenue from government contracts. ... But at this point, it's also safe to say that they're looking for "regulatory capture."
(10 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 22, 2015 The US and the "Refugee Crisis": Three Complaints, One Solution
I oppose president Barack Obama's plan to import and re-settle 10,000 Syrian refugees at American taxpayers' expense. But hey, I'm a libertarian. It's hard to find a government program I DO support.
On the other hand, as the old saying goes, "you break it, you buy it."
SHARE Sunday, June 10, 2018 Trump the Politician: Anti-Abortion vs. Anti-Immigration
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ("the gay wedding cake case") soaked up most of the Supreme Court decision media limelight, even though (or perhaps because) the court's ruling doesn't really dispose of the major issues in the case. Another case, also not decided on its merits, got much less attention. But that case reveals conflicting priorities in, and signals from, the Trump administration.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, September 25, 2020 Unfortunately, Voters Aren't "the Adults in the Room"
"Democracy," H.L. Mencken wrote, "is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
On the evidence, he wasn't wrong. Of those Americans who bother to vote, 90% or more will probably vote for one of two circus clowns, for all the wrong reasons.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, January 29, 2016 Killer Cops Should Be Held To The Same Standards As Citizens
I don't know exactly what happened on Canfield Drive in Ferguson or along US 395 in rural Oregon. Neither, in all likelihood, do you. We weren't there. But there's one thing we can do. We can reaffirm the basic American principle that law enforcement personnel and other government employees aren't special.
SHARE Friday, June 8, 2018 Election Omens: Blue Wave or 2018 Flushes?
The Blue Wave isn't shaping up as a tsunami. Why? One clue might be the gigantic collective yawn greeting rumors that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz might run for president in 2020. His centrist "Democrats need to look more like Republicans to win" message -- also pushed by the Democratic National Committee versus upstart progressive midterm primary candidates around the country -- just doesn't excite anyone very much.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 2, 2015 Religious Liberty: Some Unsolicited Career Advice for Kim Davis
One of the jobs of the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky is to issue marriage licenses to couples who meet the legal standards for such licenses. Recently, those standards changed, and now same-sex couples can license their marriages.
That new standard conflicts with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's religious belief that marriage is only valid between one man and one woman. No problem.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 27, 2021 The Next Major Party Won't be a Trump Production
Duverger's Law puts it bluntly: "[T]he simple-majority single-ballot system favours the two-party system."
With more than 140 years to entrench themselves in that system and fortify their position with ballot and debate access barriers to keep competitors broke and voiceless, the Republicans and Democrats have little to fear.
Or do they?
SHARE Thursday, January 7, 2021 The Beer Belly Putsch: A Sign of Things to Come
The attempted putsch was never going to succeed. Not just because its shock troops seemed to be mostly even fatter and more out of shape than me, nor because they were obviously going to be out-gunned once the surprise wore off and the government's law enforcement and military machinery responded. Even if those things hadn't been true, grievance just isn't a sound substitute for strategy.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, February 25, 2019 Mueller Report: Secrecy Shouldn't be an Option
Robert Mueller has spent nearly two years and more than $25 million supposedly getting to the bottom of the "Russian meddling" claims claims .... Mueller may answer to Barr, but both he and Barr claim to work for the public. ... That report is, by any reasonable standard, your property.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, December 24, 2018 Go Go GoFund.gov!
If instead of collecting taxes, Congress simply approved project goals and appropriated "as much money as is voluntarily donated toward" those goals, it would constitute a giant step toward a free society.
Instead of an Internal Revenue Service, the federal government could contract with GoFundMe to set up and operate GoFund.gov.
(9 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 15, 2020 Why "Preference" is a Dirty Word to the New Puritans
Attempts to erase the idea of "preference" from discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity are attempts to deny and suppress the free will, choice, and agency of the very people who constitute "the LGBTQ community."
Neither I nor my many friends in that community deserve to be treated as helpless slaves to a biological equivalent of the old religious doctrine of predestination.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 6, 2020 Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand
As America's latest long hot summer drags into autumn, politicians and pundits are getting louder and more shrill in their denunciations of political violence. Considering the sources, those denunciations smack of hypocrisy.
SHARE Wednesday, February 22, 2017 The Absurd Consequences of a "Right to Privacy"
A number of rights do, in effect, protect personal privacy. ... It's proper that information gained in violation of those rights be excluded from criminal proceedings, if for no other reason than to discourage police from violating those rights.
But personal and public opinion aren't court proceedings ...
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, January 21, 2021 Hey Joe, Where You Goin' With That Pen in Your Hand?
Ol' Joe obviously walked off the inaugural stage with his honeymoon plans well-laid. While I don't personally respect presidential honeymoons for either party, I do try to look at each new president's actions with an open mind and search for the good.
Here are a few high points you may have missed while sipping champagne at an inaugural ball or swilling cheap beer and watching MSNBC ...
(6 comments) SHARE Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Welfare for the Wealthier? What Else is New?
Student loan debtors have a better case than most for relief. They spent their entire young lives being told they absolutely must go to college, and then got lured into borrowing money to do so precisely because the loans were "guaranteed" by the government, please don't read the fine print. They got caught in a long con, put over on them by Big Government, Big Finance, and Big Education.
SHARE Friday, January 8, 2016 Disband and Defund the Touchy, Stealy Administration
Turning every airport terminal in the US into the functional equivalent of one of Uday Hussein's "rape rooms" is apparently a feature, not a bug, in America's post-9/11 "security" software.
It's time and past time to permanently disband TSA and let airports and airlines go back to providing for their own security.
(2 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 1, 2016 Want to Save the Elephants and Rhinos? Privatize Ivory and Horns
If governments are serious about reducing poaching and smuggling, and saving shrinking populations of elephants and rhinos, there's a simple and nearly foolproof way to go about it: Instead of fattening the bank accounts of poachers and smugglers, auction off harvesting rights to ivory from elephants and horns from rhinos who have died natural deaths.
SHARE Wednesday, May 4, 2016 The End of the Bill of Rights is at Our Fingertips
Unfortunately, the convenience of "biometric" identification comes with a cost. When you take that route, at least two judges (first a Virginia circuit court judge and now a federal judge in California) have ruled, you can be forced to put your finger on the phone to unlock it.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 8, 2020 There Ain't No Such Thing As a "Must-Pass" Bill
Congress's heavy gun in the NDAA fight is the pretense, put on by politicians and parroted by media, that military spending bills are "must-pass" material. But they aren't.
Unlike "mandatory" spending such as Social Security, which occurs automatically absent congressional action to stop it, "defense" spending is "discretionary."
(5 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 1, 2016 Election 016: Finally a Real Third Way?
Since 1972, the Libertarian Party has consistently offered American voters their best shot at national resurgence and a new birth of freedom. We've been right on economics. We've been right on foreign policy. We've been right on immigration. We've been right on all the burning social issues.
But being right has never been enough.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, June 16, 2016 No Fly, No Buy? No Dice.
There's a name for a system under which your ability to travel can be abridged by force of law absent evidence, without charge, sans trial and conviction, without due process of any kind. That name is "police state." ... extending that evil measure into additional areas of American life is equally evil if not more so.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, December 21, 2018 Trump v. Bump: A Potentially Deadly Holiday Decision
The best possible outcome of this stunt is that it will simply be ignored both by its supposed enforcers and its prospective victims. Otherwise, Trump's Christmas present to the anti-gun lobby may well turn into an Easter basket for America's trauma units and funeral homes.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, September 14, 2020 No One is "Mentally Fit" to be President
Even if the US Constitution's original restraints on presidential power still held, and they haven't for more than a century, the duties of the office are just too inherently complex for a single manager to do well, and too lucrative and empowering to avoid attracting corrupt megalomaniacs like Trump and Biden and their hangers-on.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, October 2, 2020 Trump vs. Biden: Keeping Up With Toddlers and Tiaras
A real debate -- between, say, the Green Party's Howie Hawkins and Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen -- would have likely featured genuine policy proposals and real arguments over the merits of those proposals. ... Alas, that's not how politics is done in the age of Real Purse Snatchers of Washington, DC.
SHARE Monday, November 7, 2016 Wikileaks and the Podesta Emails: Two Things
Are the Podesta emails authentic and unaltered? Clinton and her surrogates don't want to answer that question. They stick to claiming that the mails haven't been authenticated and hinting that they may have been altered. The facts: Not all of the emails can be authenticated as to origin and content. But some can be, and some have been.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Time to Get Government Off Our Lawns
The lawn is such a familiar part of everyday American life that it might seem like the natural state of things. In reality, it's evolved over the last two centuries from an aristocratic plaything to what Washington Post columnist Christopher Ingraham rightly calls a "soul-crushing timesuck" that most of us would be better off without.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Chelsea Manning: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Again
One of the 21st century's greatest heroines is behind bars again, held in contempt by federal judge Claude M. Hilton for refusing to help prosecutors trump up charges against the journalists who published information she paid dearly for giving them.
(1 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 28, 2016 Let's Let Veterans Be Regular Americans Again
America has a complicated relationship with its veterans. Those of us who served in the military sport a suicide rate more than twice that of the civilian population. We're 10% of the population and 16% of the homeless. Apparently we're a pretty screwed up demographic. Yet our opinions, especially on politics, enjoy a measure of nearly automatic respect.
SHARE Saturday, March 27, 2021 Value, Cryptocurrency, and the State's War on Both
On March 16, federal agents raided (among other places) the studio of radio show Free Talk Live. They abducted six people, including several friends of mine, on charges of conspiracy to "operate an unlicensed money transmitting business." Their "crime" was openly and publicly buying and selling cryptocurrency -- which, by the way, the government says isn't money.
SHARE Sunday, November 1, 2020 SpaceX's Declaration of Space Independence is Just Common Sense
Like settlers departing Independence to start down the Oregon Trail -- or for that matter, young adults moving out of Mom and Dad's house -- humans leaving Earth will immediately start making their own rules, to deal with their unique situations.
The worst mistake Earth's governments can make is to pretend otherwise.
(5 comments) SHARE Saturday, February 20, 2021 Joe Biden and "Open Borders": As If
On February 9, more than 50 Republican members of the US House of Representatives sent President Joe Biden a letter decrying his "open border" policies. Of all the hyberbolic claims I've read regarding the Biden administration since Inauguration Day, that one takes the cake. In neither word nor action has the new president come within a country mile of supporting "open borders" in principle or in policy.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, September 20, 2020 Supreme Court: Playing for Time vs. Advise and Consent
The first Supreme Court justice, John Jay, was nominated by President George Washington on September 24, 1789. He was confirmed by the US Senate two days later. ... These days, far more is both knowable and known about prospective Supreme Court nominees well in advance of their nominations. Yet the process has mutatated from "advise and consent" to "multi-month political campaign."
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, December 15, 2016 Trump on Military Spending: An Encouraging Sign
The F-35 is indeed one of the more insane wastes of taxpayer money in recent history. If Trump could find a way to kill the whole project, both taxpayers and the armed forces would be better off for its demise.
But even if Trump is serious, he's in for a fight with 75 years of history.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, November 11, 2020 American in Transition: Why I'm Not Worried About the Biden/Harris "Gun Control" Talk
Yes, politicians will make impassioned speeches to roust votes and campaign donations out of the ignorant and fearful. They might even get some token legislation passed for gun owners to ignore and for politicians to ignore gun owners ignoring.
But they know any attempt to impose real "gun control" would be political, and possibly literal, suicide.
SHARE Friday, April 29, 2016 The Problem With Donald Trump's Version of "America First"
Trump calls for US allies to increase their military spending while claiming that America's own military -- still by far the most expensive and powerful in the history of the world and the single largest line item in the federal budget -- has been "weakened" and must be rebuilt. This is not a proposal that NATO stand up while the US stands down -- he calls for an escalation, not a drawdown, of military force.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, May 11, 2016 Government and Technology: A Modest Proposal
If there's going to be a differential in technological power between citizens and government, that differential should work to the advantage of citizens, not government.
(5 comments) SHARE Tuesday, February 23, 2021 Cancun Kerfuffle: In Defense of Ted Cruz
Is a sun-soaked vacation during a winter weather event "bad optics?" Only to people who place greater value on and trust in Ted Cruz, his position, and his activities than they should. Making sure you have electricity just isn't his job -- and if it was you could probably expect longer and more frequent blackouts, not shorter and fewer ones.
(2 comments) SHARE Friday, February 5, 2021 Better COVID-19 Vaccination Policy: Stick it to'em!
If the vaccines work, every immunized person is one person less likely to catch COVID-19 or pass it on, and puts us one step closer to hopefully achieving herd immunity.
Every vaccination administered is a win, if the goal is to reduce the numbers of cases, reduce the numbers of deaths, and hopefully bring this ugly era to an end.
Every missed opportunity to stick a needle in an arm is a loss on those same criteria.
(2 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 10, 2019 The Government is Hard at Work Keeping Tax Preparation Complicated and Expensive
You've probably heard political candidates promise to make your tax return "so simple it will fit on a postcard." Ever wonder why they never deliver on that promise? [Tax perparers] don't just lobby to be the middlemen in a complex system, they also lobby against legislation that would simplify the system (potentially making their services unnecessary).
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, September 21, 2015 Religion and Politics and Presidential Qualifications
Most Americans adhere to some system of religious belief. I'm one of those Americans. I don't consider that a disqualifier for public office. What I do expect from candidates vis a vis their religious beliefs are two things ...
SHARE Wednesday, July 29, 2015 Celebs vs. Amnesty: Do The Entertainment Elite Hate Women?
There's no sex work without sex workers. Pimps can't broker transactions in, nor can "Johns" purchase, something that isn't for sale. And as the public-facing part of the business, the workers are the easy ones to detect and to persecute. Where prostitution remains illegal, it is they who suffer.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 30, 2020 COVID-19 Panic is the New State Religion
When we didn't know what was going on, panic wasn't the correct answer.
Now that we have a better idea of what's happening, holding onto the visible vestiges of panic isn't the correct answer either. It's just a new, state-imposed religion.
SHARE Thursday, September 3, 2020 Trump regime vs. the ICC: The Wrong Side of "Sovereignty"
Afghanistan's US-installed, US-allied regime ratified the Rome Statute in 2003, thereby placing war crimes committed on its territory, and the persons accused of committing those crimes, under the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction. Like it or not, that assignment of jurisdiction is an exercise of Afghan sovereignty.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, October 6, 2020 If It's Important to Vote, It's Important to Vote for Freedom
According to the political operatives knocking on my door (sometimes literally), my potential failure to vote -- or my decision to vote for the "wrong" candidate -- constitutes an existential threat to motherhood, apple pie, and America.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 19, 2016 Election 2016: They Don't Own Your Vote
With large blocs of Republican and Democratic voters vowing to abandon their parties rather than vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in November -- and in the GOP, even some party establishment figures mulling an alternative ticket if Trump takes the nomination -- the "wasted vote" argument is peaking earlier than usual this year.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, December 18, 2020 Rand Paul: Privacy for Me, But Not for Thee
If a private citizen wants to open a bank account, board an airplane, buy tobacco or alcohol, or engage in many other perfectly ordinary activities, government requires that citizen to present photo identification which includes personal information ... But according to many government employees, their own personal information should be protected by law from the by law from the prying eyes of that ordinary citizen.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 4, 2021 Biden's Foreign Policy: No Joy in Mudville
Well, at least he hasn't started any NEW wars!
For four years, that was the excuse I got from anti-war Donald Trump supporters every time he escalated one of the several wars he inherited from George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
I expect to start hearing it from anti-war Joseph Biden supporters soon.
(3 comments) SHARE Saturday, March 19, 2016 Mean-Spirited, Low-Lived Fellows Are Nothing New in American Politics
The 2016 presidential race is a bumper crop of insults, with the usual accompanying cries for a "return to civility." Reality check: There's no era of civility for American politics to return to. It's always been a rough-and-tumble sport. Election campaigns have never consisted of the candidates holding hands and singing "Kum Ba Ya" with an occasional break for sober issues discussions.
(7 comments) SHARE Tuesday, December 1, 2020 COVID-19: The Way the Music Died?
As both closures and non-closure restrictions stretch on month after month, some performance venues will doubtless close permanently. ... How many musicians, dancers, and stage actors ... have already given up and sought work that neither utilizes their talents nor brightens our lives nearly as much? How many will never return to entertainment?
SHARE Sunday, October 11, 2020 Why You Probably Won't See More "COVID-19 Relief" in October
"There is no limit to the amount of good you can do," President Ronald Reagan once said, "if you don't care who gets the credit."
Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and (in the background) Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden care a great deal about who gets the credit.
(3 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 13, 2021 The Political Class: At War with Each Other and on the Rest of Us
If you're looking for good guys, you won't find them on either side of this fight. It's a fight between two factions of the political class, with Big Tech trying to appease and co-opt one of those two factions. It's neither a revolution nor a fight for freedom. It's just a schoolyard brawl over which gang gets to rule. The interests of ordinary Americans aren't represented.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, October 21, 2020 No, Google is Not a Monopoly
The supposed point of antitrust legislation is to preserve competition and consumer choice, not to slap down winners and prop up losers.
I say "supposed point," because the real purpose of antitrust legislation is, you guessed it, to slap down winners and prop up losers, at the expense of competition and consumer choice, and for the benefit of whichever political party needs a punching bag this week ...
(5 comments) SHARE Thursday, April 11, 2019 Pardoning Assange Would be the First Step Back Toward Rule of Law
At no point has Assange been credibly accused of a crime. He's a journalist. People provide him with information. He publishes that information. That's an activity clearly and unambiguously protected by the First Amendment.
Even if Assange was a US citizen, and even if his activities had taken place in territory under US jurisdiction, there's simply no criminal case to be made against him.
So they're manufacturing one.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, October 22, 2020 Trump's October Fizzle: A Difference Which Makes No Difference
Anyone who claims to be "undecided" at this late date is leaning hard toward the challenger, not the incumbent. Donald Trump has had four years to favorably impress them. If he hasn't done so yet, he's not going to do so in the next two weeks.
That's why the whole thing is an October Fizzle rather than the October Surprise Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani had hoped it would be.
SHARE Thursday, November 24, 2016 Thanksgiving 2016: Uncertain But Still Grateful
Like many, I expected to spend the last three weeks of November heaving a sigh of relief that the most contentious presidential election of my lifetime is over.... I was looking forward to getting the ritual over and done with.
Unfortunately, it continues to drag on. We expected the usual quick mass and communion; instead we're getting a Pentecostal stemwinder, replete with fire and brimstone.
SHARE Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Is Home Ownership Really the "American Dream?"
Is home ownership the embodiment of the "American Dream?" Are Donald Trump and Joe Biden trying, in their own ways, to deliver the goods for you? Or are they just beholden to special interests whose members make larger campaign contributions than you do -- for example, realtors, developers, and mortgage lenders?
(6 comments) SHARE Saturday, April 10, 2021 "Vaccine Passports" and the Holocaust: An Invalid Comparison?
Supporters of vaccine passports tout them as a way to "allow" us to do things such as attend concerts and sporting events.
We've never needed health-based government permission to do those things before, and there's no compelling argument that we should be required to seek such permission in the future.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, February 15, 2021 Why I'm Still Not Worried about Biden's "Gun Control" Proposals
On Valentine's Day, President Joe Biden cynically exploited the third anniversary of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, asking Congress to pass laws making it even more difficult for people like the 14 unarmed students and three unarmed educators who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (while an armed cop on campus hid and failed to defend them) to defend themselves.
(4 comments) SHARE Friday, March 25, 2016 Obama Visits Havana: Cuba Libre for Real?
Cruz, Menendez and their ilk have done as much to prop up Fidel Castro's regime as Castro's own secret police agents or neighborhood "Committees for the Defense of the Revolution" ever could, if not more. Half a century and change of sanctions and embargo have strengthened, not weakened, popular support for the island nation's Communist rulers.
(1 comments) SHARE Friday, April 22, 2016 Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
I wonder how one of slavery's greatest opponents would feel about having her image appropriated for use on the symbol of its resurgence -- an instrument of debt representing the promises of politicians to hold their subjects in perpetual bondage while taking the payments out of our hides?
SHARE Saturday, March 13, 2021 The Stimulus Bill's Anti-Socialist Poison Pill
Why do Joe Biden -- a supposedly "pro-labor" moderate -- and America's growing herd of self-proclaimed "democratic socialists" want so badly to drive independent workers back onto the capitalist wage labor plantation?
SHARE Saturday, December 12, 2015 Canute's Courtiers Condemn Consumer Crypto
Fortunately for all of us, Feinstein, Burr and Comey are a modern trio of King Canute's courtiers, operating on a false belief that the state can, by decree, halt the tide of progress. The strong encryption genie has been out of the bottle for 20 years, it's not going back in, and it recognizes no borders.
SHARE Thursday, February 18, 2021 What Happened to "We The People?"
"We The People" brought the First Amendment's right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" into the digital age, with the promise of official responses to petitions receiving 100,000 or more signatures within 30 days. So, why is it gone?
SHARE Friday, October 30, 2020 A Lot More People Elected Jack Dorsey Than Elected Ted Cruz
Jack Dorsey is elected by more than 300 million Twitter users ... Ted Cruz, on the other hand, was elected by 4.2 million Texans. ... But for some reason, Ted Cruz seems to believe that he has a broader and more legitimate mandate to run Twitter than Jack Dorsey does. And not just Twitter. Ted Cruz thinks he's entitled to run pretty much everything ...
SHARE Thursday, February 25, 2021 Capitol Riot: Well Past Its Sell By Date
Getting important things done well is hard work, and who deserves credit isn't always obvious. Political grandstanding is easier, leading to what I call the Dairy Farm strategy of crisis exploitation: First, have a cow. Then, milk it.
SHARE Wednesday, April 13, 2016 How to Kill America's Tech Economy in One Lesson
US Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are at it again. They've released a "discussion draft" of their "bill to require the provision of data in an intelligible format pursuant to a court order. " if such data has been made unintelligible by a feature, product, or service owned, controlled, created, or provided, by the covered entity or by a third party on behalf of the covered entity."
SHARE Wednesday, April 4, 2018 Uncertainty is the Root of the Current Market Craziness
The market has seemingly gone nuts. Sudden one-day drops pare back weeks of gains, followed by a cautious recovery of the lost ground. There's a strong correlation between those swings and Trump's mouth, whether he's making formal policy announcements or just tweetstorming his latest obsession. To understand the problem, let's look to the seemingly unrelated fields of economics and physics.
(4 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 24, 2020 America in Transition: What's the Hurry?
If Joe Biden couldn't even get his act together enough over the course of half a century to have a cabinet picked before the election, why should we believe that a few weeks, $7 million, and some "outreach" will magically prepare him for the job he's been seeking that whole time?