Monday, February 29, 2016

The Secret Service's Job


Is it to protect the lives and safety of the president, VP, presidential candidates, etc.?

Or is it to provide taxpayer-subsidized rent-a-cops for general event security purposes?

Why am I wondering? Well, here's a bit from TIME regarding a scuffle involving one of their photographers and some Secret Service agents at a Trump event:

Chris Morris, a veteran White House photographer working on the campaign for TIME, stepped out of the press pen to photograph a Black Lives Matter protest that interrupted the speech. A video shows that Morris swore at a Secret Service agent who tried to move Morris back into the pen. ... Unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches. The entrance to the penned area is generally monitored by the Secret Service detail, which also screens attendees at his events and personally protects the candidate.

Does the Secret Service provide ushers to put attendees in their specific seats according to some ticket numbering scheme? Are there Secret Service agents walking around the crowd selling "Donald Trump is #1" foam fingers and "Make America Great Again" hats, and maybe one Secret Service agent backstage to shine The Donald's shoes and freshen his makeup between sets?

I was about to write "I doubt it," but I'm going to hedge my bet and go with "I hope not."

Why would or should the Secret Service operate a press playpen and keep the kiddies in it for the Trump campaign?

Is the Trump campaign reimbursing the US Department of the Treasury for something that's clearly an extra service  completely unrelated to the Secret Service's job?

Or is this more of Trump's habitual welfare queenery?

Trump: They're Asking the Wrong Question


OK, so there's quite a bit of gotcha political crap flying over the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, et. al supporting Donald Trump. But that's all irrelevant.

What's relevant is whether or not he supports them.

Back in the day, I vociferously defended Ron Paul when people would try to put him down by noting that his weekly column appeared in David Duke's newsletter and in the Spotlight, a newspaper published by anti-semite and Holocaust denier Willis Carto. My view was simple: He put that column out for anyone to reprint as they pleased, and could hardly be held responsible if unsavory characters chose to take him up on the offer. It just didn't constitute evidence that he shared their ideas.

That position brought me in for later embarrassment when the Paul's old newsletters -- in which he applauded Duke and clearly pandered to the southern white racist demographic -- came to light during his 2008 presidential campaign. It turned out that he had been playing footsie with the bad guys. In my defense, I hadn't known that. And once I did know it, I stopped defending him.

Trump should get the same kind of colonoscopy. My guess is that it won't turn up any significant connections, for the simple reason that Trump has never needed racist money, while Paul seems to have relied on it to fund his return to Congress. But hey, all candidates bear close examination.

Re-Thinking Augustus Invictus


No, I wouldn't say I'm necessarily a supporter, but I'm getting less and less uncomfortable with the prospect of him representing the Libertarian Party as a candidate for US Senate. Why? Check out two things.

First, his latest speech. If he had given this speech at the beginning of his campaign rather than later, he might have de-fanged some of his most energetic opponents:



Secondly, his actual platform, which I've noticed neither Invictus himself or his supporters actually and actively promoting. Pretty damn libertarian (which is different than saying I agree with every jot and tittle).

If he sticks to that platform, then the rest of the issues that Libertarians have with him could turn out to just be useful conversation starters. There are worse things than having a controversial candidate.

Yeah, I Fall for it Fairly Often


I speak, of course, of the ol' Gene Callahan trick of trotting out something like this question-begging bit on taxation, then sneering at any commenter who points out the weakness in his claim, after which he blocks further commenting by his interlocutor so that he can declare himself the winner of an argument without going to the trouble of, you know, actually winning an argument.

I sometimes wonder if perhaps he teaches a class in logic and pulls this kind of thing so that he can assign his students the task "go over to my blog and identify one or more fallacies I've fallen into this week."

It's probably something more obvious, though:


Sunday, February 28, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 68: The Libertarian Party's Biloxi Blowout


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:




In this episode:


  • Thanks for Asking! (The bad old days and Nick Gillespie's Pop-Tarts);
  • LP presidential candidates debate in Biloxi
Show notes:


I couldn't seem to find a video that was discretely of ONLY the first part of the debate with 10 candidates, but here's a video that INCLUDES that part (there's some other stuff before the debate begins also included in the video).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Medium, Not Particularly Rare


I've noticed over the years that I really am becoming a late adopter of publishing platforms. Even when I created accounts at e.g. Facebook and Twitter, I didn't really start using those accounts for a long time after it became obvious that all the cool kids were there.

So, it's probably not surprising that I'm just now really noticing and using Medium, which has been around for nearly four years. It's not that I objected to it as a platform or anything. It's just that I'm slow and thick and it was only a week or two ago that it finally came to my attention that I was seeing a lot of news stories with something like this in the lede:

[Something interesting about someone famous or not famous]. In a blog post at Medium, [someone famous or not famous] wrote about [something interesting].

So, it's a place to publish stuff and maybe get that stuff noticed by people who would never notice it elsewhere.

I'm in.

So is the Garrison Center.

Concerning an Apple/FBI "Compromise"


As I sometimes do, I'm going to structure this piece just a wee bit in reverse of the obvious order so that I can get certain things above the fold. Namely, Neal Reynolds's thoughts on the matter of the FBI vs. Apple's iPhone encryption.

Quick summary -- reasonably objective, I think -- of Neal's thoughts: This isn't that big a deal because the FBI is willing to compromise and let Apple just crack the one iPhone rather than providing the FBI with a tool to crack all iPhones.

But the full discussion is worth reading, and you can find it in the comments below this RRND blurb/link. In response to my skepticism that such a compromise is even on the table, here's a news story from last week that Neal went to the trouble of digging up, and here's the Chicago Tonight panel discussion he references on the compromise proposal.

Why do I think Neal is wrong? Two main reasons.

The first reason is that if the FBI really wanted to compromise on its demands, it could simply go back to the judge who issued the order requiring Apple to create custom software and let the FBI use that software and ask the judge to modify that order. If that's happened, I haven't heard about it. The order is, so far as I know, still in force, and no amount of FBI public posturing about "willingness to compromise" will magically change the text of that order, which specifically orders Apple to render "reasonable assistance" under the All Writs Act as follows:

"Apple's reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware."

The key words there are "enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE."

In other words, the phone remains in the FBI's possession and Apple has to create the software and hand it over for the FBI's use. The chances of that software not being kept and/or copied while in the FBI's possession are somewhere between slim and none.

The suggested "compromise" is that the FBI can give the phone to Apple so that the FBI never sees or has possession of the software used to crack it. Well, if that's the compromise the FBI is willing to make, they should tell that to a judge, not a reporter.

Not that I would trust the FBI to not go back to court as soon as the software is created and ask for an order permitting them to raid Apple's HQ and seize the code. But if they want to be seen as willing to compromise, they could at least pretend to actually be compromising.

And, in my opinion, even the above is not a demand for "reasonable assistance" per the All Writs Act.

If the police have a warrant to search a house, resort to the maker of the lock on that house's door for "reasonable assistance" would amount to "if you have a key that unlocks this house, either unlock this house or give us the key." If the lockmaker doesn't have the key, demanding that the lockmaker order his design team to design a key that will unlock every lock the lockmaker has ever manufactured is not "reasonable" -- even if the "compromise" offer is that the maker will be allowed to keep the key after that one use, rather than handing the key over for prospective future uses.

In cases where Apple has "had the key" to data, they have generally handed over that data when presented with a warrant or subpoena. Apple does not have the key, and this is not a demand for data. It's a demand for creative work that has consequences far beyond the declared objective of getting information off of one iPhone.

The second reason is that the All Writs Act is unconstitutional. It may or may not have been unconstitutional when it was passed as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, but the Constitution has been amended at least twice since then in ways which supersede it:

The 5th Amendment requires that no "private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." If Apple writes the software demanded, that software will be Apple's property and it will be valuable property  which Apple will have made a significant financial investment to create. The court order does not offer to pay for it.

The 13th Amendment forbids "involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." In order for the software the FBI is demanding to come into existence, someone has to write that software. Presumably several someones, actually. What if they don't want to write it? In what universe is it constitutionally permissible to force them to do so? Once they're done, can they also be required to pick some cotton,  or perhaps bake some wedding cakes for same-sex couples? If Apple's management decides to comply with the court order and its iOS team resigns en masse in protest rather than write the software, will the FBI ask the court to have them chained to their desks on bread and water until they change their minds?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Gary Johnson Q&A You Should Watch


I'd embed the video, but I can't figure out how (it was made on a service called Periscope that's apparently all the rage with the youngsters). So here's the link.

Why am I telling you you should watch it? Well, fairness and so forth. I'm quite out about not being a Gary Johnson supporter, but if nothing else on this video he finally answered a question of mine, presented in unfriendly format, that I've been asking him for four years now.

No, I can't say that I really found the answer personally satisfactory, but that's neither here nor there. The chances that any presentation will turn me into a Johnson supporter are pretty slim, but his answer may well have pleased some undecided Libertarians who plan to be national convention delegates, which is one of two reasons for doing an event like this (the other being to energize/motivate people who are already supporters).

So if you're a Johnson supporter, watch it and get motivated. If you're undecided, watch it because maybe it will help you decide. And if you aren't going to support Johnson no matter what, watch it anyway (for oppo research purposes or whatever ... but hey, maybe you're wrong about your own level of anti-Johnson certitude).

Good Question


Quoth Hillary Clinton:

Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else?

She's talking about the calls for her to release transcripts of the speeches Goldman Sachs paid her to give, but the question bears broader application.

For example, why is there one standard for Clinton and not for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Clinton, John Kiriakou et. al when it comes to handling classified information?

And why is there one standard for Clinton and not for Brian Williams when it comes to making up war stories about getting shot at?

And why is there one standard for Clinton and not for Killer Mike when it comes to discussing whether or not being a woman constitutes a qualification for the presidency?

Of course, the answer to all four questions is that she's Hillary Clinton and that the rest of us exist for the sole purpose of providing her with as much wealth and power as she may happen to desire.

Thanks For Asking! -- 02/24/16


This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


The rules:


  • Ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#StandWithGarret -- Snowden at the Liberty Forum


Here's Garret Ean's "unauthorized" recording of Edward Snowden's appearance at last weekend's New Hampshire Liberty Forum:


Here's the Free Keene blog post in which Ean presents the recording and his rationale for doing so.

Here's the post in which Free Keene's Ian outlines the controversy over the recording and its release.

Next, last night's episode of Free Talk Live in which the whole thing gets discussed at length:



Why am I on Garret Ean's side here?

The Free State Project sold tickets to the event with no mention whatsoever of any recording restrictions.  At $100 a pop.

The restriction was not even mentioned until the audience was in the room and Snowden was being introduced, and then it was framed as a request.

The audience -- primarily New Hampshire liberty activists, affiliated or not with the Free State Project -- were known to all parties to be heavily into radical transparency and heavily into recording, well, pretty much everything.

It was unreasonable to spring that on them AFTER collecting their $100 and AFTER they traveled to the venue and AFTER they got into the room.

Furthermore, every last attendee who remained awake during the presentation was recording that presentation. Sure, most of them were recording it by watching with their eyes, listening with their ears and perhaps taking notes with their hands, rather than by using an electronic instrument, but each attendee came away with some kind of record which they had not agreed to not share with others. The main differences between their records and Garret Ean's record are that Ean's record is 1) far more likely to be objective and accurate and 2) far more easily conveyed to others in its entirety.

Monday, February 22, 2016

#FreeStacy: I've Given Up Schadenfreude for Lent


Otherwise I guess I'd be feeling a bit of that vis a vis Robert Stacy McCain, whose Chief Ego Preservation Officer ("Wombat") banned me from commenting at McCain's site almost 2 1/2 years ago. My offense? Insufficient fervor of genuflection before the altar of whatever Stacy happens to be ranting about at any given moment.

No, I didn't like it much. But the way I see it, if Stacy wants to let some adolescent retard post embarrassingly superficial science fiction reviews on his blog in return for doing some blog housekeeping and making sure nobody disagrees with Stacy, well, hey, it's Stacy's blog.

But yeah, I didn't like it much, and no, I don't like it much that Twitter has now made it a ban-worthy offense to point out that Anita Sarkeesian's entire "career" is based on 1) acting offended in public and 2) calling for the heads of those she blames for offending her.

That sucks. And it also seems like a bad business move.

I just don't see any up-side to giving the feminist version of "Wombat" the same kind of power over 650 million Twitter users that her McCaininite Mini-Me has over a few dozen commenters at a single declining blog.

Robert Higgs, Like His Namesake Boson, Has Zero Spin


He pretty much just tells it exactly like it is every time. Like this:

Anyone who pays the slightest attention to politics knows that politicians are inveterate liars; many would sooner lie than speak truthfully even if the truth did not thwart their purposes, because lying would be more congenial to their true, dishonest character. ... To perceive any fixed and reliable link between what the candidates promise and what they deliver in office would be wildly counterfactual.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 67: Is Darcy Richardson God?


This week's episode is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode: Thanks for Asking! (Getting quoted in a book about Bernie Sanders, etc.)

Show notes: In theory Viglink will detect book titles, automagically turn them into affiliate commission links, etc. I guess we'll see. In the podcast, I mention Others, a four-volume (so far) history of third party politics in America by Darcy Richardson. If that title isn't linked, how about just looking at Darcy's author page on Amazon (probably not affiliate linked, but commission is not really a big deal to me) and picking something interesting out? All of it is good.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Here's What People Mean When They Say "In the Tank for Clinton"


As recently as the last week of December, Hillary Clinton polled ahead of Bernie Sanders in Nevada by 23%.

Today, she beat him in the actual caucus by 5.3%.

WaPo:

Hillary Clinton held off a powerful late challenge from rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucus vote Saturday, securing a narrow victory that helps the former secretary of state regain momentum after a crushing defeat in New Hampshire.

CNN:

Hillary Clinton notched a decisive win in the Nevada Democratic caucuses Saturday that could go a long way to helping her regain her footing on the path to the nomination.

NYT:

Mrs. Clinton's team breathed a sigh of relief as the results of the often-unpredictable campaign made clear that she had rebounded after her crushing defeat in the New Hampshire primary.

Going from 23% ahead to managing a 5.x% win, and that only with herculean effort, in the space of two months, isn't momentum. It isn't regaining footing. It isn't rebounding. It's escaping the consequences of major suckage by the skin of one's teeth. THAT would be the banner headline in anything resembling objective, rather than "save Hillary Clinton's candidacy at all costs," coverage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Note to US Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)


Just sent via the contact form at his official site:


Dear Senator Cotton,

Let me as succinct as possible:

You, your megalomania and the similar characteristics of your fellow politicians are a far greater threat to the security of the American people than dead ISIS terrorists, drug traffickers, kidnappers and child pornographers. Combined.

Fortunately, even if Apple ends up caving to your gang's terroristic demands, strong end-to-end encryption will still remain available to anyone who cares to procure it and use it, no matter how many votes you and your Senate co-conspirators take. Why don't you throw yourself on the floor and hold your breath 'til your face turns blue, too? That will be exactly as effective.

Fuck you very much,
Tom Knapp
Gainesville, Florida

It's Party Time in Alachua County, Florida


If you live in Alachua County, Florida (Gainesville and environs), save the date:

Saturday, February 27th, 1pm-2:30pm
Alachua County Library, Newberry Branch
110 South Seaboard DriveNewberry, FL 32669


It's time to set up an Alachua County affiliate for the Libertarian Party of Florida.

Boring details below, but first and foremost: BE THERE. PLEASE! WE NEED YOU! YES, YOU!!!

And not just Alachua. If you're from one of the neighboring counties that doesn't have an affiliate, come see how it gets done so you can do it. If you're from an active affiliate, come hang out and be supportive.

By all rights, Alachua County should have the strongest county affiliate in the state.

The University of Florida is a vibrant center of Students For Liberty activism.

The general area has one of those right/left divides that tends to spawn libertarian fragmentation -- lots of "fiscal conservatives" who don't want the Republicans in their bedrooms, "social liberals" who don't want the Democrats in their wallets, etc.

And there are libertarians, and Libertarian Party activists, in the area. I saw a Libertarian Party bumper sticker on a car parked at Wal-Mart within a week of moving here.  As the 2014 gubernatorial campaign heated up, local activist Jote Thompson put together a sign wave for LP candidate Adrian Wyllie. Lots of honks. Lots of thumbs up.

But I discovered in 2014 (when I decided to get involved again because I am a political junkie and just couldn't make myself sit out any longer after four years) that there's no Alachua County Libertarian Party.

Wyllie visited Gainesville at least twice in 2014 and I thought he got a good reception both times. He should have had plenty of installed party support here to help with those events and to get out the vote. He didn't.

When I looked for people interested in starting a county party, I found two. One had just moved to the sticks for a job that made any real time commitment impossible. The other one was just getting ready to move to New York. After reserving a room for an organizational meeting and promoting it to the party's area email list, etc. I showed up and sat alone in that room for an hour.

Time to try again.

I'm not willing to head the new organization up, for the simple reason that I'm running for Congress and think we should have non-candidates in charge of getting a county party going so that it's about the party, not about that one guy. But I am willing to help.

So is Russ Wood, the LPF executive committee member representing "Region 4," which includes Alachua County. He'll be there. I won't be surprised if a couple of other fine state-level activists show up to lend a hand.

We just need to get a couple of people willing to serve as temporary officers, and a few members to approve bylaws (I'll make sure those are on hand to go over). And then we need to get regular meetings and activities going.

It can be done. It's been done before. I've done it before myself. Please join with me to get it done.

Thanks For Asking! -- 02/17/16


This week's AMA thread is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry (so is the podcast to follow):


How it works:

  • Ask me anything -- ANYTHING -- in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on the podcast, or both.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Brief PSA


On last weekend's podcast, I dedicated the Week in Stupid segment to an attack by Austin Petersen (candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination) on Gary Johnson (same).

You can read more about the whole thing at Independent Political Report, here and here.

No, I'm not a Johnson supporter. I'm just an opponent of Who Can Be The Most Egregious Slimeball as a campaign strategy.

I really hope you're paying attention, especially if you're planning to serve as a delegate to the Libertarian Party's 2016 National Convention.

If you aren't willing to pay attention and do some research yourself (starting with the links above and then looking at campaign web sites, Facebook, etc.), I can save you some time and give you the bottom line in only 12 words:

A vote for Austin Petersen is a vote against the Libertarian Party.

Yes, it really is that simple.

That is all.

And the Award for Most Succinct and Trenchant Analysis ...


... of the GOP take on replacing Scalia goes to Andrew Ferguson of Liberty:

It is, in one sense, ironic that the first response of Republican legislators in response to the death of their originalist hero was to defy constitutional statements clearly allowing the sitting president, no matter how lame a duck he might be, to suggest a replacement for the fallen justice. But it's certainly not surprising: in this, the GOP is simply following Scalia's own example (as well as that of basically every other politician), honoring and vociferously upholding the Constitution when it supports their own tribal position, and ignoring it as soon as it suits them to do so.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 66: #AP4TheWeekinStupid


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:


  • Thanks for asking! (Mullets, Chelsea Loses Her Religion, Garrison Agonistes, Replacing Scalia);
  • The Week in Stupid, starring Austin Petersen with special guest John McAfee.
Some show links:


Aaron Sorkin + J. Neil Schulman = Stephen King


As Aaron Sorkin famously said, "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright."

I enjoyed Stephen King's novel 11.22.63, and expect to enjoy the miniseries version as well (when I figure out how to watch it -- I'm not a paying Hulu customer). But when I first saw the blurb/dusk jacket for the novel, I recall thinking to myself "King didn't come up with that plot ... J. Neil Schulman did."


Unfortunately, the YouTube version of Schulman's Twilight Zone episode seems to have disappeared. But it was definitely worth watching, and will be again if I can find a link to post or an embed to plug in.

And Another Thing About Scalia


Yes, the whackjobs are already out in force. Google is your friend if you're looking for discussions of whether or not US president Barack Obama had Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia killed, so that Obama would be able to appoint one more justice before leaving office.

But if we're going to throw around unlikely conspiracy theories, let's take it from both directions. If Scalia was murdered, why assume that the Democrats are the culprits?

Maybe Mitch McConnell and some Republican National Committee people got together and said "what better way to promote our presidential prospects than making the election all about the future of the Supreme Court? Let's create a vacancy, goad Obama into appointing someone we can attack as 'too liberal,' and turn the presidential election into a referendum on that instead of on our really ugly presidential nominee versus their really ugly presidential nominee."

Just sayin' ...

About that "Libertarians for Bernie Sanders" Thing


Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At least once or twice a day, my Google alert for appearances of the word "libertarian" on the web notifies me that someone is making -- or at least musing about -- "a libertarian case for supporting Bernie Sanders."

I really just don't see it.

But then again, I've never bought "a libertarian case for supporting [insert Republican candidate of your choosing here]," either.

Are there some issues on which Sanders more closely approximates a libertarian policy line than the mainstream of either Washington, DC or his own party? Sure. The obvious example there is the war on drugs.

Are there some issues on which Sanders's obviously non-libertarian policy proposals are still probably better from any point of view than the existing system? Yes to that too. For example, "Single-payer" is the second dumbest idea in circulation on healthcare -- second behind the existing system, which has been nearly fully socialized for half a century, but in a crazy-quilt fashion (Medicaid for the poor, Medicare for the elderly, TriCare for the retired/disabled military, and the "socialized risk, privatized profit" HMO regime that started under Nixon) that includes all the down sides and more of single-payer without the upside of, at least, simplicity.

But for me, those things don't add up to "libertarians should support Sanders." I think libertarians should support libertarians, and Sanders isn't one.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

McConnell on Replacing Scalia: "Hey, did you know the word 'gullible' is written on the ceiling right above you?"


Wow, that didn't even take a day:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shut down the process for approving a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia before it even started, declaring Saturday night that the seat should not be filled until the next president is sworn into office.

"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President," he said in a statement.

 OK, look, I get it. The Republicans want the next Supreme Court justice to be appointed by a Republican.

Just come out and say that instead of blowing smoke up our asses about a "voice" for "the American people," Mitch.

Supreme Court justices are appointed by presidents, and "the American people" have now said twice in a row that they want a Democrat doing the appointing.

Is it possible that "the people" will change their collective mind come November? Sure.

But the court's next term starts in October. There's plenty of time between now and then to confirm a new justice if this is about anything other than partisan politics. So let's quit pretending that it's about anything other than partisan politics.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Libertarian Party Has a Job Opening


The "major" political parties formally vote to nominate their presidential and vice-presidential candidates separately, but it really goes like this:

The presidential nominee "chooses a running mate," and then the national convention delegates rubber-stamp that man or woman. There have been a few attempts to force a fight (my recollection is that Howard Dean supporters tried to get enough delegates lined up to force a competitive vote and make him the veep nominee whether Kerry wanted him or not in 2004), but for the most part it is a process of coronation by acclamation based on the presidential candidate's desires.

The Libertarian Party does things differently.

In any given election cycle, one or more candidates formally declare their candidacy for the vice-presidency long before we even know who the presidential nominee will be. They campaign. Maybe not as vigorously as the presidential contenders, but they do hold themselves out as candidates specifically for the vice-presidential nomination, and usually without trying to attach themselves to any particular presidential candidate.

The presidential nominee is given five minutes of speaking time to endorse a VP candidate or to share his thoughts on what he hopes the delegates will do, but it's not a coronation.

For example, in 2008, after the presidential nomination had been decided (the nominee was Bob Barr), two presidential candidates switched tracks and ran for VP. Barr endorsed one of them (Wayne Allyn Root), but it took two ballots for him to prevail over the other (Steve Kubby). Unfortunately, the previously announced VP candidates didn't do well in that contest.

This tradition of the LP's has been atrophying over the last couple of cycles.

First, as I mentioned, in 2008 a couple of presidential contenders jumped in at the last minute, pretty much undoing the work of those who had been going for the VP slot from the first. Nothing we can, or really should, do about that, I guess, but it's still a little sad.

Secondly, in 2012 two people -- Gary Johnson and Jim Gray -- ran as a kind of package deal and were nominated with neither muss nor fuss.

It would be good for the LP if we went back to REAL vice-presidential contests.

Right now, to the best of my knowledge, there's only one declared candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2016 vice- presidential nomination [thanks to Thane Eichenauer for the typo catch]. His name is Mark G. Elworth and you can read about him at Independent Political Report.

No, I'm neither endorsing Mr. Elworth nor urging you to vote against him. If you're this far into this blog post, you know how to read and should be able to make up your own mind as to whether or not he's what you're looking for in a vice-presidential nominee.

But I do think the party deserves more than one candidate to choose from.

If you've ever said to yourself "I'd make a good candidate for vice-president" -- or if you're saying that to yourself right now -- why not throw your hat in the ring?

Update: Thanks to Andy Bakker for letting me know that Kerry Douglas McKennon is also a declared candidate for the VP nomination!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yes, I am asking the White House for Something


No, I don't expect to get it.

But if 149 more people sign my petition, it will be publicly displayed on the White House web site.

And if 100,000 people sign it, the White House will at least respond.

So pretty please, with sugar on top, sign my petition.

Thanks For Asking! -- 02/11/16


This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry (who, by the way, has two endorsements in hand from New Hampshire state legislators -- one current, one former) for his presidential campaign). Getcha some Darryl W. Perry here:




The usual rules apply:


  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post.
  • I'll answer in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Denial Ain't Just a River in New Hampshire


On Monday, Politico ran a story citing "inside sources" to the effect that Hillary Clinton (and husband/adviser Bill) "are so dissatisfied with their campaign's messaging and digital operations that they are considering staffing and strategy changes after what's expected to be a loss in Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire."

Almost immediately, Clinton "responded" to the "rumors": "I'm very confident in the people that I have. I'm very committed to them; they're committed to doing the best we can."

OK, let's cut the crap. The Clinton campaign planted the Politico story, then offered the "response" so that no matter how things come out in New Hampshire tonight, their bases are covered. They've got preemptive explanations for whatever they decide to do.

How do I know this? Because I've been watching the Clintons for a quarter of a century and that's how they always play the game. They're very calculating. Except on one specific issue ...

With not all the results in but it being fairly clear that Bernie Sanders put her down hard, here comes the New York Times:

Clinton advisers gritted their teeth Tuesday night as they dissected exit polls and other data to determine if Mrs. Clinton’s political vulnerabilities stemmed from the particular demographics of New Hampshire, which is overwhelmingly white, or if they reflected deeper unease. One troubling sign: Mr. Sanders was the choice, by a lopsided margin, among voters who said it was most important to have a candidate who is "honest and trustworthy."

For all their expertise in political gamesmanship, they seem to be truly honest in their complete inability to grasp the reality of the situation:

The majority of Americans, including the majority of Democrats, neither like nor trust Hillary Clinton.

The only things that keep her competitive at all are 1) the vestiges of the Hill and Bill machine that seized control of the DNC in the 1990s and still maintains a death grip on it, and 2) the persistent (even after the disproof of 2008) perception among many Democrats that she's "inevitable," and the accompanying conclusion they might as well go with the flow.

Yes, it really is just that simple.  And it always has been. No amount of tooth-gritting or data-dissection can change that, nor are those activities a prerequisite to understanding that.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Concerning Michael Bloomberg


He should really sit down with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to form a completely new political party. The only real issue seems to be whether to call it the Narcissistic Solipsists' Party or the Solipsistic Narcissists' Party.

Sociopaths United would work too, I guess, but would not sufficiently differentiate it from the two existing major parties.

Poll Position


On pretty much a daily basis, I see Facebook posts urging me to "vote" in "polls" regarding the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination. And every week or two, I'll see emails from one or more presidential nomination campaigns touting their performance in these "polls."

They're not real "polls," people.

A brief etymological digression on the word "poll," per Oxford Dictionaries:

Middle English (in the sense 'head'): perhaps of Low German origin. The original sense was 'head,' and hence 'an individual person among a number,' from which developed the sense 'number of people ascertained by counting of heads' and then 'counting of heads or of votes' (17th cent).

The concept of "one person, one vote" is pretty explicit in that etymology and in our modern understanding of what a "poll" is about. And when it comes to what a poll is for, another important element is that the people being polled are plausibly the same people who will actually make the decision in question. That's why telephone polling for political campaigns looks for "likely [insert party here] voters," not just any old respondent.

And those are the two major problems with the Internet "polls" I'm referring to. They're trivial to stuff using e.g. web proxies and so forth, or for a campaign to flash-mob with an alert to people who like the candidate but will not be casting a real vote in the real relevant election.

They are, in other words, un-scientific and pretty much meaningless.

They're also sad, because between 2004 to 2008 the Libertarian Party actually began developing a real organic capacity for conducting and using real scientific polling.

In 2004, Libertarian presidential nominee Michael Badnarik's campaign commissioned several (IIRC, the number was five) polls from a reputable company (Rasmussen) for the general election cycle.

After 2004, Stephen Gordon (with whom I worked on Aaron Russo's pre-nomination campaign and Badnarik's general election campaign) ran a polling operation leading up to 2008 in which actual previous and likely national convention delegates were contacted -- one person, one vote, with an attempt to identify likely delegates -- and polled on their preferences.

And then that growing organic polling capacity just ... disappeared.

In the first century AD, Hero of Alexandria built a steam engine. It was apparently briefly a sensation in the Roman/Egyptian royal courts.

Then the steam engine just ... disappeared, for about 1600 years, before re-appearing as a world-changing thing.

I hope it's not that long before Libertarians return to a serious interest in polling.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 65: Anybody But Johnson, and Yes, That Means McAfee


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:




In this week's episode:


  • Thanks for Asking! (The British are coming and they don't give a damn about American football);
  • Libertarian Party 2016 presidential nomination analyisis -- John McAfee.

Show links:

Update note: Sorry about the crossfade between segments, folks -- not sure if I screwed something up or if the app I use for connecting segments went nuts.

If John McAfee Campaigns ...


... hard, every day, as loudly as possible, like he does from about the 30-minute mark to about the 35-minute mark here ...


... I'd put his chances of getting the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination at about 70%.

Can he close the deal?

Well, he's moving fast in that direction. The latest version of his web site's "issues" page is missing a couple of questionable elements (questionable from a libertarian vantage point, I mean) from the previous platform. My impression from the start was that those elements, which seemed out of sync with his long record of public advocacy, were "Cyber Party" boilerplate. We're starting to see something that comes off a lot more like The Real McAfee of yesteryear.

Developing ...

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Latest on my Biden Bet


"Joe Biden to win the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination" is currently trading at six cents per share on PredictIt, versus the five cents per share I paid for the 100 shares I hold. So in theory I could clear out now and make a whole dollar (in theory because there are fees deducted from PredictIt withdrawals).

I've got a sell offer out there of 50 cents a share, firm. But I'm thinking about pulling that offer and waiting to cash out at the full dollar per share value when he's nominated.

Why am I bullish on the shares' prospects today? See  this Washington Post op-ed and this Reuters story.

The Case for Rubio


Mickey Kaus makes it in spades:

Rubio's not going to drive Jeff Sessions from the capital. But you can count on the combination of President Rubio and Speaker Ryan to quickly pass an amnesty bill that (like the Gang of 8) contains only the most chimerical guarantees of new enforcement measures. You can also expect them to promote and defend trade, including "trade in services" that involves foreign workers performing those services on American soil."

Of course, Kaus considers that an attack on Rubio, not a plug for Rubio.

And of course I've never voted for a Republican for president, don't intend to ever vote for a Republican for president, and wouldn't rank Rubio very highly if I did consider voting for a Republican for president.

But damn, look at Kaus's argument: "This guy is the only even remotely likely nominee of either party who's in the same neighborhood as the ballpark of a sane, reasonable, pro-freedom border/immigration policy that's in any way even the tiniest bit consistent with American values. He must be stopped!"

Kind of sums up how FUBAR this whole election cycle is, doesn't it?

Friday, February 05, 2016

Oh, Another Thing ...


I meant to ask you to do this when I was recounting the current status of the Garrison Center but forgot.

Would you be interested in helping the Center out at no financial cost and very little cost in time to yourself?

It's really simple. Here are two ways.

STEP ONE: Go visit the Center and read the stuff there.

STEP TWO: See something you like? Use the "share" buttons on the articles to show them to your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. The more readers we have, the more supporters we'll have. Maybe you can't afford to financially support our work, but you probably know someone who can. Tell them about us!

STEP THREE: At the bottom of each op-ed (updated as frequently as I get around to it), you'll find a list of links to the pieces as they appear at other publications. Click on some of those links. Comment on and/or share the articles from their versions at those other publications. You don't have to get crazy about it. A little dab'll do. But newspaper editors notice which content gets read, commented on and shared, and that helps them to decide what to run more of.

Thanks in advance.

Travel Plans. Well, Not Exactly Plans.


Since moving from St. Louis, Missouri to Gainesville, Florida a little more than three years ago, I haven't traveled further than about 50 miles from Gainesville. That's going to change this year. How much? That kind of depends.

JOURNEY #1, FIRM
2016 LIBERTARIAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
ORLANDO, FLORIDA
MAY 27-30

This one, I'm going to. I've already purchased my convention package. If necessary, I'll walk the 150 miles or so. I had planned to go by bicycle, but that's looking pretty dicey. My plans to get in shape for a ride like that haven't panned out. So I discuss other travel options below.

Delegate status:

I have yet to secure a position as a delegate to the convention. My intention at this time is NOT to stand for selection as a Florida delegate. Why? Well, I'm fairly new to the state, and to the state's Libertarian Party. Since the convention is right here, I expect that lots of Florida Libertarians who've never been able to travel to a distant location for a national convention before would like to be delegates, so why would I stand in their way?

I've previously attended five national conventions. At four of them (Anaheim in 2000, Indianapolis in 2002, Atlanta in 2004 and Denver in 2008) I served as a delegate from Missouri, where I lived. At the fifth (2010 in St. Louis), I served as a delegate "from" Washington so that a Missourian who had never had the opportunity before could be a Missouri delegate.

So far I've contacted party members from two state parties about being a delegate "from" their state. Haven't heard back yet. If YOUR state expects to not fill its national delegation with natives, and accepts out-of-state Libertarians as delegates, and might be interested in having me as one of those delegates, please contact me so we can talk it over. My votes as a delegate are not "for sale," but I'm willing to talk with you about what you can expect from me. I wouldn't want you to make me a delegate and THEN find out that I support or oppose different things than your state LP does.

Expense considerations: I can go Greyhound for about $30 round trip, and expect that I'll probably do so at least one way. If necessary, I'll find some other povertarians and kick in $20 or whatever to crash on someone's hotel room floor.

BUT: My wife and daughter want to be in Orlando that weekend too. My daughter plans to attend MegaCon (a science fiction, comic, etc. convention), which just happens to be that same weekend and within a few hundred feet of the LP convention. Tamara was hoping to spend some time around the LP convention meeting old friends anyway, so semi-chaperoning the 17-year-old is an additional excuse. Of course, it also means some gas for the car, and actually shelling out for two or three nights of hotel accommodation. So call it $300 more that I need to come up with somewhere to do this thing up right.

Anyone interested in sponsoring an extra series of podcasts, or having me file blog posts from the floor for your web site, or something like that?

JOURNEY #2, ONLY JUST NOW CONSIDERING
2016 LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF FLORIDA CONVENTION
APRIL 8-10
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

I hadn't been planning to attend the state convention, but I'd kind of like to. I'm wanting to get more active in the LP at the state and local level again. My scientific wild-ass guess, though, is that I need to come up with at least $300 to do so. That's about $65 round-trip for transportation (Greyhound), $100 (maybe more, depending on whether or not I get in by the "early bird" deadline) for convention registraion (which includes some meals, I think), and money to offer people for crash space (I'll be going alone and don't use credit cards, so I can't rent a hotel room of my own anyway).

Is anyone interested in sponsoring me on this? Once again, my votes on issues are not for sale, although we could certainly discuss the issues and where I stand on them. Maybe you're looking for non-vote representation for a candidate, cause or organization? Or would like to advertise your product on a series of blog posts and/or podcasts from the events?

JOURNEY #3, GONNA HAPPEN BUT HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT HOW YET
VISITING MOM AND DAD
DATE TBA
MARSHFIELD, MISSOURI

My parents are 82 years old and I haven't seen them in more than three years. Additionally, they are preparing to sell their home and move into a more "assistive" environment this year, and would specifically like me to come up and help with some of that. So it's definitely time. To put it bluntly, I do not want my next visit with them to be for a funeral or a sit-in next to a hospital bed.

Ideally we would make a family trip up there, but that's just not financially feasible. Driving with four people, a thousand miles each way, would entail renting a car, spending a minimum of two, and probably more like five, nights in hotels, feeding four people on fast food or whatever, etc.

So I plan to travel alone.

Greyhound will run $200, give or take, round trip (there's a discount card I can buy for $59.95 a year that would save me $40 on the bus trip and also get me discounts on other stuff; I might go for that, especially since I've mentioned Greyhound on the other two trips as well).

I'm figuring a bare minimum of $100, realistically $200, for expenses along the way. The trip is more than a day in each direction, so that's a few meals. While I'm there, I'll crash at my parents' or brother's house, etc., but still probably spend a little money on sundries.

Call THAT trip $400. I still haven't figured out how to finance it. Anyone got a recommendation? I supppose that if there are any local libertarian groups who'd like speeches or anything along the way in cities where I have layovers, that could be arranged.

Garrison: Numbers and Sustainability


I just wrapped up counting the Garrison Center's pickups for January. Looks like 63 appearances of Garrison op-eds in "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political media for the month. Two and a tiny fraction pickups per day, seven days a week.

Pretty cool. If that average holds, 2016 will be a 750-plus pickup year (we had 545 in 2015 -- 49.5 per month, 1.65 per day, since we didn't crank up until the end of January).

Will that average hold, or even improve? I think there are good reasons to believe it will.

For one thing, I'm writing about politics and it's an election year. The demand side for libertarian polemic, especially if it's applied to electoral politics, seems solid.

Secondly, I'm seeing Garrison material in more newspapers. As best I can tell, Garrison content has now shown up in at least 38 states (the holdouts are Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington). Pretty much every week, I find a Garrison pickup in a newspaper that's never run one of our pieces before.

Thirdly, when I see a Garrison piece in a newspaper for the first time, it's more and more often the case that I'm not seeing Garrison material in that paper for the last time. At this point, a number of newspapers (and even some chains of newspapers) pick up Garrison content on some kind of regular basis. A few run everything or nearly everything we offer. Others take an article a week, or an article or two a month.

So things are looking good. Except, of course, for the financial sustainability angle.

My goal for the Garrison Center (in combination with the blog and podcast) is to knock down at least $250 a month. An angel donor offered to put that much up to get us started and has done so for a year now (the initial commitment was for six months and he extended). If I'm counting the months correctly, he's done now.

Other supporters (there's a link to the "wall of supporters" at the top of the blog for those who'd like to know who they are -- thank them by clicking on their links!) are making recurring donations totaling $50 a month.

Let's do some more math here.

Three columns a week, 52 weeks a year, comes to 156 columns, nearly all of them written by me (those I don't write, which last year was, I think, two or three, I pay other authors a little money to write).

In terms of word count, that's like writing an average-length western or mystery novel (62,400 words) each year. I'd say it's actually more difficult and time-consuming, since each piece has its own deadline and covers a different topic, rather than being one coherent story that I can write in spurts whenever the spirit moves.

Above and beyond the writing, there's the submission of each column to somewhere north of 1,000 publications, and the task of tracking which publications run which columns.

Garrison alone is not a full-time job. But it is a job.

And it's not a job I can afford to do (and then some) for $50 a month forever.

If you support this kind of libertarian outreach, please support this kind of libertarian outreach. The Patreon, PayPal and cryptocurrency links are up at the top of the sidebar.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Report of Libertarian Populism's Death was an Exaggeration


From the National Policy Institute's Radix Journal -- a "white nationalist" rag -- comes the cry: "The End of Rand Paul ... and Libertarian Populism." Yeah, I know, you need a long shower after visiting a place like that. But it's also informative and useful to the extent that it does at least semi-honestly assess the death knell of Peckerwood Populism as a faux-libertarian phenomenon.

Short version, for those who don't want the shower: The days of America's racist right using libertarianism as a beard are drawing to an end. They've found new friends.

Good riddance.

The problem with the piece, of course, is that it doesn't acknowledge the faux part. It pretends that the Rothbard/Rockwell/Paul "paleo strategy" was (and is) actually libertarian and that that was its failure.

Well, no. The paleo strategy was the idea that the libertarian movement could do a smash-and-grab on the electoral benefits of Nixon's "southern strategy" and, before that, the Dixiecrat phenomenon. They'd ride their old nags (first Pat Buchanan, then Ron Paul) into a moral cesspool and come out the other side with a pile of money and on the road to political victory, without getting any slime on their libertarian boots.

Instead the muck sucked those libertarian boots right off them ... and then they got soaked head to toe in the nasty stuff they were messing around in ... and then it turned out that the other side of the cesspool was a strategic cul-de-sac, not a freeway to libertopia. Apparently the money was OK, though. At least for awhile. Lew is still trying to milk it, but based on the degeneration of his site -- since Ron Paul moved on to greener pastures it's become an affiliate link mill populated mostly with embarrassingly bad free content copied and pasted from other sites -- the money's either going or gone as well.

The "paleo strategy" was not libertarian. Nor was it especially populist, either, unless you define the queer, the swarthy, the female and those from the opposite side of the prevailing street gang's imaginary lines as the power elites and southern white males whose mothers never taught them any manners as the righteous oppressed masses.

Peckerwood Populism is dead, maybe, hopefully. Libertarian Populism's day in the sun is yet to come.

A Tale of Two Tortfeasors


Another hypothetical, apropos of this:

A federal jury awarded $23.1 million on Wednesday to a 22-year-old black man who was unarmed when he was shot and paralyzed by a sheriff's deputy ....

Lin, who had stopped Stephens for riding his bicycle into traffic, testified that he shot Stephens four times because he reached for his waistband with his left hand and then flashed a dark object that he thought was a small handgun. Stephens testified that he was raising his hands when Lin opened fire for no reason. Video from the dashboard camera in Lin's patrol car showed Stephens' left hand was empty and a cellphone was in his right hand.

...

The jury apparently rejected Lin's claim that he had made an "objectively reasonable mistake" when he shot Stephens. ...

The sheriff's office released a statement later Wednesday night calling the verdict both shocking and disappointing.

"Based upon Mr. Stephens' actions, Sgt. Lin reasonably mistook a cell phone that Mr. Stephens held in his hand for a firearm, and fearing for his life, he shot Mr. Stephens," the statement said.

Let me head off a couple of the usual reader objections to all this: Yes, I know it sucks that the taxpayers, rather than the tortfeasor, are on the hook for damages. And yes, I'm aware that the amount of damages awarded above and beyond the actual costs of e.g. the victim's medical treatment and so forth is something it would be reasonable to argue about.

But, as usual, I'm going to head right into the part that I find interesting and worth thinking about, which is a hypothetical mirror image situation, and even one which gives the "objectively reasonable mistake" claim the benefit of doubt.

Suppose that instead of the cop (Lin) pursuing a suspect (Stephens) for a minor traffic violation, mistaking an empty hand for one with a gun in it, or a cell phone for a gun or whatever the heck happened there, and shooting Stephens, it had been the other way around?

Suppose that Stephens noticed he was being followed, saw something he thought was a gun in the hand of the person following him, and, fearing for his life, pulled a gun and shot Lin, paralyzing him and putting him a wheelchair for life.

In other words, the exact same situation in reverse, the only element not being changed is that Lin is still the one who wears a funny costume, carries a shiny badge and collects a government paycheck, while Stephens is still just a mere mundane.

Would the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office be issuing a statement in support of non-cop Stephens and decrying the settlement because, after all, Stephens "reasonably mistook" deputy Lin for an assailant and feared for his life?

If you think that's what would happen, please contact me about some money I would like to share with you, after you help me get it out of my father's bank account (he was a well-known general and politician in Nigeria, see?).

What would actually happen, if Stephens survived a subsequent manhunt/arrest show, is that he would end up in prison for life (Lin's superiors "investigated" and "cleared" him of criminal wrongdoing -- then promoted him) and that the sheriff's department would spend the next few decades howling for his blood when and if the subject of parole came up, and that the department would enthusiastically back both seizure of Stephens's assets for compensation and the largest taxpayer-funded settlement for Lin that could conceivably be awarded.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Speaking of the Podcast


At present, The KN@PP Stir Podcast comes in ten app/site/feed flavors. The native Soundcloud upload, of course, plus:


Coming next, Google Play. Yes, for once I am on top of things. Google is getting ready to integrate podcasts into their Google Play Music hangamajigger, but hasn't done it yet (except apparently for a few listeners as part of a beta outing). Nonetheless, I put the Stir through their "podcast portal" submission process, and just got an email:

Your podcast The KN@PP Stir Podcast has been reviewed and approved for publication on Google Play Music. You will be notified when your podcast is available to listeners in Google Play Music.

So hey, I'm getting better at this. Took more than a year to get off my duff and manage inclusion in iTunes, but Google Play I took care of within 24 hours of hearing about it. Hooray for me!

Thanks For Asking! -- 02/03/16


This week's AMA thread and the podcasts to follow are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


What you do: Ask me anything (anything) in the comment thread below this post.

What I do: Answer you in the comment thread, or on this weekend's podcast, or both.


Thoughts on "Political Correctness"


Yes, the term "political correctness" originated on the state left -- but it originated as a slam. Non-Stalinist socialists used it to disparagingly describe Stalinist communists who changed their stated views to conform to whatever line was prescribed in Moscow.

The obvious example of "politically correct" back then would have been the Stalinist who agitated against US intervention in World War II while Germany and Russia were having their "non-aggression pact" honeymoon in Poland, then turned on a dime the day after Hitler launched his attack on the Soviet Union and started demanding that same US intervention he'd complained about earlier.

Even as late as the 1970s, it remained a sort of inside joke on the state left, basically used to mock people who thought that their organizations' political lines should determine their thoughts rather than the other way around.

But there existed a fatal crack in state-leftist political thought that made the term ripe for an exploitative right-wing backlash. That crack was the increasing adoption of post-modern "critical theory" thinking, an abscess of irrationality that has, over the last 50 years or so, infected and discredited large segments of the left (including, lately and much to my dismay, the libertarian left) such that, not unlike Orwell's Newspeak creators or the anonymous Bush 43 aide in Ron Suskind's telling, its adherents believe they can (and should) control reality  by seizing control of narrative (which is to say, seizing control of speech). Which leads us to today's authoritarian idiocy like claims of "microaggression," demands for "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces," and attempts to shut down competing views via "no platform" demands instead of engaging and defeating those competing views in debate.

Those implications were still in their infancy when the right enthusiastically counter-adopted the term "political correctness" to describe any non-right-wing political view, and evolving to now when it's used to dismiss -- without the necessity of actually making a sound argument -- any criticism of any right-wing person's political views.

So here we are at the current state of both evolutions.

Although the non-libertarian left eschews use of the term "political correctness" these days, the pomo/CT line has obviously emerged triumphant (at least on college campuses and among the "youth" wing). If you disagree with a leftist claim or demand, you're not just incorrect and your point of view is not just needful of logical countering -- you're evil and your point of view constitutes aggression. It is therefore justifiable self-defense to violently suppress expression of that point of view, or even objective coverage of your own point of view that might be embarrassing ("I need some muscle over here").

On the right, use of "political correctness" has evolved from a dismissive insult versus leftists to a sort of "get out of opprobrium/ridicule free" card for rightists like Donald Trump  ("Every once in a while, I like to be politically incorrect") and Hans-Hermann Hoppe (he "pays no mind to political correctness," see?).

Both versions/approaches serve the same purpose. That purpose is to short-circuit substantive discussion so that one's claims can be put over without the need to actually justify them. Although to give the right its due, they haven't pushed it in the direction of direct forcible censorship in quite the same way the state left has.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Crowdsourcing a Conundrum


I have The Garrison Center set up to run through CloudFlare, "a U.S. company that provides a content delivery network and distributed domain name server services, sitting between the visitor and the CloudFlare user's hosting provider, acting as a reverse proxy for websites." Simple version: Cloudflare serves up cached versions of the site's content so that when/if traffic is heavy my web host doesn't get pissy with me over heavy CPU/mysql usage (or just lay down and die).

For some time now, I've been having recurring incidents that obviously come under the broad heading of "attack," or at least "mischief." The last 24 hours are illustrative. Here's a composite screen shot of the two stats that concern me:



Now, the Garrison Center's content is translated into Russian and Lithuanian on-site (I use a Wordpress plugin called Transposh to create translations into various languages), but since most of the content relates to American politics, I'm skeptical of the notion that 72.5% of the real traffic would come from those two countries.

And it seems like the vast bulk of hits to the site (66.8%) are to URLs/content that don't exist -- that's the "empty" portion in the graph to the right (the little tiny wedges are image types, javascript, etc.; the green portion is HTML, i.e. the actual post/page text).

Obviously something here is not according to Hoyle. Exactly what the point of it is would be interesting, but of greater interest to me is what can I do about it other than, for example, just blocking visitors from certain countries from accessing the site (which I don't really want to do, and which wouldn't stop them if they were determined anyway)?

The Incredible Evitable Hillary


I'm writing this a little after midnight (eastern time). At the moment, with 95% of Iowa caucus precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in "delegate equivalents" by 667 to 664. It could go either way, but it isn't going to go either way by much.

Clinton's 2016 campaign, like her 2008 campaign, has so far been largely premised on her perceived "inevitability."

Rhetorical question for Democrats: WTF? Are you people stupid or something?

This is the second presidential nomination campaign in which she's had her ass handed to her in Iowa -- and make no mistake, that's what it amounts to when the "inevitable" former First Lady, former US Senator, former US Secretary of State ends up in a statistical tie with Bernie Frickin' Sanders in for the love of Pete, Iowa.

She's not inevitable for the nomination, and even if she ekes that out I can't think of a weaker Democratic nominee for the general election who isn't currently constrained to campaigning from a prison cell or hospice bed.

You people have really got your ass in a crack here, and I'm not really seeing a way out of it for you. Nor do I sympathize, except to the extent that I strongly prefer gridlock -- one party controlling the White House and the other controlling at least one house of Congress. You knotheads seem intent on handing the whole circus over to the GOP when this presidential election should have been a Democratic walk in the park.

Monday, February 01, 2016

A Hypothetical


October, 2016: US Supreme Court associate justice Anthony Kennedy collapses and dies of a heart attack, on the day after justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announces her decision to retire immediately. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly tells US president Barack Obama not to bother announcing nominees to the two positions, as he will delay any confirmation hearings/votes until after the January, 2017 inauguration of the next president.

November 8, 2016: US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is elected to serve as the 45th president of the United States. In his victory speech, he repeats a promise he's made over the course of his campaign: He intends to nominate "conservative" Supreme Court justices who will overturn precedents on abortion (Roe v. Wade) and same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

November 15, 2016: Governors Jerry Brown (D-CA), Kate Brown (D-OR) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) appear at a press conference with the Democratic leaders of their state legislatures and announce their intention to bring ordinances of secession to a vote in their respective states. Said ordinances, if passed, will constitute the three states as the new, independent nation of Pacifica, with the three governors serving as, respectively, interim president, vice president and secretary of state pending elections in November of 2017. Pacifica's Constitution will, from the start, explicitly protect abortion and same-sex marriage (as well as possibly suppressing gun rights and other Democratic Party type things).

December 20, 2016: On the day after the Electoral College confirms Cruz as president-elect, the three state legislatures pass the ordinances of secession, to take effect on January 1, 2017.

December 21, 2016: Jay Inslee, the secretary-of-state-to-be of the new-nation-to-be, arrives in Washington to present US president Barack Obama and US president-elect Ted Cruz with an offer of military port/basing rights (naval ports remain US property, land bases have a long time-line for relocation) and zero trade barriers between the two nations in return for a peaceful separation and recognition of Pacifica.

Should Obama and/or Cruz, or perhaps the outgoing/incoming US secretaries of state, meet with Inslee or beg off on the claim that he lacks standing as his alleged country does not and cannot legally exist?

Should Obama take any executive action with respect to the Pacifica secession, or should he leave it to Cruz to handle (as James Buchanan did with/to the Confederacy and Abraham Lincoln)?

Should Cruz accept the secession and the proposed terms of relationship?

If not, should he move immediately to military/police action -- blockade, invasion, attempts to arrest the ringleaders, etc. -- to suppress it, or do like Lincoln and play things down while trying to bluff Pacifica into firing the first shot?

My Iowa Caucus Predictions


I should have trotted these out earlier, if for no other reason than that if I'm right, being right well ahead of things burnishes my predictive credentials more than being right at the last minute. But I only just now got around to it. So, I predict:

On the Republican side:
  • Ted Cruz comes in first, ahead of Donald Trump by a nose;
  • Rand Paul tops 10%;
  • Within 72 hours, Mike Huckabee drops out and starts campaigning for Trump.
On the Democratic side:
  • Bernie Sanders comes in first, beating Hillary Clinton by at least 5%; and
  • "Uncommitted" and/or Joe Biden (if that's allowed as a choice -- I don't know the rules regarding "draft" candidates who have not declared) tops 10%.

Still Puzzling Out the Chromebox vs. Macbook Pro Conundrum


The situation:

I've been thinking about (and occasionally mentioning) abandoning the Googleverse since last March. A recent mention of the steps I've taken toward doing so brought about a "Thanks For Asking!" question last week and a bit of an answer on last night's podcast.

A situation report and a request for opinions:

On the one hand, I think there are various good reasons for abandoning ChromeOS, the Chrome browser, Gmail, Blogger, etc. Apart from the snit linked in the first sentence, it mostly comes down to the fact that Google packages the user as product and that doing so entails various losses of privacy, of both the outright (Google scans everything I do when logged in to their services so that they can sell me as a viewer to advertisers) and incidental (to really use a Chromebox/Chromebook very effectively I have to be logged in to Google's services -- it's possible to not be, but a pain in the keister) varieties.

On the other hand, switching to the Macbook Pro I got "for Christmas" also entails certain sacrifices.

My Chromebox uses a lot less power than the Mac, and the differential seems to have been reflected in a January electric bill that I thought was pretty ugly. Oddly, one of the reasons I fell back in love with Mac a few years ago was that it seemed to save me electricity versus previous Windoze and Linux machines. But that was because I was going from "tower" style machines to a Mac Mini. The Chromebox is even easier on the kilowatt hours than the Mini. The Macbook doesn't match the Mini on that front.

The Chromebox also powers two little flat screen monitors direct from its built-in ports, where to get that functionality from the Macbook will require an expenditure in the $75-$100 range for an "MST hub." In fact, to really get the setup I'd like for the Mac (MST hub plus cradle or "docking station"), I'm guessing more in the $200-$250 range. Right now I am using the laptop screen and one external monitor and ergonomically it's just unsatisfying (no matter how I arrange things, I have to do some physical leaning to read the Mac screen).

Then there's CPU temperature. I keep the bottom of the Mac nicely open to minimize overheating, but my little extension that starts a sound effect when the CPU approaches 100 degrees celsius goes off frequently when I have even a few browser tabs open, saying "cut back a little if you don't want to fry this machine."

And for all that, frankly I can't tell that the Macbook, even with a faster CPU and four times the RAM, really performs any better than the Chromebox. Sure, I can do things on it that I can't do on the Chromebox, but those things aren't really important when it comes to work. They boil down to being able to play Starcraft II (if I can stand listening to the "CPU is hot" noise, which goes off about every five seconds) and Java games at Pogo. Both of which tend to make me get less, not more, work done.

When it comes to services, I'm down with abandoning Gmail and am slowly moving my comms over to Unseen. Other Google services -- especially Blogger, where KN@PPSTER has lived for nearly 12 years, I'm less inclined to give up.

So anyway, after a month of this experiment, I'm strongly considering putting the Mac away and treating it as a backup machine (maybe as a travel machine, too, although I do have a Chromebook) in favor of my beloved little Asus Chromebox.

What do you guys think?

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