Monday, May 18, 2020

Why I'm Not Blogging Much


I don't know, really. The spirit just ain't been moving.

Part of it is being busy with silly internal Libertarian Party stuff, which mostly but not always manifests via Facebook.

For example, yesterday, the platform committee had an online meeting.

There was a motion (in effect, not in these words) for the committee to re-constitute itself as a party caucus for the purpose of promoting the committee chair's view on particular issues of internal party governance.

I objected that the motion was out of order (it was).

The chair ruled that it was in order (she was wrong).

I appealed the ruling of the chair.

The body (incorrectly) upheld the chair's ruling.

But then the body voted against the motion to abandon its job and re-launch itself as a party governance caucus.

So it's all good, I guess.

But yeah, that kind of thing has been using up a lot of my time.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Platform Committee -- and National Convention -- Update


Earlier today, the Libertarian National Committee voted to:


  1. Invoke the "impossibility" clause in its convention contract with the JW Marriott in Austin Texas; and
  2. Postpone the 2020 Libertarian National Convention to a place to be determined, and an opening date no later than July 15; and
  3. Adjourn their e-meeting to next Saturday to consider options for that move.
It is my opinion that the LNC had no authority to do (2) above, and that it is now operating outside the scope of its bylaws. Others disagree, but that IS my opinion.

It is my further opinion that a bylaws-compliant 2020 Libertarian National Convention could not plausibly take place in meatspace by July 15, or for that matter by the bylaws deadline of August 31, even if the LNC did have the authority to reschedule.

That leaves two options:

  1. Call the whole thing off and let the LNC nominate a presidential ticket (and itself serve for another two years apart from resignations or, in the case of regional reps, replacement by the state parties in their regions); or
  2. Hold some kind of "online convention."
In a previous post, I supported option (1) and explained why I think option (2) would be a train wreck.

I won't say I have changed my mind exactly, but I'm leaning more and more toward (2) on both practical grounds and for reasons of "legitimacy" considerations.

Since we are operating beyond the scope of the bylaws already,  I'm not that worried about bylaws considerations.

But I do think we should get a presidential ticket nominated ASAP -- around the time the original convention was scheduled to take place -- rather than continue to kick the can down the road pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely.

And I also think the party's members would be happier if they saw that nomination take place by delegate vote rather than by LNC "vacancy-filling."

Just to be clear, this is an advocacy AGAINST INTEREST:

If we have a "meatspace" convention, I plan to go, and although I am only a lowly alternate, I expect that attendance will be low enough that I will end up being seated as a full delegate.

If we have an "online" convention, there's no damn way I get a delegate seat.

Furthermore, an "online" convention is much less likely to get any platform work done. It will be removed from the agenda in favor of doing nominations/elections and getting things over with. I think the platform committee has done really good work, I am proud of my part in that work, and I would prefer to see that work considered by delegates in convention assembled.

But I don't think we should continue fucking around pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely to happen.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I'm Pretty Sure I've Pledged Before to Never Run for Vice-President Again ...


But I'm doing it anyway, for REASONS. Wouldn't be much of a politician if I didn't lie now and again, would I?

Some people announce their political candidacies with tweets, but I aspire to a higher standard of professionalism. I announced my candidacy for the Libertarian Party's 2020 vice-presidential nomination in a Facebook post that's too boring to even bother linking to.

So far the only campaign promise I have made is to demand a recount if nominated.

I have expressly REFUSED to promise not to use mescaline while on duty if nominated and elected.

My campaign platform is Guns and Dope Party Position Paper #23.

Guinness Book of World Records busk: So far as I know, I'm the first person to seek the vice-presidential nominations of three different political parties (exclusively, as opposed to fusion propositions) in three different election cycles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Folk Songs Evolve


In 1931, the Carter Family recorded "Can't Feel at Home":


Not finding any claim to the contrary on a quick search, I'm going to assume that this is one of A.P Carter's "found songs," a traditional hymn that was made famous by, but not written by, the Carters.

Close to a decade later, Woody Guthrie offered his take on the song, "Ain't Got No Home," on the Dust Bowl Ballads album:


It's been 80 years, so I'd say about time for an update! Same simple chord progression as its two predecessors. I might get around to recording it myself at some point, and if so I know the results will be as lo-fi as the preceding versions.

CAN'T LEAVE MY HOME
by Thomas L. Knapp
CC0 Public Domain Dedication, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be might good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern.

We've been ordered to stay in and to stop a-roamin' round
It's not like there's much open if we make it into town
Can't go to see a movie, a barber, or a whore,
No, we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

We've had to give up working except for the essential
Like busting up block parties or play-acting presidential
Turns out that unemployment is really quite a chore
But we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

When my hometown re-opens I'm heading for the bar
To suck down sudsy beverages and hear some folk guitar
The politicians say they saved our lives but I'm not sure
And I will not let them keep me in my home anymore

A Brief Platform Committee Update


Hey, everyone ...

I've lost track of what I've kept y'all informed of and what I haven't, BUT:


The big question at the moment is "will we even be having a convention this year, and if so will that convention take up platform committee proposals.

The Libertarian National Committee will meet on May 2nd to discuss options, which I'm given to believe include:

  1. Having the convention as scheduled, Memorial Day weekend, in Austin;
  2. Pushing the convention back to the 4th of July time frame, and possibly moving it (Vegas sounds like the strongest candidate for that option)
  3. Having a "virtual" convention of some kind; or
  4. Not having the convention at all -- the LNC picks a presidential ticket and its members serve until the 2022 convention (unless, as seems likely, some of them choose to resign and the body fills its own vacancies)
My preference is for #1; failing that, I support #4. We can talk about why in the comments if anyone is interested, but the short version is that #2 looks just as likely to get pranged as #1, and that an online convention with 1,046 delegates would be a technical nightmare, especially in the absence of bylaws written specifically to enable one. So my attitude is either "do it as planned if possible; otherwise, don't fuck around, just cancel."

A few days ago, my flight to Austin was canceled by the airline. It had already been bumped once and that bump would have caused me to miss the one physical meeting the platform committee had planned. If we do try to meet in Austin, I'll do my best to find a way there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Couple of Opinions About Movies


Opinion One: Movie theaters were dying before the COVID-19 panic, and they're probably dead now. I'm not happy about that, but I think it's true.

Opinion Two: Since Opinion One means streaming is going to be the new default release model, it's time to talk about prices. In my view, the highest reasonable price is $10 to rent a new release movie. I'm not saying that's what the market will settle on, just that I think it's what's reasonable.

Thus endeth the two opinions, but here's the TL:DR on my $10 price assertion:

The average price of a movie theater ticket as of mid-2019 was a little under $10.

The studio/theater split of ticket revenues is about 60/40.

I wasn't able to (easily) find a statistic on the average theater viewing group size, but I think two is a reasonable assumption. That is, there are some individuals who go to movies at a theater, and there are some families, school groups, etc., who go to movies at a theater, but on average, it's probably two people (married or dating couples, etc.) who go to see a movie together.

I also wasn't able to find any stats on the average streaming group size, but I'm going to assert that it's probably lower. Still lots of couples and a certain amount of family/friend-group streaming, but the the single-viewer component is probably higher.

So, if we want the studio to gross as much on a movie at home as it did at the theater, $12 sounds about right. That's the equivalent of two ticket sales.

BUT: There's probably a lot less overhead of various kinds with release-to-stream than with release-to-theater.

AND: If everything is direct to stream, there's a lot more competition. Instead of "there are 4/8/16 films playing here, which one do we want to watch?" it's "there are 50 new releases this week and the entire catalog of past releases to choose from, which one do we want to watch." And competition should drive prices down.

So I think $10 to rent a new release is about right.

What I've seen so far in the COVID-19 panic is studios renting new releases for $20 a pop when they normally sell for that three months after release. I don't think that's going to fly in the market for very long. People will just wait and spend the same $20 for a keeper instead of a loaner.

Friday, April 10, 2020

About That There Acumen for Predictions ...


Me on March 20th: "The number of dead [in the US from COVID-19] will be closer to 200 than to 200,000." I was responding to a guy who was predicting a minimum of 200,000 and possibly as many as 2 million. I think the discussion is pretty interesting.

In order for me to be correct, there would have to be fewer than 100,100 COVID-19 deaths.

Now, there's one easy way for me to be wrong on this, and that way is by assuming that the prediction is not limited in time. Which you're free to do, because I was not careful in stating the claim. And my guess is that COVID-19 will be killing people for years to come and eventually pass the 200k mark in the US.

In MOST places where I've discussed COVID-19 fatalities in the US, I have been more specific, and time-limited my predictions to the period between January 21, 2020 (the official "first case" finding) and December 31, 2020.

Anyway, the DC set have been substantially walking back their own predictions, while trying to take credit for the numbers being lower than their predictions. And as of today, the word is "Trump says US headed to death toll 'substantially below' 100k."

Note: I did make an early bet that the US death toll in that time frame would be less than 10k. I was obviously wrong on that one.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

As Surely as the Sun Rises in the East ...


... the politicians and bureaucrats who neither anticipated nor responded in a non-brain-damaged way to the COVID-19 pandemic will afterward congratulate themselves on how essential they are and assure us that given more money and power, they won't blow it nearly as badly next time.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Geez, What a Bunch of Whiners


All kinds of "essential" workers -- everyone from medical personnel to truck drivers to grocery store cashiers to fast food cooks -- are going to work every day while the politicians and media scream at them that THEY'RE ALL GONNA DIE unless the politicians "do something."

But when it comes to doing something -- something abysmally stupid, but something, namely the biggest single welfare handout in human history -- those same politicians consider it some kind of rude imposition to insist that they follow their own quorum rules, and those same media are calling Thomas Massie's stated intention to require them to do so (by forcing a roll call vote instead of a voice vote) a "threat."

Yo, congresscritters:

You claim this is an emergency of epic proportions that only you in your wisdom and holiness can address. So why aren't you already in Washington addressing it, then?

Are you not as "essential" as all those other people who are doing their fucking jobs?*

If you don't want to be members of Congress anymore, stop whining and resign. That way your states' governors can appoint replacements who may not be any better but who are at least won't throw a hissy fit about having to, you know, show up for work.

*:



Monday, March 23, 2020

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/23/20


It's been longer than it should have been. Hi-o Silver, away.


Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, in a stand-alone post, or in some other format. If COVID-19 doesn't get me first, that is.

Why I'm Not Blogging THAT Much This Month


COVID-19.

No, not because I have it. I don't know if I have it or not, or if I've already had it. Since 80% of cases are asymptomatic and 15% are sub-clinical (i.e. not bad enough that a normal person would go to the doctor over it), I don't really have any way of knowing absent a test that's not easily available to me and that I'm not particularly interested in taking.

COVID-19 is responsible due to the fact that it's crowded almost everything else out of the news and just isn't that interesting for this format.

It's OK for instant-outraged-response social media talk.

If I'm going to keep writing three op-eds a week, they're mostly going to be that for a little while since there's not much else on the news radar.

But here, it would mostly just be boring filler. And I try to avoid that.

The Politicians Keep Saying We Need to Move Faster Than Italy Did. I Agree.


Mussolini e Petacci a Piazzale Loreto, 1945
Benito Mussolini and friends

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hmm -- Apparently GEICO Got the Results of My Brother's Ancestry.com Test ...


... which says we have some Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in our family tree.

Email subject line:

((Kubby.communications)): Check to see if you qualify for better car insurance

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

John Yoo, as Usual, is Wrong


Yoo at National Review:

Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by U.S., Afghan, and Taliban troops in Afghanistan, as well as by CIA black sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. While the prosecution will likely fail, it represents another effort by a global elite -- consisting of European governments, international organizations, and their supporting interest groups, academics, and activists -- to threaten American sovereignty.

Exactly backward.

The decision by a government to ratify (or not ratify) the Rome Statute and put its territory and its people under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (or not do so) is an exercise of "national sovereignty."

For the US to send personnel into Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, or Romania, and to deny that those countries' rules, including ICC jurisdiction, apply to those personnel, is a denial of those countries' "national sovereignties."

The ICC has no jurisdiction over US personnel in the US. If it claims such jurisdiction absent US ratification of the Rome Statute, then there will be a "US national sovereignty" issue. Investigating the actions of US actors in ICC jurisdictions is no more at threat to "US national sovereignty" than is an Egyptian cop arresting an American tourist for drunk and disorderly at the Great Pyramid.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Little More Perspective


As of today, CDC reports that the COVID-19 virus has killed 68 Americans (since January 21 when a case was first noticed in the US).

Also according to CDC, that's fewer Americans than heart disease and cancer each kill every hour of every day all year long.

Funny, thing though: I never see news stories about people rushing the stores to empty the shelves of Metamucil and nicotine patches.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Little Perspective


As I write this, Bing's "COVID-19 Tracker" says there are 3,324 total confirmed cases in the United States.

The population of the United States is 327.17 million.

So the confirmed total case count in the US comes to just a smidgen more than one one thousandth of one percent.

Yes, the actual infection rate is certainly higher than the confirmed case rate.

But part of the reason for that is that there are a crap ton of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases that never get reported. The "not bad enough to bother seeing a doctor about and getting confirmed" rate may be as high as 80%.

The actual mortality rate is probably a full order of magnitude lower than the 2.x%-3.x% claim being thrown around.

As of Friday, there had been a total of 41 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the US according to CDC.

Influenza kills 60 people every day (more, actually -- 22,000 is the CDC's low-end estimate for deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season, and I'm pretending the season is a whole year long instead of just a few months long).

COVID-19 is nothing to sneeze at -- really, sneezing isn't one of the symptoms -- but it's nothing to panic about either.

Interesting


I'm cited right next to Alan Dershowitz in an Albany Law Review article. I'll have to remember that next time someone asks me what my qualification is to argue with Dershowitz's claims.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Non Sequitur


Someone told me today that the COVID-19 epidemic proves the US needs some form of universal socialized healthcare -- "Medicare For All," or single payer,  or whatever.

Hmm.

Q: In what countries is the outbreak seemingly doing the most damage?

A: China, Iran, and Italy.

Q: What kinds of healthcare systems do those countries have?

A: Highly socialized healthcare systems.

It seems to me that things would have to get a lot worse here than they are in China, Iran, and Italy before we could consider the outbreak to constitute evidence that the US needs to make its healthcare system even more like the healthcare systems of China, Iran, and Italy than it already is.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Online Convention? Not So Fast ...


Given the COVID-19 hysteria, and especially government moves to limit travel, ban large events, etc., I've heard a number of people suggest that instead of convening in Austin, Texas over Memorial Day weekend, the Libertarian Party should hold its 2020 national convention online.

I'm not against the idea of online conventions in general, or on principle. In fact, I organized and chaired the first (so far as I know) entirely online gavel-to-gavel national convention of a political party in history.

But let's compare that convention and a prospective online Libertarian National Convention.

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention ended up having 30 delegates. The Libertarian Party's national conventions have more than a thousand (and an equal number of alternates).

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention was conducted ... asynchronously ... via text posting and simple online polling. The Libertarian Party's national conventions, if held online, would more likely take place in real time with extensive use of live video conferencing and frequent, immediate voting.

The Boston Tea Party's original interim bylaws were written with online conventions in mind. The Libertarian Party's bylaws were written for, and have continuously evolved to facilitate, meatspace conventions, and its parliamentary authority, Robert's, is still pretty much stuck in the meatspace paradigm as well.

And even the tiny Boston Tea Party convention had credentialing/voting security problems. For example, we detected individuals creating multiple memberships from the same IP address and trying to cast multiple votes in polls.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is going to take quite a while to get right, and it's going to depend on meatspace conventions to pass the bylaws/rules changes required to get it right.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is also going to require careful consideration of what conferencing and voting software to use. LP committees currently use Zoom, which is proprietary and which might, just barely, be able to handle the number of participants in question. The open source offerings I've found so far don't come close to accommodating 1,000+ delegates, and open source software is preferable since you can't really trust code that can onlyy be examined by its seller.

Neither Zoom nor those open source offerings seem to be set up to facilitate secure identification/credentialing of delegates, or secure, verifiable voting. That's just not what they're FOR.

And the bylaws deadline for the convention is the end of August.

Without the bylaws provisions and technical infrastructure already in place, any attempt to move the convention online is almost certain to be a fiasco.

I suggest we muddle through this as best we can. Try to have the convention as planned; if it's just not physically possible, forgo a 2020 convention entirely, let the Libertarian National Committee fill the "vacancies" in the presidential slate, re-boot in 2022, and get to work on how to do online conventions and do them right.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Update -- My Libertarian National Convention Plans


Hey, everyone ...

I hope you've noticed that I haven't hit you up for as much help, or done so as often, this year as I did in 2018 vis a vis serving on the Libertarian Party's platform committee and attending its national convention.

That doesn't mean I don't want your help, it just means I've been economizing as best possible and haven't HAD to ask yet. Here's an update:

- I purchased the lowest level of convention package this year ($79).

- The platform committee voted NOT to have a physical meeting before the convention, which would have entailed ~$500 in travel and lodging costs. Pursuant to my pledge to do so, I donated $100 to the Libertarian Party in lieu of said costs.

- I just booked my flights. Sort of. The devil is in the details.

- THE DETAILS: So far, I've spent $90.35 for the bare-bones round-trip flying experience. Flying out of Orlando to Austin on JetBlue the evening of May 20th (the platform committee meeting meets the morning of the 21st as the convention opens), flying back on American the morning of May 26th (the convention ends on the 25th, but no telling how late). That was the combination of "best timing for the lowest price" that I found.

- THE DEVIL: Because I booked through a third party site (Priceline), the fare didn't include any carry-on or checked baggage other than a "personal item." You're supposed to add that via the airline after booking. And oh, how I have tried. Apparently I'm going to have to wait until 24 hours before each flight and add bags when "checking in" via phone. And if that doesn't work, they'll presumably rape me for extra "adding a bag at the airport" fees. IF adding bags at check-in works (or if either airline replies to my "WTF, little help here" messages, the baggage total should be about $70 (one checked bag each way; I probably need more than a carry-on, but I don't need both). I would have flown Allegiant -- avoiding this aggravation AND getting my bags for free as a "veterans' benefit" -- but their flight days from Tampa to Austin just didn't fit the schedule.

- Once I get to Austin, I'll be winging it on lodging. I've been donating $25 a month to the Povertarian Caucus so that I won't feel like I'm taking advantage of anyone if I crash in the caucus suite because I don't run into any other roommmate opportunities.

By my reckoning, all of the above comes in at well under $500. Of course, I expect $100 in Uber/Lyft costs, and I intend to eat while I'm in Austin, and I may be forgetting a thing or two.

I think the whole shebang is going to run $600-$700, $800 if I really treat myself luxuriously (I've always wondered how much hotel room service would charge to fill a bathtub with ice cream and hot fudge ...),  quite a bit of which has already been covered by a generous cryptocurrency donor and by my decision to stop smoking. But I do appreciate any help you might want to sent my way -- see the sidebar for support links!

I am Not an Investment Advisor and This is Not Investment Advice


But if I was an investment advisor, and if I was offering investment advice, my advice would be to buy stocks  (in a diversified way, e.g. index funds) right now while the general market is down and in panic.

Ain't rocket science:

If civilization collapses your cash isn't worth anything anyway, so why bother holding it tightly? (Yes, having some gold and silver put back is a good idea too).

If civilization doesn't collapse, the market will come back, and when it does most of those stocks will sell for more than they did a week ago and a damn sight more than they're selling for today.

I'm not a big investor myself, but I've deposited a few extra tens of dollars above and beyond the usual in a retirement investment account this week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Libertarian Party Platform Committee Electronic Meeting Tonight



More information on the agenda, and details on how to watch or listen to the meeting, here.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Notes to Ronan Farrow and Hachette Book Group


To Farrow: This is not the correct meaning of the expression "bury the Hachette," you back-stabbing sociopath.

To HBG: You're a book publisher. The employees who walked out to protest against you publishing a book ought to be sent off to find jobs they're better suited to, and you should publish the damn book.

One Way to Tell ...


... that something is almost certain to be among the dumbest things I've read this week is when a site that normally allows commenting decides to not allow comments on that particular thing.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

A Sixth Theory


"What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?" Elaine Godfrey asks at The Atlantic, before offering five different theories explained/supported by five different public figures.

Here's the one they left out:

6. The longer her campaign dragged on, the more apparent it became to everyone watching that everything Elizabeth Warren says or does is only and entirely for the benefit of Elizabeth Warren. Stories not being true, numbers not adding up, etc., don't matter as long as the lies advance Elizabeth Warren's  career or political aspirations or pad her checking account. At some point, enough voters caught on to her self-serving authoritarian dishonesty that they went looking for someone else -- at the very least a better liar -- to believe in.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Q: Who Won the Democratic Party's Super Tuesday Primaries?


A: Donald Trump.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Post-November-2020 To-Write-or-Build List


Declaration of Pan-Independence
Constitution (Global Transitional Administration/Global Basic Law)
Registry of Unanimous Consent Polities
Registry of Political Membership Bureaus
Registry of Arbitration and Mediation Providers

Anything I'm missing vis a vis the documentation framework for dissolution of the Westphalian Model in favor of de Puydt style panarchy?

Monday, March 02, 2020

In a Sane, but Polite, Society ...


People like Christian Klossner would be given a few days' notice to leave town, change their names, find productive employment, etc., before sanctions ascending over time from mere ostracism to serious and substantial bounties on their scalps started getting promulgated.

A very few days' notice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Quick Libertarian Platform Committee Update


The Libertarian Party's platform committee recently passed (by email ballot) this recommendation, which I supported but initially considered doomed to fail:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

My similar initial view is that the convention delegates are unlikely to pass the committee's recommendation. But I'm glad the LP is finally starting to wrestle with the notion of "intellectual property." We'll get to discuss it on the floor, assuming it's early enough in the committee's report for the delegates to actually get to (at present, the convention agenda only allows two hours for platform business, because non-business dog and pony shows take priority over the party's actual work with the convention committee).

The committee has its first electronic meeting tonight from 7pm-9pm Mountain Time (yes, you're all invited to watch if you're really that hard up for entertainment). The information, not all of which I understand:

https://zoom.us/j/307741855
Meeting ID: 307 741 855

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,307741855# US (New York)
+16699009128,,307741855# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 307 741 855

Hard to Believe ...


... how little I've blogged this month.

For that matter, I basically took a week off of doing anything but the absolute minimum.

Got a painful ear infection that made it difficult to concentrate (the antibiotics haven't finished it off yet, but they're working on it).

Also, I quit smoking at right about the same time (ten days ago).

I'm not sure what the ear infection / non-smoking ratio of grouchiness and complete exhaustion is, but I do think I'm starting to come out of it.

NB: I don't know if Chantix works for everyone, but it's working for me. Except for the vivid dreams part. I was hoping for vivid dreams, but if I'm having them I'm not remembering them. On the "suppresses nicotine cravings" end, it's great stuff. I used a patch for the first couple of days, and have had a nicotine lozenge every day or two, but 90%+ of the time, I don't even miss the cancer sticks.

Hopefully I'll be completely back in the saddle by the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Oren Cass Gets It


Via James Hohmann at WaPo:

"When you had a situation where the free market was delivering the social outcomes that conservatives most prized, libertarians and conservatives tended to agree,” [Cass] said. “What we've seen more recently is a growing understanding that the market does not necessarily in all cases deliver a set of social outcomes that conservatives prize.”

Or, to put it a different way, libertarianism and conservatism are not and never have been allies as such.

Libertarianism is a river that always flows in a particular direction (toward a future of freedom) on principle.

Conservatism is an improvised beaver dam of pragmatism built to block/contain that river.

Every so often, the dam breaks and conservatives yell "see, we're going in the same direction!" as they float down the river helplessly until they can get their acts together to start their blocking operation again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Fractured and divisive contest for the nomination"


That's WaPo for "Bernie's winning."

The results in Iowa and New Hampshire aren't that dissimilar from 2008 or 2004.

The difference is that in 2004 and 2008, only reasonably party-establishment-approved candidates were putting up the winning or near-winning numbers.

If the vote totals for Sanders and Buttigieg in New Hampshire were reversed, WaPo would be crowing about how Buttigieg is "uniting the party."

Brief Platform Committee Update


The Libertarian Party's platform committee has finished voting by email ballot and the following proposal has passed:

Amend Plank 3.4 as follows:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

The committee is currently voting on the following proposal, and it looks pretty good for passage:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

Looks like we've got a nicely radical committee this year! Of course, passage of these proposals is up to the larger body of delegates to the national convention, but we're certainly going to be giving them some things to discuss.

We STILL haven't decided on whether to have a meatspace meeting between now and national convention time (I'd like to get that settled one way or the other ASAP -- if the answer is "yes," air fare and lodging costs go up every day we delay setting a time/place).

In fact, we haven't even scheduled our first "e-meeting" yet.

My personal opinion is that almost all of our work could be done more efficiently by email, but I'm in the minority on that. Most people want at LEAST some Internet-based conferencing.

Monday, February 10, 2020

OK, Time for an Either an Oscar Consolidation or an Oscar Exclusion


Last night, Parasite became the first non-English-language film to win the "Best Picture" Academy Award.

It also won several other Oscars, including "Best International Feature Film," the award for "a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track." That Oscar used to be called "Best Foreign Language Film."

The awards should either be consolidated or exclude each other.

That is, now that it's been established that a foreign-language and/or foreign-produced film can win "Best Picture," the academy could get rid of the "Best International Feature Film" category as redundant.

Or, if Parasite is consider an outlier and it really isn't time to get rid of a special category for "foreign films," it could allow a film to be nominated for one or the other, but not both.

I haven't seen Parasite, so I don't know if it really was the best picture in either category. But if e.g. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood weren't eligible for both categories, Parasite shouldn't have been either.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Blog Bleg


I don't recall making any big changes to this blog lately, but all of a sudden it loads verrrrrrrrrrry slowly for me (in multiple browsers, on multiple OSes).

Anyone else having the same problem? Anyone have an idea as to why?

FreedomPop is Dead, Long Live Ting


A couple of years ago, we got Tamara signed up with FreedomPop, which seemed like a pretty good cell phone deal ($79 per year of phone/text/limited data, decent price on a refurbished Samsung S5 phone).

It turned out to be kinda crappy -- the "phone/text" part of the deal was actually VOIP, which used your data unless you were connected to Wi-Fi, etc. Tamara usually ended up spending another $10 a month on data because of that, and half the time the damn thing didn't seem to be able to find a tower or whatever.

A few months ago, we received notice that her service was being transferred from FreedomPop to a company called Ting (yes, that is a referral link, and if you're looking for inexpensive cell/data, I suggest you use it see below).

Now she's paying $10 a month plus tax ($11.74 total) for real cell phone/text and a gigabyte of data (she hasn't had to buy additional data yet). The service always seems to work and she's had no complaints.

Well, one complaint, but not with Ting -- her S5 took a dirt nap, and she has to get a new phone. She's getting a Motorola Moto G6 from Ting for a hundred bucks.

If you use that there referral link to go with Ting, you get $25 credit and she gets a referral spiff.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

I Can Name that GOP Impeachment "Trial" Tune in One Word


Führerprinzip.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Libertarian Party's Platform Committee is Voting ...


... by email ballot on its first recommendation, to amend platform plank 3.4 (Free Trade and Migration) as follows:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.


Current wording of the plank is in plain text. Words proposed for removal are in red with a strike-thru. There aren't any proposed additions or other modifications on this ballot.

Other, possibly repetitious, updates (aka things I don't remember if I mentioned before):


  • Caryn Ann Harlos was elected permanent chair of the committee by email ballot.
  • We're in the process of nominations for secretary.
  • We're still discussing whether to have a pre-convention meatspace meeting. Sentiment seems to be running against, with something like $1,300 pledged by committee members as donations to the LP if we don't have such  meeting. I'm in for $100 of that, as it would probably save me (and, therefore, those of you who support my work on this) at least $500.
You can follow the committee's email deliberations here.

Cross-Platform Coolness and Difficult Decisions


I'm still messing around trying to get Linux to support my preferred dual monitor setup.

In Linux Mint, switching from USB --> DVI to straight VGA gets that second monitor running, but it just mirrors the first one and the OS doesn't detect two monitors. That may be my fault: I screwed around with proprietary drivers and messed something up (Linux Mint keeps telling me that there's a problem, that hardware graphics handling has been turned off, to check the driver manager ... and the driver manager tells me there's no problem, round and round we go). So ...

... as I write this post, I'm burning an ISO of Kubuntu to a USB drive to see if that will work out better (or at least more easily).

But what I'm actually thinking about while that ISO burns (actually, it just got done), is a secondary consideration I had in getting a new machine.

The primary consideration was that a dual core processor and 4Gb of RAM was starting to feel insufficient based on a silly benchmark of mine: If the web-based game "Forge of Empires" strains my resources, time to upgrade. So I did, and going straight PC made more sense (both financially and in terms of CPU/RAM available) than sticking with the Chromebooks/Chromeboxes I've been using exclusively for eight years now.

The secondary consideration was "maybe I should seize the opportunity to get away from relying on Google."

When I became a ChromeOS fanboy, "cross-platform" seemed mostly notional, except maybe for Java apps.

But now, web-based apps make it all easy. And Google Chrome makes web-based apps easy.

To put it a different way, back in the old days if I switched platforms, I needed to choose, install, configure, and learn to properly use new text editors and such. Now I can use my preferred apps (in text editors, those would be Writebox and Caret) on any machine that runs Chrome or Chromium. The last few days, I've been doing that in Windows 10. Once I get Linux running, I can do it there, too.

Not having to change things up is easy!

But I kind of wanted to change things up. Dump Gmail. Dump Google Drive. Dump Chrome. Goodbye Google. Etc.

And I still may do that, if the utter convenience doesn't seduce me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

So the New Computer Arrived ...


... and I'm blogging atcha from it.

Unfortunately, I'm doing so on Windows 10. Linux Mint doesn't like my "run the second monitor via USB and a DVI adapter" setup. So I'm going to have to get a VGA cable, etc. and get that taken care of.

But a very nice machine!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Brief Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update


Election of the permanent committee chair (by email ballot) is ongoing.

So is discussion of whether to hold a physical meeting prior to the party's national convention in May.

Here's a publicly viewable archive of the committee's email discussions.

And here's an email I just sent pursuant to that discussion:


I've seen two main arguments offered for an in-person meeting.

The first is that more can get done in a shorter period of time because of time limits built into the agenda (and into venue reservation times, people's travel plans, etc.) and a hypothetical sense of urgency created by those time limits.

While e-meetings do lack the sense of urgency because no one is going to miss a plane and the venue isn't going to kick us out, they do have agenda-based time limit functions which the chair enforces unless the body chooses to extend time.

Email work has a hard time limit once email balloting begins, and both prior to and during the balloting, each member is free to spend as much or as little time as he or she wants considering or debating the proposal.

So I don't find that argument persuasive.

The second is a more motivational/personal kind of thing -- that in-person meetings are conducive to the members "gelling" as a working group, learning to work and play well together.

I DO find that argument persuasive as far as it goes, but I'd offer two counter-arguments to consider:

1) We are not a long-term body. About four months from now, we will cease to exist as a group. It's not like we have to get along for the next 20 years to get our job done. I'm as irascible as anyone "in this room," and I'm pretty sure that I can get through the next four months without killing any of my fellow committee members.I'm also pretty sure that any work-related conflicts are going to happen whether we have a physical meeting or not. The only difference there is that in email or e-meetings, any of you with a sudden and uncontrollable committee-work-related urge to throw a cup of hot Starbucks at someone or something won't be able to throw it at ME.

2) While I do love you all, even the ones I don't know well yet, a physical meeting entails considerable expense, including but not limited to possible venue rental, document printing, etc. (does LPHQ cover that?), and probably at LEAST several hundred dollars in personal travel/lodging/food spending, not to mention time wasted getting from Point A to Point B and back, by most or all members of the committee. I knew that such an expense was a possibility when I applied for the committee. I managed that expense last time, and if necessary I'll do it this time. But as a matter of costs versus benefits, I just don't consider it a wise use of either party or individual resources.

So, Who Do I Call to Arrange My Surrender?


I encourage anyone and everyone who wants to come to the United States in search of work and/or safety to do so, and to stay in/reside here for however long they might damn well please, whether the US government says they can or not.

According to 8 U.S. Code § 1324, saying the above puts me on the hook for five years in prison.

Actually, ten years, because part of my purpose for offering such encouragement is "commercial advantage or private financial gain" -- immigration improves the economy in general, and thus supports my own prosperity.

In theory, I could even be imprisoned for life or executed if a death is somehow linked to my encouragement of immigration. For example, if an ICE/Border Patrol gang member murders an immigrant who was encouraged by me to come here, or if one of the ICE/Border Patrol thugs is killed in self-defense by one of his or her victims.

The Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals rightly struck down the "encouragement" provision on First Amendment grounds, but I live outside the Ninth Circuit, and the Trump regime is appealing that correct ruling to the US Supreme Court anyway.

I'm far from confident that SCOTUS will uphold the First Amendment -- let alone Article I, Section 9, Article V, and the Tenth Amendment, which would make the case moot since they combine to forbid federal regulation of immigration -- so I may be looking at some hard time here.

No problem, but can we do this arrest thing in an orderly manner, sans snipers, helicopters, dogs, etc.? I'll peacefully bring myself to any reasonably convenient surrender point on demand and save y'all the trip.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders, Wrong and Right


Wrong: "Nobody likes him."

Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 23 of 57 Democratic presidential primaries, knocking down 43.1% of the total national Democratic primary vote, in 2016. Apparently some people like him.


Right: "He was a career politician."

He's spent the last 38 years in, or briefly out of while running for, political office -- the last 28 of them in Congress. So yeah, he's the very definition of a career politician.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Yep, BTC is Still a Train Wreck


I've had a "standard fee" transaction sitting in mempool for more than four hours.

Yeah, I know that BCH has fewer transactions to handle on its blockchain. And that BTC actually seems to be running a slightly lower average block time. But anecdotally, I haven't had a BCH transaction take more than a few minutes, ever, that I can remember.

Crypto needs to be finding ways to confirm in seconds, not minutes, to fill a "medium of exchange" function.

Without that function (in addition to "store of value" and "unit of account"), there's no use case for regular people doing regular commerce. And that's the use case I want.

This Morning's Ridiculous Impeachment Claim


Per CNN:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial, a move that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the trial as quickly as possible ...

Emphasis mine.

The purpose of "opening arguments" -- actually "opening statements" -- in a trial is for the prosecution to describe what they're accusing the defendant of and summarize how they intend to prove it, and for the defense to describe why the prosecution is full of beans and summarize how they plan to show that.

One hour for each side might be a little short. Much more than that -- more than, say, splitting one eight-hour work day between the two sides -- isn't about opening statements, it's about intentionally dragging things out.

If the Democratic impeachment managers are smart, they'll wrap their opening statement up in less than two hours, making it clear that they have a slam-dunk case that they don't need 24 hours to summarize, then let the Republicans be the ones who bore America to death with two 12-hour days full of nothing but whining about how unfair it all is.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Linux Distro Bleg


The new computer is on the way.

I may keep Windoze 10 on it just so I can play some old games (I miss Starcraft now and again), but I'll certainly want to turn it into a dual-boot box and do most things in Linux.

But it's been ages since I've had to choose a Linux distribution, and never for a PC this loaded. So I'm looking for recommendations.

The CPU is a quad-core AMD 5500B, operating at up to 3.7GHz. It's got 16Gb of RAM, and I'm pretty sure it can support up to 32Gb if I ever want to buy more.

One possible fly in the ointment: I'm pretty sure this machine comes with something called the "Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip." I recall hearing complaints -- or at least fears -- in the past that this and other "secure boot" schemes might not work and play well with some Linux distributions.

I've always preferred the KDE desktop to Gnome and other GUIs, but I'm not unwilling to abandon KDE if necessary to get a Linux installation that meets my needs in other respects. Which are, pretty much, browsing the web and editing text and support for at least two monitors (my current configuration is HDMI direct to one monitor, USB adapted to DVI on the other; I'll be trying to get the new one to work that way but with the HDMI adapted from DisplayPort); everything else optional.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Platform Committee and Libertarian National Convention Update


Hey, everyone -- I'm trying to get in the habit of updating y'all whenever there have been significant developments, and there have. Here they are:


  • The Libertarian Party's platform committee is beginning the process of electing its permanent chair by email ballot. The candidates are Caryn Ann Harlos of Colorado (who chaired the 2018 committee), former state legislator Laura Ebke of Nebraska, and Libertarian Party of Florida member (and former state vice-chair) Omar Recuero. I think any of these three would do a great job as chair, and will be happy to work with any of them, but I've endorsed Ms. Harlos for the simple reason that I've actually seen how she chairs platform committees and know she does a great job.
  • A straw poll of the committee on whether or not to hold an in-person meeting between now and the party's national convention went ever so slightly in favor of "no." That doesn't mean there won't be such a meeting, and if there is I plan to attend (and to request your financial assistance to do so).
  • Until today, when she finally made up her mind for certain not to, I was hoping that my wife, Tamara, would attend the national convention in Austin with me. That's bad, but it does have up sides, one of them being that instead of finding a distant and cheaper hotel room for two, I'll either find equally budget-conscious roommates or impose myself on the Povertarian Caucus's "hospitality suite," saving some money and some daily commute time (I've set up a $20 per month donation to the Povertarian Caucus with the latter eventuality in mind).
  • I haven't purchased my convention package ... yet. But I have cryptocurrency set aside to buy the $79 "training only" package, and plan to do so in the next few days. I always try to buy a package (unless the LNC decides to impose a "floor fee," in which case that's all they get out of me). Last time, a donor made it possible for me to by a "bronze" (I think) package, but this time I'm going the cheaper route simply because a reception and a breakfast don't strike me as worth an additional $100 given my likely busy schedule.
  • I won't be able to attend the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania's state convention, but if they have any unfilled seats, hopefully an LPPA member "living abroad" and there anyway for platform committee will be welcomed. Otherwise, I'll ask around. I've never attended a national convention and not found a seat.
Hey -- I'm not hitting y'all up for assistance yet!

That doesn't mean I won't break out the begging bowl. There will be air fare and Uber costs for the convention, and of course travel and lodging costs if the platform committee does meet in the flesh before the convention. But, as I did last time, I will keep costs to an absolute minimum and only ask for the help I really, really need.

And that's your update.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

And the Winner of "Dumbest Thing Tom Knapp Read This Week" ...


... is clearly, and far and away, going to be Alan Dershowitz's howler at the Gatestone Institute. Quoth Dershowitz:

The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty). It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president.

Naturally, Dershowitz leaves out any reference to precisely where the Constitution does something like that. Why? Because it doesn't.

According to the Constitution:

The president can negotiate treaties -- which become law if, and only if, the Senate approves them.

The president can appoint ambassadors and a Secretary of State -- who get to assume those positions if, and only if, the Senate approves them.

The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, but only when they're "called into the actual service of the United States." Which generally used to happen when Congress declared war.

Congress gets to "regulate commerce with foreign Nations."

Congress gets to "define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations."

Congress gets to "declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water."

Congress gets to "To provide for calling forth the Militia to ... repel Invasions."

And the president's use of money for foreign aid or any other purpose is only allowed "in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law," i.e. by Congress.

Yes, presidents have increasingly seized de facto control over US foreign policy, but nowhere in the Constitution is it so "allocated."

The "New Computer" Saga Continues ...


... but I think it's going to come out well.

Recap of my last post: I need a new computer. Dual-core CPU with 4Gb of RAM is starting to not be enough on the "Forge of Empires benchmark."

 I was looking at a Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 -- still dual-core but faster, with 8Gb of RAM, for about $140. Then came a timely donation and a price drop to $110. Ordered! through Purse (affiliate link).

But Purse is taking longer these days to pass through "standard 5% discount" orders.  At one time, that took minutes. Now it takes hours, sometimes days. And shortly after I placed the Purse order, the price on the machine went back up to $129.

So, I started looking, on the assumption (followed by communications to Purse) that since the BTC escrowed for the order wouldn't cover it, we're looking at a cancellation.

Hey! Newegg takes cryptocurrency! And I found a quad-core machine with 16Gb of RAM for only about $150 there!

OK, false alarm. Newegg takes crypto for items sold and shipped by Newegg, but not "marketplace" items from third party sellers/shippers.

So, back to Amazon. Which has the same machine, for about the same price, but with only 8Gb of RAM.

At this point, I've given up on a tiny form factor. And I've also set my sights higher. I want that 16Gb. And for only $50 more ...

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M78.

Quad-core 3.7GHz AMD CPU.

16Gb RAM.

500 Gb hard drive (I'm easy on drive space -- on my ChromeOS machines, I've never come close to filling the 16Gb SSD, and past hard drives are a similar story).

Since it's not a small form factor, it has an optical drive. Comes with keyboard, mouse, power cord, Bluetooth and WiFi adapters (not clear whether those are internal or USB, but the thing has two US 2.0 ports on the front plus six USB ports -- two 2.0 and four 3.0 -- on the rear), and the 1 year warranty and tech support are from "Amazon Renewed" instead of a third party.

So that's twice as many CPU scores (and at much higher speed) and four times the RAM I've ever had in my life.

ORDERED! (Again, through Purse).

The tradeoffs:


  1. I will presumably pay a slight premium in higher electric bills. Those little ChromeOS machines just don't draw much power at all compared to a full-size PC.
  2. The OS will presumably use more resources than ChromeOS. It comes with Windoze 10, which I expect to use little if at all (I might have to reinstall Starcraft; it's been ages). I'll turn it into a dual-boot box and use Linux most of the time.
  3. I think I already have the monitor set-up in hand -- I have a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter to connect to my main monitor, and a USB-to-DVI adapter fr the second -- but that's often one of those "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy" situations. There may be some cable/adapter purchases in my near future.
  4. I guess I'll have to make some room on or under my desk. My last two Chromeboxes were about the size of four packs of cigarettes, and my current "headless" Chromebook setup is thin and doesn't get in the way. I haven't had anything like a full-size desktop in more than a decade (I went from a Mac Mini to Chromeboxes in 2012).
But I can make room, and I don't expect my resource use to strain a fast quad-core 16Gb system anytime soon (I've been managing on dual-core and 4Gb or less since 2012). I'll still mostly just be browsing the web and editing text. Barring catastrophic CPU/motherboard failure, this may be my machine for the next decade.

BLEG: Opinions on the best Linux distribution for this machine. It's been ages since I paid much attention. Linux Mint was my go-to for a while, then Puppy when I needed something very light. I've always preferred the KDE desktops, but as long as I have a reasonably navigable GUI and can do text editing and fairly standard web-stuff, I'm good to go.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

I Think It's Time to Consider a New Computer ...


I have a sort of "top of performance needs benchmark" for computers: Does Forge of Empires hog all the RAM?

It's not that I play FoE all the time. I usually play it obsessively for a couple of days, then here and there for a few weeks, and then not at all for months until one day the urge takes me. In other words, it's nothing that I can't live without.

But when the urge does take me, as often as not my main purpose is to find out if the game's requirements tax my computing power. Since the developers are always adding new memory-hogging features, I figure that when the game slows down my machine significantly, it's probably time to start looking for a new machine.

I've been making do with no more than 4 gigabytes of RAM for right at eight years now, and last time I played FoE (which was probably close to a year ago), it was just starting to get squirrelly. Other browser tabs would die and have to reload when I switched over to them, etc.

This week, I decided to play some FoE and it nearly instantly started killing the content in every other open tab, and crashing the Great Suspender extension I use to reduce the load by, well, killing the content in tabs I haven't used for a few minutes.

So I need more RAM, but none of my existing machines will support more than 4Gb.

So, here's what I'm looking at:

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 sports an Intel dual core CPU at 2.6 GHz and 8Gb of RAM. It's a WIndoze machine, but if I got it I'd wipe it and install Linux. It's $137.95.

The Asus Chromebox 3-N017U is also Intel dual core, but only 1.8 GHz, and also sports 8Gb of RAM. It runs $299.99.

I'm partial to ChromeOS, but have been thinking about abandoning it. Half price to do so, with a better CPU, pushes me in that direction.

But before I make a decision, I'm going to see if someone else does so for me -- both machines are on my Amazon Wish List ;-)

Alternatively, I may just build a box from the empty case up. I've helped my son do several. But I like a tiny form factor while his have been nice spacious towers, so I'm somewhat skeptical that I can do things my way.

Update:

Wow ... a timely cryptocurrency donation came in (thanks, GL!), and Amazon dropped the price of that ThinkCentre to $109.99, even as I was looking at some higher end stuff! Ordered the ThinkCentre through Purse (affiliate link).

I was toying with really upping my computer game -- 16Gb of RAM instead of 8, a quad core CPU, etc. -- before I noticed the price drop. But based on the screwing around I've done with light Linux distributions, etc., I expect the ThinkCentre to be all the machine I need for years to come.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roberts' Rules v. Senate Rules?


Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution gives the US Senate "sole Power to try all Impeachments."

Article I, Section 5 of the US Constitution specifies that "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings." And the Senate has done so vis a vis impeachment.

But back to Article I, Section 3: "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside ..."

Under Senate Rule IV for impeachment:

When the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States upon whom the powers nd duties of the office of President shall have devolved, shall be impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Untied States shall preside; and in a case requiring the said Chief Justice to preside, notice shall be given to him by the presiding officer of the Senate of the time and place fixed for the consideration of the articles of impeachment, as aforesaid, with a request to attend; and the said Chief Justice shall preside over the Senate during the consideration of said articles, and upon the trial of the person impeached therein.

Emphasis mine.

Under Senate Rule III:

shall continue in session from day to day, (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence, (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate,) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.

And under Senate Rule XII:

The hour of the day at which the Senate shall sit upon the trial of an impeachment shall be (unless otherwise ordered) twelve o'clock m.' and when the hour for such sitting shall arrive, the presiding officer of the Senate shall so announce; and thereupon the presiding officer upon such trial shall cause proclamation to be made, and the business of the trial shall proceed.


So, what happens if Roberts announces he has a tee time or lunch date that he has no intention of canceling or postponing just because 100 politicians finally roused themselves to put on a show?

The Senate is allowed to make rules for the Senate, but I doubt they're allowed to make rules for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Note to Lincoln Chafee


From an interview with Gary Doan of The Libertarian Republic:

TLR: What is your overall philosophy concerning monetary policy and the Federal Reserve?

LC: Well, I’m anti-deficit and all my 30 years in public service have my votes and actions support that. Certainly as a mayor, required to balance a budget ... Governor, required to balance a budget. As Senator, yes, I voted against all those tax cuts, because I did not see the commensurate cuts in spending. And that’s exactly what happened with reduction of our revenue and soaring expenditures on wars and entitlement programs. And then, of course, natural disasters such as Katrina.

All well and good, I guess, but the question was about monetary policy and the answer was about fiscal policyThey're two different things.

It's Not Hard to Decide Who to Believe Here ...


Elizabeth Warren:

Bernie and I met for more than two hours in December 2018 to discuss the 2020 election, our past work together and our shared goals .... Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.

Bernie Sanders:

It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn’t win. ... What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course!

[Lots of versions of this story -- I picked this one from ABC News for the quotes -- and of course they had a dust-up over it at last night's beauty contest debate]

While I won't vouch for Bernie's overall honesty -- he is, after all, a career politician -- anyone who's been paying even minimal knows that Elizabeth Warren is a compulsive and self-serving liar, particularly on anything relating to her personal history, actions, and experiences. She lies about her ancestry. She lies about her past employment. She lies about her father's employment. She lies about where her kids went to school. If she thinks it makes her look better, she lies like a rug and without a second thought.

Based on her record, the safe bet is that whatever Sanders said in that meeting, it's not what Warren says he said.

Yep, Giuliani is Screwed


Not quite a month ago, I predicted:

Unless he receives a presidential pardon, dies, or is so sick he receives sentencing leniency in the form of e.g. house arrest, Rudy Giuliani is eventually going to end up spending some time in Club Fed over this whole Ukraine affair.

The latest House document dump pursuant to the prosecution of US president DonaldTrump in impeachment proceedings is mostly getting noticed for an offered trade: If Trump fires a troublesome ambassador, Ukraine provides dirt on Biden.

Getting less notice is a letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, requesting a meeting (which apparently didn't end up taking place). And getting even less notice than the letter itself are three references within the letter:

I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. To be more precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States. ... In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you ...

Emphases mine.

Whatever Giuliani was up to vis a vis Ukraine, in this letter he openly stated that he was up to it for the personal benefit of Donald Trump, not as part of advancing some supposed "anti-corruption" public policy initiative. And he openly stated that Trump knew what he was up to and approved of it.

He's going under the bus whether Trump personally kicks him there or not.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Sexist Case Against Tarantino, Pitt, and Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood


I generally don't have strong opinions on what pictures should receive Academy Awards. And I confess myself shocked -- shocked! -- that a movie with its plot and theme situated in, and clearly in love with, the movie industry would enjoy a lot of mojo with Oscar voters, who just happen make their livings in the movie industry.

That said, I do consider Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood to be, by far, the best 2020 film I happened to watch in 2020,  and think it deserves every award it nabs.

Comes Marlow Stern, Senior Entertainment Editor at The Daily Beast, asserting that the film has a "Big Harvey Weinstein Problem."

And what, pray tell, might that problem be?

[S]omehow, the celebrated filmmaker and his age-defying star have managed to avoid any scrutiny over their troubling relationships with Harvey Weinstein. ... a culture of complicity allowed the superpredator’s reign of terror to continue unabated. ... Pitt, like Tarantino, had the power and cachet to expose Weinstein with the snap of a finger. Instead, they let it slide, opting for cashing dirty checks and chasing awards. ... it’s worth asking whether it sends the right message to honor two Hollywood power players who turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s sexual abuse, and whether it’s fair that they’ve artfully dodged any questions about it this entire awards season.

So, director Quentin Tarantino and co-star Brad Pitt had good reason to know that Weinstein was at best a creep and quite possibly an actual rapist. Yet they kept their mouths shut and cashed his checks for years, if for no other reason than that they feared the damage he could do their careers if they publicly went after him.

Just like most of Weinstein's accusers.

Stern's brief against Tarantino and Pitt is that they were obliged -- as males -- to suit up in their white knight armor and publicly joust Weinstein on behalf of his poor, helpless, female victims, whose corresponding duty was, apparently, to daintily wave handkerchiefs and blow kisses from the viewing stands before retiring to their fainting couches. And, further, that they should be punished in the awards arena for not fulfilling that duty.

If not bucking Weinstein until it became safe to buck Weinstein is an Oscar disqualifier, it should be a disqualifier across sex/gender lines and the Academy should probably just cancel the ceremony and FedEx all this years' statues to Rose McGowan.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Why Elizabeth Warren's Campaign Faded


It's not that her particular schtick (ever so slightly "left" populist welfare statism) played any worse than any of the other candidates' approaches.

It's that whenever she comes up against a question that requires her to either stand by her guns in a way that might not be so popular and/or doesn't fit with her narrative about her own personal history, or else retreat from her position, she chooses a third option.

That third option is: She lies.

She lies about her and her family's economic situation in her younger days.

She lies about whether her children went to the private schools that she doesn't want you to be able to send your kids to.

She runs from the question of whether her version of "Medicare For All" will require a middle class tax increase, trying to portray it as a matter of "overall expenses" rather than taxes per se until she can drum up a complex but unconvincing lie to cover up the fact that yes, it will require a middle class tax increase.

She's not the only politician who's lying, of course. It's just that she's not very good at it. Her lies are pretty easy to identify as lies.

And getting caught lying so often and so obviously just doesn't mesh very well with her morally superior "I know how to run your life better than you do" Church Lady campaign persona.

In lying contests, the liars who are better at lying win.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Reminder: I am NOT Running for President


But I do appreciate whoever it was that wrote in my name in the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire's presidential primary/straw poll.


Note: Those are JUST the write-in votes (LPNH members received mail-in ballots some time ago, and some candidates, including Jacob Hornberger and Lincoln Chafee, have entered the race since those ballots were printed and sent). Vermin Supreme won the poll with, IIRC, 26 votes.


Thursday, January 09, 2020

One of These Things is Not Like The Other


Thing One:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Thing Two:

Initially, Congress said the ERA -- passed in 1972 -- would be obsolete if not ratified by the required three-quarters of state legislatures by a 1979 deadline. Later, Congress extended this deadline to 1982. It still wasn't met.

"We conclude that Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States," DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel said in a January 6 opinion, released yesterday.

I've read Thing One carefully, several times, and nowhere in it do I find any mention of a congressional power to decide how much time the states have to ratify an amendment.

Another Amazon Shipping Musing: Artificial Preservation of "Fast Shipping" as a Premium?


(I have a previous post on this same shipment, with a slightly different topic).

So, my Amazon order went in on January 4th.

Projected delivery date: January 14th.

My assumption as to why the "fast shipping" claims turned out to not be true is that the buyer (I'm using Purse as an intermediary -- you should too, and we both get $5 USD worth of BTC, once you've spent $100, if you join through my affiliate link) is not an Amazon Prime member.

But here's the thing:

It's January 9th, a full five days since the order hit Amazon.

And according to Amazon, the package hasn't BEEN SHIPPED yet.

My hypothesis:

One of Amazon's big selling points for Prime membership is that you get free two-day shipping on most products (in some areas and for some products, free one-day shipping).

But shipping in general is getting faster and faster, especially as Amazon handles more of its own shipping in-house.

So I think that Amazon may be purposely holding non-Prime orders for a little while, not putting them into the shipping pipeline in the first place as fast, so that regular ol' non-Prime customers don't get their stuff in a day or two anyway, potentially causing Prime members to wonder if Prime is worth paying for.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

A Proposal for Strategic Tax Filing


Now and again, I hear proposals for "strategic voting." In the usual example a Libertarian in a "close" state is supposed to vote for the Republican candidate for president (to keep the Democrat from winning that state), while a Republican in a "safe" Republican or Democratic state -- where his or her vote won't make a difference -- is supposed to vote for the Libertarian (to increase the Libertarian Party's nationwide vote count).

Now I see this headline ...

Underfunded IRS struggles to send refunds, answer calls


... and it inspires me to suggest a "Strategic Tax Filing" plan. Here's how it would work:

1) A taxpayer whose return says he or she is owed a refund from the IRS files that return ASAP; while

2) A fellow taxpayer whose return says he or she owes money to the IRS agrees to hold onto that return until the first taxpayer receives said refund.

Yeah, I know it doesn't address the "problem" of the IRS being "under-funded," but it just generally sounds like a good and fun idea to me.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Bot Prediction, Bot Confession


Bruce Schneier at The Atlantic:

They’re mouthpieces for foreign actors, domestic political groups, even the candidates themselves. And soon you won’t be able to tell they’re bots.

Prediction: If they aren't doing so already, bots will soon start populating their web/social media histories with posts complaining "I was accused of being a 'bot' the other day, LOL" and such. Of course, it doesn't clarify things much that there's always someone around to call you a "bot" for disagreeing with them about, well, anything.

Confession: Yes, I'm a bot. Not only is my entire blog history going back to 2004 and entire web history going back to 1993 or 1994 entirely made up, I have access to HAARP and have been using it to create false memories in your brain of having met me, etc. MWUHAHAHA! ALL YOUR IDEATION BELONG TO US!

I'm Beginning to Mistrust Amazon's "Fast Shipping" Claims


On January 4th, I ordered two items from Amazon via Purse (affiliate link -- if you join Purse through it, once you've spent $100 both you and I receive $5 worth of BTC).

Both items are "Prime" eligible and claim two-day shipping if ordered directly, and on the Purse site there's a little picture of a truck with the words "Fast Shipping" next to it accompanying each item.

Purse got the Amazon order in pretty quickly, so I've got no heartburn with them.

But today is January 7th, and Amazon's "track package" page for them says the items still haven't even shipped yet and that I shouldn't expect them until the 14th.

That's not "fast shipping."

A Primer on Hubris


The article's title tells you all you really need to know: "How Trump Can Sort Out the Middle East."

The idea that it is desirable, or even possible, for a US president (or a US government in general) to "sort out" the affairs of 16 other regimes and numerous non-state actors on the other side of the globe is insane.

"The United States," writes Conrad Black, "has to find a way to defend its legitimate national interests in the Middle East without being on call, like firemen, for constant interventions there, with high resultant expenses, significant casualties, and an excessive commitment of American military resources to that region."

What "legitimate interests" does the United States, as a polity, have in the Middle East? There are presumably American market actors who have such "interests," but it's no more the US government's job to "defend" those "interests" than it is to "defend" the "interests" of a liquor store owner in Kansas City.

Government as constituted in the US might have the job of "defending" that liquor store owner's life from being taken, store from being robbed, etc., but  if so that's because Kansas City is located in two US states. None of the 16 Middle East regimes are within US jurisdiction. They have their own laws, and enforcing those laws is their job.

Black proposes: "Syria and Iraq should ultimately be regrouped in a loose confederation of largely autonomous zones, including Kurdistan. The inner stability and integrity from outsiders of this arrangement could be sponsored by Turkey, Russia, the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and a respectable regime in Iran when one emerges."

Hey, here's an idea: How about Syrians and Iraqis and Iranians decide what "groupings" suit them instead of Black deciding for them, and "sponsor" those groupings themselves, whether Black finds any of the regimes involved "respectable" or not?

Which, in fact, is what's ultimately going to happen no matter what Black recommends and no matter what Trump does. The only question is how many flag-draped caskets have to arrive at Dover before Black, Trump, et al. give up on their megalomaniac notion of the world being run from Washington, DC.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Proportional Response? The Iranian Version of "Sanctions" on @RealDonaldTrump


The US regime makes no bones about "sanctioning" Iran -- stealing money connected to that country's regime and/or particular officials, prosecuting people for trading with Iranians, etc.

Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, seems to be suggesting something along those lines vis a vis US president Donald Trump:

Senior Iranian officials are using Twitter to hint at threats against President Trump’s properties — including his Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Florida and Trump Tower in Manhattan — over the killing of Iran’s top military commander.

Hesameddin Ashena, a top adviser to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, tweeted a link to a Forbes Magazine video that listed the properties ...

Iran's regime doesn't have the clout that the US regime does with other countries, so they're not really able to go after Trump's properties through official/judicial channels.

And Trump seems to have discarded such quaint international norms himself -- among other things, it looks like he may have tricked Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi into luring Soleimani to Iraq under false pretenses before having Soleimani, four other Iranians, and five Iraqis killed in a drone strike on Iraqi soil.

I'd say that a threat to attack Trump's properties is a reasonable, proportional, and personal response that hits him right in the wallet. Fewer people are going to want to stay at Trump hotels, visit Trump resorts, golf at Trump courses, etc. -- not just for fear of Iranian attack, but because Trump will probably  unattractively and tediously boost security at those facilities (he'll probably try to tap the taxpayer to cover the expenses of doing so, and shouldn't be allowed to), making them more of a pain in the ass to patronize. And it's not like he has anything to whine about on "fairness" grounds (that won't stop him from whining, of course -- nothing does).

My Very First 2020 Libertarian Party Platform Committee Report


Hey, everyone ...

... because this is where I write about Libertarian Party stuff, and because my selection as a member of the party's 2020 platform committee is largely due to support from some of you, I'll try to keep you informed as to the committee's proceedings as frequently as necessary and in as much detail as reasonable.

The committee is in the process of "convening" via an email list. I'll post a public viewing link once I figure out what that link might be.

Two initial procedural issues are already shaping up:


  1. When and how the committee will elect its permanent chair (Caryn Ann Harlos is acting chair until we do that); the "when" being open and the choices being by email ballot, by voting at an online conferencing software "meeting," or by voting at a phsyical meeting; and
  2. Whether or not to have any physical meetings prior to the party's national convention.
Since I don't know who will be running for the position of chair, I don't have any opinions to share on that matter. Naturally, you'll know who I end up voting for and, if anyone is interested I'll be glad to share my reasons.

I'll be blunt concerning physical meetings:  It is 2020, not 1920 or 1820. Email, online voting systems, and audio/video conferencing systems make physical meetings unnecessary and are more transparent/accessible to the party's interested members than physical meetings.

 If anyone on the committee doesn't have a computer and Internet access, he or she can buy or rent those two things for less than the expense of flying to a far-away city and spending a couple of nights in a hotel.

The main argument for physical meetings is that it lets committee members get to know each other better and develop a collegial spirit that makes it easier to cooperate. Which may be true, but most of us know each other already and physical co-location isn't likely to change our mutual feelings for each other too much.

All that said, if we have a physical meeting I will do what I have to do to attend it, including requesting your financial support for the expenses involved. As you may remember, in 2018 that included a 14-hour Greyhound ride (it ended up being cheaper to fly to Missouri, see my mother, take the bus to Columbus, and fly home from Columbus than to just fly both ways to and from Columbus; I got a visit with Mom out of the deal, so I'm not complaining).

And that's where we are -- the committee members are still "checking in" on the email list. Once everyone's "present," we'll start doing stuff.

Not Exclusively, I'm Guessing


At FEE, in a nice riff on Leonard Read's I, PencilBarry Brownstein writes: "Worldwide, over two billion cups of coffee are drunk daily, and over 125 million are employed in the coffee industry."

The population of Earth as of today according to Worldometers is ~7.55 billion.

So if Brownstein's number is correct, that means about 1 out of every 60 people on Earth works in the coffee industry.

That seems like a pretty large number to me. Presumably it includes e.g. baristas who also make and serve other foods and beverages; coffee machine makers who also make other appliances; coffee growers who also grow other crops or work non-farming jobs; etc.

Or I could be wrong. Coffee is pretty important.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Hell Freezes Over


I agree with Lindsey Graham!

Graham suggests that the Senate should change its rules to get on with the impeachment trial that, constitutionally, is solely within its purview now that the House has passed articles of impeachment.

Yes, he's also preaching the garbage claim that the Senate's rules require some kind of "presentation" ceremony in which Nancy Pelosi does the chicken dance outside the Senate chamber or whatever.

The Senate rules require no such thing (they merely predicate the beginning of the trial on the appointment of House "managers" as prosecutors). Since the articles have been passed and Trump is impeached, anything else the House "gets" to do or "has" to do in the matter of the trial -- including providing prosecutors -- is entirely up to the Senate to determine.

Pelosi isn't holding the trial hostage. She has no power to do so. The Senate can hold the trial any time, and to an extent in any way, it damn well pleases.

It should do so ASAP.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Went Back to the Thrift Store Where I Bought That $5 Classical Guitar ...


... and this time they had a $5 electric guitar.


It's an interesting little thing: A First Act instrument (most prominently sold at Walmart, aimed at youths/novices), with a built-in speaker and headphone jack (powered by a 9-volt battery) in addition to a regular instrument output jack. 21.5" scale, cutaway makes it accessible to the 12th fret.

I haven't been able to get it to stay in tune yet, but I've only played with it for a few minutes. I'm not expecting much from it, but for five bucks it was worth the price for parts (tuning machines, etc.) to use on my own builds. Or, if it does stay in tune and the intonation is OK, to keep next to my desk and grab when I see something online I want to play, or play along with.

Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide
Some graphics and styles ported from a previous theme by Jenny Giannopoulou