Monday, August 31, 2015


As of my last check, and by my count, that's the Garrison Center's "mainstream and non-libertarian political media pickups" number so far for August. The 75th pickup this month is of my latest piece, appearing in the Davenport, Iowa Quad-City Times.

The Times started running Garrison Center columns -- all, or nearly all, of them -- a few weeks ago. Based on formatting similarities, I suspect that the Times may have been bought up by the Muscatine, Iowa Journal (a paper founded by Samuel Langhorn Clemens's brother and in which his early material as "Mark Twain" appeared), which also runs most Garrison stuff. We seem to be pretty big in Iowa. We get lots of pickups from the Iowa Free Press, a few from the River Cities' Reader and even, once so far, the Des Moines Register.

Best month yet for the Garrison Center. Next goal: One hundred pickups in a month.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 08/30/15

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! ("Cut welfare from the top down and taxes from the bottom up?");
  • a couple of readings from the post-Civil-War/Old West story I'm writing;
  • the usual appeal for support for KN@PPSTER/Garrison.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Clinton Desperation Watch

You know she's getting desperate when she starts telling the truth. Not a whole lot of truth, and just about the Republicans, but it's the principle of the thing. Hillary Clinton telling the truth even a little bit is like a vampire getting so thirsty that he takes just an itty bitty sip of holy water.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So, About That Book Thing I Was Mentioning

Sorry to have been so cryptic in the recent podcasts. I can tell the story now, although some names will be omitted because I didn't ask them if they would be OK with using said names. In reading what follows, keep in mind that everything negative involved is entirely my fault, even if it seems like I'm hinting at the opposite.

In late July, a commissioning editor, affiliated with a "real" publisher (i.e. a publisher that pays authors, not some "hey, if you pay US we can print your book" outfit) contacted me about writing a short book. In general, the topic area ran to the digital counter-economy (Bitcoin, Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, etc.). I had been referred to this editor, by the publisher of a fairly prominent lefty magazine in which my op-eds have frequently appeared, as someone acquainted with the subjects.

In short order, I had popped together some sample material, suggestions for filling in the outline, etc., and it looked kind of like a go. Then came the first change -- that book was no longer on their prospective fall list, but would I be interested in doing one on torture instead? Sure.

Once again I wrote the requisite sample material. It was at this point that things started getting hard for me. Putting together the 2,000 word sample chapter, which I'd expected to take a couple of hours, took more like a full day. I kind of hoped that this was just a bump in the road -- it's been years since I've written a) long form stuff, b) under another editor's supervision -- and that doing it would get me over that bump. Or, to use a different analogy, this was a bicycle I hadn't been on for a long time, but hey, once you know how to ride a bicycle.

I was also already developing, somewhere in the back of my mind, some content concerns. On closer examination, both the outline and some editorial suggestions bespoke a post-modernist/critical theory orientation. Those of you who know me know that not only am I not a post-modernist/critical theory type, but that I loathe that approach and have, now and again, railed against it.

But enough of that. I don't mind doing hard things, even when the topic changes and the deadline shortens and I'm a little concerned about the direction. I got offered a contract with a very nice number attached to it. Before signing the contract, I decided I should get some more writing done.

Complete bust.

I got stuck at about 350 words on the next 2,000 word part.

The research gave me the first political nightmares -- yes, real nightmares -- I've had in a long time (after the Gulf War and after Madeline Albright's public assertion that 500,000 dead kids was "worth it," I had nightmares about my role in THAT). I dreamed I was a mysterious, probably CIA-affiliated, American I was reading about in Jennifer Harbury's Truth, Torture and the American Way -- a guy who went around supervising torture, and paying for the information it produced, in Guatemala.

The calls for language about e.g. "social construct," etc. set off louder alarms in my head. I would be the last one to suggest that people whose beliefs run that way should refrain from writing that way. Mine don't ... and I suddenly realized (as I should have much earlier) that I couldn't do that kind of stuff well or, more importantly, honestly. Even if I could crank out acceptable copy, I would not want my name on that particular kind of copy.

So I kicked out. Told my editor I couldn't do it. She tried to talk me off the ledge and was very courteous and positive in her approach (I hope she was cussing me, brutally, out of my hearing; I deserve it). So courteous and positive, in fact, that when I made it clear I had already jumped and was not coming back to it, but that I'd be glad to sign over any "intellectual property rights" in what I'd written if they wanted to use it, she told me to have my agent (yes, I have an agent -- that's another story) invoice them for the kickout fee that I would have received if they had dropped me.

So that's my book story. Countless writers, myself included, dream of real contracts with real publishers. I didn't even have to seek this one out. It came to me. And I blew it right out my ass in about ten different ways.

I'm a short-form libertarian polemicist who mostly works either for himself alone or in close, equal partnership with a few friends. That's how it's been for a long time. That's all it's been for six years. Trying to become a long-form, short-deadline, supervised writer overnight was not going to happen and I should have known better than to lead on people who expected it to happen.

The only test I passed here, I think, was the honesty test, and that only at the very end when I stopped pretending and confessed that I'm not the man who can do this job. Which is better than nothing, but not as good as most people make it out to be when they've messed up and are trying to save that last shred of dignity.

On the good side, in the last 24 hours I've cranked out several hundred words of copy on the novel I was preparing to start (having spent a week or so on research) when the publisher contacted me. So maybe there's long-form hope for me yet.

Election 2016 Prediction: Biden Throws In

Three predictions, actually:

  • US Vice President Joe Biden will formally announce his intention to seek the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination no later than September 15, 2015.
  • In terms of campaign strategy, his overt game plan will be to concentrate on the third contest, South Carolina. He's had a personal presence and cultivated many friendships there for a long time. At the moment, Hillary Clinton seems to have Iowa fairly well locked down, but Bernie Sanders will do fairly well there and may well pull a Eugene McCarthy type near-win versus, or even beat, Clinton in New Hampshire. Sanders won't play that well in the south. Biden will be a sitting vice president, up against a wild card (Sanders) and a wounded opponent (Clinton). He'll come out of South Carolina as the one to beat.
  • BUT: All bets will be off well before the Iowa caucus. More, and more damaging, information will come out about Clinton's secret email server, mishandling of classified information, etc. before then. She's probably too stubborn to drop out (see the 2008 primaries for confirmation of that), but her campaign will effectively be over by some time in November at the latest. If Biden has the money and the organization, he'll have to decide whether to let Sanders gain momentum from whipping Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire or contest those races himself. Whatever else he may be, Biden is a smart politician, and he's already thinking this angle through.

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/26/15

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

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Biden-Warren 2016 Makes No Sense at All

No matter what some people say.

Biden makes a certain amount of sense. After all, he's already won two presidential elections in the veep slot and is the sitting vice-president. He's certainly a better prospect for Democratic victory next year than Hillary Clinton.

But Warren makes no sense whatsoever, either on her own hook or with Biden.

Biden-Warren 2016 would be an east coast liberal ticket, which means they'd carry some east coast liberal states, California, and maybe -- maybe -- Minnesota and/or Wisconsin. If the Republicans could get their collective head out of their collective ass and dig up a plausible candidate of their own (yeah, yeah, I know, not very likely, but it might happen), they'd sweep the south and midwest and be competitive in Ohio, Pennsylania and Florida. The Democrats need a southern or midwestern figure on the ticket (my recommendation, if they're interested in winning: Russell Feingold).

Aside from that partnership downside, Warren is just a train wreck waiting to happen. She's been caught lying to manipulate academia's ethnic favoritisms. She talks like a populist, but she's personally a 1%er and politically a corporate welfare deal-cutter as bad as any she criticizes. And she's annoying in that very special way -- I doubt I'm the only person who can't see her without flashing back to Dana Carvey as The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.

Warren would cost any Democratic ticket five to ten percent in the swing states. And that would be the election.

Ron Paul versus the Constitution, Again

In his latest commentary, Ron Paul claims that "Congress has within its power the authority to clarify the 14th Amendment’s definition of citizenship by making it clear that it does not grant citizenship by birthright."

The 14th Amendment's definition of citizenship clearly, unambiguously and irrefutably grants citizenship by birthright. What Paul is actually saying is that the Constitution is a "living document" which can be "clarified" to mean anything his social conservative friends want it to mean.

Paul's tack on this is sort of like his old "Marriage Protection Act" dodge, in which he proposed to amend the Constitution's full faith and credit clause and its 14th Amendment equal protection clause, with simple majority congressional action instead of the required 2/3 of each house of Congress and ratification by 3/4 of the state legislatures, all for the purpose of protecting state-level marriage apartheid.

And yet many of his supporters call him, with straight faces, a "constitutionalist."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 08/23/15

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Jack Reacher novels, Edgar Rice Burrough novels, novel question from dL);
  • I've got the contract book writing blooz;
  • updates on the Garrison Center and Tamara's health.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/20/15

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

Yeah, yeah -- I'm running a little late. It's been a hell of a week and I am behind on everything. Please bear with. The usual rules:

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 08/16/15

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Ernie Hancock, Mark Twain and the Unflappably Weird Stylings of dL);
  • Libertarian Party Goddamn;
  • Busk & Hustle for Garrison, KN@PPSTER, etc.

Links mentioned in the show:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tanned, Rested, Ready?

Al Gore 2016 seems strange and unlikely, but not that strange and unlikely.

He's a known political quantity. Nobody in the current field can claim to have won three presidential elections, even if he was second fiddle in two of them and let the third victory get stolen in court.

On the other hand, his hard focus on, and specific positions on, environmental issues since then could come back to bite him in the ass. Lots of people disagree vehemently with him on the topic, and even some people who don't necessarily disagree with him might feel like he's turned into a one trick pony over the years.

Apparently he's thinking it over.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

In What Alternate Universe ...

... are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders "outsider candidates?"

Trump, by his own public admission, has built his entire career on buying politicians to subsidize and bestow special privileges upon his business enterprises. The surprise isn't that he's racked up billions doing that (after having inherited $250 million "earned" from government contracts), but that he's been so bad at doing it that he's gone through no fewer than four business bankruptcies even with the amount of bribery and influence-buying he's engaged in. And now he's running for president as a political outsider? He seems to just be trying to one-up Michael Bloomberg, the "outsider" who bought himself the New York City mayor's office. Well, no one's ever accused Trump of lacking for chutzpah.

And Sanders is the consummate political careerist: Eight years as a mayor, 16 years as a US Representative, 8.5 years in the US Senate. He's spent more time in political office than Hillary Clinton. Hell, he's spent more time in political office than Bill Clinton.

Whatever else they may be, Trump and Sanders are hardly political "outsiders."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/12/15

This week's Thanks For Asking! threat -- and the podcast to follow -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Usual rules apply:

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

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 08/09/15

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

In this episode:
  • Thanks For Asking! (Republican presidential candidates and my past political work);
  • Thanks for Asking Reprise: "Stand with Rand" versus the libertarian brand.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Election 2016 Scorecard #1: Political Careerism

In my liveblogs of the first 2016 Republican presidential nomination debates, I mentioned (and used data from) a "scorecard" I've been working on. If things go as I plan, I'll be doing a number of these scorecards and using them as part of a formula for rating presidential candidates. The first scorecard is a rating of candidates on the metric of "political careerism."

A "careerist" is "a professional who is intent on furthering his or her career by any possible means and often at the expense of their own integrity." A political careerist, of course, is a careerist whose chosen career is politics. How do we measure political careerism? Well, here's the formula I came up with:

On a scale of 0 to 100, 0 is a complete political non-careerist while 100 is a complete political careerist. Each candidate receives five points for every year spent in "the political sector" -- that is, each year spent as an elected officeholder, an appointed officeholder, or a paid government employee. Twenty years produces a "careerism score" of 100. For more than 20 years, an asterisk next to the score thusly: 100*.

In my opinion, political careerism is a bad thing. Your mileage may vary. If you trust electoral politics, you may consider it to be an indicator of "much-needed experience" or something. Feel free to discuss your opinion in comments.

Is it possible to really capture that metric in that way? Well, yes and no. Here are some considerations I ran into:

  • I carefully considered whether or not to include employment in the military and law enforcement in the scores. I decided to do so. Jim Gilmore and Lindsay Graham both vindicated that decision in last night's debates when they referred to their military service multiple times as qualifiers for the presidency.
  • I had to decide whether or not Hillary Clinton's eight years as First Lady of the United States counted. I decided they did. Not every First Lady's time in the White House would count, but Clinton's husband referred to her as his "co-president," she headed up a number of administration policy initiatives (e.g. HillaryCare) and she was the first First Lady to have her own office in the West Wing, where the actual work gets done.
  • I had to decide whether to include time spent campaigning for office (on one's own behalf or for others), working as a lobbyist, etc.. I decided to let those things go. They would have been very difficult to find accurate information on.
  • In Jim Webb's case, I had to decide whether to count his college years -- he attended two years of college on a Navy ROTC scholarship, then spent four years at the US Naval Academy. This would have pushed his "careerism" score to 100*. I decided not to, for the simple reason that I'm sure a number of other candidates received government scholarships and other assistance too. I can't quantify that assistance as easily as I can Webb's, but it's there. If I can't use it for the others, I won't use it for him.

So, to the ratings (in alphabetical order within party):

The Republicans

  • Jeb Bush -- 50 (two years as Florida Secretary of Commerce; eight years as Florida Governor)
  • Ben Carson -- 0
  • Chris Christie -- 82.5 (three years as Morris County, New Jersey Freeholder; seven years as US Attorney for the District of New Jersey; 6.5 years as New Jersey Governor)
  • Ted Cruz -- 62.5 (two years federal law clerk; one year Associate Deputy Attorney General of the US; one year Director of Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission; 6six years Texas Solicitor General; 2.5 years US Senate)
  • Jim Gilmore -- 100 (three years US Army; five years Henrico County, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney; four years Virginia Attorney General; four years Virginia Governor; four years chair of Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction; N.B. it is unclear whether that last position was a paid position or not)
  • Carly Fiorina -- 0 (unpaid position as chair of the Central Intelligence Agency's External Advisory Board)
  • Lindsey Graham -- 100* (33 years US Air Force/Air Force Reserve/National Guard; two years South Carolina House of Representatives; eight years US House of Representatives; 12.5 years US Senate)
  • Mike Huckabee -- 67.5 (3 years Arkansas Lieutenant Governor; 10.5 years Arkansas Governor)
  • Bobby Jindal -- 100* (six years Louisiana Secretary of Health and Hospitals; two years president University of Louisiana; two years US Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation; four years US House of Representatives; 7.5 years Louisiana Governor)
  • John Kasich -- 100* (one year researcher for Ohio Legislative Service Commission; four years staffer to US Representative Buz Lukens; four years Ohio State Senate; 18 years US House of Representatives; 4.5 years Ohio Governor)
  • George Pataki -- 100* (four years Mayor of Peekskill, New York; eight years New York State Assembly; two years New York State Senate; 12 years New York Governor)
  • Rand Paul -- 22.5 (4.5 years US Senate)
  • Rick Perry -- 100* (five years US Air Force; six years Texas legislature -- as a Democrat for five years, Republican for one -- eight years Texas Agriculture Commissioner, during which he came out in support of HillaryCare; one year Texas lieutenant governor; 14 years Texas governor)
  • Marco Rubio -- 77.5 (two years West Miami City Commission; nine years Florida House; 4.5 years US Senate)
  • Rick Santorum -- 100 (four years assistant to Pennsylvania State Senator Doyle Corman; four years US House of Representatives; 12 years US Senate)
  • Donald Trump -- 0
  • Scott Walker -- 100* (nine years Wisconsin State Legislature; eight years Milwaukee County Executive; 4.5 years Wisconsin governor)

The Democrats

  • Joe Biden -- 100* (unknown period of time as a public defender; three years Newcastle County, Delaware County Council; 36 years US Senate; 6.5 years US vice-president)
  • Lincoln Chafee -- 100* (five years Warwick, Rhode Island City Council; eight years Warwick mayor; six years US Senate; 5.5 years Rhode Island governor)
  • Hillary Clinton -- 100 (eight years "co-president" of the United States; eight years US Senate; four years US Secretary of State)
  • Martin O'Malley -- 100* (two years Assistant State's Attorney for the City of Baltimore, Maryland; eight years Baltimore City Council; six years mayor of Baltimore; eight years governor of Baltimore Maryland) 
  • Bernie Sanders -- 100* (eight years mayor of Burlington, Vermont; 16 years US House of Representatives; 8.5 years US Senate
  • James Webb -- 72.5 (four years US Marine Corps; three years Assistant US Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs; one year US Secretary of the Navy; six years US Senate)

[Update Note: Yes, I forgot Martin O'Malley. In my defense, he's a pretty forgettable candidate. But I've added him to the list; then Paulie Cannoli noticed that I had him as "governor of Baltimore;" fixed  - TLK]

Thursday, August 06, 2015

How About Some LiveBlog? -- The Really Big Shew

11:04 It's over. I thought that Kasich and Huckabee got the biggest applause at the end, with Trump maybe in there. I honestly can't pick a winner here. In terms of being convincing about accomplishments, I think Bush and Kasich made good arguments for their governorships. Walker might have if he didn't still think that comparing union-busting to fighting house-to-house in Fallujah makes any kind of fucking sense at all. Carson didn't really hurt himself much, but neither did he go anywhere, IMO. Paul and Christie both made themselves look like complete dumbfucks in different ways. Christie may survive for the second debate. I don't think Paul will. Carson may not either. But that's just a quick first take. I'd like to hear yours in comments.

10:49 Waiting on the final segment. Guys, talk at me in the comments. Seeing any "breakout moments" here? I'm not, really, although I think Carson and possibly Paul will be dropping out of the top 10 before next time.

Megyn Kelly wants to know if the candidates have heard from God.

Cruz: Yeah, God talks to me. He talked to my Dad, too. And God says we need a conservative. Kasich: I believe in miracles. And I'm talking about pretty much everything except God, but I think he wants America to be strong. Walker: Blood of Jesus Christ redeemed me from my sins, God calls us to follow his will and that's what I'm trying to do by busting unions.

Rubio, God, and also what about the veterans? Rubio: God has blessed the GOP with good candidates and (something about the Democrats), and he's blessed the country with soldiers I can send off to die in nonsensical wars, but it's all the VA's fault. Carson, how can you heal racial divide? We need to stop driving wedges, I don't talk about race because I'm a neurosurgeon and all the brains look alike.

Closing statements.

Kasich: People want to know what I've done. I'm a political careerist (1 year researcher for Ohio Legislative Service Commission; 4 years staffer to US Representative Buz Lukens; 4 years Ohio State Senate; 18 years US House of Representatives; 4.5 years Ohio Governor).

Christie: Born middle class, dad worked in an ice cream factory, I became a political careerist (3 years as Morris County, New Jersey Freeholder;  7 years as US Attorney for the District of New Jersey; 6.5 years as New Jersey Governor).

Paul: I'm a different kind of Republican. Gonna talk like a libertarian for a minute. Only one who leads Hillary in five Obama states.

Rubio: My parents were born in Cuba, came to America to have a chance. Journey from my dad's bartender days to my political careerism is great (two years West Miami City Commission; nine years Florida House; 4.5 years US Senate). Namechecks New American Century.

Cruz: I'll rescind Obama's executive actions. Then I'll have DoJ investigate Planned Parenthood. And I'll have the IRS persecute religious liberty (yes, I think that's what he actually said) and move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Carson: I'm the only one who's separated Siamese Twins (and other surgical stuff). Only one to take out half a brain, unless you look in Washington. Freedom is not free (yeah, there's an original).

Huck: Seems like this election is about someone high in the polls, who does not know how to govern, could not lead. Hillary Clinton. We need leadership, and I play a mean bass line.

Walker: Let me tell you what a careerist I am (nine years Wisconsin State Legislature; eight years Milwaukee County Executive; 4.5 years Wisconsin governor).

Bush: I believe we are at the verge of greatest time to be alive, but DC is holding us back. Hints that he might not be a Know-Nothing on immigration. Commits to "fixing" things.

Trump: Our country is in serious trouble. We don't win any more. We can't beat China or Japan or Mexico, we can't do anything right. We need bigger military, better VA, end ObamaCare, make America great again.

10:46 Break.

10:36 Trump, if you were prez how would you respond to Iranians visiting Moscow? Trump: I would be soooooo different. Don't want to say Obama is incompetent, but ... if you look at the deals we make. We shouldn't have brought POW Bergdahl home because I hate America. I don't understand the Iran deal, but I'm going to talk about it until my time is up and then some.

Russia was behind cyber attack on DoD, previous China attack on DC. Cruz, have Russia and China committed acts of cyber war and what would you do? Cruz: Of course they have, because Obama and Clinton. I'm going to raise my voice about Russia and China and especially Iran. We need a commander in chief who will really get our tits in a wringer. I'm your guy.

Carson, Obama set a red line on Syria. Let's pretend that Assad did use chemical weapons even though it seems to have been our "moderate rebels." Would you use force? Carson: We've weakened ourselves military so much ... [dear God ... this nutball thinks the US military is too small? What planet is he FROM?]

Walker, what would you do if Putin tried to destabilize the Baltic states? Walker: If I'm president, Putin won't dare do anything because I'm Scott Walker. Even though I've never spent a day in the military in my life, I am Eisenhower and Patton rolled into one.

Huck, how would you handle trans-gender soldiers? Huck: Military is not a social experiment except when I want to impose my religious views on it. I'm as crazy as Carson and think our military is too old and small.

Paul, first budget you proposed cut aid to Israel. Why did you tuck tail and run as soon as you got called out on that? Paul: I proposed balanced budgets, and even Netanyahu says Israel would be stronger if it was independent. Israel is a great ally even though they spy on us, murder our citizens and sell our secrets to China, but we're too bankrupt to support even such a great ally.

Christie: I'm a fucking idiot who thinks the US military is too small, too, and here's how much bigger I want to make it. This will send a clear message around the world that we are fucking psychopaths who don't know how to balance a fucking checkbook.

10:32 Break. Unless something happened early on while I was out on car rescue, I'm not seeing a breakout yet. Christie has bombed big-time so far, I think. Trump and Bush are holding their own. I think maybe someone slipped Walker a roofie or something. Or maybe he's a zombie?

10:22 Bush, you say you support de-funding Planned Parenthood, but until last year you were on the board of a charity that gave them money. WTF? Bush: Yeah, I was on Bloomberg's foundation's board but didn't pay attention. But I de-funded Planned Parenthood as governor of Florida and was a pro-life governor.

Rubio, you favor a rape/incest exception. WTF? Rubio: No, I don't. I think right to life is in the Constitution. We are barbarians for murdering millions of babies.

Trump, in 1999 you were "very pro-choice," even supporting partial birth. Why did you become a Republican? Trump: I've evolved on many issues, so did Ronald Reagan. I was in business, they asked me a question, I said I hate concept of abortion. Friends were going to have abortion, they had the kid and he's great. As far as being GOP, I am from New York which is Democrat but I have started to see the negatives because Obama.

Bush, press says you called Trump a clown and buffoon, did you? Bush: No, but he is divisive. We need an uplifting message and I have one from being governor of Florida.

Trump: Glad he didn't say that stuff. But he did say was my tone, and I understand that, but when you have TEH MUSLIMS cutting Christian's heads off, we don't have time for tone.

Kasich, if you had gay kid, how would you explain your support for marriage apartheid? Kasich: The court has ruled, it's over, I just went to a gay wedding and would be fine if my kid was gay.

Paul, what would you do to ensure Christians are not persecuted for their views on marriage. Paul: I don't want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington, and government shouldn't be able to interfere with religious beliefs.

Walker, #blacklivesmatter says police violence is civil rights issue of our time. Agree, and do what about? Walker: We need better training.

10:18 Break.

9:58 Kasich, how will you fight Hillary on the class war? Kasich: My dad was a mailman. I think she will come at me narrowly, I have to go broad, pro-growth. I balanced the federal budget (he keeps saying that). It's important to reach out to people in the shadows. America's a miracle country and we have to make that apply to everyone. He's kind of exercised, but not very exciting.

Carson, same question. Carson: If Hillary is candidate, which I doubt, she is the epitome of progressive movement and counts on people being uninformed, Alinsky model. I believe people are not stupid. If I wanted to destroy country, here's what I'd do (starts saying weird shit).

Bush, you promised 4% economic growth and 19 million jobs in two terms. That's triple your dad and your brother combined. What the fuck? Bush: We've done that 27 times since World War II. Buncha statistics, and I'm trying not to be boring here but not succeeding. Get rid of ObamaCare and replace it with ... something.

Walker, when you ran for governor you promised you would create 250k jobs in your first term. Did like half that, 35th in job growth in country. Why should voters believe you now. Walker: The voters in Wisconsin like me anyway. Speed round of stuff he'd do.

Christie, you want entitlement reform including screwing with Social Security. Huck says he can save Social Security without screwing with it. Is he lying? Christie: No, he's not lying, he's just wrong. We need to phase in a two year increase in retirement age over 25 years, means test people over $200k in retirement income who don't need it. If we don't, this will bankrupt the country.

Huck, you say that would be breaking a promise to the American people. Explain how the "Fair" Tax will allow you to save American socialism. Huck: 60 million on Social Security. Nobody by choice. We promised them payback on the taxes we took, and it's the government's fault, not theirs. We shouldn't lie and steal, except in the same way we always have.

Christie: Newsflash, the lying and stealing has already occurred, trust fund is nothing but IOUs. We need to tell the truth and fix it.

Huck: We need the "Fair" Tax so that the 1% and the prostitutes and pimps have to pay too.

Trump, you've gone bankrupt four times. How is that you have the business savvy to run the country again? Trump: Because I have used the laws of this country to use a great job for myself, for my family, for my country, and it's not really me who went bankrupt, it's just the companies I sucked dry. And I'm proud of my deals.

Trump, lenders lost a billion dollars and 1100 jobs on Trump Entertainment. Trump: The lenders are not the sweet people you think. And everyone else in Atlantic City went bankrupt too.

Rubio, more than 3,000 sent us questions about economy. Here's one, tell us one action you would do to make economic environment more favorable for small business and entrepreneurs. Rubio: Economy dramatically down from five years ago, except for companies with connections in DC. Need to lower small business tax rates, reduce regulations, repeal and replace ObamaCare, improve education, repeal and replace Dodd-Frank.

Obama criticized GOP for trying to block Iran deal and making common cause with Iran hardliners. Walker, what if deal is undone? Walker: We need more sanctions.

Paul? Paul: I oppose the deal and will vote against it (there went his chance to differentiate himself in any positive way from the others).

Huck, what do you think about Paul? Huck: Ronald Reagan said trust but verify, Obama says trust and vilifies. I obviously know nothing whatthefucksoever about the deal's details, but I'm going to bloviate at length about them anyway, and work Israel into it because Adelson.

9:55 Break. Time for a smoke.

9:46 Trump, you used to be for single-payer, why do you oppose ObamaCare now? Trump: I'm the only one on this stage who came out against the war in Iraq. As far as single-payer, it works in Canada, it works in Scotland, but it can't work here. We need a private system. The insurance companies are making a fortune from their control of the politicians, except for the ones on this stage. We need to take care of people who can't take care of themselves.

Paul has a verbal brain fart and thinks Trump still favors single-payer.

Trump, you donated to a bunch of Democrats and now you say it was for business favors. What were those favors? Trump: Whatever you want them to do. I've given to most of the people on this stage. System is broken. I give. Two years later, I need something, they give. Hillary came to my wedding because I gave to her foundation.

Walker: Hillary is SUCH a BITCH.

Huckabee, will you abolish the DEA (EPA?), IRS, Department of Education?  Huck: Government isn't too big to shrink, it's that the system is broken with lobbyists and mandates on states, etc. We should pass the "Fair" [sic] tax.

Carson, do you agree? Carson: Taxes should be like tithing, 10% flat tax, no deductions, etc.

Bush, you support Common Core, a lot of these others don't. Bush, I don't believe the federal government should create standards, that's a state responsibility, and school choice. As Florida governor, I created the first three voucher programs in the country. Screw the teachers' unions.

Rubio, why is Bush wrong on Common Core? Rubio: We need curriculum reform, but at state/local level. Common Core sucks because Department of Education (apparently he doesn't know that Common Core was created by the Republican Governors Association).

Bush, do you agree with Rubio? Bush: Yeah, but let me just keep talking to run the clock out.

9:39 Facebook questioner, how would you stop ISIS?

Cruz, how would you destroy ISIS in 90 days? Cruz: By killing TEH MUSLIMS and taking away the citizenship of people I don't like. Obama is an apologist for TEH MUSLIMS. We need to be more like al Sisi (dictator of Egypt).

Bush, you struggled to answer whether you would have invaded Iraq. You finally said no. To the families of those who died, how to tell them the war was a mistake. Bush: Knowing what we know now, we can pretend that we didn't know it then even though everyone else was trying to tell us to get our heads out of our asses. So I called the families of the people from Florida who died and lied to them. Barack Obama is an idiot for following the terms of the agreement my brother reached with Iraq and we need to go back and get some more Americans killed.

Walker, who can be our partner in the region? Walker: Egypt (military dictatorship) and Saudi Arabia (chief financiers of al Qaeda and ISIS). Those are our guys.

Carson, would you bring back torture? Carson: If we want to torture, that's our business, and I don't think we should be telling everyone about it. There's no such thing as a politically correct war, so just trust me. We shouldn't fight stupid wars, and since I've talked to the generals, I will know which wars are stupid and which ones aren't.

9:35 Christie, do you stand by your flying monkey insane opposition to Rand Paul's reasonable position on illegal NSA spying? Christie: Yes, I do. I loved being a federal prosecutor and being able to play Big Brother. This is not theoretical to me. We have always been at war with Eastasia. I respect civil liberties while completely ignoring them and stomping on them at every opportunity, and I want to be the big boot stomping on a face forever.

Paul: The Fourth Amendment is what we fought the Revolution over. I will stand for the Bill of Rights.

Christie: That's ridiculous.

Paul and Christie yell at each other a little. Sounds like the crowd prefers Christie.

Paul: Every time you prosecuted a case, you got a warrant. If you want to give Obama a big hug again, go right ahead.

Christie: 9/11! 9/11! Nothing to do with politics, noun, verb, 9/11!

9:30 Kasich: We need to take lessons from Trump. Mistake to tune him up. He has his solutions, others have theirs. I balanced the federal budget. People want the wall built.

Rubio, is it as simple as that? Rubio: People coming across border aren't from Mexico, but other Latin American countries. People feel like we're being taken advantage of and legal immigrants waiting keep calling my office.

Walker, from 2002 to 2013, you supported immigration reform. Now you're a Know-Nothing. Wazzup? Walker: I listened and realized that Know-Nothings vote Republican, and I don't want to break my record of 22 years on the taxpayer teat (nine years Wisconsin State Legislature; eight years Milwaukee County Executive; 4.5 years Wisconsin governor).

Cruz, will you "de-fund" "sanctuary cities?" Cruz: Yes, I hate federalism and want to force cities to enforce federal laws. A majority of candidates on this stage have sometimes been sane on immigration, but not me.

9:29 Back ... commercial break. What did I miss?

8:58 Yep, gotta go rescue a damsel. Be back as soon as possible. Maybe they won't start without me.

8:50pm Two things, before things get started:

  1. You may have noticed in the Kids' Table liveblog, I rattled off the "time on government teat" credentials of some candidates. No, I didn't do that from memory, I did it from a set of scorecards I'm developing, one metric among them being a "careerism score." On that metric, candidates get five points for each year they've spent on the dole (as an elected officeholder, appointed official, or government employee), for a maximum of 100 (100 with an asterisk if they broke the 100 mark). You may see more such numbers as this thread goes on.
  2. I may have to duck out, at least for a bit. Tamara just called with car trouble. If that happens, I'll let you know. It's far more important than listening to a bunch of Republicans talk.

OK, the Kids' Table is closed and we're about 40 minutes out from The Really Big Shew: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich. Will there be fireworks? Maybe. Maybe not.

IMO, it will only get really interesting or important to the ultimate outcome if one of the candidates is willing to cross the party picket line on immigration (Bush or Rubio seem to be the most likely to do that) or the Iran nuclear deal (Rand Paul looks like the only possible there, and it seems an unlikely, albeit heroic should it happen, cranio-rectal separation procedure).

Steve Schmidt, who was John McCain's top campaign man in 2008, is on MSNBC right now. He thinks the GOP could lose the general election tonight if someone doesn't break the immigration ice and the party's presidential line ends up hardening around a Trump-like position that can't garner at least 40% of the Hispanic/Latino vote.

I think Schmidt's right. The Republicans can't win the general election tonight, but they can lose it if they're not careful.

OK, the liveblog will start here in about 35-40 minutes. See you then.

Debate Interstitial

As I mentioned in the liveblog of the "Kids' Table" event, it seems to me like Fox is in the tank for Carly Fiorina. She seemed to get more face time than the other candidates and they led off by asking her to comment on comparisons between her and Margaret Thatcher -- comparisons I've never heard before and that sound like they were created especially for this event. Ever since the event ended the talking heads have been running her around the TV track as the winner.

I'm just not seeing it, folks. She seemed pretty stiff. Her punch lines (e.g. unlike Trump she "didn't get a phone call from Bill Clinton before jumping into the race") were neither especially punchy nor especially funny. Nothing she said policy-wise was substantially different from anything any of the other candidates said, nor was it said with as much conviction or with a record to stand it up against for credibility (in a field of thin resumes, hers is the thinnest -- "HP's board fired me to keep me from bankrupting the company, then I got my ass handed to me in the only election I ever contested"). Like I said in the liveblog, her schtick was half boilerplate and half babble, all delivered in a near-deadpan way that I personally found irksome.

Her only strong point is that she's the only woman in the GOP nomination race. And that doesn't strike me as any kind of special advantage. Granted, she's more masculine than Lindsey Graham, but then who isn't?

Let's be realistic here: She threw her hat in the ring hoping to develop sufficient mo that she could cash in her chips after New Hampshire in return for the veep slot or a cabinet appointment promise. She wasn't a serious candidate 2 1/2 hours ago, and she isn't a serious candidate now.

So the question is, why is Fox treating her like a serious candidate? Is Roger Ailes hoping to make her into a serious candidate? Or maybe to jack up her profile a little so he can put her in a Fox talk show slot after she gets her pink slip? Inquiring minds want to know.

Like I said in the liveblog, I didn't see any massive breakouts shaping up at the Kids' Table. Rick Perry probably had the best outing. He only experienced one or two of the verbal slip-ups he's known for, and he managed to pull off some alpha male posturing that might play well with Trump's current base. Depending on what happens at the Kool Kids' Klub later tonight, maybe he'll edge his way into the top ten for next time. But that's the only real change I'm comfortable suggesting might happen. I'd bet money that Fiorina will still be in the polling basement at the next cut.

How About Some LiveBlog? -- Kid's Table Edition

My Opinion: Nobody broke out in any significant way. I get the feeling that the moderators were doing everything they could to let Carly Fiorina shine, but frankly half of what she had to say was boilerplate and the other half was babble. I'm listening to the aftershow now and the Fox people are trying to talk her up, so yeah, I was right ... they are in the tank for Fiorina.

6:20 It's over. Thank God.

6:10 Graham: Whatever it takes to keep America at war, I will do. I will be Ronald Reagan if I can find a Tip O'Neill. We need to save Social Security.

Two word answers to describe Hillary, going too fast for me to catch, but I'm pretty sure they don't like her. Also, Perry can't count.

30 second closing statements:

Perry: Show me don't tell me election, and Texas is the show-me state (he didn't actually say THAT). Texas. Texas. Texas. Hispanics and African Americans and Texas. Manufacturing and Texas. TEXAS!

Santorum: Karen and I have seven children, so we think about the future. We need to stop letting so many people in because my kids need the space. Also, manufacturing jobs.

Jindal: Lot of great talkers running. We need a doer, not a talker. Bush is a dipshit, we need to be conservative, stop letting people who look like me just waltz in.

Fiorina: Hillary is SUCH A BITCH. We need a nominee who will throw punches until she gets fired and loses the only election she's ever run in. I need your help to drive this hellhole into the ground too.

Graham: We need somebody ready to keep the wars going, and maybe to whiz around the war room in a wheelchair calling people mein fuhrer and giving Nazi salutes.

Pataki: Why me? My background is different. I won in a Democratic state and for some reason I want you to remember that I was in charge in New York the day the hijackers bitch-slapped us.

Gilmore: I was a conservative governor of Virginia. We have to change directions and I am offering a specific program for the audience to use as a sleep aid. Hey, I was a governor on 9/11 too.

6:08 Sorry, food came and I had to stop for a moment. Santorum's talking about how great Santorum is.

5:58 Pataki, Planned Parenthood, you are only pro-choice candidate. No Republican pro-choice candidate has won a presidential primary in 35 years. Has Planned Parenthood scandal changed your heart? Pataki: No, I've always hated abortion and would defund Planned Parenthood. Abortion should be outlawed past 20 weeks. It is Hillary and Biden who are for late-term abortion.

Jindal, would you shut down government to defund Planned Parenthood. Jindal: Planned Parenthood had better hope Hillary wins, because I will sic the IRS and DoJ on them. I don't think Obama should shut down government simply to give taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood. Republicans should have defunded Planned Parenthood and didn't, should have repealed ObamaCare and didn't.

Graham, defunding Planned Parenthood against women's health? Graham: Not a war on women, all of us as Americans should stand up against harvesting fetal organs. We should take the money from Planned Parenthood and give it to women's healthcare. But let's get back to my favorite topic, which is that I want to send American soldiers back to Iraq and back to Afghanistan and to Syria and to every other place in the world.

Of Ethics and Ad Blockers

I installed the Adblock Plus extension for ChromeOS awhile back, for one reason and one reason only: The Libertarian Republic is so overloaded with ads that it slows my Chromebox to a crawl unless I block the ads.

Shortly after that, I re-thought the situation and decided to just remove TLR from my "daily crawl" for RRND material until and unless Austin Peterson gets right with Jesus on the ad overload thing. Unfortunately, I forgot all about Adblock Plus until this morning, when an interesting blog post from Christopher Burg jogged my memory.

Christopher's point is that ad blockers serve an important purpose above and beyond merely blocking ads: They also block malware that hitches rides on ads. Apparently this is becoming a real problem. Nonetheless, I turned off Adblock Plus once the post caused me to notice that I still had it running. Malware is way down my list of worries. I'm not saying that ChromeOS or the Chrome browser are immune, of course -- I can think of several nightmare scenarios -- but I'm reasonably confident that Google can intercept most malware and quickly nuke the rest.

Why did I turn off Adblock Plus? Simple: I think there's an implicit contract involved here. You put up a web page. That costs you something -- money if it's on your own paid web hosting, time and effort in any case.

If you're running ads on the page, you are charging me for viewing the content. The charge isn't a given amount of currency. The charge is my permission for you to insert ads into my visual space. I don't have to read them. I don't have to click on them. I don't have to pay attention to them at all. But blocking them is, to my mind, a little bit like shoplifting.

Yes, ads can be inconvenient. The checkout line at my local grocery store can be inconvenient too. But I don't get to bypass it and walk out with my milk, bread and coffee just because it's inconvenient.

Of course, Burg addresses this:

Many websites rely on advertisements for revenue so they understandably get upset when users visit their pages while using ad blockers. But their revenue model requires their users put themselves at risk so I don't have any sympathies. If you run a website that relies on ads you should be looking at different revenue models, preferabl[y] ones that don't put your users in harm's way.

Well, OK. Maybe their revenue model does put their users at risk. Maybe they should be looking at different revenue models. Be that as it may, my legitimate option for dealing with the risk is to not point my web browser there. Just as, if my grocery store's way of doing things puts me at risk, my legitimate option for dealing with the risk is to not shop there, rather than to take the milk, bread and coffee home without paying for it.

I'm willing to be convinced to see this another way. In fact, not just willing, but interested. I'd love to be able to run an ad blocker without believing that I'm initiating force by doing so. Please feel free to take your best shot.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Election 2016: The First Signs of "Interesting"

As I write this, US president Barack Obama is speaking on "the Iran deal" at American University. The speech is, so far, a tour de force in which he has carefully explained the deal, completely demolished every objection to the deal except for the unmentioned correct one ("since Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, no deal should be necessary to stop its nuclear weapons program -- just lift the sanctions and go about your business"), and given those who object to the deal a very limited set of options:

  1. Get behind the deal; or
  2. Be, and be publicly noticed as, an evil, anti-American whack job.

In theory, the speech was aimed at Congress. But we all know better, don't we? It's no coincidence that he scheduled this speech for the day before the first Republican presidential primary debate (and the "kids' table" forum for those not in Fox's reckoning of the top ten).

Seventeen (that's how many it is now, right?) candidates just got cornered like rats. Each of them has about 24 hours to choose between (1) and (2) before going live on national TV and answering questions about the choice.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, 1954-2015

They Live may not be the greatest dystopian film ever made, but it's certainly a fun ride and it includes one of the best lines of monologue ever written:

How can you not love the guy after that?

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/05/15

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

How it works:

  • You ask me anything (in the comment thread below this post); and
  • I answer you (in the comment thread, or on the podcast, or both).

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 08/02/15

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

In this episode:

  • No Thanks For Not Asking!;
  • Fifteen months out and the 2016 presidential election cycle is already weird, trite and overhyped;
  • Gulf War anniversary/apology;
  • What I'm Doing and Why You Should Help Me Do It.