Sunday, January 31, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 64: Goodbye Google?/Austin Petersen WTF?

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Goodbye Google?);
  • LP presidential nomination also-rans (Austin Petersen)

Some show links:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pastry cuz MURKA!

Purchased at Wal-Mart today (photo by Amelia Millay):

Election 2016: Prediction Market Musings

Official portrait of Vice President of the Uni...
As I mentioned awhile back (not worth looking up to link), I've invested a whopping $10 in the PredictIt "prediction market" on two sets of shares. I bought:

  • 100 shares of "Joe Biden wins the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination" at five cents per share; and
  • 250 shares of "Joe Biden wins the 2016 US presidential election" at two cents per share.

The price of those shares as reflected in trading at PredictIt has been swinging back and forth -- their prospective total sale value has been up or down by as much as $5 since buying them. As I write this, the most recent trade of Biden for the nomination was at eight cents per share, Biden for president at two cents.

For obvious reasons, I'll be watching those shares on Monday night.

Shares of "Hillary Clinton wins the Iowa caucus" are currently trading at 66 cents, "Bernie Sanders to win the Iowa caucus" at 40 cents. Biden's at one cent per share there and I wouldn't buy at that price.

If Clinton loses, or even just barely edges Sanders out, I expect a big boom on "Biden for  the nomination" shares and a smaller one on Biden in the general election. Especially so if "uncommitted" (which is not listed as a share option on PredictIt) does well.

I'm liking my chances pretty well on that proposition.  And at that point, it would be gut check time. I would have to decide whether to sell out or to hold on. If I keep those shares and Biden wins the nomination and the election, my $10 investment will have become $350. If I keep them and he wins neither, I lost ten bucks.

Of course, I could see both shares dip to effectively zero very early. For example, if Clinton unexpectedly routs Sanders really badly in Iowa, and manages to parlay that win into a New Hampshire comeback/upset. But I'm not expecting either of those things.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Public Key, Updated

I've deleted/revoked my previous public key. Please use the following as needed (and I'll try to remember to check that email address more often -- in fact, the next and most likely annoyingly difficult phase of my departure from the Googleverse will be abandoning Gmail, possibly for Unseen).

Version: OpenPGP.js v.1.20131017


Thursday, January 28, 2016

First Surprise of Tonight's GOP Debate

Rand Paul got the most applause by far of all the candidates as they were introduced. Maybe the talking up I've been hearing about his ground game in Iowa isn't all just guff.

Why I'm Not a Big Fan of Florida's "Seminole Compact"

First, a couple of videos from the Seminole Tribe touting its "benefits" (here's a link to the site promoting the pact):

Let's look at the claims "in favor" of the compact:

  • It would "create jobs" building Seminole casinos, staffing Seminole casinos, etc.
  • It would guarantee the government of Florida $3 billion in revenues over five years.
  • It would let the legislature limit the expansion of gambling to "keep Florida's entertainment options family-friendly."
Now look at what those claims actually mean:

  • Sure, it would create jobs building and staffing Seminole casinos; and it would cost the jobs that would be created by letting anyone who damn well pleases open casinos.
  • It would give the politicians in Tallahassee $3 billion they could spend expanding their various programs for running our lives.
  • In return for the $3 billion bribe, the politicians would preserve the Seminole tribe's monopoly on some forms of gambling in Florida by keeping new competitors out of their way and even, in some instances, shutting down existing competitors. Yes, that's what it means by "keeping Florida's entertainment options family-friendly."
My preferred solution would be for the legislature to repeal every statute on the books relating to casino gambling (or any other kind of gambling) and let the market do what the market does (align supply with demand).

And in truth, doing so would probably bring in far more than $3 billion over five years to the state in tax revenues. I consider that a bug, not a feature. The less money the state has, the better. But hey, I can't have everything (where would I put it?).

If the Seminoles are going to get a government-enforced monopoly in return for a $3 billion bribe, the least they can do is send the bribe checks to every man, woman and child in Florida. That $3 billion would come to about $150 for each of us. Enough for a nice night out on the town, perhaps at a Seminole casino. Maybe we would all just blow the money, but it would be hard for us to get up to as much mischief with it as the legislature would.

Thanks For Asking! -- 01/28/16

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

The skinny:

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 63: Concerning Dr. Marc Allan Feldman

This week's podcast (and all of them through 2016!) are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (of day jobs and conservative living constitutionalists);
  • Dr. Marc Allan Feldman's campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2016 Presidential Nomination

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is Twitter Making it This Idiotically Difficult for Everyone, or Just Me?

Lately I've been getting several messages a week -- anecdotally, it feels like daily or maybe even more frequently -- warning me that due to a "suspicious sign in," I should consider re-setting my password, and/or will need to use a special code instead of my password the next time I log in.

Even when that doesn't happen, it seems like 90% of the time Twitter demands that I confirm my phone number on login, seemingly for the same "there has been suspicious activity" reasons.

Since the "suspicious login" messages tend to hit my email box regularly, a few hours after actual real logins by me, I don't think that someone's trying to hack my account. I think that Twitter is just overreacting to the fact that I might log in in from a different browser at any given time (right now I am mostly using Firefox, but also taking a new look at Opera, and occasionally using Chrome for some stuff that I haven't really figured out how to not need Chrome for yet).

I'm pretty marginal as a Twitter user. I have some automation set up to tweet my blog posts and so forth, and manually log in to tweet stuff that isn't automated, but I get into a Twitter "conversation" maybe a couple of times a month.

Are those of you who practically live on Twitter constantly subjected to this annoying BS too?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hmmm ... was I onto something long before quite a few others?

Some skeptics have suggested that Donald Trump is a Democratic plant in the 2016 presidential race -- that he's there for the specific purpose of wrecking the Republican Party's prospects on behalf of his good friends, the Clintons.

Heck, I don't write off that possibility. In fact, I just noticed, while doing some vanity Googling, that I suggested the idea myself ...

... In 2011!

And whaddayaknow, he's even following a variant of the same strategy this year that he followed in 2011-2012, only this time aiming his "birther" stuff in the other direction, at a Republican (Ted Cruz), to sow internal discord and dismay.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Note to Planned Parenthood

When your political allies have been guaranteeing you half a billion dollars a year -- half your annual revenues -- in corporate welfare for decades, and treat it as outrageous that anyone would question your entitlement to that annual welfare check, yes, you are part of "the establishment." Pretending you aren't doesn't even come close to passing the laugh test.

Book Recommendation -- Bernie: A Lifelong Crusade Against Wall Street and Wealth

You think you know Bernie Sanders, because you've half-attentively followed the Democratic presidential horse race. But you probably don't know Bernie Sanders at all. My friend Darcy Richardson fills the gap with 400 plus pages of the real scoop.

I haven't finished the book yet (my copy just arrived yesterday), but I'm already loving it. Like all of Richardson's work, it is rich in detail (if you're interested in the history of American third party politics, his multi-volume history of same, Others, is the essential work -- here's a link to the first volume).

Whatever you think of Sanders, his long career in politics makes for great reading. I suspect you'll come away thinking more of whatever you already thought (the fact that he and his wife took their honeymoon in the Soviet Union should light a fire under the John Birch Society's ass!), but at least you'll have loads of information to back up your opinion.

And no, I don't love the book just because it quotes me or because Darcy is one of my favorite people. But it does, and he is :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Bit of Crow for Breakfast (But I'm Gonna Share it With My OS)

So: I'm still personally tussling with the ethics of ad blockers. But you're damn right I'm using one (uBlock Origin) now. Here's why:

My Asus Chromebox only sports 2Gb of RAM and an Intel dual-core Celeron CPU running at 1.4 GHz. Yet somehow it manages to run several open browser tabs (five easily, usually 10 or more) without slowing down for MOST sites. I can only think of two sites that I either stopped using or minimized my use of because they were so full of ad crap that they slowed my machine down or caused tabs to run out of memory when I stopped using an ad blocker. And I probably could have gone back to using them once I installed The Great Suspender, an app that would claw back memory from tabs I hadn't been using for awhile, then reload them as needed.

My MacBook Pro (running MacOS 10.10.5, "Yosemite") came with 8Gb of RAM and a dual-core Intel Core i7 Arrandale CPU running at 2.8 GHz. But let me get more than about five or six browser tabs open (in Chrome or Firefox either one), almost regardless of which sites, even if I've intentionally made sure other apps aren't running in the backgroud, and the thing starts noticeably slowing down. The CPU temperature spikes, too (I use a light app called SystemPal to keep track of this and start buzzing at me when the CPU temp climbs above 90 degrees celsius), and I start getting warnings that this or that script on this or that page is running slowly and do I want to kill it or keep running it.

Some of you tried to tell me this when I started discussing whether or not viewing ads was the honest price of seeing content. I just assumed y'all were exaggerating, because who the hell would put up with that kind of thing? Turns out that y'all put up with it (or, rather, find ways around it instead of switching to ChromeOS).

So yeah, I can't really figure any way around using an ad blocker unless I want to limit myself to one browser tab and absolutely no real productivity. I'm with you now. But I still don't feel good about it.

On the one hand, I'm really enjoying being back on MacOS, even though I haven't done much of the stuff that I can do in MacOS and can't do in ChromeOS (e.g. gaming).

On the other hand, ChromeOS seems to be a mostly functionally superior operating system for those of us who are mostly just using our machines as Internet appliances. It hums right along on stuff that slows down machines with four times as much RAM and double the CPU speeds. From some off-the-cuff Googling, it also looks like my Mac consumes about 20 times as much electricity as the Chromebox at both idle and balls-out usage levels, in order to perform not as well.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast Has Been Preempted ...

... by something that I would characterize as almost, but not quite, laryngitis. My voice isn't entirely gone, but it's just a croak, and a judicious application of bourbon to the problem has proven ineffective in bringing it back to its naturally annoyingly hoarse state.

If there HAD been a podcast tonight, it would have been brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

I don't think I'm actually coming down with anything. To be honest, I got a little bit more enthusiastic than usual with the singing at church this morning, and that's when things with my throat started going south. Or maybe north. I confess a certain sense of bemusement at our new pastor's choice of closing hymn this morning. It's a song I'd think somewhat odd for a southern church -- "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," although that's not how it is titled in the hymnal (nor is it titled to its original tune, "John Brown's Body"). I felt moved to really belt it out.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

An Open Letter to 2016 Libertarian National Convention Candidates

Dear prospective Libertarian National Convention delegates,

Maybe I'm a utopian dreamer -- experience tells me that may very well be the case. Nonetheless, I think this is the right time to start thinking carefully and seriously about our choices for our party's 2016 presidential nomination.

Thinking. Carefully. Seriously.

No, I am not going to pitch a particular candidate to you at this time (I've expressed my own preferences elsewhere), nor am I going to ask you to NOT support any particular candidate.

I'm just going to ask you to think. Carefully. Seriously.

Here's why:

  1. In 2004, Michael Badnarik ended up as the party's surprise nominee after he did well in the debate at the national convention and after Gary Nolan's campaign cratered in the voting (my "opposition research" work for Aaron Russo got some credit for that) and he threw his support to Badnarik versus Russo.

    Not more than ten minutes after the voting and cheering ended, as I sat in the Russo campaign room commiserating with other Russo supporters, the screeching started. "But I didn't knoooooooooowwwwwww!" At least two people (admittedly, one of them was king-hell drunk and perpetually histrionic "Libertarian Larry" Fulmer, a late, great, lamented friend of mine) wanted to re-convene the delegates to yank Badnarik's nomination.

    Why? Well, because Badnarik had (on principle) refused to file federal income tax returns for some years, and because Badnarik (on principle) neither possessed nor carried a state driver's license. And this, in the opinions of the people who didn't knooooowwwwwwwww, constituted terrible optics for a Libertarian presidential campaign.

    Excuse me, but What. The. Fuck. People?

    Michael Badnarik spent a full year campaigning his ass off for the nomination, attending numerous state conventions and participating in every debate that would have him. To support his travels he gave a class on the Constitution in which he fully elaborated his views and practices on the income tax and on drivers' licenses. Additionally, he gave numerous interviews in which he mentioned those things. Then he wrote and published a campaign book covering the same material, a book which was for sale both prior to and at the national convention.

    My personal opinion was that these things were no big deals, especially as he showed no signs of making them major campaign issues (and as it turned out he ran a damn good campaign). But the people who didn't knoooowwwwwwwwww, didn't know because they didn't give enough of a damn to know.
  2. In 2008, I spent a good deal of time and money, and spilled a good deal of (digital) ink, demonstrating beyond any shadow of a doubt that one Wayne Allyn Root was a minor-league scam artist with no plausible credentials whatsoever for the party's nomination.

    Nonetheless, Root polled in third place for the presidential nomination, became the vice-presidential nominee, damaged the campaign and the party almost as badly as the presidential nominee (Bob Barr) did, then came back in 2010 to nearly be elected national chair of the party. Libertarians didn't really turn against him until 2012 when he left the Libertarian Party and endorsed Mitt Romney for president (it didn't phase convention delegates in 2008 that only days before he declared for the LP's presidential nomination, he endorsed a John McCain/Joe Lieberman GOP ticket).

    Once again, the people who didn't knoowwwwwwwwwww in both 2008 and 2010 didn't know because they couldn't be bothered to know, or didn't want to know, or went out of their way to not know.
As a Libertarian National Convention delegate, you are going to spend a good deal of time and a good deal of money to travel to a likely distant city (Orlando, Florida), on the supposition that once there you will seriously and soberly conduct the business of your political party.

Why waste all that time and money -- and why ask your state party to trust you with this responsibility -- if you're going to get there and suddenly mutate into the political equivalent of a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert, throwing your panties (and your vote) at whichever candidate happens to wow you the most in a short period of time?

For the love of God, do your research, or at least listen to the people who are willing to do your research for you.

That is all.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian National Convention Delegate -- 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Think I Take Rejection Fairly Well

That is, I don't throw a fit when an editor rejects something I submit for publication. In fact, I really like it when that editor tells me why the piece doesn't pass muster. That kind of information helps me in various ways. It can help me become a better writer, if the noted deficiencies relate to my wordsmithing abilities. It can help me understand, and possibly tailor the later material I submit to, the publication's guidelines. And so on and so forth.

So when I got the rejection letter from OpEdNews for my recent Garrison Center piece on the "Audit the Fed" bill, I read it with interest. Here's the reasoning behind the rejection:

Thank you but this article doesn't meet our criteria for support for claims. Either the claims are totally unsupported or you have used links to sites that are not among those we feel are reliable, substantive or trustworthy.

I confess myself puzzled. As best I can distill them, here are the claims I make in the piece:

  1. That the "Audit the Fed" bill is periodically supported by politicians generally considered "dissidents" (e.g. Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders);
  2. That opposition to the bill generally comes from the Fed itself and from "big business" lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce;
  3. That the opposition's argument against the bill is that it would "politicize" the Fed;
  4. That that argument doesn't hold water because the Fed is inherently "political;"
  5. That the only plausible real reason for the opposition is fear of transparency; and
  6. That that fear of transparency is in turn related to the Fed's mission being one of service to "the 1%," not to the general public.

I'm surprised that OpEdNews would consider any of these claims the least bit controversial or even contestable. I'd really only rate the first three as factual claims at all, the last three being more in the vein of argumentation.

In fact, when writing the piece, OpEdNews was one of two "left" publications that I kept at the front of my mind (the other was CounterPunch, which published it). That's one reason (another being my self-imposed length limits and a third being my own lack of effort in carefully vetting them myself) that I left out the kind of Fed criticisms one might find in, say, The Creature from Jekyll Island).

Puzzled. I thought this one would be a slam dunk.

But not angry. I will continue to submit to OpEdNews because I like the publication and because it lets me reach a "left" readership on issues we have in common. And let me link them again, because I hope you'll check out their offerings, which include a healthy leavening of libertarian material, e.g. John Whitehead's essays on the police state.

Hey, at least I got a blog post out of the rejection :D

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Should Not Be Amazed at How Quickly the Republican Candidates Maxed Out My Bullshit Meter

Basically, as soon as they started talking. Cruz and Christie in particular got up a contest on how bellicose they could be about the "incident" in which ten US Navy sailors somehow ended up in Iranian custody. Why, this would never happen on their watch without the nuclear button being pressed, and so on and so forth.

I say again: Bullshit meter pinged.

Here's what you need to understand -- if you didn't already -- about this whole "incident."

No, the boats didn't experience bizarre mechanical and radio failures and just happen to drift not only into Iranian waters but to (probably) within sight of a key Iranian military facility.

Those sailors were special operations forces on an illicit mission into Iranian waters, and they got caught.

Often when this happens between regimes that are at odds with each other but at least somewhat trying to repair their relations, plausible deniability kicks in. Both sides publicly pretend it was an accident, the offending side apologizes for the allegedly inadvertent intrusion, and the other side goes along and magnanimously hands back over the captured troops and boats (or planes, or whatever).

Why? Because neither side wants to ratchet up tensions at the moment.

It's really just that simple.

And yes, I know whereof I speak. The main difference between those sailors and me is that the only time I ran a covert boat op, I got a meritorious mast for doing it well instead of publicly embarrassing the Marine Corps by getting caught.

An Unrequested Endorsement

As usual, there hasn't been a lot of talk in the Libertarian Party about its 2016 vice-presidential nomination.

Interestingly and fortunately, the Libertarian Party has traditionally kept its presidential and vice-presidential nominations at more formally separate than the "major" parties.

In the Republican and Democratic parties, the presidential nominee chooses his or her running mate, whom the convention delegates pretty much accept by acclamation.

In the Libertarian Party, we actually have candidates say in advance "I'm seeking the party's vice-presidential nomination," campaign for that nomination, etc. The presidential nominee can express a preference, but the delegates genuinely choose on their own. In 2008, for example, Bob Barr endorsed Wayne Allyn Root for the vice-presidential nomination. Root won that nomination. Barely. A pretty substantial portion of the delegates voted for Steve Kubby.

Speaking of which, if he's willing, I hope that Kubby will be the 2016 vice-presidential nominee. And I hope that regardless of which presidential candidate is nominated (this assumes that None of the Above doesn't carry the day, of course).

I doubt that this endorsement will surprise anyone, except maybe Steve himself, whom I did not consult prior to trotting it out.

As a delegate to the 2000 national convention, I voted for Kubby for VP (he was defeated by Art Olivier). I managed Kubby's 2008 presidential campaign, proudly voted for him for the presidential nomination until he was eliminated from the balloting, and then voted for him for VP yet again.

If anyone wants to talk about why I think he'd make a great VP candidate, I guess we can do that. But personally, I think it's pretty damn obvious that he would, and that the LP made a huge mistake by not nominating him for either president or vice-president in 2008.

Heck, if he was willing, I'd support him for president again too.

McAfee on Cyber Security

John McAfee seems to consider cyber security the marquee issue for his presidential campaign. See his op-ed at Business Insider yesterday and his campaign position paper on the subject.

Coming at it from two directions -- "as a libertarian" and "on pragmatic grounds," I find his concerns quite relevant but his approach an epic fail.

Short version: McAfee wants to create a cabinet-level "Office of Digital Transformation" to do a couple of things -- bolster US cyber security and create a genuine retaliatory capability -- and to pay for that program with savings from disbanding the Transportation Security Administration.

Hey, I'm down with abolishing the TSA, and not just because of the cost savings that would accomplish for American taxpayers.

But, as McAfee seems to recognize -- in various places, on various issues, even including this one when he STARTS to talk about it -- government does not and cannot do anything well, or efficiently, or cheaply, or morally.

Even if his "Office of Digital Transformation" does as he suggests and hires the best "white hat" hackers it can find to do the things he thinks needs to be done, the ODT will quickly become just another bureaucracy full of featherbedding careerists and the US will remain vulnerable to the dangers McAfee perceives.

If I was designing a US cyber security strategy, I would come at it more like this:

  • De-governmentalize and de-centralize as much critical cyber-infrastructure as possible. A diffuse threat requires a diffuse defense, and this is as true of cyber war as it is of terrorism or anything else. The vulnerabilities McAfee wants to address are baked in to the structure of political government as we know it and can't be taken out of that structure short of abolishing the system (to which I say yay!, but which is unlikely in the near term). So, step one would be to have government be in charge of as little as possible (preferably, nothing at all), and DEFINITELY not in charge of cyber security. Let a thousand private sector solutions bloom.
  • If the government is allowed to continue to do some things, those things should be done in the most primitive, analog, un-wired ways possible. A Treasury employee should have an abacus, not a PC, on her desktop. Or at least have the necessary skill set to use that abacus if that PC should happen to decide it no longer works for the US government. Government computers shouldn't be connected to public networks "just because;" only if and when absolutely necessary. You know how your machine automatically connects when you boot up these days? Government computers should make it HARD TO CONNECT so that they are only connected when a conscious decision to connect, based on an important reason for connecting, has been made.
  • To the extent that government systems interface with the public Internet, there should also be a "bug bounty" program, just like all the big software companies run in the private sector. That's where the "white hat" hackers come in. If there's a vulnerability, it will be found. Right now, it will most likely be found by "black hat" cyber warriors who want to exploit it. But if there's a $10k reward for every vulnerability found and reported, the "white hats" will be in there working just as hard as the "black hats."
Since he's seeking the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, it behooves McAfee to think through major issues from the most libertarian perspective he can muster. And the past evidence is that he can muster a very libertarian perspective indeed. If he brings that perspective to bear on cyber security, I think his position will evolve to both a more libertarian and a more practical one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

OK, I Shouldn't Have Been so Quick to Cuss Wordpress

Awhile back (it's not really worth looking up and linking), I briefly griped about Wordpress. I had updated to a new version as one is recommended to do periodically, and "autocomplete" had disappeared from the custom fields I use in the production of Rational Review News Digest. Which was a real downer for me, since RRND involves trawling many of the same sites, gathering content by many of the same authors, every day. Autocomplete in those form fields saved me time. And I was wroth with Wordpress, and I did bellyache.

Well, now I'm on the Mac, and now I'm using Firefox instead of Chrome as my default browser.

Autocomplete still doesn't show up in those fields in Chrome.

But it does in Firefox.

I don't know if Chrome happened to update in a way that pranged autocomplete in those fields, so nearly in time as the Wordpress update came out as to make it difficult to tell where the fault lay, or whether Wordpress updated in a way that Chrome didn't -- and still doesn't -- grok. But I do know that the absence of a feature I desire isn't inherent in Wordpress after all. So sorry for cussing you, Wordpress.

Thanks For Asking! -- 01/13/16

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

How it works:

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Election 2016: Is Biden (Not) in it ... to Win it?

Vice president Joe Biden declined to enter the race for his party's 2016 presidential nomination. But, as WaPo's James Hohmann points out, he remains a "factor" in that race. He's subtly supporting Bernie Sanders and not-so-subtly slamming Hillary Clinton.

Could he be the 2016 Democratic nominee after all? I think he could. His path is narrow, but it's not non-existent.

My understanding is that he doesn't have to declare his candidacy in order to receive support in the Iowa caucus. And even if he did have to, there's also the "uncommitted" option for caucus participants.

Now suppose that Biden -- or "uncommitted" -- performs competitively in the caucus.

And suppose that, while Biden is too late to get on most (maybe even all) primary ballots, he consents, "under pressure" from a Draft Biden campaign, to be a write-in option.

The Democrats use a proportional delegate allocation system. Biden wouldn't have to WIN any states to rack up delegates.

Furthermore, at present, 371 of the Democratic Party's 713 "super-delegates" remain uncommitted, and the rest are free to change their minds any time.  If my math is right, and I think it is, the "super-delegates" constitute about 16% of the total delegate count. And my guess is that Biden says "OK, OK, Hillary is a train wreck and Bernie can't win the general election, quit twisting my arm, I'll do it," he'll have most of THOSE delegates in his pocket.

Which means there's every chance that Biden could come to the 2016 Democratic national convention "undeclared," but with delegates, and that that convention could in fact have no candidate with a first-ballot majority in her or his grasp.

If the party establishment has to do the brokered convention thing, Biden's the odds-on favorite to come out of that convention as the Democratic nominee.

You may not have read that here first, but you did read it here.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


That's how Marco Rubio characterizes Sean Penn's interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, published Saturday in Rolling Stone.

If one of these American actors who have benefited from the greatness of this country, who have made money from our free enterprise system, want to go fawn all over a criminal and a drug trafficker in their interviews, they have a Constitutional right to do it ... I find it grotesque.

OK, so maybe that's not completely unfair.

On the other hand, I don't see where Rubio really has the standing to offer such a judgment. After all, he's running for the top slot in a much larger criminal enterprise than El Chapo operates, and doing so on a platform that calls both for killing a LOT more people than El Chapo is credited with killing, and for stealing a LOT more money from a LOT more Americans for his pet projects than El Chapo ever earned by selling desirable products to willing customers.

If there's any aspect in which Marco Rubio is El Chapo's moral superior, I'm unaware of it.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 62: Gary Johnson, You Ignorant Slut!

This week's episode (and all episodes in 2016) brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed; and, Boobies For Liberty?);
  • The Week in Stupid (Gary Johnson disparages burqas and his supporters' intelligence).
Show Notes:

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I Call Shenanigans

On Gary Johnson. Today at The Daily Beast, he tries to walk back his statement that as president he would sign a law banning burqas in the United States.

Well, I don't blame him. But down in that piece, we find this:

"I gave Reason the honest kneejerk response and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong"

Kneejerk? Response?


If it was a kneejerk response to Reason, how did this end up in Politico?

Johnson's views can be hard to pigeonhole. He told POLITICO that he would support a ban on burqas because he believes they are forced under sharia law, not a symbol of religious freedom.

"We need to understand the difference between freedom of religion -- which is absolutely guaranteed and I would fervently defend," Johnson said. "Sharia law is politics, it's not religion. If you say that a woman is voluntarily going to be of lesser value than a man, which is in sharia law, can we allow that?"

And how did this end up in the Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal?

Interestingly, the longtime opponent of interventionist foreign policy and proponent of personal freedoms said he would support banning burqas that cover Islamic women's entire faces. Johnson said Islamic Sharia law doesn't condemn violence against women, and burqas allow women to hide facial injuries.

"We need to separate Sharia law, which is politics, and Islam, which is religion," Johnson said.

"Response?" Who believes that three different publications all chose the same day, the day of his campaign announcement, to ask him "so, Gary, how would you feel about legislation banning burqas?"

And even in some kind of bizarre alternative universe where being asked that three different times by three different journalists on one single day when the issue was on nobody's mind except maybe his was more than perhaps a one in a trillion possibility, how is giving the same basic response to those three journalists "kneejerk?"

It wasn't kneejerk and it wasn't a response. It was on his mind and he wanted to talk about it.

He wanted to dog whistle to Donald Trump's supporters.

And apparently he thought that libertarians (and Libertarians) either wouldn't notice or wouldn't care.

Those last two sentences constitute two entirely independent layers of "what the fuck, Gary?" on top of the idiotic policy position statement.

"Agent 1" Identified

[hat tip -- David Klaus]

His name is Gary Alford.

While it's unlikely that he can be made to pay a similar price to that levied upon his victim, political prisoner Ross Ulbricht, at least all good people now know to shun and ostracize him as the vicious criminal thug he is.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

As if I Needed Any More Reasons ...

... to completely write off any possibility of supporting Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination:

Surprisingly for a libertarian, Johnson, who recently resigned as the CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a marijuana marketing form, said that he would sign a bill banning the wearing of burqas in America. Sharia, he insisted, was not an expression of religion but of "politics" and hence many of its practices could be banned or limited without running afoul of the Constitution. -- "Exclusive: Gary Johnson Running For President, Call Trump's Plans 'Just Whacked - Just Nuts!'" by Nick Gillespie, Reason, 01/06/16 [h/t Angela Keaton]

Ye gads! Did Wayne Allyn Root get cold, cut Johnson open, and crawl inside his skin to get warm or something?

I mean, I expected a 2016 Johnson bid to be bad, but I didn't expect him to turn the stupid up to 11 on the first damn day.

The Garrison Center: My Story and I'm Sticking to It

Last night, I decided it was time to see how well The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism performed at its basic mission over its first 11 months of existence (the first Garrison op-ed went up on January 29, 2015). That is, how many times was Garrison content re-published or cited in "mainstream media" and non-libertarian political publications?

Well, I have a confession to make. I'm not that good at counting. Or at least not that good at separately counting, then adding up, items from 143 posts spread over 47 site pages. So I counted three times, and each time I came up with a different number. None of those numbers was as low as 540; none of those numbers was as high as 550; so I'm going to assert, although it may be off by one or two, that the Garrison Center's content was re-published/referenced/cited in newspapers and non-libertarian political publications 545 times last year.

Spread out over 11 months, that means Garrison Center content was "picked up" an average of 1.6x times per day, every day, seven days a week.

I wasn't expecting to do that well. I was hoping to hit 50 pickups in a month by the end of the year. Instead, we made it in April and averaged 49.x pickups per month over those eleven months.

This year, I'd like to have a 100-"pickup" month (the best so far has been, IIRC, 73). In 2017, I'd like to average more than 100 per month.

You know where this is going, right? I put considerable time and effort into this OUTREACH project. That's time and effort I can't be putting into other things. And I have to eat. So if putting libertarian op-eds in non-libertarian media strikes you as a good OUTREACH project, and if you think I'm doing a good job at it, why not pop over to the top of the sidebar and support my work? Thanks in advance!

Libertarian National Convention 2016: Seems Like a Small Issue, But Isn't Small to Me

Delegates to the Libertarian Party's national convention receive "tokens" to give to their preferred candidates for the party's presidential nomination. There's a minimum threshold number of "tokens" that a candidate has to collect in order to participate in the candidate debate on the main stage (and, IIRC -- someone will correct me if I am wrong, I'm sure -- a few other things, such as perhaps getting stage time for nomination speeches).

At one time, this was no big deal: Candidates who had extra "tokens" above and beyond the threshold could give some of their "tokens" to other candidates, for whatever reasons they felt worthwhile. For example, maximizing the number of participants in the debate either because they felt that would be advantageous to them, or because they felt it was the right and fair thing to do, or whatever.

In 2008, I recall that Christine Smith, who was seeking the nomination, actively assisted my preferred candidate, Steve Kubby, in accruing the necessary tokens. When we reached the goal, we in turn helped her -- but, once again IIRC, I don't think we managed to get her over the threshold. I assume the reason she helped us is that we were closer to the threshold and she felt it was important to have Steve's voice in there even if she couldn't get there herself. I was, and remain, grateful to her in any case.

Apparently the system changed in 2012 and remains unchanged in 2016: Now the "tokens" are "non-transferable." So in theory, candidates who reach the threshold could continue collecting "tokens" for no other purpose than to at least partially lock other candidates out of the process.

I will not give my "token" to a candidate who has reached the threshold, even if that candidate is my preferred candidate. Nor, if I become aware that a candidate has continued collecting "tokens" after reaching the threshold, will I vote for that candidate to receive the party's nomination. If you're not ready and able to debate all comers and win the nomination on your merits in open competition, you don't deserve it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

#stayclassytwitter -- If I Was a State Lefty ...

... I'd call for the FCC to classify Twitter as a "common carrier" or some such thing so they couldn't do stupid, counter-productive things like suspending Ammon Bundy's account -- or, for that matter, any account associated with the Islamic State or al Qaeda or whatever.

But I'm not a state lefty (and that idea would never work anyway because then the bureaucrats would just step into the role of deciding directly who gets to talk and who doesn't), so really all I can say is "way to go, Twitter -- just keep pulling shit like this until nobody trusts you at all, ever again."

The Twitter line for the last couple of years has been "if we don't like what you're saying -- or if some government doesn't like what you're saying -- we'll cut you off."

That's a "marketplace of ideas" fail which will hopefully, if continued, turn into a more general marketplace fail.

Got an Email a Few Minutes Ago ...

... from something called "DNC Rapid Response." Urging me to "stand with President Obama" on his "bold, executive action to reduce gun violence."

They were a couple of hours behind the curve. I published my own "rapid response" about two hours ago, around the time the press conference got rolling.

No, it's not even a little bit like theirs.

Cool App Ideas and the Fruit of Unschooling

This morning, Liam (my 14-year-old) just sort of spontaneously threw out a really cool idea for an app. I told him he should create it and sell it if there's not already something like it. He protested that he "doesn't program" (he does -- more on that in a minute).

The context: Tamara and I were discussing John McAfee's EveryKey idea, and that segued into stories about the TSA grabbing travelers' laptops and demanding passwords. The upshot being that if I travel I would want to use full-disk encryption and refuse any demand for my password, but then they'd keep my laptop.

The idea: So Liam is listening in, and he suggests that there should be a full-disk encryption app that uses steganography to encrypt the ACTUAL content of the drive into pictures of cats and so forth, then creates a fake drive and directories full of the now innocuous material. So when you give the TSAers your "password" (as opposed to the real method of decrypting the drive), they see a bunch of harmless crap instead of whatever you actually have.

Anyone know if there's already something like that out there?

Like I said, he claims he doesn't program, but he does. Every once in awhile he emerges from his room with a question about C++, and I have to remind him that I don't know the first thing about it. The other day, he was bellyaching about something and when I asked him what the problem was, it was that he had had to teach himself to calculate sines and cosines in order to accomplish something on a game he's working on (he still uses an app called GameMaker, but it apparently has its own scripting language in addition to the drag-n-drop stuff, and also can call and run C++ routines -- or something like that). I'm sure there are  14-year-olds who can do a little trigonometry, but how many of them just teach themselves trig when they realize they need it for something?

Monday, January 04, 2016

Looks Like Johnson is Actually Going to Throw in

Gary Johnson resigned today as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. "to pursue political opportunities" (hat tip -- Bruce Majors). Which, of course, means he's planning to go after the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination again.

As J. Wilson points out at (in a mis-titled post implying that it's "official" -- it won't be until and unless Johnson actually declares), Johnson has some real problems.

He drove his 2012 Republican presidential campaign six figures into debt, then hit up the Libertarian Party to get him a government "matching funds" welfare check. Then he drove his general election campaign seven figures into debt, where it remains as of now. Also, in a year-and-a-half as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., he managed to tank its stock price -- down by about 93% from $10.75 a share to less than 70 cents a share.

Of course, his most likely "main" opponent, John McAfee, also managed to lose considerable money, going from a net worth of about $100 million (after selling his eponymous anti-virus software company) to $4 million or so in the 2008 financial collapse. On the other hand, McAfee's latest project has already raised five times its goal on IndieGoGo, so he seems to be on the way back up, unlike Johnson.

I'm still with None Of The Above, with Darryl W. Perry as my second choice, but I think McAfee has great potential if he gets back to his earlier, more libertarian roots and away from some of the deviations in his campaign site boilerplate.

Johnson, not so much. He's yesterday's bad news. The LP should have nominated R. Lee Wrights last time and would be stump-stupid to make the same exact mistake twice in a row.

Thanks For Asking! -- 01/04/16

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

Yes, it's early this week -- I just installed and configured Firefox as my new default browser and figured I should start using it for all the various things I do, including blog posting. So, the usual rules:

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

Concerning Oregon

Kent McManigal already pretty much captures the essence of the situation, so I'll just endorse his take, with one small addition:

I had no problem with the Occupy movement taking temporary possession of -- in other words, occupying -- various parcels of "public property," and opposed the violent removal of their encampments by police. Ditto for Black Lives Matter protests on "public property," street protests in e.g. Ferguson and so forth. In fact, I've taken part in more than one protest where, as part of the crowd, I have faced off with police for possession of this or that square foot of "public" ground.

I don't see that this is any different. Some state leftists are making a big deal about these protesters being armed (and, for that reason, are calling them "terrorists"). But once again, I've been in that position too, with left anarchist protesters. Sure, their arms were rocks and sharpened sticks rather than guns, but that's a matter of degree, not of kind, and frankly I think it would have been smarter for the lefties to emulate the Black Panthers in the '60s and tote real firepower.

Kent is right that these guys are probably all statists themselves, just of a different kind. So it's pretty much just another gangland argument. But any time any group puts itself in opposition to the existing state, I have to root for them at least a little. And I certainly don't favor the feds moving in and murdering them over possession of a building that the feds built with stolen money on stolen land. If there are no good guys here, there can certainly be better and worse guys.

Moving Back to Mac ...

Over the "holiday break," my new (to me) 17" MacBook Pro arrived and I started messing with it. I stuck to the Chromebox for a lot of stuff because I just can't stand using a laptop as a laptop unless I absolutely have to. But it's a wonderful machine. It arrived with MacOs "Yosemite" installed and I've stuck with that so far; I may upgrade to "El Capitan" once I'm fully comfortable with the machine.

On Saturday, two of the elements I needed to turn the laptop into a desktop machine arrived (ordered from Amazon via Purse): A wireless keyboard and mouse set, and a cable to connect the Mac's miniDisplayPort to my HDMI monitor. This leaves me maybe $100 away from a complete setup

The other two things I need for the complete setup are: Something called an "MST hub" to let me run two external monitors out of that one port, and some kind of cradle to keep the Mac in while running it in "clamshell" mode (I can probably do without the cradle, just need to come up with a substitute). Until a year or so ago, I thought running two monitors sounded kind of dumb. But once I started, I realized I never wanted to try to do things on a single screen again.

Right now I'm using the laptop screen as one of the two monitors, but that's not optimal -- it makes my desk crowded and that screen is a little smaller and a little further away from my eyes than I prefer. But the move is definitely in progress. Not just from Chromebox to Mac, but away from the Google ecosystem too.

I'm taking the latter move a step at a time. I produced this morning's Rational Review News Digest on the Mac, using TextWrangler (a Mac text editor) instead of Caret (a Google Chrome text editor). Today I plan to start "interviewing" web browsers other than Chrome and web mail providers other than Gmail for The Big Move. My guess is I'll end up settling on Firefox because I want to run Tor as well, but suggestions are definitely welcome on both browser and webmail.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 61: This is my Brother Darryl ...

This week's episode (and all episodes through the end of 2016) are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (libertarian issues priorities; RIP Ian Murdock; Wow, a question about punctuation!);
  • 2016 Libertarian Presidential Nomination -- Darryl W. Perry.