Sunday, July 31, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 89: Existence Mucus Carnival

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

In this episode:

Side note: For a minute I thought I had coined a neologism and/or portmanteau --  Bing returned no results for "Paulpulist/s" and "Paulpulism." But according to Google, someone calling hirself "The Desert Dweller" beat me to it in a 2010 forum discussion.

Second side note: Somewhere -- in one of the blog comment threads, I guess -- Joel Schlosberg asked me to start saving podcast files in a way that indicates they're associated with this particular podcast, instead of just as e.g. episode89.mp3, so that people who download and save them have some idea what the hell that file is. No problem -- I did that with this one and will try to remember to start doing so ever time).

Well, Then, I Guess It's On

As I mentioned yesterday, the Reform Party was, for some reason, unable to settle on a presidential ticket at its national convention and will be making that decision by email ballot over the course of the next week.

Up to that point, I was content to affirm my acceptance of Darcy Richardson's request that I serve as his running mate, outline my history with the party, and otherwise pretty much leave the matter to the judgment of the delegates, who presumably are more familiar with the party as it exists and well positioned to see to its interests.

But now, I confess, my blood is up a little. The delegates did a disservice to their party's nominees, whoever those nominees may end up being, by postponing the decision for a week with only three months remaining between now and election day. The ballot access filing fee / elector list deadline in Colorado is only two days after the scheduled announcement. The candidates need to be campaigning.

So at least two of them -- Darcy and myself -- are campaigning. We've already set up our first hundred thousand banner ad impressions, with more to come as needed. A twitter advertising campaign begins tonight, a Google campaign tonight or tomorrow, a "Headtalker" social media reach campaign awaits approval for launch, etc.

Thousands -- probably tens of thousands, maybe more than 100,000 --  will be exposed to Richardson/Knapp 2016 by the end of this week. And they will be exposed in a way that emphasizes the Reform Party, so that even if we aren't the nominees, the party benefits.

I hope the delegates will take note of which candidates are doing what, and how well, and why.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Question for Those More Tech-Savvy Than Myself, Which Means Most People

How difficult would it be to create and organize a political party based on the "Decentralized Autonomous Organization" schemes being explored in cryptocurrency circles at the moment?

As the founder of the first American political party to conduct its national convention online, I'm always interested in new early adopter possibilities, and this strikes me as one ... but frankly I don't really understand how DAOs work. And it's not for lack of trying.

Reform Party Presidential Nomination Results

There aren't any. At least not yet. Delegates at the Reform Party's national convention in Bohemia, New York, narrowed the field down to two possibilities -- Rocky de la Fuente and Darcy Richardson -- but were unable to reach a decision before adjourning.

What happens next? I've heard two different things:

  1. From Darcy Richardson, I hear that there will be an email ballot of the nine delegates to make a final decision, and the result will be announced at 5pm on Monday, August 1st.
  2. At Richard Winger's Ballot Access News, I read that the choice has been postponed until August 8th. No word at BAN on whether the process is email ballot or something else, but Winger's opinion is that they are "likely to nominate the presidential candidate who has qualified for the most state ballots by then."

It seems nearly inexplicable to me that they would put the choice off until August 8th, especially if the criterion is ballot access (Mr. Fuente is clearly the candidate who would appear on the most ballots and that's not going to change in the next nine days), so I'm assuming Darcy's interpretation of events is the correct one.

Of course, this leaves me a bit on tenterhooks since I'm Darcy Richardson's preferred running mate. I had expected to know today whether to continue ramping up campaign operations or let it go and get back to other things.

I guess the campaign goes on, either for 48 more hours or nine more days. So I just went ahead and paid an ad broker for 50,000 more impressions of the campaign banner. Here it is (reduced to 400 pixels in width because 468 breaks my blog post formatting):

UPDATE: I just heard from Darcy, who reached out to Reform Party secretary Nicholas Hensley by email for clarification (when he got the impression that the issue would be decided and announced this Monday, it was by phone while he was driving). The decision will, in fact, be announced on the 8th.

My working theory for why they would rob their nominee of more than a week of campaign time with only three months to go until the election is that they are leaning toward Fuente and have given him time to withdraw from the Democratic primary for US Senate in Florida (Florida does not allow a candidate to be on the ballot for two offices, so if he tries to do both the Reform Party will likely lose its only solid ballot line for the year).

I guess I'll improve the time by campaigning. If Darcy's not the nominee, I don't want it to be due to a lack of effort on my part.

Open to a Discussion About Looking Seriously ...

Gary Johnson has been in politics for more than two decades and has been running for president for five years now. At what point is he going to stop "being open to discussions about" or promising to "look seriously" at issues that are neither especially new nor especially complex?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A SoundCloud Rumination

I like SoundCloud. I'm on their "Pro Unlimited" program, which runs $121.50 a year, or about $10 a month. That allows me to record and store effectively unlimited audio, maintain an RSS feed which lets me offer The KN@PP Stir Podcast over numerous other venues (I'm up to 15 carriers at the moment), etc. From a features for price standpoint, it really looks like the best deal going to me.

But there are problems. Two that I can think of, related to each other, one actual, one potential.

The first problem is lock-in. After nearly two years with Soundcloud, the podcast is highly dependent on it. If I move, I have to port nearly 100 episodes to the new service, or to a standalone archive, or lose them. I also have to re-start the process of putting the show in all those different venues, and I have to hope that my audience, such as it is, follows me to the new venues. Oh, and now I have to re-do the Android app and get users to install the new version on their phones. Which makes the thought of moving ... well, nearly unthinkable.

The second problem is that every time I turn around I run into stories about how SoundCloud isn't profitable, SoundCloud hasn't found a successful revenue model, SoundCloud is thinking about selling itself but nobody seems interested in buying it at the contemplated price, and on and on and on.

The second problem is what keeps me up at night more so than the first, even though it's only potential. I'm beginning to wonder whether or not I'm going to wake up some morning and read that the service has folded, taking all of my archived show episodes with it.

Anyone have any thoughts on proactive/preemptive measures I should be considering?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/27/16

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

A process of stunning simplicity:

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

But before you do that, why not download the KN@PP Stir Podcast Android App? You can use it to listen to the podcast (current and past episodes) AND read the blog (at the same time, even!). Just click on the fancy-schmancy screen shot to get it (this is a direct download from me, not from e.g. Google Play, so you will have to manually "trust" it to install):

Clinton Presidency vs. Trump Presidency: How I See It

Disclaimer: I do not support Hillary Clinton. I do not support Donald Trump. I'm not going to vote for either one of them, especially not just to stop the other one from winning, nor am I going to encourage anyone else to do so. That said, I do think that their presidencies would be bad in different ways.

For purposes of metaphor, let's pretend that "the country" is an individual man or woman and that "the presidency" is that person's daily activities.

Here's what Mr. or Ms. America looks like as a Clinton presidency (in my opinion):

Every day, seven days a week, he or she sits down at a table, puts his or her right hand on the table, palm down, fingers spread, and then with his or her left hand uses a ball peen hammer to hit the right hand, sharply and with vigor, for eight straight hours. Presumably after four or eight years of that, every bone in the right hand will be not just broken but irreparably pulverized.

So to put it a different way: A Clinton presidency will be routinely ugly and painful and damaging and permanently disfiguring, but only suicidal on a freak accident basis (e.g. he or she accidentally hits herself hard right between the eyes on the backswing).

Here's what Mr. or Mrs. America looks like as a Trump presidency (in my opinion):

He or she has an apartment, and an office, on the 100th floors of adjacent buildings with a very narrow alley (3 or 4 feet wide) between them. Instead of taking an elevator down 100 floors down, then 100 floors up, every morning and every night, he or she decides it makes more sense to just jump across that alley twice a day. The office and the apartment both have balconies, and to make it more exciting, every morning and evening he or she dips his or her hands and feet in grease before climbing up on the balcony railing for the jump.

So to put it a different way: A Trump presidency won't be nearly as routinely ugly and painful as a Clinton presidency. It will be exciting and exhilarating ... until, one morning or evening, the jump becomes a 100-story fall followed by a terminal velocity encounter with hard asphalt.

I don't really care much for either prospect.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company CEO, via CNBC, via CEI: Trump Supporters Are Retarded

See here. Which links to here.

Or am I reading that wrong? I only got as far as the headline and decided that since I agree, no point in continuing.

Remember When I Said I'd Start Accepting Ethereum Real Soon Now?

It's finally Real Soon Now.

Ethereum Address: 0x8a530a15Eb7Ec721012F974C9Da2F7e4663D51C3

Ethereum QR:

Informational addendum, an hour or so later:

In order to get into Ether, I used two tools I learned about from the guys at Free Talk Live:

First, the Jaxx wallet. I had been using the wallet, which is fine for Bitcoin, but Jaxx handles Bitcoin, Ether, and DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) tokens. So I moved my tiny, tiny Bitcoin balance over to Jaxx and then ...

... used Shapeshift to exchange the BTC for Ether.

Easy, peasy. Jaxx and Shapeshift are both really cool. My one, minor, complaint:

I keep hearing on FTL that Jaxx now features "Shapeshift integration," which I understand to mean that I can just exchange BTC/Ether/DAO directly from Jaxx. Damned if I can find that "integration" on either instance of my Jaxx  wallet (Android and ChromeOS), though. And since I installed both instances this morning, after many days of hearing about that "integration," I presumably have the latest versions. I think I'm reasonably intelligent, and I can usually find may way around an app, so if the "integration" is there it is probably not obvious to most users. Just sayin' ...

And another addendum, a few minutes after that:

To use Shapeshift directly from Jaxx, look for the little gray fox-thingie-looking icon next to the "spendable" amount of a cryptocurrency and press that icon. it opens up the Shapeshift interface. Cool. But I had to dig into a FAQ to find that out.

Just How Smart (or Dumb) are the Democrats?

In a moment, I'm gonna just turn this post over to Ian and Darryl of Free Talk Live, because they cover the matter fairly thoroughly (among other matters, including my own vice-presidential campaign -- it's talk radio, OK?). My two cents:

1)  If most of the "superdelegates" changed their votes, they could in fact nominate Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton. For that matter, if they just abstained, they could force it to a second ballot, unbinding Clinton's delegates, and then go for an overwhelming Sanders vote.

2)  If the Democrats nominate Sanders, they have a chance of winning this November. A slim chance, but a chance.

3)  If the Democrats nominate Clinton, their chance of winning this November is close to non-existent at the moment and likely to get even worse very quickly -- presumably there are additional Servergate, Clinton Foundation, and DNC email revelations to come, being held by various parties for release right after the convention to destroy any hopes of a Clinton "poll bounce." She's toast, people.

So: Are the Democrats -- especially the "superdelegates" -- smart enough to pour piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heel? I wouldn't count on it, but one just never knows. And now, over to you, Ian and Darryl:

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Strong, if Early, Candidate for "Dumbest Thing I've Read This Week"

In an email I just got from something calling itself the "Progressive Turnout Project" ...

"Election Day should be a holiday, so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote." -- US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

The derp, as always, is strong with this one.

The only people who automagically get all federal-government-decreed holidays off work with pay are government employees.

Sure, some other people get some holidays off work with pay; in some industries (e.g. banking), that holiday schedule may closely track the government holiday schedule.

Other people don't get paid for days off, period, end of story.

And on any given holiday, there are many, many, many Americans at work.

Given Warren's political orientation, perhaps making it easier for government employees, but not everyone else, to vote is really the whole point.

If the goal is really maximizing the ability to vote, there are several ways to go about it, none of them as stump-stupid as "make Election Day a holiday."

Some of them have already been implemented here and there (early voting, relaxed rules for absentee voting, voting by mail).

Another would simply be to make the voting hours longer and/or move Election Day to the weekend when at least those who work the 40-hour, Monday thru Friday, routine are off. Any particular reason why "Election Day" shouldn't start at 12:01am Saturday morning and run through 11:59pm Sunday night?

And then there's the matter of election venue and method. Why does it have to be a school gym or church social hall filled with dedicated voting machines, when it could be standardized terminals at every Post Office and many convenience stores (yes, I'm aware of fraud concerns, etc. -- separate issue, right now I'm talking ONLY about making it EASIER to vote, not about making the vote less vulnerable to fraud)?

The Democratic National Convention is Going to be More Interesting Than The Republican National Convention

One of the reasons I've given for my prediction that Trump will romp in November is the anecdotal observation that Republicans never, ever, ever refuse in significant numbers to support their party's nominee. A few of them might stay home instead of voting, but they just don't revolt. Which is why the GOP shitshow came off like some kind of robot version of the Nuremberg rally, featuring Stetsons instead of Stahlhelme.

Democrats, on the other hand ...

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to announce she'd be resigning as chair of the Democratic National Committee once the national convention was over. Then she was booed off the stage by her own state's delegates at a breakfast. Then she was forced to move her resignation up and hand over the gavel at the beginning, rather than at the end, of the convention.

Then Bernie Sanders tried to tell his supporting delegates that "we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine."

One of my out on a limb predictions:

Tim Kaine shouldn't clear his calendar after all. He'll be sacrificed and replaced with a "unity" VP candidate before the presidential nomination dog and pony show reaches its supposed high point, to to soothe the savage Democratic rank and file and get Hillary Clinton's sorry ass out of Philadelphia ahead of the tar/feather/rail combo this whole election cycle has been setting her up for. It won't help her in November, but one day at a time, right?

And Again With the Math ...

So, I've covered how many electoral votes, or states or congressional districts carried, it would require to possibly become president or vice-president of the United States via the "bust the electoral college and send the election to Congress" path. How many individual votes would it take?

The answer is in fact indeterminate, but it's possible to generate a reasonable estimate of the minimum.

We know that a presidential candidate could kick the election into the House, and become eligible for election to the presidency, with as little as one electoral vote.

And since Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes by congressional district, it would be possible to pick one of those electoral votes up with as few as 1/3 + 1 of the individual votes cast in a congressional district.

No, I am not going to go through all of those two states' congressional districts to find the one with the lowest historical turnout. I'm just going to choose Nebraska's 1st US House District, and its presidential vote totals from 2012, as a reasonable proxy.

In 2012, a total of 264,712 presidential votes were recorded in that district. In a three-way race, 88,238 votes would be 1/3 + 1.

Of course, the number could go even lower than that -- lower turnout, or more candidates in the race (in 2012 there were four in the district: Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Gary Johnson and Randall A. Terry), or whatever.

But it seems plausible to put the minimum number of popular votes required to become president via a House election at "fewer than 100,000."

Vice-president is, again, more complex. Remember, it's going to take 135 electoral votes and a second place finish to get to possible election via the US Senate ... and we can't just assume bare pluralities in the three of the four most populous states plus one state with 13 or more electoral votes.

Why? Because electoral votes are proportionally weighted toward the smaller states. EVERY state gets AT LEAST three electoral votes (two base electors plus one per US House district).

For example, the three least populous states -- Wyoming, Vermont and Alaska, with a combined population of not quite two million -- dispose of a total of nine electoral votes, while the four states disposing of nine electoral votes each (Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona and Massachusetts) have populations in the 6.5-6.8 million range.

I suspect a Ph.D.-level mathematician or statistician could model the problem and produce a number. But I'm not a Ph.D.-level mathematician or statistician. I've reached the level of my own mathematical incompetence.

Election 2016: Math vs. Path

In a previous post, I go over the concept of "on the ballot in enough states to mathematically be elected." For presidential candidates, the number representing "enough states" is either one or zero (zero reflecting the possibility of winning a state as a write-in). Since the US House of Representatives chooses the next president from among the top three recipients of electoral votes in the event that no candidate receives at least 270 electoral votes, carrying even one state (or even a congressional district in Maine or Nebraska) represents a possible, if narrow and rather implausible, path to the presidency.

I close that post out with:

Bonus question: How many states must a vice-presidential candidate win in order for it to be mathematically possible for that vice-presidential candidate to be elected?

Hint: It's a lot more complicated than the other question/answer set.

How much more complicated?

Well, in the event that no vice-presidential candidate receives 270 or more electoral votes, the next vice-president is chosen by the US Senate from among the top two recipients of electoral votes.

From a set of three contenders, what is the fewest number of electoral votes that a candidate can receive while (1) coming in second place (2) from a field in which precisely three candidates receive electoral votes, while (3) holding the first place finisher to fewer than 270 electoral votes?

The answer, if my math is right, is 135.

If the first place finisher receives 269 votes and the second place finisher receives 135 votes, that leaves 134 votes for the third place finisher. Obviously the first place finisher could receive fewer than 269, or the second place more than 135, but like I said, 135 appears to be the absolute minimum number to get into a Senate-decided vice-presidential selection process by making the top two cut from among three contenders.

This means that the absolute minimum number of states that contender would have to win would be four. If a vice-presidential candidate won the electoral votes of California and Texas, that would bring in 93 electoral votes. The next two heaviest states are Florida and New York, with 29 each for a total of 151. Carrying only one of those two would leave the contender at 122, 13 electoral votes short, which could be made up for by carrying any one of eight states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey or Virginia. Absent one of those, it's going to end up taking five or more states to reach the magic number.

There's a huge gap between the one electoral vote that could conceivably make a president in the House and the 135 electoral votes it would take to potentially make a vice-president in the Senate.

Vis a vis the Libertarian Party, that makes the path to the vice-presidency much narrower for William Weld than the path to the presidency for Gary Johnson. It seems nearly certain that even if Johnson pushes the election to the House and prevails there, he'll be saddled with Mike Pence or Tim Kaine as sidekick.

Vis a vis the Reform Party, it likely closes off the vice-presidential nominee's path completely. The party's ticket will be on the ballot in states disposing of 58 total electoral votes (New York and Florida), plus possibly Louisiana with 8, bringing the potential total to 66. Note I said it likely closes the path off completely. There might be opportunities to register and have write-in votes counted in enough states to get the total up to 135. But it looks like President Darcy Richardson would likewise probably have to make do with Pence or Kaine in second chair. But I'll still do my best.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 88: Back to (Reform) School

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

In this episode:

  • Surprise Announcement #1 (OK, OK, it's an app);
  • Thanks For Asking! (Emmanuel Goldstein v. sodium pentothal, Nick Gillespie, respectability politics vs. batsh*t insane conspiracy theories, Pence and Kaine you ignorant sluts!);
  • Surprise Announcement #2 (hint: I'm a glutton for political punishment);
  • A chaser of support me.
A couple of extra/explanatory links:

You Know, I Suppose I Should Make This Formal

Attn: Delegates attending the Reform Party's 2016 national convention, July 29-31, Bohemia, New York

I, Thomas L. Knapp, hereby declare myself a candidate for the Reform Party's 2016 vice-presidential nomination. My declaration to this effect is pursuant to having been named as the preferred running mate of prospective 2016 Reform Party presidential nominee Darcy Richardson.

I aver that I am constitutionally qualified for election to the vice-presidency of the United States, being a natural born citizen thereof, having attained the age of 35 years (turning 50 this November, in fact), and having been 14 years a resident of the United States (the last time I left the United States was in late December of 1990, pursuant to military orders; I returned in late May of 1991).

I am neither wealthy nor famous, but I am an experienced campaigner, going back to 1992 when I gathered ballot access signatures for Reform Party founder Ross Perot's first presidential campaign and proudly cast my vote for him. I pledge, if nominated, to use such resources as I have at my disposal to actively and energetically campaign on behalf of the party and its presidential ticket, and to help begin the process of rebuilding a Reform Party which can put its next presidential ticket on many more ballots and back that ticket with a much higher level financial and volunteer support.

Due to the lateness of this declaration, I do not expect to be able to attend the party's national convention next weekend. However, I will gladly make myself available via phone or videoconference should my virtual "presence" be required. Between now and the convention I invite delegates to contact me via email ( or on Facebook (thomaslknapp). Said contacts can be escalated to phone or Skype as necessary.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,
Thomas L. Knapp

An Analogy I Haven't Heard Elsewhere Yet

Just throwing this out for discussion.

The 2016 US presidential election as analogous to the 2000 Mexican presidential election:

One obvious difference here is that Trump isn't defeating the Republicans and the Democrats in one swell foop. He defeated the Republicans first (in their own primary elections) and will now attempt to defeat the Democrats (in the general election).

But I think the dynamic is at least facially similar.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Was Reform Party Before There WAS a Reform Party

In 1992 I faced a presidential election quandary. I had pledged to vote for the re-election of George HW Bush, provided he honored his "no new taxes" pledge.

He didn't. But I wasn't going to vote for Bill Clinton, either. Since my first presidential vote in 1988 (for Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis), on the basis of intense reading and study, I had found myself moving across the left-right political spectrum, passing through "conservative" and into a space I hadn't yet identified as "libertarian."

Enter Ross Perot. I didn't agree with him on everything, but I had reached a point where I considered the two-party system broken and the left-right spectrum invalid, and he seemed like the best thing going. I gathered petition signatures for him as a volunteer and voted for him in November. Those who are old enough to recall the election will remember that his backing organization at that point was called United We Stand America. By 1996, it was the Reform Party (and I was an ideological libertarian and a partisan Libertarian).

OK, enough trivia. You may be wondering why I bother mentioning this at all, so let's get to the heart of the matter ASAP:

My friend Darcy Richardson has declared his candidacy for the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nomination.

Finally, a candidate I can support! No, we don't agree on everything (I would describe him as a social democrat with strong civil libertarian credentials; we've already discussed what I am), but I know him to be honest, hard-working and not intent on campaigning on the wrong side of any of the issues I just can't stomach a candidate campaigning on the wrong side of. He's also supported a number of my own political efforts over the years.

If Darcy is the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nominee, I will gladly vote for him this November.

Especially since he has selected me as his running mate.

This May Be The Greatest Thing Ever

Pointed out to me by Thane Eichenauer, who had it pointed out to him by someone else:

Dammit Ray

What are the "negative factors that demonstrate [Leslie Van Houten] remains unsuitable for parole?"

Let's be honest. There's really only one such factor:

Paroling her would be politically unpopular and could possibly be used to the disadvantage of Democratic candidates, by "law and order" opponents, in future elections.

That's the reason -- the only reason -- why California governor Jerry Brown vetoed the parole board's recommendation.

She's been in jail or prison for nearly 50 years -- since 1969, when she was 20 years old.

There's good reason to believe that that her culpability in the murder of Rosemary LaBianca is somewhat mitigated by circumstance. To wit, she was effectively "brainwashed" -- recruited by the Manson "family" specifically because she was vulnerable to their approach, being a confused, drug-addled, mentally troubled teenager with an ugly family backstory (including a forced abortion).

She's been a model prisoner, never a disciplinary problem. She'll turn 67 in August.

Yes, it is true that but for the Manson "family," including Leslie Van Houten, who assisted Tex Watson in killing her, Rosemary LaBianca would either turn 86 this December or else have died in some other and almost certainly less horrific way.

It is also true that absent that single word -- "Manson" -- being associated with her crime, Van Houten would almost certainly have been paroled long ago. That may be a good thing or it may be a bad thing, but there's no doubt that the reason it's a thing at all is politics.

Friday, July 22, 2016

An eBay Scam I Only Just Noticed ...

... although it's probably been going on for quite awhile:

  • You search for an item (the example I am going to go with here is "compression shirt," because that's one of the items I noticed on which the scam is played);
  • You select "Buy It Now" and "Price + Shipping: Lowest First" (this is the way I  usually shop on eBay -- I may not end up buying the absolute cheapest product based on perception of quality, seller rating, etc., but I certainly start shopping from the bottom up on price);
  • You are presented with a whole bunch of listings with price ranges ("$1.87 to $10.45," "$2.93 to $9.99," "$1.99 to $7.49," etc.); and
  • Once you click on an item and start picking options (color, size, sleeve length, what have you), you discover that there are no items available at the lowest listed price (for the above-listed items, the lowest actual prices are, respectively, $6.67, $9.78 [note: There is a $2.93 item on this one, it's just not a shirt -- they threw some briefs into the same listing to get that lower price in the shirt listings], and $5.49).
How many listings of this type do you go through before finding an item actually sold for the price advertised? In this example, the 28th item is listed for (and actually sells for) $3.88 including, after 27 listings showing prices starting at $2.84 + 99 cents shipping or less on the search results, but without any items in those listings actually available at that listed lowest price.

It's a cheap scammy trick that sellers use to fraudulently move their items up to the top of the search listings, and eBay should crack down hard on it.

Trump's Nuremberg Rall ... er, National Convention ... Speech, Summarized

In one word:


And given the range of alternatives on offer and the exceedingly small chances of an even remotely sane one prevailing, it looks like we're pretty much screwed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/20/16

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

How it works:

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Two Gary Johnsons

Gary Johnson #1, in Politico today:

Creditors have been hurt as [Donald Trump] walked away from debts. Is that the kind of moral example that he would bring to the U.S. government -- finding ways to duck obligations?

That's not an academic question. He has pledged to tear up agreements and even concoct some scheme by which America could walk away from its debt -- just as he did in his business dealings. America doesn't do that.

Bill Weld and I believe that fiscal responsibility is at the core of what our government needs to do.

Gary Johnson #2, according to his 2012 campaign's most recent FEC report:

Debts and Obligations Owed BY the Committee: $1,538,118.73

One of these things is not like the other.

Melania Trump's Speech: Beyond the Plagiarism

Let's get the obvious out of the way right up front. Yes, parts of Melania Trump's speech to delegates at the Republican National Convention last night were indisputably copied from Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

That, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort claiming otherwise, make Trump and his entourage look like idiots. Not that looking like an idiot has noticeably damaged Trump up to this point, or that it is likely to this time. Like Mencken said, "No one in this world, so far as I know -- and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me -- has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."

But let's unpack this a little. How did it come to pass that Melania Trump made a speech plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech?

Melania Trump
(photo by Marc Nozell via Wikipedia)
It seems implausible to me that Donald Trump -- or his campaign staff -- would tell Mrs. Trump, who was born in Slovenia and for whom English is a second language "hey, write up a speech to give at the national convention ... no, no need to run it by us, we're sure you'll do fine."

It's far more likely that a speechwriter was assigned to put together her talk, probably in consultation with her, but with the campaign apparatus in control of content because that's what campaigns do: They control the message as best they can.

If that's how it went, did the speechwriter plagiarize Michelle Obama, and if so why? For the purpose of sabotaging the campaign?

Or did Melania propose the language after listening to Obama's speech, on the idea of doing "something like that," not understanding (due to the "second language" issue, maybe) that she needed to change far more than the few words she did change to make it her own? And perhaps the assisting speechwriter had not heard (or at least didn't remember) Obama's speech, and deferred to Mrs. Trump on the language?

Any way you cut it, I suspect a Trump speechwriter lost his or her job overnight.

"Deal" Facepalm

From my email this morning:

It links to a piece at PC Magazine, "The Best Cheap Headphones (Under $50) of 2016" (with presumed affiliate linkage, etc.).

In what universe does "under $50" constitute "cheap headphones?" Knock that zero off the end and I'll agree -- less than $5 constitutes "cheap headphones." More than $20, on the other hand, constitutes "there's a sucker born every minute."

Ironic or Appropriate?

The Libertarian Party's presidential campaign seems to have settled on #teamgov as a preferred hashtag.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mathematical Possibilities

Up front disclaimer: No, I'm not looking to pick on Gary Johnson in particular with this post. He's far from the first or only person to say something similar to what I'm going to quote him saying. He just happens to be some combination of the most recent/most prominent, having said it in the New York Times, and having said it this year, and being on of the principals in a lawsuit related to it. Here it is:

The contention is on our part that if you're on the ballot in enough states to mathematically be elected, then you should be included in the presidential debate.

Q: How many states does a candidate have to be on the ballot in for it to become mathematically possible for that candidate to be elected president?

A: None.

Here's a scenario featuring a way that Johnson himself could be elected:

This November, Gary Johnson carries one state. Let's just assume that that state is New Mexico, which comes with five electoral votes.

Now, let's say that Hillary Clinton carries California (55), New York (29), Florida (29), Michigan (16), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Washington (12), Virginia (13), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), Texas (38), and Vermont (3). No, those specific states aren't likely; they were just the ones I picked offhand to demonstrate the math. They come with a total of 268 electoral votes.

That leaves the remaining states, which come with 265 electoral votes, for Donald Trump.

If no candidate receives 270 votes in the Electoral College, the US House of Representatives picks the next president from the three candidates with the most electoral votes. Which means that Gary Johnson could conceivably become president.

But, then, so could Jill Stein, who will be on the ballot in a number of states. Maybe not enough states to win in the electoral college, but as long as she carries at least one state and only Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump end up with more electoral votes than she does, she is still eligible for consideration by the House.

For that matter, if a write-in candidate (in states that allow them) carried a single state while holding the major party candidates below 270 electoral votes each, ditto.

Mathematically, a candidate doesn't need to be on the ballot in a single state for it to be possible for that candidate to be elected president.

[Update, 07/19/16: As Shawn L points out in comments, a candidate wouldn't even have to carry a state to be eligible for election by the House -- Maine and Nebraska apportion their electoral votes rather than assigning them "winner take all." So if (for example) a candidate got one electoral vote, and the other two candidates got 269 and 268 respectively,  all three would be eligible for election by the US House of Representatives. And now that I think about it, a "carried no states victory" could also occur under the auspices of one or more "faithless electors" - TLK]

Bonus question: How many states must a vice-presidential candidate win in order for it to be mathematically possible for that vice-presidential candidate to be elected?

Hint: It's a lot more complicated than the other question/answer set.

Addendum: This turned into a bit of a series. Check out Part 2 and Part 3.

Words Mean Things, Baton Rouge Edition

Quite a few media outlets are referring to the Baton Rouge gunfight(s?) in which three police officers and Gavin Long were killed on Sunday as an "ambush." Per Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):

Ambush \Am"bush\, v. i. To lie in wait, for the purpose of attacking by surprise; to lurk.

But if the reporting on what happened is accurate, it was exactly the opposite of an "ambush." Let's look at the timeline according to the New York Times:

8:40am -- 911/Baton Rouge police dispatch receives "a report of a man walking on Airline Highway carrying a rifle." Now, I suppose that if Gavin Long was looking for a fight he was going to find one, but this is a little bit puzzling. "Open carry" is perfectly legal in Louisiana, so the appropriate response from 911 would have been "ummm ... so? Get the hell off this line -- it's for emergencies and crimes."

Instead, officers respond to the scene where "the man, dressed in black, was seen standing behind a beauty supply store."

They knew where he was. They knew he was armed. They had been told those things, then they went there in force and saw him. That's not an "ambush," unless it's the police doing a "hasty ambush" operation in which they were the ones hiding or disguising themselves in order to surprise Long.

8:42am thru 8:45am -- Shots are reported, officers are reported down behind the beauty supply store, and shots are reported again.

8:46 -- Long is reported to be near a car wash next to the beauty supply store, and eyewitness video shows police firing in that direction from behind a squad car. Long is killed.

Again, hardly an "ambush" if they knew where he was and now knew that he was not just armed but shooting.

Right now, the big project -- with which both law enforcement and media are preoccupied -- seems to be tearing into Gavin Long's life to figure out why he went looking for a fight with the cops.

But what if he didn't go looking for a fight with the cops?

Historically, it is not especially unusual for black men to go armed by way of protecting themselves or their communities during times of racial tension. The Black Panthers conducted armed counter-police patrols in Oakland in the '60s (and possibly elsewhere and elsewhen). During the earlier civil rights movement,  people and organizations who weren't nearly as radical did so as well, especially in the south.

What if Long was doing precisely that -- going armed as a measure of self-defense and/or protest -- when the cops attacked him? Is it possible that he acted entirely in self-defense? As mentioned above, there was no particular reason for  Baton Rouge police to respond to a report of a man engaging in completely legal conduct, yet they apparently sent a sizable force to the scene.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 87: Adventures in Bitrate

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

In this episode:

  • Informal audio quality poll;
  • Thanks For Asking! (Caribbean currencies and left-wing magazines);
  • Completely improvised thoughts on violence against police, vegetarianism, morning walks, Android apps and diabetes medications.

There's some additional discussion in text in this week's Thanks For Asking! thread, if you're interested.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Talking Turkey

Well, that was sudden, unexpected and shocking, wasn't it?

About eight months ago, I suggested that if the US isn't going to leave NATO, it should at least move to expel Turkey from NATO. I offered several reasons. One reason I didn't offer, but which makes a good deal of sense, is "you never know who might suddenly end up in charge, or how they might seize or hold power or what they might do with that power."

Or, to put it a different way, gambling on something as uncertain as continuing stability in Turkey, especially when the stakes might include all-out war with Russia, is a really, really dumb idea.

Friday, July 15, 2016

You'd Think That There "Internet" Would Have Made Interaction with Political Candidates Easy

But you might be wrong.

I'm contacting candidates for US Senate and US House of Representatives to ask them to sign The MITE's candidate pledges.

I just finished contacting US House candidates from Mississippi's 1st District.

The Republican incumbent's web site included a contact email address. Nice (you might be surprised at how difficult SOME incumbents make it for anyone who's not a constituent to contact them).

The Democratic challenger's Internet presence seems to be entirely on Twitter, so I was able to "direct message" him.

To reach the Libertarian challenger, I ended up having to go to ICANN's "whois" utility to find an email contact address based on his web site URL (the site itself consisted of one blog post and didn't seem to feature any contact information.

It's barely possible to tell from search engines, etc. that the Reform Party and Veterans Party candidates even exist, let alone how to go about contacting them.

So, a contact success rate of 60% for that district. And personally, it is the third party and independent candidates I rate most likely to pay attention to The MITE ... if I can reach them. Depressing.

Thank God for Politics1 -- without it the work would be even more difficult. Most of the web sites operated by state election authorities don't seem to include contact information or even web site URLs for candidates in their publicly available listings.

Well, Now, That's Not Very Nice

Google News search results for "Nice Bastille Day truck attack" (not as a phrase, as disconnected words): 1.11 million.

Google News search results for "Baghdad market bomb attack" (again, not as an exact phrase): 149,000.

Death toll in the Nice Bastille Day truck attack: 84

Death toll in the Baghdad market bomb attack: More than 200

And the media has had mere hours to react to the Nice attack, while it's had nearly two weeks to cover the Baghdad attack.

Given the likely ethnic composition of the targeted crowds, I think the search pairing stands up fairly well as a measurement of the relative value western media places on the lives of brown (mostly) Arabs versus the lives of white (mostly) Europeans.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

They Say It Like It's a Bad Thing (and Throw in Fallacious Possessives, Too)

Photo: Wikipedia
Boris Johnson -- mayor of London until recently and now foreign secretary in Theresa May's new Tory UK government -- was born in the United States and lived here until he was five years old.

Per the Washington Post, according to the US government, this means that he owes it money.
The United States is one of the only countries in the world that taxes the income of its citizens no matter where they live — and Johnson owed a hefty bill.

In his 2014 interview on the Diane Rehm show, Johnson said he was supposed to pay capital gains tax to the IRS after the sale of his home. The Telegraph reported the property was likely a home in North London that he bought with his wife in 1999 for 470,000 pounds. They sold it in 2009 for 1.2 million pounds, realizing a gain of 730,000 pounds.

In Britain, profits on the sale of a first home are exempt. But because Johnson was still a U.S. citizen, his tax liability was in the ballpark of about 100,000 pounds, according to tax experts. Johnson declared in 2014 that he would not pay the outstanding bill.

"It's absolutely outrageous," he said of the amount. "Why should I?"

Well, it's not really the amount that's outrageous. It's the idea that Johnson "owes" the US government anything at all. Even if taxation wasn't theft -- and yes, taxation is theft -- he neither lives nor works in the US nor do I see any mention in the story of him owning property in the US. What is there for him to pay taxes on, except possibly sales taxes on purchases he makes when visiting the US?

The US regime's claim is that since Johnson was born in the US, he's a "citizen;" that until and unless he renounces his "citizenship," it's owed a cut of everything he earns; and that when and if he does renounce his "citizenship" it ought to get an "exit tax" (which, the Post notes, could come to more than a million bucks).

I suspect that Johnson could lay down a great line of flowery British invective on the subject. Since I'm an American, I'll keep my summary to three words: Fuck that noise.

But beyond the issue itself, a pet peeve:

The Post story refers to "his tax liability" and "his taxes" and states as fact that Johnson "owed a hefty bill."

Those expressions beg the question. That is, they assume the conclusion being argued: That a demand on the part of the US government constitutes an obligation on the part of the demandee (in this case, Boris Johnson).

Again: Fuck that noise.

GOP Delegate Revolt Schemes: A Bridge Too Far?

As I have pointed out (very briefly and not that worthy of lookup here at KN@PPSTER, and at more length/greater detail over at The Garrison Center), yes, a GOP delegate revolt to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nominee is possible. And there's a group planning to do it just the way I outline it getting done. Whether or not it's likely to succeed is another question entirely.

But suppose it does succeed -- enough delegates abstain to deny Trump a first-ballot majority, after which the delegates are no longer bound to particular candidates. What then?

According to the convention rules, in order to be placed in contention for the nomination, a candidate must have carried eight states in the primaries/caucuses. Only one candidate other than Trump makes the cut: Ted Cruz.

Does a majority exist for Cruz?

If not, does a 2/3 majority exist to suspend the rules so that other candidates can be considered? That's obviously what John Kasich's fans (and probably Kasich himself) are hoping for.

Erick Erickson wants Cruz on the ticket, but as veep beneath Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

I'm trying to figure out why Erickson -- or anyone else -- would expect that to fly in the real world.

Walker ran for president and fared so poorly in the debates, in the polls, and in fundraising, that he dropped out of the race more than four months before the first real test, the Iowa caucus.

Erickson writes off Walker's abysmal performance as a presidential candidate to a single mistake:

Walker's major mistake headed into his race was to put all his good people in his Super PAC then hire wildcards to run his campaign. He then could not communicate with the very people who had helped him win so many elections. It was a mistake not reversible once made and I don't think he should be penalized.

But it wasn't campaign organization mechanics that kept Walker in the cellar. At the time he dropped out, the main metric was debate performance. As a political careerist (he's been in one public office or another since 1993) he either knows how to convincingly win a public argument in a way that registers in the polls as presidential timbre or he isn't ever going to know how to do that. Coming off as more presidential than the other 15 people on the stage doesn't automatically create a fundraising juggernaut, effective ground games in Iowa and New Hampshire, etc. But not managing that is evidence that a candidate is trying to stop being a sow's ear and become a silk purse.

It seems to me that almost any GOP ticket, other than possibly Trump/?, is going to have trouble whipping Hillary Clinton in November, if for no other reason than that the fundraising game is well under way based on a nominee apparent. But Walker/Cruz seems purpose-built to lose.

If the will is there to suspend the rules and pick a ticket out of the blue, why not go all the way and draft the existing Republican ticket back into the party it really belongs to?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Well, now ...

Cox Cable (TV, telephone and Internet) seems to be down hard all over North Central Florida at the moment.

In theory,  I could turn this phone into a hot spot and use cell Internet for everything,  but in practice other than this post (which I am writing directly on the phone) I will reserve that for work for the client who pays the cellular bill. So may be "gone" for a bit.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/13/16

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

How it's done:

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

I Wish This Was a Thing

For years, I thought it odd that US television programs would air at (for example) 10pm Eastern Time, 9pm Central Time, 8pm Mountain Time (all of those are actually the same time, of course) ... but 10pm Pacific Time. Why should the Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians get a weird break like that? If they want to watch Good Morning America (which airs at the same time in all US times zones, live in Eastern, tape-delayed elsewhere), they should get up at 4am their time or go pound sand.

But now I find that I really wish I could do that kind of thing with tweets. I don't worry that much about my own social media scheduling -- if I post something at 2am my heart won't be broken if you miss it -- but I do some of that stuff for others.

If I schedule a tweet to hit at, say, 9:15am in New York (right when the white collar stampede is about settled in for a day at the desk), it's hitting at 6:15am in Los Angeles. I wouldn't put it beyond Californians to be up at 6:15am, but if they are they are probably running a 5k after an hour of transcendental meditation and right before having organic yogurt with Fair Trade coffee for breakfast or some shit. But if I schedule the tweet for white-collar desk-time in LA, that's lunch break in New York. And so on and so forth.

So I think it would be nice if there was an option to use all that geolocation crap, enter your time zone crap, etc. to make it possible for me to tweet and have it reach people in Miami at 11am and people in Seattle at 11am, both local time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Serious Suggestion for Niantic

Among the various developments related to Niantic's new Android/iOS "augmented reality" game Pokémon Go -- for example, armed robbers using "beacons" to lure victims -- I'm already hearing (for example on last night's episode of Free Talk Live) about people playing the game while driving.

Obviously, that's dangerous.

Just as obviously (anarchist here!), I don't recommend a legislative solution.

What I do recommend is that Niantic get an update into action ASAP which disincentivizes playing the game in a moving car (I doubt if they could get more specific than that to target driving only).

For example, the game could switch to a black screen, audio only mode when the location detection gizmo notices that the device the game is running on is moving at faster than some maximum speed. What speed? Well, I suppose there might be world-class marathon runners playing while running sub-five-minute miles (12 miles an hour or faster), but it doesn't seem likely (or safe to do while staring at a phone screen). Maybe a top speed of five miles an hour for more than a few seconds before the thing blacks out? The idea is to tell the user "there's absolutely no purpose in looking at your phone while driving a car, riding a bicycle, sprinting for more than 30 seconds, etc."

Presumably Niantic doesn't want a reputation for making games that kill their players, even if the stupidity is on the part of the players, not the games.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, episode 86: Happy weekend before Bastille Day!

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Fergie, Me, and Jill Stein -- it's not what it looks like!);
  • Hey, I watched Trumbo.
There's additional Thanks For Asking content at Thursday's post/comment thread.

Side note: I mention the Chromecast along the way in this episode. Now that it works with my router (at one time it didn't), it's a fine piece of equipment. You might want to look into getting one if streaming media from your computer or phone to your TV strikes you as a solution to this or that home entertainment problem. Amazon doesn't carry it (they've been promoting their own similar product instead), but I know it's available from Best Buy and I'm pretty sure even Wal-Mart.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Offhand Thoughts on a Possible Conference/Retreat

I did some thinking overnight about an offhand comment exchange with friend and reader Shivan Lane. I've been thinking for years about doing some kind of conference (perhaps under the heading of a Rational Review News Digest reader event, or maybe some other hook). Now I'm thinking about it again. Here's what it would look like. Let me know in comments if you find the idea interesting ...

First, the event would take place in a city that's fairly cheap to travel to from most of the US, and in an area of the city that's fairly close to the airport, and at a hotel that doesn't break the bank (e.g. a place that charges less than $100 a night for a decent room, almost certainly includes breakfast -- and by all that is holy DEFINITELY includes wi-fi -- in that cost, and is connected to the airport by "free" shuttle or local mass transit). The first three cities that came to my mind were: Atlanta, Jacksonville and Orlando. Two reasons for that: They're fairly near me, and their decent climates would likely be good breaks for people from up north if the conference was held during the winter.

Secondly, the event itself would be inexpensive (ticket cost as close to zero as possible and certainly not more than $100) because the attendees themselves would be the speakers and entertainers. Each day would -- in my tentative plan -- be split into three parts.

Part one: Event panels in which randomly selected panelists would discuss randomly selected issues (with plenty of Q/A and audience participation). Yes, what it sounds like: There's a jar full of pieces of paper with issues written on them. There's a jar full of pieces of paper with attendees' names on them. The MC draws three names and one issues out of the jars -- "Alice, Bob and Charles, you're going to talk about last week's Supreme Court ruling on abortion. Panel starts at [time], see you then." [The idea here is that panelists have some time to get online and brush up while events before theirs are happening.]

Part two: A lectern/podium/soapbox series. Anyone who wants to talk (or sing, or dance, or whatever -- paging James Weeks!) signs up on a schedule for a 15-minute time segment and gets to go to town. Segments every half hour to allow for slight over-runs and Q&A times.

Part three: Social. The venue will need bars/restaurants either in-house or VERY nearby. Karaoke, anyone? Bonus for these venues not being bank-breakers as well. Family-type buffets (pizza, Chinese food) and that sort of thing.

Maybe a Friday noonish to Sunday noonish event with a "social hour" each of the two evenings and alternating hours of panels/soapboxing on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Brief Comment on Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt

I'm not really very exercised about the ruling, but I've commented briefly on it a few times in a few places, and my most recent comment was lengthy and detailed enough to serve as a blog post. So hey, why not? The comment in its original is at spiked, where David Nolan (no, not that David Nolan unless the resurrection occurred without me noticing) calls the ruling "A Victory for Abortion Rights." Here it is:

"The Texas law ... would have closed several abortion clinics and forced thousands of women to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services."

No, the Texas law would have held abortion clinics to the same "unnecessary and burdensome health-and-safety standards" as other clinics that perform medical procedures which aren't abortion. Whether or not those clinics closed instead of meeting those standards would have been up to them.

Even if the standards really are "unnecessary and burdensome" -- and they very well may be -- why is it OK to apply them to places where patients get rhinoplasty or hernia repair or polyps removed from colons, etc., exempting one and only one procedure? What makes abortion special?

I generally favor abortion being legal, but this double standard bothers me. "Abortion is just a medical procedure like any other." Except that clinics performing it are exempt from safety standards required for other procedures. And except that if my teenager gets a vaccination, or stitches, or a cast on a broken arm, my informed consent as a parent is required, but if she gets one and only one kind of surgery, the whole thing can take place without me even knowing about it.

The effect of the ruling may be good -- but if so, why not extend the ruling to other clinics as well? Answer: This ruling wasn't about medicine or safety, it was about judicially mandating a special exemption from regulation for an industry with a powerful political lobby.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/06/16

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

Ask me anything -- anything! -- in comments, and I'll answer in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Criminal Intent

A couple of weeks ago, Republican ... er, Libertarian, sort of ... vice-presidential candidate William Weld, a former prosecutor who presumably knows better, tried to give Hillary Clinton a free pass on Servergate:

[Y]ou can't indict somebody if there is no evidence of intent, and I don't see it, I don't see any evidence of criminal intent ...

This morning, FBI Director James Comey pulled the same shit:

[W]e did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information ...

Clinton is benefiting here from a creative re-definition of "intent" as that word is applied to pretty much everyone else on the planet.

If I shoot you in the head, the prosecutor isn't going to ask whether or not I read Revised Statute BR-549, Criminal Homicide, and said to myself "hey, I really like violating laws, I think I'll violate that one today!" He's going to ask whether or not I intended to shoot you in the head. If I did, that was criminal intent because it was an intentional action that happened to violate Revised Statute BR-549.

Secretary Clinton and her colleagues didn't accidentally do the things they did. It's not like she and her staff tripped over the dog, got up off the floor and suddenly realized they had inadvertently set up a private email server and illegally conducted sensitive State Department business on and illegally passed classified information through that server. They did those things on purpose and since those things are against the law they clearly had criminal intent in doing them.

Just so we're clear about what's going on here:

Monday, July 04, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 85: The 4th of July Frazzles My Nerves

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Guccifer 2.0, Gun Craziness, I Want to Ride My Bicycle, The Other Independence Day (the one with Will Smith);
  • You didn't think you'd get away without a lecture about The MITE, did you?;
  • The Usual Close.

Yes, this episode is disjointed -- recording problems, fireworks in the background, dog scared of fireworks in the background, phone calls in the middle of recording ... But hey, it's in the can now. As mentioned inline, much of the Thanks For Asking thread didn't make it to audio. You can read the thread here.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Lazy Media Habit That Bugs Me

When I search for the phrase "here's what we know," Google returns 1.28 million results and, confirming my impression, most seem to originate with news sites. First page results of note:

The San Bernardino Sun: "Here's what we know about the Kendall fire burning in San Bernardino"

The New York Times: "The Panama Papers: Here's What We Know"

Time: "Here's What We Know About the New Taliban Leader"

Los Angeles Times: "Here's what we know about Noor Salman, the widow of the Orlando gunman"

National Public Radio: "Here's What We Know About the Orlando Shooting Victims" (headline later updated to something else)

I strongly suspect that those headlines should read:

"Here's What We Think We Know About [insert subject here]"

Or maybe:

"Here's What Someone Told Our Reporter, or We Heard at a Press Conference, or We Read in a Press Release, About [insert subject here]"

Most "news" isn't stuff the reporter sees firsthand. Some is, but most of it is just stuff the reporter has been told and believes. Which means that at best, only the reporter's source actually "knows" what actually happened. So what we're really hearing from the reporter is how trustworthy the reporter considers that source.

Why Does Kathy Gilroy Hate the Victims of the Orlando Nightclub Attack?

The story in brief: A suburban Chicago gun shop decided to raffle off an AR-15 rifle to raise money for the OneOrlando Fund, which is helping victims of Omar Mateen's attack on patrons of the Pulse nightclub. They shut down the raffle after "legal questions" were "raised." By which I mean:

Kathy Gilroy, an anti-gambling crusader from Villa Park, said she had complained to the McHenry Police Department about the gun raffle. She said she has gotten various local law enforcement agencies to shut down numerous raffles previously but that it's often an uphill battle.

"Who is enforcing these laws?" Gilroy asked. "No one."

So apparently she really doesn't hate the shooting victims per se. She just hates the idea of anyone being free to do anything without her approval.

In addition to Kathy "If You've Got Business, Expect My Nose To Be All Up In It" Gilroy, we have William "I Make My Living Representing Clients Who Want Permission To Do Stuff, So We Must Have Laws Requiring Permission To Do Stuff" Bogot:

William Bogot, an attorney who represents businesses that want to conduct raffles, said his clients will typically work with nonprofit groups to sponsor a legal raffle.

"It seems unclear to me how they could be doing a raffle," he said of the gun shop raffle before it was called off. "Even if it's a bona fide raffle, they still can't do that. ... If this happens, every bar and restaurant could have a mini-casino."

Heaven forbid bars and restaurants be left alone to conduct their businesses as they please without first forking over to William Bogot for help greasing the right palms getting the relevant permits, licenses, stamps, letters of approval, etc.


Friday, July 01, 2016

Gonna Rear Back and Pass Some Contrary Theorizing

Loretta Lynch's line on her recent encounter with Bill Clinton goes something like this: "Oh, both our personal airplanes happened to be parked next to each other so he came over for a few minutes and we shot the breeze about our grandkids."

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy [TM] line on said encounter goes something like this: It was an unethical consultation -- maybe even essentially a plea bargain talk -- between Clinton and Lynch, with Clinton lobbying for leniency or even an official cover-up on behalf of either his wife (Servergate) or himself (corruption at the Clinton Foundation).

My theory: The whole episode was intentionally contrived, for the express purpose of giving Lynch an excuse to -- "reluctantly, under pressure from the Republicans" -- appoint a special counsel and recuse herself (and by extension the Obama administration) from the coming shitstorm or shitstorms.

Think about it: At some point, possibly in the very near future, the FBI is going to drop a stack or stacks of paperwork marked "case for seeking indictments" on someone's desk.

If that desk is Lynch's, she has to choose between being

  1. The Democratic Attorney General who's prosecuting a former Democratic president and a Democratic presidential candidate (very unpopular with Democrats); or
  2. The Democratic Attorney General who's giving free passes to a former Democratic president and a Democratic presidential candidate (sun shines, Republican hay makes itself).

If that desk is the desk of a special counsel appointed under Republican pressure (it doesn't work if Lynch does it without the appearance of that pressure), the Democrats can hope to turn it into Ken Starr and the blue dress all over again. Crank up an audio loop of whining about "the politics of personal destruction," paint the special counsel as the newly discovered bastard son of Adolf Hitler and Darth Vader, and maybe the Clintons will come out of this thing more popular than ever like last time.

Yeah, it's a Hail Mary. But I think that's what they're up to.

That Thing I've Been Hinting About ...

... is here.

POC Darcy G. Richardson


July 1, 2016 - Liberals and progressives hate regressive taxes. Conservatives and libertarians, well, they just hate taxes in general. Common ground from which well-sowed seeds might bring forth a bountiful political harvest? Activists behind the Mobilization for Incremental Tax Exemption, aka the MITE, think that's possible. The ad hoc, trans-partisan project backs two proposals:

Passage of legislation mandating an annual, regularized increase in the personal exemption to the federal income tax of no less than $5,000 each year until AT LEAST such time as said exemption reaches $100,000 per year; and

Passage of legislation creating a "FICA floor" -- an exemption to the personal/employee/self-employed share of FICA taxes on gross adjusted incomes of less than $15,000 plus $5,000 per dependent, with a mandated annual regularized increase of no less than $5,000 per earner and $500 per dependent until AT LEAST such time as said exemptions reach $100,000 per earner and and $20,000 per dependent.

"We're offering a simple, bottom-up solution that disconnects the concept of tax cuts from all those other political fights over spending priorities and social values," says Thomas L. Knapp, a Libertarian Party activist and one of the MITE's founders. "Everyone gets a tax cut. We all benefit, the poorest among us most of all. And it's a proven solution -- the personal exemption already exists and Congress raises it periodically anyway. The MITE program just puts that process on rails and extends it to payroll taxes as well."

The MITE's election-year priority is getting candidates for Congress and the presidency and vice-presidency to pledge support for their program. "We're not endorsing or supporting candidates," says long-time progressive and third party politico Darcy Richardson. "We're just providing a mechanism for candidates and the public to discover each other on the common ground represented by these two just and rational tax-cutting ideas. Year after year, Republicans call for cuts to the top rate, Democrats demand that 'the rich' pay 'their fair share,' everyone calls for simplification and solutions, and nothing ever really gets done. Here's where the can stops getting kicked down the road."

Through July, the MITE will recruit state coordinators to canvass congressional candidates, with an eye toward pressing for and publicizing candidate support as the November election approaches. Their web site is located at

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