Original Composition - Not Just Links

"Corporations are people" is irrelevant to "Citizens United" and other federal-law cases -- just read the case's name!

The phrase "corporations are people" deliberately conjures up images of huge money-grubbing businesses that don't care about people, getting favors from a government that cares more about them than people.  It's widely known to come from from early, "Gilded Age" pro-business interpretations of the 14th Amendment. And yet the very name of the "Citizens United" case should be a giveaway that the freedom of non-profit groups of citizens, advocating about political issues, was at stake in the case. Do those who scoff at Citizens United, for supposedly saying corporations are people, really believe that civil rights groups, women's groups, antiwar groups, veterans' groups, and religious groups, have no Constitutional rights?

The second half of the case's name, "v. Federal Election Commission", is a big clue that 14th Amendment case law about "persons" has nothing to do with it. The part of the 14th Amendment about persons and rights, Section 1, solely restricts what states can do to people or "persons". It reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

But the First Amendment, which works directly on the federal government, and indirectly on states through the 14th Amendment, focuses on prohibiting the government from violating freedom of speech, press, or religion, with absolutely no exceptions concerning who or what is speaking, publishing, etc.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; ...

There is a reference to "the people" in the second half of it:

"... or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in Citizens United does not say corporations are people. Instead it points out that the First Amendment does not make exceptions for who is doing the speaking or publishing; that all effective speech costs money, and that an argument that "corporations aren't natural persons" is not wrong, but irrelevant to the First Amendment.

Joe Albanese pointed out this crucial but apparently never-noticed distinction today, reveling in the irony of Ben & Jerry's using its free-speech rights to argue against corporations having free-speech rights, in "Is Big Ice Cream Trying to Hijack Our Democracy?" Former Federal Election Commission member Brad Smith says more about groups' free speech rights, and another threat to them, in "Tester’s assault on corporate rights is an assault on people’s rights."

I wish people would read the case opinion before criticizing it, but if you don't do that, you could at least read the case's name and the most important sentence in our Constitution.


Social ideologies, consumerism, matriarchy, propagate through entertainment, commercial ads

Since the 1970s, the non-political media has taught us that everyone is essentially a consumer, not a producer or a citizen; men and masculinity are silly, and women are super-competent. The 80s added safety-mania to this mix. And that children (the ultimate consumers) are superior to adults and nothing's more important than focusing on children, no matter how excessively nor what else we sacrifice for what kids supposedly need or want. 

This article by  reminds us how such ideas spread, and how often we need to notice and resist them, instead of passively absorbing them from sources that we don't think are selling ideology. That's extremely important even though I don't necessarily agree with most of her perspectives on such issues.

Also, this process happens even when there's no top-down conspiracy to spread ideas -- advertisers and entertainment producers use these common themes because they want to be fashionable, soft-newsworthy, and "relevant", to flatter their target audience, and not to shock or alienate them (except for faux-shocking that's actually conformist).

Of course it can be intentional and coordinated, like the Clinton administration's stealth attack on Congressional "economic extremists" via the women's magazines, supposedly non-political because they were reporting on threats to government spending programs that they pretended were non-political. This at a time when the administration felt too weak to attack the new Republican majority in Washington or in the political media, but they instead laid the groundwork for the lasting unpopularity of fiscal conservatism. Even while flattering Gingrich that he had won and that "the era of big government is over."

The Patriarchy Has Been Replaced By A Stifling Matriarchy

 
 

Leftists master the game of long-term policy change, tacking against strong headwinds. Can libertarians or conservatives do it?

Whatever you think about the merits of the issues, you've got to admire gun controllers' and other social-change movements' strategy and tactics, but also recognize their dishonesty -- their eternal cycle or ratchet between "This legislation merely imposes slight restrictions that hardly inconvenience any reasonable person, we would never try to take away your rights", and "That legislation has failed to seriously reduce the underlying problem and it's time to just ban everything" --  as  does in "Gun Controllers Know Their Policies Won’t Stop Murder. They’re Playing A Different Game", at The Federalist:

... If their proposed remedies would be so obviously and demonstrably unlikely to solve the very problems they claim to intend to solve, then why do gun controllers keep advocating these ridiculous and counterintuitive laws? 

The answer is not hard to see. Gun control advocates, like most political actors, are pragmatic and practical. They understand that certain legislative goals and ambitions must play out over a period of time rather than in a political instant. You can see this type of long-game strategy in, say, the American health-care debate: after seven years of Obamacare, Democrats are increasingly pursuing single-payer, something that was much less feasible before the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, Sen. Harry Reid has explicitly stated that Obamacare is intended solely to be “a step in the right direction” towards single-payer, nothing more.

So it is with gun control: liberals propose these useless laws and regulations not in an attempt to honestly curb gun violence but rather in a long-form attempt to pass other laws down the road. It will be much easier to ban large classes of semiautomatic rifles, after all, after five or ten years of banning scary-looking AR-style “assault weapons.” It will be far easier, too, to sharply restrict firearm purchases after a decade of regulating ammunition sales, the latter of which will soon begin in California.

This doesn’t have to be some grand conspiracy theory or dark, shadowy intrigue. Gun controllers are not stupid. They understand long-form political action as well as anyone. They do not like guns and they are more than patient enough to play the drawn-out politics necessary to curtail American gun rights.

... To be fair, I get it: if the situation were reversed, and I were starting from a legal position in which gun rights were severely restricted in this country, I would play the same game if necessary. It’s the smart thing to do.


Caught in lies, Left just rides out the controversy, then carves 'em in stone when no one's looking

Todd Seavey writes:

I notice that now that the chronic con artist Brianna Wu is running for Congress in the Boston area, the New York Times seizes the opportunity to define Gamergate as simply an Internet harassment campaign -- no debate necessary, I guess -- and CNN casually describes Gamergate (inaccurately) as a movement that believes there should be no women in gaming.

Disturbingly, the establishment left is perfectly willing to just ride out the storm and then carve its lies in stone once everyone's attention has moved elsewhere. I'm not sure how people interested in telling the truth can match that relentless, tireless evil.

That's how they do. That's one of the parts of politics that I learned on the playground: people's reality is what they start repeating because it's what people are saying and what they think people want to hear them say. 

The greatest example of this silent switcheroo that I've witnessed is how in the early 90s, the Soviet Union fell, a wider swath of policymakers and educated people learned about market economics, and everyone conceded that socialism didn't work. Democratic President Bill Clinton proclaimed, "The Era of Big Government is Over." Newt Gingrich took over Congress and for a couple years, no one in Washington told him he wasn't the best and the brightest. Ever since the backlash from his hubris in the 1995 government shutdown (which White House chief of staff Leon Panetta later bragged about orchestrating on NPR), the GOP has been afraid to make public arguments for why free markets work, fearing to scare away some fraction of its precarious majority coalition. In that vacuum, leftist academics, writers and politicians rushed back in like the tide, teaching whole generations that market economics was totally disproven. Not by actually engaging with what free-market economists and philosophers actually taught, but just by sidestepping it and repeating that all of that had been discredited at some point.


Media says "#Reeling" & "Under Siege" because that's how they like us. Can #JohnOliver change that?

It took a Brit to have the daring, and the permission, to effectively poke a hole in the American media's universal chorus about how Londoners are Reeling, Traumatized, Quivering, Disoriented, Shell-Shocked, Incapacitated and Under Siege. 

John Oliver - Britain Reeling

Because in Britain you can straightforwardly argue for Fabian Socialism or whatever Oliver believes, without having to convince yourself that you speak for a consensus of all responsible and respectable members of the community. But in the US, generations of progressives have learned not to advocate socialism directly, or at least to dare not speak its name, when addressing the general public. Instead, around 1970 the media started talking to us as if we were not citizens but a mass of passive Consumers, overwhelmed by events too large for individuals or voluntary groups to handle.  A view of ourselves that typical Americans had always vehemently rejected, but it was central to the views of Progressive-Era leaders, New Dealers, and establishment leftists.

Not all leftists -- the old Populist farmers, the Civil Rights organizers, and many 60s radicals believed in self-help and self-organizing. But the Progressive leftists, who already dominated all mainstream social institutions, feared and loathed as "false consciousness" anything that made individuals feel self-sufficient, empowered, free, etc. Everything from driving cars instead of relying on public transportation, to civilians owning weapons, to any way of providing for our needs or wants that was not governmental or government-dependent. 

So the media started pounding us with one too-big-to-comprehend Crisis after another: Gas shortages. Random terrorism. Inflation. Unpredictable "lone gunman" assassins. Global Cooling. The Population Bomb. Random Urban Violence. Drug Epidemics. (I'm not saying they conspired or fabricated these things; it's about how they began to portray them, which was based on, and/or encouraged, the Progressive view of individuals and "Society".) What could an individual do about anything? Wait for government experts to solve the problem. And tie a yellow ribbon on something -- we only started doing that sort of thing during the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, and we're still at it.

Little things that reinforce that view of mankind still bug some of us. Everything from the ribbons being yellow to the obvious connotation of pronouncing the Sept. 11 attacks "Nine-Eleven". Needlessly shortening "terrorism" to "terror" probably has something to do with it too.

9/11 seemed to radically dethrone this paradigm, at least for a while. It began with World Trade Center management telling everyone to stay at their desks until safety officials assessed and determined, etc. It ended with passengers organizing an unarmed assault and making their 737 explode in a field before it could kamikaze the White House. But the herd mentality is strong, the left-wing "hive" endures for generations and knows when to tactically retreat or change the subject temporarily, and they've trained us to want what they're selling. 

Oliver has given us a widely-publicized chance to re-evaluate the whole passivity paradigm. I hope we'll take it. After all, from the time of the Battle of Britain through the Berlin Airlift, the news spin about our allies under attack was completely different.  

And on the eve of WWI it was even differenter: the English were proud of their resistance and their Reeling, with more than one beer in hand:

The Rolling English Road
 
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
 
I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
 
His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
 
My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.
 
Related Posts: 

Press deploys its worst bureaucratese against Portland's anti-Muslim killer, Constitution-burning mayor

A horrible example of the passive voice obscuring life-or-death questions in the classic "bureaucratic style", from the AP in the Washington Post, the paper I was born and raised on and really expected better from:

"Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were killed Friday as they tried to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from harassing the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, authorities say. Another who stepped in was seriously injured."

The passive-voice obfuscation makes one wonder if the killer was this "Christian" guy, police, other Muslims, or someone else whom the writer doesn't want you to think about. Only way down deep in the story, in a quotation, do we learn who did what:

"And then we turned around while they were fighting, and he just started stabbing people, and it was just blood everywhere, and we just started running for our lives."

Even that doesn't say who started the physical fighting, or who was fighting. That quotation is the first specific first description of anything physical. Then there's this:

"A day before the attack, cellphone video confirmed by police Sgt. Pete Simpson shows Christian using expletives as he rants about Muslims, Christians and Jews on a train."

It would be interesting to know if he was ranting for or against Christians and Jews. But at least they left in what's really important, the fact that he used profanity and the name of the police officer who confirmed the video. And then:


"The mayor says his main concern was participants 'coming to peddle a message of hatred,' saying hate speech is not protected by the Constitution."

Um, that last gerund is a grave accusation against the mayor, saying he expressed beliefs that disqualify him from active citizenship, not just from holding public office. So I think he deserves to have what he actually said quoted. (When I read the evolving story, the headline was about that. The characterization of his anti-American beliefs is accurate, though. See "‘Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment,’ Portland mayor says. He’s wrong." byKristine Phillips in the Post)

The story is by Martha Bellisle of the AP. ("Portland mayor aims to nix free-speech rally, fears 'hatred'" -
By MARTHA BELLISLE, Associated Press). But the AP and Post editors are both independently responsible either for creating this dog's-breakfast or for not fixing it so that it delivers the news.

For more on the bureaucratic style and all the important questions it intentionally obscures, see "The Elements of Bureaucratic Style" by Colin DickeyMy own small contribution to that analysis is "When the people who had all the power say the victim forced them to use force ...".

Postscript: As if all that wasn't Orwellian enough, the Post  link this was about now points to a Post AP story with a different headline and  byline, with the first thing I complained about now totally fixed, and other major topics removed:

Portland uneasy; suspect shouts ‘you’ve got no safe place!’

May 30 at 7:53 PM

. . . "Authorities say Jeremy Joseph Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. When three men on the train intervened, police say, Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one."

 


When the people who had all the power say the victim forced them to use force ...

I've heard good arguments for both sides about United bumping the passenger off the flight, IF it was the only flight, on any airline, that could get the pilots to where they needed to be so that whole planeloads of passengers could fly as scheduled. For picking people to bump at random instead of calling for volunteers, and calling police and dragging a guy off, a doctor whose patients would be waiting for him, not so much.

But the CEO's non-apology does something that we allow far too many people in power and authority to get away with: Talking as if they had no choice in what they did to someone, as if their victim was a free agent who could choose differently, but their own response was an automatic consequence, an impersonal force of nature, etc.

United CEO on Flight Removal Video: ‘I Apologize for Having to Re-accommodate These Customers’

                         By Jennifer Calfas, Apr 10, 2017

Civil forfeiture's worse than we thought; blurs difference between cops & robbers, compliance & bribery.

I already knew Civil Asset Forfeiture was often horribly misused and somehow started affecting people who hadn't been convicted of crimes. But people who aren't even charged? In some places, it has taken America back to the bad old days where it isn't safe to travel if you're a minority or from out-of-state. Worse, some counties have become like those corrupt third-world countries where there's no real difference between cops & robbers; bribes & "fines". Where innocent travelers might get stopped at any time for a bogus crime and have to sign over whatever cash they have with them to get out of jail and -- a particularly American twist on this barbarity -- to not have their children taken away.

And sometimes, as described below, public servants are so focused on grabbing the cash etc. that when they do stop actual, serious drug-runners, they let them go, as long as they literally "get the goods" off them. 

There have been bipartisan efforts in many states, most recently Virginia, to reform "civil forfeiture" so it only applies to convicted criminals. (If something's actual evidence of a crime that someone's charged with, it would still be kept temporarily as evidence anyway.) But what this New Yorker article has to say makes it far more urgent than I knew.

TAKEN: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?


Bland "token" Black characters: a huge improvement, a necessary first step, Kenneth Kelly told Charles Schulz

Us kids of the 70s uncomfortably recall all the plain-vanilla TV and movie characters who merely "happened to be black". Perhaps none was plainer-vanilla than Franklin from Peanuts. But it turns out our discomfort was shared by their creators, even when they were considering whether to introduce them. And it was answered powerfully by moon-lander designer and housing discrimination activist Kenneth C. Kelly, who wrote to Charles Schulz after hearing that Schulz was considering adding a Black Peanuts kid but was worried about "patronizing" tokenism:

"... on the subject of including Negro kids in the fabric of Peanuts, I’d like to express an opinion as a Negro father of two young boys. You mention a fear of being patronizing. Though I doubt that any Negro would view your efforts that way, I’d like to suggest that an accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!

"We have a situation in America in which racial enmity is constantly portrayed. The inclusion of a Negro supernumerary in some of the group scenes in Peanuts would do two important things. Firstly, it would ease my problem of having my kids seeing themselves pictured in the overall American scene. Secondly, it would suggest racial amity in a casual day-to-day sense.

"I deliberately suggest a supernumerary role for a Negro character. The inclusion of a Negro in your occasional group scenes would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date, should the basis for such a principal develop.

"We have too long used Negro supernumeraries in such unhappy situations as a movie prison scene, while excluding Negro supernumeraries in quiet and normal scenes of people just living, loving, worrying, entering a hotel, the lobby of an office building, a downtown New York City street scene. There are insidious negative effects in these practices of the movie industry, TV industry, magazine publishing, and syndicated cartoons."

 From "Why Charles M. Schulz Gave Peanuts A Black Character (1968)" by  on flashbak.com


A Pogo Strip For Our Time: "Go Away, You Frighten Our Children" vs. "Everybody's Lost But Me"

I've finally encountered one of those alt-right people -- so they aren't a myth after all. A Facebook commenter talking about "Cucks" and leaving a picture of their Egyptian frog god, Kek AKA Kuk AKA Pepe. I decided to look it up to see what on earth it was all about, and it just left me feeling soiled and stupider than before. It's mostly defined in even more obscure and irrelevant terms, in the language of guys who feel they have no stake in society and just want to spout abuse. Also numerology and "magick". But it kept dimly reminding me of something, and after a few days, I remembered what it is. The Pogo series about the "Kluck Klams" may be the most heartstring-tugging Pogo strips ever. Not because of the unrealistically easy happy ending. Certainly not the stuff about "Go away, you frighten our children", which has long since become a sick, control-freaky liberal cliché, and just makes me mutter, "You wish your children were scared!" What gets to me -- and did even when I first read it back in grade school, when I had hardly any ability to pick up on emotions in other people, or in books -- is the smart, plucky little boy's unquestioning devotion to his horribly misguided, quite likely evil and criminal, father ...

  Kluck-klams11 Kluck-klams21 Kluck-klams31 Kluck-klams41 Kluck-klams51 Kluck-klams61 Kluck-klams71 Kluck-klams81








Johnson hasn't aimed at his most likely voters, is "maximizing his minimum" -- Brad Smith

I long ago signed up for the Johnson campaign's Facebook feed and e-mails, and curiously, nearly all of them seemed tin-eared and off-note, to be participating in a barely relevant conversation. Many had a content-free student-government-elections vibe, essentially, "Why not try a third party?" pointlessly saying a two-party system wasn't fair, etc. The ones that attacked Trump and Clinton just repeated the same old accusations people have already heard a million times, and in Hillary's case, the non-ideological "Crooked Hillary" stuff or the left-wing attack on her as an insider. I can't recall ever seeing an attack on her far-left, progressive-elitist IDEOLOGY, including her hostility to the traditional American libertarian ideals shared by many conservatives, moderates, and even many liberals (anyone remember Civil Libertarians?).

Professor and former Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith discussed this in depth in a brilliant public post on Facebook. My only quibbles with him are:

  1. Posing as the sane moderate isn't incompatible with being the sensible, electable conservative alternative, the leader of the remainder of a split Republican party. Doing a better job at both of those would have made him the natural candidate for "Never Trump" Republicans who instead voted for Hillary, or McMullen, or even, in desperation, for Trump as the only alternative to Hillary.
  2. There's much more to be said, especially this year, for libertarianism as the real moderation. It doesn't erase, but defuses and declaws, most cultural and religious differences. The main theme of my libertarian folk song (temporary working titles: "Goons & Droogs" or "Johnson We Hardly Mentioned Ye.")

Smith writes:

I think basically the strategy was to try to present themselves as the "moderate, sane alternative," and to appeal to millenials, who are more likely to pull the third party lever. The hope was to peel off a bit from the left, and a bit from the right, and get into the debates with 15%. To do this they heavily emphasized social issues, to the point of abandoning tradition libertarian and Libertarian positions, such as supporting freedom of association, and viewing private anti-discrimination laws as a rare exception to be used only in rare situations. Instead, they aggressively attacked the idea that religious people (or others) should be free not to provide services for same sex marriages, etc.. They devoted considerable effort to courting Clinton and Sanders voters. They also talked quite a bit about foreign policy, a very unwise decision given Johnson's apparent lack of prep there, but they wanted to court anti-war voters.

In my view, the only real hope for a third party is always to become viewed as the alternative to one of the major parties. Otherwise, "don't waste your vote" mentality kicks in (and it is a logical mentality), and third party support always drifts away.

Their smart play, therefore, would have been not to campaign as the moderate alternative to Corrupt Hillary and Crazy Donald, but as the Republican alternative to Trump, much as Evan McMullen has done in his 1 state campaign in Utah. As two former GOP governors, this would have made sense and had some credibility. Further, Republicans who don't like Trump tend to not like him because he is not libertarian enough (this is not true of the neocons, but it is true of the free traders, the pro-immigration voters, and much of the limited government crowd. Liberals dissatisfied with Hillary tend not to like her because she's not statist enough--the Bernie voters. There's really no room to her left on the social issues that Johnson/Weld wanted to emphasize, and on economics, their libertarian views are as much or more a turnoff to the Sanders/Warren left as Hillary's cronyism.

Rather than Weld citing Breyer as a great Supreme Court justice, they should have been on one page that they would support people like Thomas, who is very popular with Republicans and probably the most libertarian justice on the Court. They should have finessed abortion through a federalism argument and aggressively defending the Hyde Amendment and attacking efforts to fund Planned Parenthood (a good libertarian position, defunding most any private group), require employers to provide particular coverages in health plans, or require individuals to perform non-essential services (the traditional libertarian position). Most importantly, they should have pounded on regulation and the growth of government and executive power. The idea would be to become (as McMullen has become in Utah) a credible alternative for conservative voters. As we see with McMullen, his support is not fading in Utah in part because he is seen as an electable alternative to Clinton.

Would such a strategy have worked? Probably not. Always a longshot, right? But I think they played a strategy to maximize their minimum, when this was the election for the LP to try to maximize its maximum.

Or as Matthew Finn put it in a comment:

He misidentified which demographic his campaign should've been targeting. Trump is enormously unpopular with small government conservatives. Thesevoters would've been ripe for picking. Yet Johnson seemed to snub them in favor of running a campaign targeted at youthful millennial voters and, oddly enough, the Sanders sect of the Democratic Party (who are, by nature, ideologically opposite of Johnson). In doing so, he created an image (and remember, perception is truth in politics), of a half-baked, middle aged stoner who is treating running for president with the same amount of seriousness that he would treat running a fantasy football league. That alienated a good portion of his ideal demographic (small government conservatives) who tend to be older and, to an extent, value based voters. In short, rather than painting himself as a sensible conservative alternative to Trump, he painted himself as a wacky caricature and in doing so alienated the voters who could have actually put him in the national discussion.


Candidates' science report cards misleading if you only read the headline or summary. Like most science stories.

Scientific American's "Grading the Presidential Candidates on Science" article is not without value, but it has some eccentricities that make it seriously misleading to just read the candidates' scores without reading the whole thing to see what the questions actually were, and how they were graded. It does not test candidates' scientific literacy or mastery. And even the breadth, detail and seriousness of their science-related public policies takes a back seat to some oddball factors that don't matter that much to anyone but the authors:

  1. The test puts surprisingly great emphasis not on scientific literacy or policies, but on following instructions in detail when taking the test. They asked for very specific policies on specific questions, not overall generalities. Even though describing overall general policy preferences and methods can be useful and instructive, and is often the best use of  candidates' and the public's time in a campaign. Gary Johnson came off more like he answered it on the fly without reading the instructions, and so didn't get credit for a lot of detailed, solid, moderate policies on energy and other science-related issues that are described on his web site or on an independent "candidates on the issues" site. 
  2. Though the graders didn't look outside the test answers for material that bolstered a candidate's scientific literacy, they did so to find positions and statements that would lower a candidate's grade or would, in their view, contradict their answers to the test. That hurt all candidates but Hillary. 
  3. A significant fraction of the test was government-funding issues, which it treated as showing whether a candidate would be good for science, ignoring any economic arguments about whether that's the best way to do things. (Or penalizing all market-based arguments, relying on a single study, far outside the graders' expertise, that they treated as authoritative on all economic questions.)
  4. The graders also got extremely, unscientifically doctrinaire on a couple issues: Stein was deemed an ignoramus for having misgivings about nuclear power, whereas apparently there's a total scientific consensus that nuclear is hunky-dory. Who knew? And although Johnson says global warming's a man-made program that needs governmental solutions, he's severely penalized for saying we should be open-minded to various dissenters and that some widely proposed solutions aren't necessarily worth the cost. 

Grading the Presidential Candidates on Science: Scientific American evaluates responses from Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein to 20 questions

By Christine Gorman and Ryan F. Mandelbaum in Scientific American


Clinton & Trump are too extreme, reject First Amendment's core rights: political speech, democratic participation

The most important reason to vote the Libertarian presidential ticket the other candidates' hostility to the First Amendment -- positions that are neither extreme liberalism nor extreme conservatism, as we have usually understood those terms, but are all the more extreme for being totally unplugged from liberal or conservative traditions.

As for everything else, a lot of the imperfections of Hillary and Gary are things we've had before in presidents; obviously she's not the first big-gov't economic lefty, nor the first to tactically hatemonger and demonize her fellow-citizens who disagree with her on that. I don't remember how Wilson, FDR, Truman, Johnson & Nixon did that, but Bill & Obama at least sounded like they still valued all Americans and beckoned the misguided back to the fold, while the media happily did the dirtier work for them. They usually singled out legislators & advocacy group leaders as the evil extremists. HRC, on the other hand, pretty clearly indicates that if you're opposing or obstructing anything, then none of your rights or interests matter, you don't matter, and you should just get swept off the chessboard.

But that's not what disqualifies her: it's the hostility to the First Amendment and her vow to amend it. First there's all the attacks on people's right to morally disapprove of, and choose not to participate in, certain actions that their religion has disapproved of for millennia. That's already been going on in the Obama administration and at every level of government. And the campaign finance reform, extending the notion not just to giving money to officeholders and candidates, but against any political speech against candidates, or even about referenda, if the speech costs money or involves banding together in groups, e.g. Citizens United. Which means any speech that's significant & effective enough to make any difference.

The First Amendment is what makes us America. We'll always have differences about where to draw lines in the gray areas around it, but somehow liberalism has turned around 180 degrees from when I was a proudly liberal Democrat in the 70s and 80s, and wants to cut out the heart of the 1st Amendment as it has always been understood from the founding up through the present: political speech and freedom of conscience.

That puts Clinton and Trump way too far out on the un-American extremes to consider voting for them. Johnson and Weld don't have to be perfect, they just have to be not as dangerous as Clinton or Trump. And they are a lot better on this and a great many other issues and measures, though of course not perfect.


Can there be an objective verdict on Hillary's ethics history? We begin at the Travel Office ...

Everything I needed to know about Hillary Clinton* [*until now], I learned in the first year of law school, the first year of Bill's presidency. We didn't have the internet, so we had to remember news events and utterances that were important to us, and we couldn't -- and weren't required to -- whip out a shareable web link to prove everything we said. (Such exercises were reserved for the junior law review editors, miserable creatures who lived in the library seeking citations to back up such statements as "The sun rises in the East".). I didn't have a TV, and newspaper reading varied depending on exam preparation, internship work, etc. I heard a lot but I missed a lot. Like most people who nonetheless think they have a right to express opinions about their government.

Since 1993 or '94 I haven't been much interested in anything purporting to prove Hillary's criminal or corrupt, because I already knew I wouldn't vote for her based on what I "knew" about the Travel Office firings and her "Let them eat cake" moment -- saying she wasn't responsible for "every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America" as a way of shrugging off any concern about her health care proposal's effects on small businesses and jobs. This piled elite nonchalance on top of an ugly tactic I was then observing in bullies everywhere, from brutal, racist cops to university administrators to politicians who would leave a market half-free, half-constrained, and then blame the resulting chaos on the free market. Cuffing a guy's hands behind your back, knocking him down and then laughing at him and belittling him because he can't pull yourself up by his bootstraps, can't hold his pants up, etc. Or saying students, employees or customers needed to be "responsible", but only as a way of disclaiming any responsibility for what you and your institutions do to them.

The Travel Office firing was chilling and clearly very wrong to five or six of its seven employees, but there's a whole history of investigation that shows no crime Hillary could be reasonably prosecuted for, and only ambiguous scraps of evidence that might point to her being flagrantly unethical. And likewise, even a cheat sheet covering a lifetime of possible scandals, by the unsympathetic Washington Examiner, shows nothing really damning. Bottom line, her character is dingy and battered, grungy, and if she has committed crimes herself, the most likely and numerous ones are the administrative/regulatory kind that many respectable people accumulate over a lifetime. But her zeal and anger inspire loyal staff to do cruel and unusual, perhaps criminal, things on her behalf, for reasons ranging from Arkansas patronage, to foiling potential enemies, to transcendent ideology.

Whoever really was responsible for the firings was pretty clearly acting (1) legally and (2) unethically, meanly, nastily, and with utter disdain for ordinary working people and how one's actions affect them. Which fit perfectly with the "undercapitalized entrepreneur"  attitude. The Travel Office staff formally served "at the will of the President" and could be dismissed at any time, so it was totally legal to fire them. But in practice they were non-political career employees, just like the kitchen and housekeeping staff. Five "had no financial authority in the office."

 The director of the travel office, who had worked his way up from the bottom from 1962 to 1982, may have been doing a fine job getting travel arranged for everyone, but he had no use for, nor knowledge of, conventional accounting, and devised his own "country storekeeper" method for collecting advance payments from media businesses sharing the costs of press pool travel, and refunding or collecting any difference afterwards. It sounds like whenever paper records were left over he piled them in a closet. All of that was not necessarily illegal -- this wasn't a business that had to pay taxes, and I don't know what kind of record-keeping the law actually required for that government office, but it reasonably could dovetail with the only criminal charge against any of the travel staff --  embezzlement of $54,000 from refunds and $14,000 from petty cash, using a personal account as the office's petty cash fund. He was tried for that, and acquitted. But the White House can't be blamed for investigating -- it would have been a scandal not to.

But White House had fired the entire seven-person staff at once and meanwhile called in the FBI to investigate the office's finances, announcing both actions to the press at once. On top of the usual effects of being fired, this certainly made it look to any potential future employer, and everyone else they interacted with, as if they had all been fired for some criminal wrongdoing.  All seven later "testified that the accusations by the Clinton White House had ruined them financially by forcing them to incur massive legal bills to clear their names," the LA Times said. And replacing them with the Clintons' associates and cousin, who had been lobbying for the investigation and the positions, made it look as if the Clintons had not only fired, but tried to incriminate and prosecute, ordinary, innocent working people simply to make jobs for their cronies. As if, as Vince Foster wrote in his suicide note, "Ruining people is considered sport." That's probably not a crime, but it's still vile.

But Hillary's actual involvement is not so black-and-white. After all the investigations by Kenneth Starr and his successor, long after I had stopped listening, it sounds like all she had to do is indicate once that she implacably wanted those people gone, and the Clinton's senior staffer did the rest, leaving the Clintons' hands sort of clean. Like with Henry II and St. Thomas à Becket. Well, she also apparently kept reminding aides that she wanted the situation resolved through swift action, but she may not have had to get any more specific than that, at least on paper. The Special Prosecutors' verdict was thatHillary had testified falsely when she said two years later that she had no involvement at all, but that there was insufficient evidence to convict her of knowing or intentional perjury or obstruction of justice. Indeed, it looks like the firing was mostly the doing of staffers who firmly believed from experience that they had to move ruthlessly to not only remove, but discredit and destroy, anyone who stood in the way of what Hillary wanted. As Clinton aide David Watkins wrote,  "We both know that there would be hell to pay [if] we failed to take swift and decisive action in conformity with the First Lady's wishes."

There is a remarkable level of consensus about the known facts of this scandal. Even a site claiming that all Clinton scandals have been debunked has nothing to say about this one except that the firings were legal and the Special Prosecutors found insufficient evidence of perjury or obstruction of justice by Hillary. The White House later issued a self-critical report, apologized to the staffers and found jobs for five of them; the director and one other staffer retired.

Sources:


Hillary rejects Bill's economic policies that made his time prosperous

Willingly or not, Bill Clinton presided over mildly free-market policies and welfare reform. The federal budget grew during his time but shrunk as a share of the economy. Federal deficits were reduced, then eliminated and turned into surpluses. He was enthusiastically for free trade. His very early attempt at an artificial "stimulus" was defeated, with money instead going where it was actually wanted, needed, and productive of things consumers valued and could afford. Hillary is rejecting all of that, as we saw in the first debate,  writes in Reason:

Hillary Clinton Wants the Economy of the 1990s Without Its Policy Agenda:

On budgets, trade, and more, the Democratic nominee rejects Bill Clinton's economic initiatives.


Is the WASHINGTON Post right to ding Trump for race speech in city named for big slaveowner?

"It’s worth noting ...  that the North Carolina town Trump spoke in was named for a man from a slaveholding family," 

Wait -- you better not say anything about this if you're in Washington, DC, Washington State, Washington County, Jacksonville, Madison, Monrovia, Leesburg, Jefferson City, Fairfax County, Carroll County, Henry County, Polk County, Van Buren County, Cobb County, Clay County, Bolivar Heights, Bolivia, Grant Park, Hannibal, Hancock, Houston, or at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, George Washington University, or George Mason University. Or at Little Caesar's. Or in July or August. Or at the Errol Flynn Marina or Brown University, named for self-confessed slave traders.

But ... those places weren't named for those guys BECAUSE of their slaveowning or slave-trading. Well, neither was Kenansville. What -- you thought they named it for Kenan when he made it into Slaveowner Magazine's annual "Top 40 Slaveowners" feature? Actually, James Kenan was an early leader of Stamp Act protests and the prewar Committees of Safety, a state militia general, sheriff, state senator, and state-constitution convention delegate. He was also a delegate to a 1774 provincial convention that banned the slave trade. In the state's U.S. Constitution ratifying convention, he chaired the crucial "committee of the whole" that studied debated, and put together the final Report on the Constitution, amendments, and on the dicey, crucial question of how to hold out for what became the Bill of Rights without abandoning the Union. 

Just goes to show, you can be as right and pure and as good as they come and your opponent may be every depraved varmint in "Would You Like to Swing On a Star" rolled into one, but just shoot one cheap shot from your glass house, and that's all that some people will focus on, completely devaluing and discrediting all your valid arguments, and it'll all come down to this:

 


Sick Hillary debates bearded manchild from "The Hangover" -- You've never seen her like this before.

Here's how Hillary dealt with "Hangover" breakout star Zach Galifianakis's bizarre, improvised interview questions on his talk show, "Between Two Ferns", in which he's pretty much the same guy he plays in the "Hangover" movies. Except she was pretty sick with pneumonia at the time, as you may have heard, and "There was a laugh or two from her – a really big laugh – that we had to edit out because it wasn’t icy enough for us in a weird way ...", Galifianakis told the Los Angeles Times. 

If we send Hillary to the Oval Office, she had better have her lucky ferns flanking her at all times, like her Haldeman & Erlichman, her Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern, her Stan & Huma ...

Galifianakis doesn't plan to have Donald Trump on the show, he continued: 

"He’s the kind of guy who likes attention – bad attention or good attention. So you’re dealing with a psychosis there that’s a little weird. I wouldn’t have somebody on that’s so mentally challenged. I feel like I’d be taking advantage of him. And you can print that."

I guess Trump will just have to talk to Mr. Chow.

 

 


Trump's "experts" as smugly clueless as him -- top foreign policy advisor #Flynn doesn't know #TPP isn't with China.

Trump can get away with saying whatever, and when he gets his facts wrong, we can always say, well, he's the big-picture guy, he's got good gut instincts, and he hires people to know about public policy and all that stuff. So when his adviser whose job is to know this stuff says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a treaty with China, we should be very afraid. Trump's going to hire experts who are just as clueless as he is.

" .. one of Trump’s top policy advisers [Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn] went on CNN this morning to denounce "this whole, you know, Trans-Pacific trade agreement with China."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a trade agreement with China. It includes 12 countries and none of them is China."

Just one of many appalling things in --

Donald Trump gave an interview this morning that should be shocking — but we’re numb


CBS edit totally changes what Bill Clinton told Charlie Rose on Big Question of the Day -- HRC health

If you saw the headline you may have thought, as I did, that it was a vague hook about something that probably amounted to nothing ("CBS News Edits Out Embarrassing Verbal Slip"). Well, it's not nothing, it's big. CBS, in its broadcast, removed Bill's first and most revealing answer and retraction, changing “frequently—well not frequently, rarely”  to simply "rarely". The full sentence and other context are in CBS's article about the interview:

“Well if it is, it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors,” he said, “because frequently—well not frequently, rarely—but on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing happened to her when she got severely dehydrated.” 

Sorry, if anyone, but ESPECIALLY Bill Clinton, says something like, "frequently, I mean rarely, multiple occasions, but I mean over many many years", the public deserves to hear all of that and decide for themselves which parts to believe, which part of his teeming brain to listen to as its more and less honest and dishonest hatchlings jostle and trample each other in the rush for his mouth. The guy is a master: he really doesn't hardly ever lie, he talks in a way that makes you want to believe he's totally on your side, and to stop listening before he gets through all of the qualifiers and reversals at the end of the sentence, but you have to doggedly listen to all that while reserving all judgment on what impression to form, or you'll misunderstand him every time. So if you ever take a jot or a tittle out of one of his sentences, you'll change the meaning a hundredfold.

Depressing that this was with Charlie Rose. Rose gives every impression of setting the gold standard for thoughtful, nuanced discourse and intellectual honesty that brings everyone together around his table. "Talking with Charlie Rose" is almost a sacred rite, even more so than testifying to a court under oath on penalty of perjury. 

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I may have only clicked on the story because the part of the article that showed up in Facebook's link had a word missing, and I have a pet peeve about people who leave mistakes uncorrected when they are criticizing someone else's minor wording mistake or writing about how important good grammar is. But that typo had been fixed in the article although it remains in Facebook's display, and it wasn't in an article about a trivial mistake, as it turns out.

CBS News Edits Out Embarrassing Verbal Slip in Bill Clinton Interview

By  on mediaite.com

Bill Clinton Says Hillary Has Had Fainting Spells ‘On More Than One Occasion’

By Chuck Ross on The Daily Caller. (The key part of the story is "below the fold" -- or rather below the ribbon of "Sponsored Content" ads.)

CBS article that contained the full sentence as of this writing, 4:00 p.m. 9/13/16: 

 


Lincoln says vote for fellow third-partier Gary Johnson, not for the lesser of the two evils

According to YouTube, Trump may have Hitler masterminding his campaign in coordination with Putin, but Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld have Abraham Lincoln's vigorous endorsement:

This Hilarious (But Accurate) Ad For A Gary Johnson Vote Is The Best Political Ad Ever


Gary Johnson is no libertarian purist. That's normal, for a serious candidate of a real party.

My friend Woody Wood, a textile lobbyist, and I were pondering our presidential choices. When we came to Johnson, he said he said something like, "Well, in a purely, perfectly, libertarian society,  . . . "

I can't tell you the rest of what he said, because it started me thinking -- we don't refuse to consider liberal or conservative candidates because of what we imagine pure liberalism, or pure conservatism, might be. Indeed hardly any of us even try to imagine those things, because they're so unlikely they're irrelevant. We vote for parties and candidates to move the ball in our preferred direction, not to go all the way with it. And sometimes our vote is more for the party, or for a particular wing of the party, than for our ideal candidate.

Johnson and Weld are pretty great candidates with a lot of experience in and out of government, but neither of them is libertarian on everything, any more than I am. But that means the Libertarian Party is maturing into a real, functioning, electoral political party, just when the Republican Party seems to have entered its second childhood -- OK, to be frank, it entered it somewhere around the Palin nomination and now with the Trump nomination its aging process has left the cute codger phase and gone into the nasty, belligerent, feces-flinging throes of full-blown senile dementia, the kind where you no longer recognize your friends and relations, and invest all your hope and trust into intimate, intricate imaginary relationships with strangers or people who don't even exist.

Anyhow, back to the serious candidates and parties.  spells out all the ways in which -- 

"Gary Johnson isn’t a perfect libertarian. Here’s why that doesn’t matter."

By  on rare.us

 


The problem is more character and manners than ideology -- Paul Greenberg's 2-page masterpiece

One of my all-time favorite political texts, as timely now as when it appeared in 1999, is Paul Greenberg's short column, "The Problem With the Right." And likewise, his "The Problem With the Left."

Many of our current problems arise not so much from being too conservative or insufficiently conservative, or too socially versus economically conservative or vice-versa, as from the bad habits that Greenberg identified, and which Obama provides such a glaring contrast to.

I often feel like the Transcendentalist who lamented of the Whigs and the Jacksonian Democrats, “One party has all the good men, the other has all the good principles.” Our party nominates sneering bullies who value their own power over principles; longtime election losers who believe that it’s “their turn”; and easily corruptible guys with no principles whatsoever; and in 2006 we really started getting punished for it. But that's not all the Greenberg has to say. Read it and weep for your country.


Advice from the "Moderate" Republican Left

These have many good points and the Whitman piece, particularly, calls on us to face some tough mathematical/geopolitical truths about the party's future. However, a long-standing problem with leading GOP moderates is that most of them don't seem to be conservative, or even any different from liberals, on ANYTHING -- at least not on any issue the left and the media really care about and want to play hardball about. Oh, maybe on old-timey conservative issues like crime and national security, but those are issues where the Democrats have said "me too" since around 1990. I think most of my positions are moderate, but the problem is that the liberal establishment can pick any issue and force you to choose between abandoning your position or getting labeled an extremist. Like with the ca. 1995 sudden invention of  "economic extremists."

Blueprint for a comeback -- baltimoresun.com.By Chrysovalantis Kefalas.

Free the GOP: The Party Won't Win Back the Middle as Long As It's Hostage to Social Fundamentalists, By Christine Todd Whitman and Robert M. Bostock