Thought of the day

I’m still waiting to read the first news article ever to discuss the disciplinary record of a cop who is also a victim of a crime. Because the media seems to have no problem when the victim is a black man – even one who complied with everything and did absolutely nothing wrong.

Thought of the day

I’m thankful every day that I don’t have some terrible condition like diabetes or heart disease or even colon cancer.

Merry Christmas

I think 2017 is the year that I update this picture.

Merry Christmas

Trump’s victory is bad in the short-term, but potentially great in the long-term

Without a doubt, the worst part of Trump’s victory is the fact that he will get to appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia’s death was likely the greatest political news of the century, so it’s doubtful that Trump will be able to find someone as bad as he was. Unfortunately, if he gets to replace Ginsburg, it won’t matter who he picks to replace Scalia or her. He’s going to get to add a conservative justice, swinging the court further to the right.

However, despite the problems of the Supreme Court, a Trump victory is not significantly worse than had Romney won in 2012 (or any other Republican for this election). No progress would be made on global warming under either scenario. The NSA would continue to fundamentally (and with fucking glee) violate the rights of literally every single American. Brown people overseas would keep getting droned. None of that would be different just because Trump happens to also be a bad person. Indeed, with the exception of Democrat lip service towards global warming, all of those things would be the same had Clinton won. We are not in a significantly different position in most areas.

So how is this better in the long-term? Consider the real difference between Clinton and Trump. It isn’t on spying or hawkish foreign policy or spending. It’s almost entirely in their rhetoric. Clinton, while ethically questionable through-and-through, isn’t crass. She has some basic decency in how she expresses herself. Trump, on the other hand, is a raging moron who mocks disabled reporters and grabs women by the pussy. His outsider nature was able to override people’s disgust with him as a person, but that novelty will fade. And as it does, we’re going to see a continued split amongst Republican voters. Combine that with the minor defections we’re going to see from Democrats who weren’t happy with the DNC primary rigging, and we have the perfect storm for the rise of a third party.

I’m not sure which third party we might see in 2020, but whichever one it is, it will have to to be the middle of the road. The Libertarians fit that bill, but the problem with them is that people conflate libertarianism as a political movement with libertarianism as a philosophy. Any political theory must take reality into account whereas the same isn’t true of philosophy. The Libertarian party isn’t rigid in its views, and neither was its candidate, but that didn’t matter to people because they know the philosophy is much more straight-forward. I can’t remember how many times someone told me Gary Johnson believed x when, in fact, he didn’t. People would assume he believed x because it would be consistent with libertarian philosophy to do so, but they never bothered to actually look up what he said. (For instance, did you know Johnson wanted to eliminate the EPA? Crazy, right? Except he didn’t. In fact, he cited the EPA as a well-run government agency that he supported.)

If people on one side or the other try to rise up with a third party, however, it will fail. We saw that with the Tea Party, and we see it every time the Green party gets a little momentum. These ultra-right and ultra-left groups are inherently on the fringes. They can’t succeed because they can never draw nearly enough of the people from the center. Just consider the 3 main third party candidates. Gary Johnson was the closest to the middle, so he did the best. Jill Stein? She’s far-left, so she did poorly. Evan McMullin? Even when we recognize his limited ballot access, he still had no chance of pulling anyone from the Clinton camp.

This is my great hope from the election. We desperately need a viable third party, and disgust with Trump can fuel that. For whatever negative consequences he may bring, his presidency may prove to be the end of the two party duopoly.

Gary Johnson is on all 50 ballots

You don’t have to vote for Clinton or Trump. The former is a criminal who risks national security and is likely in ill-health. The latter is a tax-dodging scammer. Both of them will promote what is literally the greatest government-created threat to democracy – the NSA – since Adolf Hitler. You will never have any privacy ever again if either of them wins.

Fortunately, there is a viable third choice: Gary Johnson. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is by far the most sane, most reasonable, and most honest candidate we have. (And, yes, he did know what Aleppo was. Once he realized what they were talking about, he gave a nuanced answer where he suggested that the US and Russia broker a cease-fire. That’s exactly what happened within weeks.)

Don’t let the libertarian title scare you from voting for Gary Johnson. The overwhelming majority of what people will tell you he believes is flat out lies based on nothing more than his political affiliation. In the past 24 hours, I’ve had people either wonder if or outright say that he’s a creationist (no), he rejects global warming (no), and he’s against environmental regulation (no).

Thought of the day

I can tell you how many times Philando Castile was pulled over in Minnesota since 2002 (52) and I can tell you how much he had been fined in that time ($6,588), and I can tell you that he has a number of driving related misdemeanors, but I still have no idea what the disciplinary or driving records are of the shooting victims in Dallas.

I wonder what the difference could possibly be between Castile and the other victims.

A bad rebuttal

If there’s anything that annoys me more than bad arguments, it’s people circlejerking in support of bad arguments. I was just reading up on a recent (though, as yet, undecided) Supreme Court case where the analysis did just that. (Update: The case has been ruled on. It was 6-2 in favor of the government.) The case itself isn’t overly interesting, but it gained some attention this past winter because Justice Thomas broke his rather lengthy silence to ask a few questions. To give a brief summary of the case itself: Two men were convicted of domestic assault misdemeanors that, by state law, would not preclude them from owning firearms. However, federal law says if those misdemeanors are domestic assault crimes which meet particular, limited criteria, then they can’t own guns. The men are arguing that the state law allows for broad criteria in obtaining a conviction. Essentially, federal law requires the use or attempted use of force. State law allows for recklessly injuring or physically contacting a person. It seems open and shut to me: federal law requires a particular fact, but state law allows for different facts. This means that it is possible that the federally required facts were never established, so the government ought to lose this one. It looks like things aren’t going to go that way, but then I’ve yet to get Obama’s nomination to fill Scalia’s seat.

In reading about the case, I came across this little tidbit about Justice Ginsburg:

One last notable point: anyone who suggests that Justice Ginsburg may be slowing down, should read the last two pages of Villa’s argument. Villa suggested what seemed like a difficult hypothetical: what if she “came up to somebody who I thought was my husband and I patted him on the back and said ‘hi, honey,’” but it wasn’t him? Could that be a reckless offensive touching? But when Justice Sotomayor appeared momentarily slowed by this example, Justice Ginsburg incisively noted that “there isn’t a [domestic] relationship [as] the statute requires.” “That is true,” conceded Villa, and she quickly reserved the remainder of her time.

What a hugely irrelevant rebuttal. It doesn’t matter if the statute requires pigs to fly out of someone’s butt. The issue at hand is what defines “reckless offensive touching”. In this case, it was asked if a mistaken pat on the back would meet the definition. That question went unanswered due to a red herring: Ginsburg insisted on defining “reckless offensive touching” within a particular context despite the phrasing existing independent of said context. Moreover, the question can easily be changed to fit Ginsburg’s illegitimate objection: What if someone accidentally pats their son on the back because he looks so much like her husband? That would satisfy the domestic relationship required of the statute. (I emphasize statute here because no relationship is required of the argument.) Could we answer the question then? According to Ginsburg, the answer is yes, though, how the domestic relationship would play any role in such an answer is unclear.