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Can we find more regulators like this?

October 15, 2017

Nick Gillespie interviews FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

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What he asked

October 14, 2017

Ben Sasse asks Trump’s supporters a good question, following the President’s tweet about licensing TV news networks. (Something that doesn’t even exist, of course.)

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But the larger point about Trump & his tweeting is how he manages to keep everyone reacting to him. I have to wonder whether he’d shut up if everyone just ignored him. So I liked Charles Cooke’s article asking Trump to keep quiet (even though I think it’s a futile request).

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“Just shut up and president,” as I’ve said before.


The day Trump kicked over the tweet-hive again, I happened to get email from the Cato Institute about Gene Healy, who wrote The Cult of the Presidency. And the attitude toward the presidency that Healy describes is the root of the matter, IMO. This situation’s been a long time coming.

The Imperial Presidency in the Age of Trump

“I alone can fix it,” Donald J. Trump proclaimed during his unlikely rise to the White House: “all of the bad things happening in the U.S. will be rapidly reversed!” It’s proven to be a bit more complicated than that.

More than eight months into the Trump presidency, the office that’s supposed to be “a symbol of our national unity” is the source of bitter division, as the president vents his frustration with Twitter attacks on Saturday Night Live skits, “so-called judges,” and the United States’ nuclear-armed rivals. Abroad, where the president’s authority is alarmingly unchecked, Trump has already launched some 20,000 airstrikes, threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation, and refused to rule out a “military option” in Venezuela.

And yet, Donald Trump didn’t invent the Imperial Presidency: he inherited it. As Gene Healy warned in his widely acclaimed book, The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power, the “most powerful office in the world” has become far too powerful to entrust to any one fallible human being. Moreover, “We, the people” bear an enormous share of the blame for the presidency’s transformation into a constitutional monstrosity. As Healy argues, it is the public’s demand for presidential salvation from all problems great and small that drove that transformation: “the Imperial Presidency is the price of making the office the focus of our national hopes and dreams.”

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What they said…

September 30, 2017

I couldn’t care less about the NFL and Trump’s recent tempest-in-a-tweet-storm struck me as just throwing red meat to his crowd of easily-played supporters. Mostly, I’m wondering if we’ll ever get past this Cult of the Presidency thing that’s been going on.

But I did come across a couple of good responses to Trump’s tweet storm this week. My emphasis below.

Matt Welch at Reason gives a good analysis from a libertarian view. It’s pretty long, so I’ve only listed the ‘lessons’ without their explications. But it’s worth a read.

9 Lessons from the Trump/NFL Anthem Wars

1) The most offensive aspect about mixing politics and sports is the conscripted tax money and police power. […]

2) Donald Trump made the conscious choice to revive a near-moribund social controversy for political advantage. […]

3) Almost every sentence containing the phrase “we must” in reference to strangers is a bad sentence, particularly coming from a president. […]

4) Freedom of political expression for athletes is directly proportional to their freedom of contract. […]

5) Trump is on the opposite side of the criminal justice reform cause that sparked all this stuff in the first place. […]

6) Fantasizing about ordering ungrateful “privileged” athletes around is one of the lower tendencies in American sports fandom. […]

7) Public patriotic rituals are already political, and should not be a one-way ratchet. […]

8) Telling the president to get bent is a healthy democratic response. […]

9) Culture-war dissidents deserve a shout-out, too. […]

And Jay Nordlinger gives his conservative take at National Review.

Trump, the Flag, and Us

[…] I never had any use for Colin Kaepernick’s stunt. I don’t like this exploitation of national-anthem time. I also believe in safe zones — zones free of politics, such as concerts and games. I’m semi-famous for it (though only semi-)! An essay on safe zones is included in my recent collection, Digging In.

Kaepernick really disgusted me when he wore a shirt touting Fidel Castro — and socks depicting cops as pigs.

At the same time, I counseled benign neglect, borrowing Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (radioactive) phrase from the late ’60s. […]

The issue was dying out. There were just a few embers. Then Donald J. Trump got into it, of course. He is an arsonist in American politics. We used to call Sharpton & Co. “racial arsonists.” The president is his own brand of arsonist. (Actually, Trump and Sharpton are a lot alike, as I’ve argued before: two New York media creatures.) Also, Trump insists on being at the center of attention, always.

There’s an expression for such men: “the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.”

You heard Trump, revvin’ up that crowd: “Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired!” Blah blah blah. Roar roar roar. And that changed everything.

We Americans are a patriotic lot. We’re also a cranky, independent-minded, nonconformist lot. We don’t like to be told what to do, especially by Authority. We don’t like to be bossed around. So, pre-Trump, kneeling meant one thing — and then it meant a big middle finger to the Man, a.k.a. Trump, a.k.a. POTUS.

Context is everything. Everything. It took Donald J. Trump to make anti-kneelers sympathetic to kneelers. Indeed, he turned some anti-kneelers into kneelers themselves.

He crudifies everything he touches — including conservatism, including patriotism. There is a difference between patriotism and jingoism. Between patriotism and crude nationalism, crude flag-waving. […]

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Strange sights

September 17, 2017

“Postcards from Saturn” is an NPR video about discoveries made by the Cassini probe.


And “How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster” is a short tutorial from SpaceX.

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Constitution Day

September 17, 2017

Here’s John Stossel (again).

Raise a glass to its authors.

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Athens on the Potomac

September 12, 2017

Hey, we’ve done it! $20,000,000,000,000! To quote Feynman again:

"There are 1011 stars in the galaxy," [Richard] Feynman once said. "That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers."

Take it, John.

And Andrew does a parody of Cosmos.

Jon Gabriel joins in:

But John Stossel gets the last quote.

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Consistency

August 30, 2017

Here’s one of Prof. Mark Perry’s internet-famous Venn diagrams.

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