Archive for the ‘US government’ Category

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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 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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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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#SAD

August 27, 2017

What happens when one pandering, camera-hungry politician looks out for another one.

The late Friday, end-of-the-week announcement is a cute touch.


The only good news is that I don’t live in Maricopa county.

A Phony Murder Plot Against Joe Arpaio Winds Up Costing Taxpayers $1.1 Million

Taxpayers spent $1,102,528.50 this year to settle another of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lawsuits, New Times has learned through a public records request. The suit was brought by a man whom Arpaio framed in 1999 in a staged murder plot against the sheriff. […]

In 2004, victim James Saville’s family sued Arpaio for $10 million, after Saville was found not guilty of attempting to kill the sheriff. The county recently settled with Saville for an undisclosed amount. It only had to pay the above amount out of public coffers; its insurance policy covered the rest. […]

In 2004, a jury found Saville innocent of all charges. Not only that, but it ruled that Arpaio’s minions helped buy the bomb parts themselves and “entrapped” Saville in a TV-ready murder plot.

Arpaio was re-elected just months after the jury verdict. (Journalists John Dougherty and Janna Bommersbach unraveled the tale in separate articles).

“Jurors listened in disbelief as testimony showed it was the sheriff’s money that purchased the bomb parts, and an undercover officer who drove Saville around to buy the parts,” Bommersbach wrote.

Records show that the final payment to Saville went out on August 28, 2008. The total $1.1 million that taxpayers spent to settle with him doesn’t include money that the county attorney spent prosecuting him, or funds paid to deputies who worked long hours to frame him.

But wait! There’s more…

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Tweet of the week

February 26, 2017

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I think this is a great question for GOP senators and representatives. Do they understand that?

But the more important question is: what are their priorities? Economic nationalism or a smaller administrative state? Which one will we see more of?

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Just shut up and president

January 23, 2017

My late mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was a big fan of the British royal family. She even subscribed to magazines about them. ‘Struth. As you might imagine, the Windsor family was a topic we didn’t talk about often. But we got on extremely well otherwise.

Once, while touring Britain with my in-laws, we stopped for the night at a pretty cool old English inn called the Wheatsheaf hotel. I think it was this place in Lincolnshire but I’m not certain. (‘Wheatsheaf’ is the name of several inns and hotels in the UK.)

Since we’d arrived late in the day, we headed for the public room to find a cool glass of and to meet the locals. We succeeded. And before long, I heard MIL telling some of those locals that she thought the U.S. needed a royal family too. Sigh…

So I liked this post by Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog. Plus, it’s a three-fer: Meyer, Boudreaux, and Williamson all make good points on this topic.

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Adopt A Ceremonial Royal Family for the US To Safely Absorb People’s Apparent Need for Powerful, Charismatic Presidents

I have been watching the Crown as well as the new PBS Victoria series, and it got me to thinking. Wow, it sure does seem useful to have a single figurehead into which the public can pour all the sorts of adulation and voyeurism that they seem to crave. That way, the people get folks who can look great at parties and make heart-felt speeches and be charismatic and set fashion trends and sound empathetic and even scold us on minor things. All without giving up an ounce of liberty. The problem in the US is we use the Presidency today to fulfill this societal need, but in the process can’t help but imbue the office with more and more arbitrary power. Let’s split the two roles.

Update: Don Boudreaux writes:

A Trump presidency comes along with awful risks for Americans. Yet one very real silver-lining is that Trump’s over-the-top buffoonery and manic barking like a dog at every little thing that goes bump in his sight, along with his chronic inability even to appear to be thoughtful and philosophical and reflective and aware that he is not the center of the universe, might – just might – scrub off some of the ridiculous luster that has built up on on the U.S. Presidency over the course of the past 90 or so years. Let us hope.

He also links a good article from Kevin Williamson on the cult of the Presidency

In this vein, I recommend Gene Healey’s book The Cult of the Presidency. You can read it for free.


Here’s an interesting anecdote that I read recently: many Swiss people can’t tell you who their president is. It turns out that the Swiss president is simply the presiding member of the seven-member Swiss Federal Council.

Wouldn’t that be a nice change? A president who does the job in quiet anonymity? A servant of the people who doesn’t think of the job as director of a reality TV show?

Where’s Calvin Coolidge when you need him?

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