Attacking Half the Electorate Surprisingly Not a Winning Strategy

Next Tuesday, voters in Virginia will choose their state's next governor. After months of hard-fought campaigning, the race is clearly tilting in favor of the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, and against Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli. As recently as May, Cuccinelli was ahead in the polls, but the most recent poll shows that McAuliffe has taken a double-digit lead - almost entirely because of an astonishing 24-point gap that's opened up among women.And why is there such a yawning … [Read more...]

Why Not a Distributed Congress?

I've just gotten back from a vacation in Europe, where the news coverage of the ongoing American government shutdown vacillates between incredulous amusement and horror at the depths of dysfunction to which our country has sunk. (Then again, I was in Belgium, which still holds the world record for the longest span of time without a government, so don't get too cocky, Europeans.)Based on public statements from a majority of Democrats plus some moderate Republicans, there are enough votes to … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

LegalPapers

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIThe next chapter opens in Colorado, where Dagny is personally supervising the construction of the Rio Norte Line in the shadow of Ellis Wyatt's oil derricks. As we found out earlier, her best contractor, McNamara, mysteriously closed his company and vanished, so she's being forced to rely on a replacement contractor named Ben Nealy. (We're told he has "a soft, sullen face" and skin with "the tinge of butter" [p.158], so you can guess whether he's competent … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Terror on the High Seas

PirateShip

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIAs Dagny drifts through the crowds at Hank's party, she overhears a conversation:"Last night," said the spinster, "I stayed awake because of the shooting. There were guns going off all night, way out at sea. There were no flashes. There was nothing. Just those detonations, at long intervals... Everybody down on the shore knows what it was. It was Ragnar Danneskjold. It was the Coast Guard trying to catch him.""Ragnar Danneskjold in Delaware Bay?" a … [Read more...]

Ingersoll Sunday: On Divorce

RobertIngersoll

In 1889, a literary magazine called the North American Review solicited essays on the question of whether divorce was ever morally justifiable. Although all the other answers were from clergy (who, for no apparent reason, are always deemed to be the experts on these kinds of questions), they also printed a response by the great American freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll.As in many other things, Ingersoll's progressive, humanistic views were decades ahead of his time. He argued that … [Read more...]

A Conscience Clause for Equal Protection

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she wouldn't defend the state in an ACLU lawsuit challenging a ban on same-sex marriage. She's following the same trail blazed by California, where state officials refused to appeal a district court ruling against the discriminatory Proposition 8. It cheers me enormously to see that more and more government officers are coming to recognize the fundamental injustice of these laws, and refusing to defend them where they … [Read more...]

Critical Thinking vs. Victim-Blaming

SnakeOil

This caught my skeptical eye: an article about police efforts to fight the "blessing scam" in Asian neighborhoods in New York City. The scam involves a con artist who approaches the mark, usually an elderly person, to convince them that their cash and valuables are tainted by bad luck that can be removed by a special blessing ritual. The victim is persuaded to put their valuables in a bag and hand them over, but during the ceremony, sleight-of-hand is used to switch the bag for an identical one … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Invention of Fire

Ashtray

Atlas Shrugged, p.63-64To finish out this section, there's a short scene in the Taggart Terminal at night (the same place where the statue of Nat Taggart stands that Dagny uses for ancestor worship). She's leaving work after an argument with Jim, who's found out that she's only running a few old and broken-down trains on the San Sebastian Line, but who, as always, refuses to take the responsibility of changing anything when she invites him to.In the corner of the concourse, by the main … [Read more...]

A Constitutional Rollercoaster

ParisLGBTRights

I had another post written for today, but there's much too much going on! This week has been a rollercoaster of disappointment, despair, joy and exaltation, and it's only Wednesday.On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court issued an awful ruling that struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. As compiled by Slacktivist, a flurry of Republican-controlled state legislatures immediately began efforts to pass restrictive voter-ID laws and redraw electoral maps to dilute minority votes - … [Read more...]

Why Edward Snowden Should Be Pardoned

AllSeeingEye

I've been assembling some thoughts on the NSA leaker Edward Snowden who revealed the existence of top-secret government surveillance programs, including the PRISM project to tap into the customer data of the nation's largest internet companies, and a court order requiring Verizon to turn over metadata on all calls in its system on an ongoing basis (I'm still astonished that any court could ever have considered that request to comport with the Fourth Amendment).Already there are fierce … [Read more...]


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