Would so many liberals think that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should follow the law if the issue were, instead, that she illegally refused to hand out business licenses to employers that legally discriminated against gays?

(In Rowan County, as in most of the nation, it is legal to discriminate against people for employment based on sexual orientation.) G+
Kim Davis says that for her to give a civil marriage license to a gay couple would "violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage."

I don't believe that is true.  Can someone back up Davis' claim?  People seem to just accept it uncritically.

I think the problem here is that there's two different institutions, and we call both of them "marriage."  Jesus was talking about marriage before God.  But Davis' legal duties have nothing to do with that marriage: her duties are strictly about a legal contract between two people.  They are two separate institutions.  Your church in some cases may not recognize your civil marriage, and your government in some cases may not recognize your religious marriage.  They are not the same thing.

Jesus did say that God joins a man and a woman together in marriage. (Matthew 19:4-7)  But again, that isn't civil marriage.  And Jesus also said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17)

You may think that even though it is only civil marriage, it is still immoral, and therefore Davis is right to refuse to "participate" in it.  But on that view, shouldn't she also refuse to license establishments that sell alcohol or tobacco?  And shouldn't she refuse to allow candidates to register for election to public office if they support abortion rights?

What makes civil marriage licenses for gay couples different, that this one duty can be rejected, while all other duties are still fulfilled?

If you have an argument from the Bible for a Christian refusing to provide a civil marriage license to gay couples, I'd love to see it. G+
This is why I dislike Ted Cruz.  Cruz is a very smart guy, and an accomplished lawyer, especially on constitutional issues.  He knows perfectly well that Kim Davis, the elected Democratic County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, is wrong on the law, and that the absolutely proper action for the judge is to find her in contempt of court.

Instead of standing up for what he knows is correct, he is dishonestly positioning himself to win the "social conservative" vote.  Cruz does nothing but pander, because he thinks that is the only way he can win.

He says, "Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. ... I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally. I stand with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion."

He knows that's a lie: she was arrested for violating a proper Court order, not for living according to her faith.  And even if her faith does demand she not hand out secular, civil, legal marriage licenses to gay couples -- and it shouldn't, because nothing in the Bible implies that her doing so would violate anything God ever said -- she has other recourse: she can resign.

She wasn't choosing between her faith, and honoring a court opinion, because she had a third option.

I agree with Cruz' analysis of the Supreme Court decision: it was simply a poor legal decision, on multiple levels.  But that is irrelevant: it's the law now.  Get over it.

"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office. That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith–or be sent to jail."

More nonsense.  A civil, secular, marriage license has literally nothing to do with the Christian faith.  As Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." G+
Dear Internet,

If you claim the Patriots are habitual cheaters, you are telling everyone that you don't know what you're talking about.

Please, for your own sake, just stop. G+
Brady is vindicated, and it's about time. My daughter was born the day before the "Deflategate" game. She is now crawling, eating solid food, and pulling up to stand. G+
I demand that all musicians cease referring to a certain style of music as "bluegrass," because that word -- coming from Kentucky -- refers to bigotry and hatred. G+

That's a lot of Farscape.

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Reshared post from Reason:

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"Cultural differences? Turns out they make all the difference." G+

Original Post from Reason:

Time for another round of half-baked statistics.

Andy Parker, father of slain journalist Alison Parker, said: "We've got to find a way to keep crazy people from getting guns, mentally unstable people. The people that do this are mentally unstable, and somehow they're able to get guns."

I'm entirely open to ideas.  But I have no good ones.  You can't just take away someone's rights because they act a little nutty: you have to follow due process.

How could we have done that with his daughter's murderer?  I'm seriously asking here. G+
This is a cover of Tim & Mollie O'Brien's song "Wichita" (by way of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings).  I was listening to friends Nat and Jenine from the Pipi Pickers, and was inspired to lay down this track. G+
"There's too many guns in America."

According to what standard?  I mean, I know there's many guns per person in the U.S., many more than most other nations.  But to me, that just means we're more awesome than those other nations.

It seems to me that people just think, "more guns means more death."  But the data doesn't show that.  Vermont and Iowa have many more guns than most European nations per capita, and yet comparable homicide and suicide rates (and sometimes lower suicide rates).

Further, we know that as guns per capita has increased in the U.S., violent crime has decreased, as it has in many other countries, while their guns per capita have, in some cases, decreased.

While a gun is an effective tool for killing, the data does not back up the claim that "more guns mean more death."  Guns can be a contributing factor to more death, but absolutely not a sufficient or necessary factor. G+
"If we can save one life ..."

We hear that a lot from people trying to take away our freedom, that any measure is justified "if we can save one life."  But they don't really mean it, obviously: we can save lives by restricting speech, movement, association, private property, and so on, in a multitude of ways.  But we don't, because it is not worth it to save one life, to lose essential liberty.

What they mean when they say this is that they do not believe that the freedom they are trying to take away is a freedom that people should have.

Of course, the other dishonest part of this rhetoric is that the measures they are talking about usually have nothing to do with the problem they are trying to solve, as is the case with "universal background checks" and the shooting of the journalist and cameraman. G+
In case this isn't clear to you: recent history has shown that when the issue of "women's health" or "war on women" comes up, Republicans go on the defensive, and usually look worse in the process.  So when Hillary is look her worst, it is entirely predictable that this is what she'll start talking about.

It doesn't even matter that what she said is stupid and indefensible.  It puts the focus on the Republicans, and off of her very real, very troubling, scandals.  That's all that matters to her. G+

27.08.2015 21:47

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November 2007: I wrote a song that opened the CNN/YouTube GOP Debate in Florida (and I sat behind Chuck Norris, who was honored to meet me; you can see the back of his head in the last few seconds of the video).

At the time, Rudy Giuliani was the "frontrunner" of the eight GOP candidates, and Hillary Clinton was the "only" candidate for the Democrats.  Now, Hillary is still the "only" Democratic candidate, and Donald Trump is the frontrunner of the 17 GOP candidates.

Maybe it's time for another song? G+
Cris Carter, about the Patriots: "This is a game about integrity and this is a game about rules. It's not about everybody else breaking them. You got caught."

Cris Carter, to rookies: "If you all got a crew, you got to have a fall guy in the crew.  If you all have a crew, one of those fools got to know, he's the one going to jail. We'll get him out." G+
If I'm a writer on SNL, I'm praying for Biden vs. Trump. G+
What a shock: the Democrats are telling blatant lies about the Republican candidates. G+
It's amazing that after all this time, anyone in sports news would've thought that this report was true.  Now ESPN just needs to apologize for Chris Mortensen's false Deflategate reporting.  And maybe the next time someone on ESPN accuses the Patriots of habitually cheating, they can point out the fact that it is not true.

A guy can dream. G+
Dear Internet,

As NRO says, Trump's critics are wrong about the issue of birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment.

That said, Trump is also wrong, because this is a losing issue.  No one cares what Senator Howard wrote in 1866.  Not even conservative justices on the Supreme Court care, except for maybe Clarence Thomas.  We already learned this when the majority in McDonald v. Chicago found that the Second Amendment applied to the states via "selective incorporation," even though Senator Howard wrote 150 years ago that the Second Amendment would apply to the states via the privileges and immunities clause.

Only Thomas cared about the original intent of the 14th Amendment in that case.

Now, because birthright citizenship for nonresident or illegal aliens etc. has never been tested in the Supreme Court, that's a big difference between McDonald and this issue.  And it is true that the Court could establish that "birthright citizenship" is limited.

But it's also true that there's no reason to test it.  The number of citizens added to this country as "anchor babies" is tiny compared to the overall immigration problem, and probably end up being productive citizens more often than they end up as drains on the system.

As a political issue, maybe this has importance, but eliminating birthright citizenship will not improve a single American life in any way (except for the lawyers and pundits who are paid to talk about it, or the politicians elected on the back of it). G+
Santorum, Graham, Gilmore, Pataki. Who quits first? When do we drop to 16 GOP candidates? Before Labor Day? G+

The NFL looks worse every day.

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Next up: SEC requires publicly traded companies to disclose the ratio of organic snacks supplied to workers. G+
#Deflategate has been going on for my daughter's entire life. And she's crawling now. G+
I've liked +Cory Booker ever since he lost the Newark mayoral race. But he either doesn't understand Voter ID, or he is lying about it.  You simply cannot say we don't need Voter ID by saying, "You're more likely to get struck by lightning in Texas than to find any kind of voter fraud," for the simple and obvious reason that without Voter ID, it is difficult to detect this kind of voter fraud.

And the broader idea that any group of citizens -- other than those convicted of felonies -- is losing the right to vote is just a lie.  There is no effort to disenfranchise anyone, and there is no effect of that, either.  They have no data to back it up.  The closest they come is saying "estimates are that as many as, ..." which is another way of saying "we have no evidence."  Because it's not happening. G+
And this is one more reason why I don't jump to conclusions.  Until we know what happened, we don't know what happened. G+
I can't see more than four of the 17 GOP candidates having a chance of winning the nomination: Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Walker. It's hard to see how anyone else has a pathway to get there. G+
Repeat after me: "there is no mass shooting epidemic."

Even with 2012 and the shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, we had just over 2 deaths per 10 million Americans due to mass public shootings that year.  Not per thousand, or per 100,000, or per million ... per 10 million.  The numbers are so small that any statistical comparison is meaningless, because a single incident can change the numbers a lot. G+

I have to get this shirt.

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I have to get this shirt. G+

03.08.2015 16:00

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I still can't share iTunes Match with Family accounts, even using Apple Music. And I am still limited to just 10 devices for the account, but since they the whole family has to be on the same account so we can share iTunes Match ...

Apple, please fix this. G+
This is the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time.  Combining the silly form, with exceptionally dishonest arguments, and it's hard to be stupider than this.

* no one is against diplomacy
* this deal does not actually prevent Iran from getting a bomb
* it's a matter of debate whether this is the best path to preventing Iran from getting a bomb
* saying we shouldn't "play politics" and instead "support diplomacy" is so many levels of dumb it's hard to know where to begin, but I'll start by pointing out that diplomacy is politics, and our Constitution requires the political branches to work out treaties


I am not for or against this deal.  I see big problems with it; I also see that it might be the best we can get.  But I am not convinced it's the best we can get, and I am also not convinced that if it is the best we can get, that it is worth doing, because it might be so bad that it's no better than doing nothing.

And a silly video mostly from people who know even less about the deal than I do is not going to do much to convince me otherwise.  The only credible people in the video are Queen Noor (whom I respect a lot, but who has her own agenda), and Ambassador Pickering.  And there's plenty of credible people who oppose the deal, too. G+
Dear Internet,

If Trump were running as a Democrat, what percentage of the polls would we have right now?  RCP says he has 21% in national GOP polls.  I am thinking it would be at least 10%, maybe 15%, if he were running as a Democrat.

He'd be saying he's pro-choice, pro-immigration, anti-NAFTA, etc., playing the same role he is now: going after the blue-collar populist vote, and that vote is out there on the Democratic side. G+
"By one estimate, licensing restrictions cost millions of jobs nationwide and raise consumer expenses by over one hundred billion dollars."

I'm shocked, frankly, to see the White House say this.  But it's great to see.  People who oppose trade agreements because they hurt jobs should support less regulation of businesses: lower corporate tax rates, fewer regulations, easier compliance with necessary regulations, and delicensing of most occupations.

All that will do far more for American jobs that opposing trade deals (the effect of which on jobs is unclear anyway). G+
Playing the iOS game SEQ, current freebie from Starbucks. The solution for puzzle A-9 is a swastika. Oops. G+

30.07.2015 16:54

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I've seen this before in various forms, but I was reminded of it by +Jim Richardson: "You cannot reason a man out of an opinion he didn't arrive at by reason."

Now, I should point out, that most people arrive at most of their opinions for reasons apart from reason.  And people do change their opinions, based on reason, sometimes; but they need to open to changing them, and that openness itself is arrived at through reason.

I remind myself that as frustrating as this can be, it's also a mechanism that has allowed our species to survive.  So, there's that. G+

28.07.2015 18:48

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In "honor" of Mike Huckabee's dumb comparison of Obama to Hitler, I give you my original song: Hitler and Obama. G+
I hate to defend Mike Huckabee, so I won't. He compared Obama to Hitler, and he did so not because it was reasonable or righteous, but because the debate is in about a week and he needs to increase his status in the polls.

If he had compared Obama ot Chamberlain, that might be at least defensible.  But the comparison to Hitler (or Himmler or INSERT NAZI HERE) ... there's no logical defense possible of the comment itself, and it only makes sense in the context of trying to get attention for himself. G+
I hate to defend Donald Trump, but when the media lies about what he says -- no, he never said all Mexicans are rapists -- it only gives him credibility, because people see that the media is lying about him.  So stop it.  Trump is bad enough that you don't need to trump up charges against him (see what I did there)? G+
How TPM Proves Liberals Wrong About Libertarianism

The main point of the article is basically that because some of the rhetoric saying that Reddit should not ban anything sounds vaguely libertarian, that therefore libertarianism isn't coherent, even though libertarianism actually says that Reddit should be able to ban any speech it wants to, and for any reasons it wants to. G+
Dislike new PBS NewsHour theme. Sounds like a rejected 70s Monday Night Football theme.
Dear Fox News,

When you hold the first GOP debate this year, you say you will have a forum for the candidates not invited to the debate.  To increase your ratings and to make it more fair to the one candidate who would have been in the debate if not for Donald Trump's "candidacy," I suggest you add a Wild Card spot to the debate.  The forum will be followed by a 10-minute voting period (by Twitter and SMS) and the winner moves immediately on to the debate.

Yes, it won't be fair to the candidates in the debate, who get less exposure than the winner of the forum.  But it'd be pretty awesome. G+
Dear Republicans,

Should you gain the presidency in 2016, and retain both houses of Congress, please reform the tax code as your first order of business. Make the rate flat (maybe with a small handful of well-defined and simple exemptions and deductions), or eliminate it altogether and go to a consumption tax.

We need a massive overhaul, along the lines of Huckabee's FairTax or Paul's flat tax, that will virtually eliminate compliance costs, reduce the tax burden on most people, and reduce federal control over our lives through the thousands of credits and deductions they use to manipulate our behavior.

There's other important issues (setting aside existential threats like nuclear weapons and so on), such as reforming immigration, health insurance, Medicare, education, and Social Security.  But none is as important as this.  Not only will it immediately increase productivity and net income, it will also make all of those other problems easier to solve in various ways.

So ... go do that. G+
Dear Internet,

Stand Your Ground laws do not change the legal justifications for killing.  They do not allow anyone to kill.  All they do is -- by removing the legal obligation to retreat when threatened -- make it more likely that you will be in a situation where you need to use lethal force to defend yourself.  But the circumstances under which such lethal force is legal authorized do not change by virtue of Stand Your Ground laws.

If you could not legally kill someone in a particular situation before SYG was enacted, you also cannot do so afterward.

An example: you're walking on the street, and someone comes right up to you with a knife and threatens you with it.  Without SYG, you are legally allowed to shoot them dead.  With SYG, you are also legally allowed to shoot them dead.  In both cases, you are acting in self-defense from a real and imminent threat on your life.

However, if you were in your car and he were across the street on foot, without SYG, you would be required to drive away.  With SYG, you would not be required to drive away.  But it doesn't change the fact that you can still only kill the guy if you need to do so to save yourself from that real and imminent threat.

You can argue about the duty to retreat; my view is that if I retreat, the person might harm someone else who is less capable of defending himself than I am, and so I have a duty to my neighbors to not retreat. That right action to take should be seriously considered by each person, and they come up with their own answer that is best for themselves.

But what you cannot reasonably do is claim that SYG provides a license to kill.  It doesn't.  You may only kill in defense of imminent serious bodily harm to yourself or others, with or without SYG.

(Now, it may be true that some specific statutes have specific language that do modify the legal authorizations for using lethal force, but to the extent that they do, they are not SYG laws.  It's like if we have a marijuana legalization law that also allowed you to use heroin, and someone said "marijuana laws allow people to use heroin."  No, that's not how it works.) G+
Clark says that we are at war with terrorists.  He says, if you are radicalized and don’t support the United States and are disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle that's fine, and it's your right.

But, he says, it's our right and obligation to segregate you from the normal community for the duration of the conflict with these terrorists.

He really said that, and appears to have meant it: internment camps for disloyal Americans.  Because it's your right to be disloyal, but we can still lock you up for it. G+
Dear Internet,

Stop pretending that there is a distinction between "manmade" and "natural."  If a bird's nest is natural, because it was created using materials from nature by a creature existing from nature, then so is the Large Hadron Collider.

The only thing "artificial" or "not natural" here is the distinction between "manmade" and "natural." G+
There's this guy who lives and works at home
He types all day, talks on the phone
One day he looks over his screen
And stares at the people across the street

Then something happens, I'm not sure what
It's not important to the story, but
It makes him think about his life
About his kids and second wife

I've got a few pages written already
And I'm working on it every Thursday night
The plot is coming along real well
I just need to get the characters right

That's my novel idea
That's my novel idea G+
It's more than a year before the GOP Convention that will ultimately select the Republican nominee for President.  According to what most people reading this poll might think, more people want Trump to win that nomination than anyone else.

But is that true?  There's another prize that is coming up much sooner than the nomination: participation in the debates. The top 10 candidates will be in the first big debate, on Fox News.  The nomination is only indirectly related to the poll results.

So the polls do not tell me that Trump is the favorite to win the nomination, only that he is a favorite to participate in the debate.  If I didn't have a favorite candidate, I'd pick Trump, just because I want to see him in the debate. G+
+Simon Vozick-Levinson is telling a stupid joke.  His article reads more like satire than opinion, let alone the news it purports to be.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is one of the most hardcore right-wing extremists in America.

False.  Not even remotely true.  He doesn't have any views that are "extremist" on the right.

His slash-and-burn policies have gutted Wisconsin workers' collective bargaining rights

Simon is being extremely dishonest here: Walker's reforms were only about government employees.  And far from being "extreme," many pro-union folks, including FDR himself, agreed with Walker's views on this.

defunded Planned Parenthood

Again, this is only true insofar as it relates to state government funds.  And this is not remotely "extreme."

The article gets stupider, but don't bother reading it.  Just realize that Rolling Stone is not getting any better, after publishing proven lies about vaccines and mercury, about how Bush "stole" Ohio in 2004, about college rape allegations, and so on. G+
Dear T-Mobile,

I tried to port my home number from Vonage to you.  I spent many hours on the phone trying to get it to work.  It never did.  A dozen different people on your end tried to help me over a half dozen or so phone calls, and you couldn't do this simple thing.

And not for nothing, but probably half the time I was on the phone with the T-Mobile reps, I literally could not understand what they were saying.  They all had thick accents that sounded Indian to me, and over a low-quality audio signal like a phone, it just doesn't work well.  I had to ask them to repeat themselves many times.  It's a terribly poor customer experience.

AT&T did this task for me in three days, with two quick followup phone calls: once to tell me I needed a new SIM card (which I picked up for free at an AT&T store), and once to activate the card and test the line.  It took a few minutes for the port to switch over, but then it worked like a champ.

I am not a huge fan of AT&T, but ... it's kinda like, years ago, when I got fed up with DirecTV, so I switched to cable.  Oops.  It's the "grass is always greener" scenario.  What you have might suck in various ways, but is the alternative necessarily better?  In the case of DirecTV and AT&T, in my experience, no. G+
Dear Google,

I just gave you money to port my old home phone to Google Voice.  Unbeknownst to me, you changed the service since I last used it, such that every time someone calls me, every device I have shows a Google Hangouts alert.  I never, ever, want this.

And there is literally no way to turn this off, except to not use Hangouts or Google Voice.

And what makes this even dumber is that my iPhone is already allowing me to answer the incoming call on all my devices.  So I get my phone, iPad, and Mac all ringing for both the call and Hangouts simultaneously, just for one call.

This is incredibly stupid, and apparently this has been broken for awhile now.  I can see how many people would want this feature, but it's also obvious that many people would not.

Google: please fix it.

I believe that engineers and product folks at Apple and Google don't actually use all their own software features. G+

10.07.2015 21:05

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This is a real thing.

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This is particularly amazing.  Tim Eyman thinks that we should need a 2/3 majority in the state legislature to raise taxes.  Almost 2/3 of the voters agreed with Eyman.

This letter claims that Eyman "opposes democracy," because he wants a minority of the voters to be able to prevent a majority from raising taxes.  But he doesn't: he wants a majority of the voters to make a rule for the legislature.  And a majority of the voters did do that.  And that rule would have stuck, except that a majority of the Supreme Court of Washington said that you need a constitutional amendment, which requires a supermajority of the legislature.

You get that?  This guy is criticizing Eyman for saying we should have a supermajority of the legislature to raise taxes, but that rule was only shot down because the Court said you need a supermajority of the legislature to agree to it.  So no matter which side you're on, you are in favor of a supermajority being required to prevent the other guys from doing what you don't want done.

So that is what Eyman is doing now: he got a constitutional amendment initiative on the ballot (sort of*), which would require a supermajority of the legislature to say that in the future, only a supermajority of the legislature may raise taxes.  And a majority of the voters must agree with it.

It's amazing that The Olympian even printed this bizarre letter, that literally gets all the salient facts wrong.

*You can't put a constitutional amendment on the ballot -- it has to go through the legislature first -- so Eyman cleverly put an initiative on the ballot that says a tax increase would be eliminated unless a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 majority in the legislature to raise taxes is passed by the legislature and proposed to the people on the ballot. G+
Dear American Internet,

Encryption is here to stay.  You can't get at the bad guy's information if he encrypts it.  And if you get American companies to give you a back door, or "front door," then the bad guys will get their encryption somewhere else.

We already went through this in the 90's.  I can still put an algorithm in a few lines of code on the front of a t-shirt that is virtually unbreakable to anyone, including the government.  Let's not revisit the discussion, because the answer hasn't changed. G+
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."