Archive of Articles for February, 2023

Program Note

[ Posted Tuesday, February 28th, 2023 – 17:28 UTC ]

Sorry, there will be no column today. I had to spend a major part of the afternoon cleaning up and repairing some minor storm damage. Don't worry, we only got rain and wind (the snow was up on the mountains) and we weren't even hit particularly badly where we live, but some stuff [...]

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The Biden Conundrum

[ Posted Monday, February 27th, 2023 – 17:15 UTC ]

Game theory is a rather fun branch of mathematics that tries to predict the odds of having what you want happen, when stacked up against other rational agents. I've never studied it formally myself, but it's always intrigued me. The classic example (to me, anyway, and which I am not going to bother to explain) is that the contestant on Let's Make A Deal should always change their choice (of Doors Number One, Two, or Three) after the host reveals one of the prize packages, because doing so actually doubles the odds of getting the best prize package instead of the booby prize. Those are the sorts of puzzles it tries to figure out -- like what is the best amount of money to bet at the end of Jeopardy! (depending on how much you and your opponents have at the time). But both of those are examples with easily-quantifiable odds, which aren't always (in real life, outside of game shows) all that easy to accurately predict. So I'm using the term rather loosely here, not in a strict "figure the odds" mathematical way -- more of "gaming it out" than formal game theory. But the Biden conundrum has certainly been getting a lot of attention lately, so I thought I'd take a shot at playing the game too. Or, at the very least, outlining it in a rational fashion for everyone else to play too.

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Friday Talking Points -- Off The Rails

[ Posted Friday, February 24th, 2023 – 18:28 UTC ]

Trains were at the heart of the political scene this week. Internationally, President Joe Biden took a 10-hour train ride to get to Kyiv in person (which he must have thoroughly enjoyed, knowing his general love of trains). Domestically, the trainwreck in Ohio became sidetracked into a political circus.

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Kill The Blue Slip!

[ Posted Thursday, February 23rd, 2023 – 16:19 UTC ]

Changes to Senate rules and traditions tend to happen somewhat incrementally. Democrats are currently considering taking another step towards making the Senate actually functional once again, and it is a step that definitely needs taking. Because it is time to kill the "blue slip" on judicial nominations, once and for good.

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Dobbs Continues To Drive Turnout

[ Posted Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 – 16:06 UTC ]

The overturning of Roe v. Wade was seen, by Republicans, as the end of a very long road. Democrats, however, saw it as a call to action and just the start of their own long road, back to full rights for all American women. And the backlash to the Supreme Court removing rights from women continues to drive turnout at the ballot box. A primary election in Wisconsin last night showed how powerful the issue still is for voters, and it may have bigger repercussions than most elections since the office at stake is a state supreme court justice. Currently the court has a 4-3 conservative majority, so if a liberal were to be elected it would change the balance of judicial power in the state.

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Free The Signs!

[ Posted Tuesday, February 21st, 2023 – 17:43 UTC ]

I begin today with a rather anti-sign song lyric, which is somewhat counterproductive since I am actually about to take a very pro-sign stance. But when it gets right down to it, there just aren't a whole lot of songs about signs to choose from, so we must make do with what we've got. This is also an unusual column for me to write since I will be inveighing against the heavy hand of the federal government, which I usually save for my thoughts on the federal War On Drugs and a few other choice issues.

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Celebrating Jimmy Carter

[ Posted Monday, February 20th, 2023 – 16:55 UTC ]

Former President Jimmy Carter has entered his final days. He has checked in to a hospice to live out his remaining time and, according to an official statement, has refused "additional medical care." So it seemed entirely appropriate to use this year's Presidents' Day to honor him. Carter was an extraordinary man and no matter what opinion you have about his presidency, he has set the absolute gold standard for doing good works as an ex-president -- that much is beyond dispute.

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Friday Talking Points -- Republican Woes

[ Posted Friday, February 17th, 2023 – 19:19 UTC ]

We have to begin today with a look at the woes of the Republican Party. Because, when you think about it, why not?

The most amusing news (speaking from across the political aisle) all has to do with the Republican Party trying to come to grips with another presidential nominating process with Donald Trump as the 800-pound elephant in the room. Most of the party establishment would dearly love to see literally anyone else win the nomination than Trump, but they also fear the prospect of Trump going rogue if he doesn't win and launching his own third-party bid.

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GOP Hasn't Changed Their Tune Since Ronald Reagan Entered Politics

[ Posted Thursday, February 16th, 2023 – 16:05 UTC ]

I'm going to end this column today with an excerpt from the archives, but I have to explain why I'm re-running it first. Because recently I have been sent into howls of laughter at the new Republican complaint: "How could you possibly accuse us of attacking Social Security and Medicare?!? What an absurd notion!" Not just peals of laughter, but also a Shakespearean-class eyeroll as well: The party doth protest too much, methinks.

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Haley Announces -- So Who's Next?

[ Posted Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 – 16:05 UTC ]

Nikki Haley became the second officially-announced presidential candidate from either of the two major American political parties yesterday. Initially she had teased that her big announcement would be today, but she must have been overcome with the Valentine's Day spirit or something, so she jumped the gun. Haley and Donald Trump are now the entire "officially-announced" field for 2024. Which immediately leads me to wonder: "Who's next?"

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