ChrisWeigant.com

Archive of Articles in the "The Constitution" Category

You Are Not Facebook's Customer, You Are Their Product

[ Posted Monday, April 9th, 2018 – 16:19 PDT ]

There's an important distinction to make before Mark Zuckerberg sits down in front of Congress to answer questions about what Facebook is, what they do, and what they've been up to recently (that they really shouldn't have been). As more and more political scandals swirl around Facebook, and as Zuckerberg prepares to answer for his company's actions, both the congressmen who will be questioning him and the public at large need to understand something that has long been somewhat of a rule of thumb in Silicon Valley. Because anyone who uses an online service that is free should stop to consider this fact. You sign up for Facebook (or whatever other service or webpage) and you are not asked for any money. What this means is that you are not their customer, in the traditional sense, instead you are merely their product. You and your data are a commodity which the company monetizes and sells to whomever is willing to pony up some money to see it.

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Friday Talking Points [479] -- Welcome To The Trump Trade War

[ Posted Friday, April 6th, 2018 – 18:33 PDT ]

First, Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Then China reacted with $3 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods (mostly farm goods -- fruit, nuts, and pork). Trump hit back with the threat of tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. The Chinese, not to be outdone, announced that if this happens they'll be slapping their own tariffs on $50 billion in American goods -- most notably, soybeans. Trump then tripled down, announcing further tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods. So begins the great Sino-American trade war of 2018. Or, as we like to call it, the Trump trade war. Why not give proper credit where it is due, after all?

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Friday Talking Points [478] -- Seeking Lead Lawyer For Difficult Client

[ Posted Friday, March 30th, 2018 – 17:22 PDT ]

By Trumpian standards, this has been a relatively quiet week. After all, the president only fired a single cabinet secretary, and zero high-ranking aides! Plus, Trump hasn't attacked Stormy Daniels on Twitter even once, after her bombshell interview on 60 Minutes last Sunday. For Trump, this shows some newfound restraint.

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Census Bureau Doesn't Always Live Up To Its Ideals

[ Posted Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 – 17:20 PDT ]

The Trump administration just announced that it will be adding a citizenship question to the main U.S. Census form that all United States residents will be getting in 2020. Already, several states have sued to block this move, since it could obviously lead to undercounting the actual population. The Justice Department is attempting to claim that the data is necessary to uphold voting rights, but it strains credulity to picture Jeff Sessions being suddenly concerned about upholding federal voting laws, given his history on civil rights. The Census Bureau is trying to put itself on the side of the angels as well, insisting that individual data would never be turned over to law enforcement agencies so that undocumented immigrants could be rounded up. But their hands aren't exactly historically clean either, which is why it's tough to make the case that anyone refusing to answer the citizenship question on their Census form is somehow being overly paranoid.

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The March For Our Lives Could Change The Politics Of Gun Control

[ Posted Monday, March 26th, 2018 – 18:06 PDT ]

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School staged an incredibly successful rally in Washington this weekend, as hundreds of thousands of students, parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens marched to demand stricter gun control laws. It was an impressive feat, since in general high school students are not normally expected to organize anything more complicated than the school yearbook or the prom. I personally could not imagine my former self (at that age) joining together with other students to create such a massive event in a little over one month's time. So the students deserve a whole lot of credit for pulling it off in such spectacular fashion. But the biggest question overhanging the success of the march was whether it will actually change anything or not in the politics of gun control legislation.

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Two State Court Cases With National Political Impact

[ Posted Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 – 17:06 PDT ]

Two completely unrelated court actions are in the news today. There is no real common thread between the two, other than that they both involve state court actions and that both have rather large political overtones. So just to warn you up front, there won't be any sweeping conclusion at the end that ties the two cases together in any way (fair warning).

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Will The N.R.A. Attack Trump?

[ Posted Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 – 17:21 PST ]

The word "mercurial" is an elegant one, perhaps overly so. When used to describe President Donald Trump -- as it often is -- it lends him a certain majesty that he doesn't really deserve. Mercurial conjures up an image of quicksilver, liquid and shiny but impossible to pin down. Which is why so many in the media use the word to describe Trump, after all. But a more honest assessment would be that Trump just says whatever pops into his head at that particular moment, even if it blatantly contradicts something else he might have said minutes earlier.

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Friday Talking Points [473] -- Mueller's Busy Week

[ Posted Friday, February 23rd, 2018 – 18:28 PST ]

Bob Mueller has had a busy and productive week. His investigation is intensifying quickly, as it gains speed and moves closer and closer to the inner Trump circle. Just a week ago, Mueller's team dropped an indictment on 13 Russians for meddling in the 2016 election. By Tuesday, a previously-unmentioned lawyer reached a plea deal with Mueller. Yesterday, Mueller filed an indictment with 32 counts against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Today, Gates officially flipped, and pled guilty to two counts against him, conspiracy and lying to federal agents. Not just another #MuellerFriday, in other words, but a full-on #MuellerWeek. No word from President Trump's Twitter account yet (as of this writing), but if last weekend was any preview, it sure ought to be fun to see him flail around for the next few days as the noose gets tighter and tighter around his innermost circle.

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From The Archives -- No Silver Bullet

[ Posted Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 – 17:08 PST ]

The article below was written a few weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre of innocents in Newtown, Connecticut. I'm running it again today both because nothing much has changed since then, but also because I think it is a fairly realistic examination of what gun control laws can be expected to do, and what they cannot.

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Advice For The Florida Teen Activists

[ Posted Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 – 18:56 PST ]

In the aftermath of the horrific slaughter at a Florida high school, the survivors of the massacre have moved onto center stage in the American political debate in a big way. This has happened with astonishing swiftness and with astonishing breadth. Television news producers are falling all over themselves to book the spokespeople for the teens, they've already tried their hand at lobbying (on the state legislator level), they've staged protests, they've come up with a plan for nationwide events to take place next month, and their nascent movement has already attracted millions of dollars of pledges from liberal celebrities. That is an immensely impressive list, especially considering it all took place in the time span of a single week. These kids have achieved more in one week's time than many advocacy groups have ever achieved from years of effort.

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