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Archive of Articles in the "Free Speech" Category

Friday Talking Points [491] -- FART Act, Pruitt Out

[ Posted Friday, July 6th, 2018 – 16:55 PDT ]

We are (of course) not drawing any onomatopoetic comparisons to Scott Pruitt's last name with that title -- perish the thought! -- because it is merely a reference to two political stories which bookended this week. That's all. Ahem.
We begin with a little history. Benjamin Franklin was a funny guy, and was [...]

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Supreme Court Takes The Cake

[ Posted Monday, June 4th, 2018 – 16:40 PDT ]

Today, the Supreme Court punted. Or, to be more properly seasonal, they ruled that a runner didn't touch second base so they invalidated his home run. The case before them was Masterpiece Cakeshop versus Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a test case that dealt with the limits of the freedom of religion and the state's right to regulate commerce to assure equal treatment under the law for all. However, the ruling did not directly address that weighty constitutional issue, but rather ruled that the state behaved improperly in its decision-making process. They didn't rule on the decision itself, in other words, but rather how it was arrived at. This is the big reason why the ruling was not another 5-4 decision, but rather 7-2. If the high court had ruled on the actual question before them, no matter how they ruled it most probably would have been another close 5-4 split.

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Friday Talking Points [486] -- Hurricane-Force Lies

[ Posted Friday, June 1st, 2018 – 17:11 PDT ]

It was another rollicking week in the world of politics, which is admittedly not saying much in the era of Trump. It was revealed this week that the death toll on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was not just higher than had been officially reported, but at least seventy times higher, and in fact was more than twice as high as the death toll from Hurricane Katrina. You'd think this would be a gigantic media story, but (sadly) you would be wrong. Just like everything else about the devastation, most certainly including the media's treatment of it, this bombshell report was largely ignored this week. No wonder Puerto Ricans feel like second-class citizens, when they keep getting second-class treatment like this.

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Bye-Bye, Roseanne

[ Posted Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 – 17:04 PDT ]

The best quip I've heard about the explosive television news today has got to be: "This was the problem all along: Having Roseanne back meant having Roseanne back." In other words, the show was great and funny and all of that, but Roseanne Barr (the actress, not the Roseanne Conner character) had, in the years that intervened between the original run's cancellation and the reboot, completely gone off the rails. She was not just a Trump voter, to put this another way, she was out-Trumping Trump in her support of crazy conspiracy theories. And, yes, some of those crazy conspiracy theories were also pretty racist or (at the start, she later became staunchly pro-Israel) blatantly anti-Semitic.

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Friday Talking Points [485] -- "If You Change Your Mind..."

[ Posted Friday, May 25th, 2018 – 17:22 PDT ]

We've always been planning a meeting with Eastasia. What's that? Oh, wait... we've never been planning a meeting with Eastasia. Any suggestion of such a meeting has been tossed down the memory hole -- along with the commemorative coins we prematurely minted to celebrate it.

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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 [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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Schrödinger's Sex Scandal

[ Posted Thursday, March 29th, 2018 – 17:13 PDT ]

Today, we're going to take a trip down the rabbit hole with Schrödinger's (Cheshire?) cat. If that sounds like a mixed-up metaphor, that's because it is. Our fantastical journey starts off as a Charles Dodgson-style syllogism, but since it contains such circular logic it winds up being an Erwin Schrödinger-style thought experiment. Did they or didn't they? Well, until the wave function collapses into a single eigenstate, President Donald Trump's lawyer's lawyer would have us all believe that they both did and didn't, at the same time. The cat is both alive and dead, in other words. While this may be the most obscure and confusing lead paragraph I have ever personally written, such obscurity seems to be almost required these days, to talk about the growing sex scandal (or non-sex scandal) surrounding Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels.

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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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Porn Star Sues President

[ Posted Thursday, March 8th, 2018 – 18:01 PST ]

When you sit back and think about it, that is a rather extraordinary headline. Or, at the very least, it should be. These days, though, not so much. In fact, the story of Donald Trump allegedly paying $130,000 hush money -- to a porn star weeks before the election so she would keep quiet about their alleged affair, which took place either while Trump's third wife was pregnant or just after the birth of the baby (or both) -- was largely ignored for the past few months, due to so many other chaotic crises taking place simultaneously within the White House. It will be hard for future historians to grasp, but the story of hush money paid off to a porn star actually struggled to gain traction in the national news. And that is even more extraordinary than the story itself. But then that's life in the Trump era, folks.

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