You first

Panicked politicos, in Washington and elsewhere, are using the Paris attacks to push for even greater and more invasive government surveillance of individuals. They’re blaming encryption and other privacy measures for “allowing” ISIS terrorists to coordinate their attacks undetected. They want to end the technology that makes privacy possible, and leave everyone effectively naked to Big Brother’s all-seeing eye.

So I tell you what. You say it’s dangerous to let people have secrets, Mr. Politico? Let’s start with yours then. You want to put an end to dangerous secrets, let’s start by ending this ridiculous notion of “state secrets.” A corrupt government has far more power to do harm than any individual. If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn’t have anything to hide, amirite? What are you not telling us about your own contributions to the rise of ISIS? What flaws and faults are you hiding that will continue to endanger us because you prevent us from knowing you have them? What crimes are you committing, in the dark, that are going to come back to bite us?

Your secrets are far more dangerous than ours, and our privacy is far more vital to liberty than the government’s. You want to howl for an end to secrets, knock yourself out. But if it comes time to surrender someone’s privacy, you go first.

Strategic vision

There are millions of Muslim and/or Arabic immigrants in the West, in both Europe and America. The ones that have embraced their new homes are not interested in joining ISIS or going on any suicide mission, with the key phrase being “new home.” Those that feel welcome, comfortable, and accepted in the West, are poor candidates for ISIS recruiting.

ISIS knows this, which is why their strategy is based on trying to drive a deep wedge between Westerners and the Muslim citizens of Western nations. Those who dismiss suicidal terrorist attacks as “self-defeating,” and who advocate retaliation against Muslims and Arabs, are an important part of ISIS’s hope for future recruiting within the borders of our various homelands.

Dr. Ben Carson, come on down.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Friday that in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the United States should block refugees from the Middle East from coming to the United States…

“I would be working with our allies using every resource known to man in terms of economic resources, in terms of covert resources, overt resources, military resources, things that they don’t know about — resources,” he said. “In an attempt not to contain them but to eliminate them before they eliminate us. We have to recognize that the global Islamic movement is an existential threat — it’s very different than anything we’ve ever faced before.” [Emph. added.]

It’s just like Jesus used to say, “If any man smite thee on thy right cheek, eliminate him, his family, his neighbors, and anyone who shares his religious views, before they eliminate thee.”

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A revealing headline

Somehow a NY Times headline popped up in my Facebook news feed, and it said something about GOP candidates “sticking to the script, if not to the facts.”

The story was about how party loyalty seems to have completely replaced factual accuracy as the gold standard by which candidates are judged these days, but I think perhaps it did not go as far as it might. I think that the NYT has summed up, in a nutshell, why so many conservatives like Donald Trump, despite his rather unreliable track record as a conservative.

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As you sow…

I have to confess feeling a certain amount of schadenfreude right now. For years I’ve been watching conservatives pushing themselves into an escalating cycle of dickishness, promoting tribalism, bravado, self-serving hypocrisy, self-righteous bigotry, and disregard (if not outright contempt) for the objective facts. This downwards political spiral was one of the things that led me to stop being so conservative myself: I felt shamed and betrayed by the political philosophy I was raised in, and I left it.

So I’m taking a certain amount of satisfaction right now in seeing Donald Trump running for president as a conservative. As others have pointed out, he has not been a particularly conservative person as far as his past attitudes and behaviors are concerned. But in many ways, he’s the epitome of everything the Republicans have worked so hard to make themselves into. He may not be the hero the GOP wants, but he’s the hero they deserve.

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MAKE ’em fly it

A lot of people are calling for South Carolina and other southern states to quit flying the Confederate flag outside of government buildings. I’m not. I say make ’em fly it.

Make ’em fly it until they redraw their voting districts so that black votes have as much weight as white votes.

Make ’em fly it until black applicants are as likely to be hired as white, for jobs that white applicants want.

Make ’em fly it until the police are no more likely to stop and frisk a person of color than to do the same to a white person.

Make ’em fly it until schools with mostly black students are as well-funded as schools with mostly white students.

Make ’em fly it until they end the practice of railroading young black men into prisons under the pretext of a so-called “war on drugs,” release everyone unjustly imprisoned by this sham, and expunge their records so they can vote and hold decent jobs and live normal lives.

Make ’em fly it until they quit pretending not to be racists, and actually produce substantial, substantive improvements in civil rights and racial equality.

It’s a shameful, ugly, disgusting symbol for a host of shameful, ugly injustices. Fix the injustices, and then we can talk about removing the shameful symbols.

The opposite of separation

If you want a cautionary tale of why it’s important to maintain a separation of church and state, look no farther than the Republican party today. Once they were liberal (no, really, they started out as liberals), and for a very long time they were secular. But then they decided, as a political move, to abandon separation of church and state, and embrace its opposite. I’m not entirely sure what the opposite of “separation” is—the phrase “incest of church and state” comes to mind—but they embraced it. And now look at them: paralyzed by internal divisions and bickering by leaders whose vision ranges from the intransigent to the hallucinatory, always sliding deeper and deeper into an agenda that none dare call fascist, promising “security” in exchange for liberty, and delivering neither.

And they want to make America Republican. Think about that.

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Is free college the answer?

According to, plank number one in Bernie Sanders’ presidential platform is a plan to provide free college tuition at four-year public colleges and universities, funded by a tax on Wall Street stock transactions. I think overall that this would be a great thing, a great investment in America’s future, and an entirely appropriate use of government funds. That said, however, I have some reservations about whether this would really do as much good as we might hope.

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Graham on the bandwagon

According to an article on, Billy Graham’s son Franklin is eagerly jumping on the bandwagon of conservatives denouncing Obama for bringing up church history and reminding us that not all Muslims are terrorists.

Franklin Graham said former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani “has taken a lot of heat” for questioning whether President Obama loves America, and declined to weigh in on whether it was “true or not.” But Graham said what he did know is “the president defends Islam and chastises Christians, rebukes our allies and befriends our enemies, and fully supports gay marriages and abortion but denies the religious freedoms of those who don’t agree.”

Got to love that bit about not passing judgment on whether it’s really true or  not. Who cares about truth when there’s rabble to rouse, eh Frankie?

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Anti-evolution bill nixed by lawmakers

Good news from South Dakota. As the Argus Leader reports:

Senate Bill 114 was killed last week. More accurately, it was deferred by the state senate’s education committee to the “41st legislative day,” which doesn’t exist.

Senate Bill 114 was another one of those stealth creationism bills designed to encourage public school teachers to introduce kids to Genesis under the guise of “questioning” evolution. And you have to love this bit:

Language in the bill is also similar to model legislation from a group that has created intelligent design curriculum for private and home school teachers. Representatives for the Washington-based Discovery Institute say they don’t support teaching intelligent design in public schools.

No, of course they don’t support teaching ID in the public schools. They just design the curriculum (and help craft laws like SB 114) to make it possible for someone else to support teaching ID in public schools. See, that way, when the school district gets sued for First Amendment violations, and loses, the Institute doesn’t bear any of the liability, and are free to move on to the next school district.

Ted Cruz supports — and opposes — a national marriage amendment

We’re used to politicians flip-flopping on the issues as public opinion shifts, but it takes real skill to flip to both positions simultaneously. According to, however, Ted Cruz has managed to do exactly that. Faced with an impending Supreme Court decision that is likely to end marriage discrimination against gay couples, Cruz announced that he is absolutely opposed to having the federal government overrule state laws regarding marriage, while simultaneously supporting the idea of having the federal government overrule state laws regarding marriage.

“I’m a constitutionalist,” Cruz continued. “From the beginning of this country, marriage has been a question of the states, and we should not have the federal government, or unelected judges, setting aside the policy judgment of the elected legislatures and imposing their own instead.”

Cruz also confirmed to the D.C.-based LGBT outlet that he is still planning to introduce a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage nationwide…

Ta-da! The amazing inverted double back flip with a front flip and a twist. So as long as the federal government is telling the states they must discriminate against gays, he’s for it, but if the federal government insists on justice and equality for gays, then he’s resolutely opposed. He believes states rights trumps the federal government while believing at the same time that the government should decide the issue for all 50 states. I’d give it an 8.4 out of ten. It’s a difficult move, and he did pull it off, but it still looks like shit no matter how you do it.