Keep and Bear It

In DC v. Heller, the 5-4 Supreme Court case that decided the meaning of the Second Amendment until Republicans are unable to steal justices, Antonin Scalia cites a 1931 judgment that argues for a very straightforward reading of Our Exceptional Nation’s founding document:

“[t]he Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical meaning.”

And then, just like any normal and ordinary reader, Scalia proceeds to sort the amendment into prefatory and operative clauses, the absence of grammatical constraint on the latter by the former, comparisons of sentence structure with other constitutional passages, and other normal and ordinary observations that strongly recall our first year as a normal and ordinary graduate student in philosophy.

Really, dude reads the Second Amendment more closely than we read Wittgenstein.

Read more »

Heckuva Job, Donnie

Puerto Rico, we have learned this week, is a hundred miles long by thirty miles wide, which makes it roughly equivalent to the Willamette Valley, in Oregon, where we grew up. Its population numbers some 3.4 million American citizens, or a half-million more than our home turf. The distance to Miami is around a thousand miles, which will also get you from Eugene to Los Angeles. By air, that’s about two-and-half hours.

Of course, that’s via civilian flight. You can cut that time and distance in half from Guantanamo, in Cuba. We happen to have a naval base there. You may have heard of it.

Among the things our nation asks of its military is to lend a hand during natural disasters. A dozen years ago, Joint Task Force Katrina was created to coordinate efforts between soldiers and FEMA civilians. It was only formed after FEMA was shown to be tragically inadequate to the task, three days after the New Orleans levees failed.

Puerto Rico has been without power and water for nine days. There has been no all-hands relief effort.

Read more »

Hugh Hefner (1926-2017)

The Powers That Bleed

We’re having a hard time coming to terms with the obsessive cruelty of our nation’s leaders.

Which shouldn’t be that difficult, really. We were weaned on Vietnam and Watergate. We spent our early adult years under Reagan and Bush. Cynicism comes to us easily, because that has been the only rational conclusion throughout most of our life, given the evidence at hand.

But even cynicism fails us today.

Read more »

The Antisocial Network

Back when we were learning our trade as a reporter, in the late Seventies, conversation would sometimes turn to the concentration of media, and the power resulting from it. In retrospect, the landscape we observed was simple: Three broadcast networks, three national news magazines, one-newspaper cities, multi-city newspaper chains. Not only were their audiences concentrated, reaching those audiences otherwise required an enormous capital investment. Freedom of the press, the joke went, belongs to those to who own one.

The media were the gatekeepers of public information. “News” was what reporters and editors (and owners) decided it was. There were “alternatives” — alternate weeklies, alternative magazines — but their audiences were small, and thus their funding and resources were limited. Advertising, then and now, paid the bills, and the larger your audience, the more attractive you were to advertisers.

The power that arose was the power to control the public conversation, as well as the power to avoid accountability and the power to stifle competition. And despite the revolutionary changes in media and communications over the ensuing forty years, we’re finding ourselves back where we started.

Perhaps even worse.

Read more »

Seven Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

1. Always use different elaborate passwords when signing up for online accounts.

2. Check your monthly credit-card statements for suspicious purchases.

3. Monitor your FICO score.

4. Don’t access your bank or credit card websites using public wifi.

5. Shred all financial statements.

6. File tax returns as soon as possible.

7. Fuck it, Equifax is just going to leak your name, Social Security number, birthdate, address, and driver’s license anyway, then generously offer one year of credit monitoring for something that will screw up the rest of your life.

Why the Equifax breach is very possibly the worst leak of personal info ever [Ars Technica]


Salt Lake City nurse and hero of the Republic Alex Wubbels may well have prevented Utah state and Salt Lake City cops from apparently attempting to slur the character or frame the victim of a car-and-truck crash precipitated by Utah Highway Patrol’s provocation of a high-speed car chase with the loser of the hour on July 26.

Wubbels mild and plain-spoken heroism exposed her to a violent assault and unlawful detainment by an apparently intriguing police officer on July 26 apparently attempting to set up an evidentiary framework to prove that the victim of the car crash bore some or all liability for the injuries in the crash their recklessness precipitated.

Read more »