SocraticGadfly: 3/17/24 - 3/24/24

March 23, 2024

A few notes on Paul Thacker, and a few new ones on Orac

Along with Eric Lipton he is a pseudoscientist on GMOs. (This is not to endorse them, but it's to oppose pseudoscience.)

In parallel with the anti-GMO stance, also apparently willing to believe the worst, or print the worse, whether fully true or not, on glyphosate. More on that article here.

And a 5G conspiracy theorist.

Anti-GMO and anti-5G nuttery led me to my first skepticism of the Green Party.

The reason I have compiled this? He is also apparently a "Deep Stater."

At the same time? Some of my links above are from The American Council on Science and Health, itself not perfect.

On the third hand? Thacker harassing and doxxing a 12-year-old is despicable.


Now, the latest brouhaha on one issue?

If not an outright antivaxxer, at least a fellow traveler. More here, which also touches on the anti-GMO issue.

Update: Via Orac, at his Substack, Thacker walks, quacks and acts like more than a fellow traveler. Of items of interest? To the degree that I've followed the details of CDC pronouncements on COVID, "it's news to me" that:

the CDC stated that prior infection was no different than being vaccinated.

Since his cite is a link to his own Twitter account and he's blocked me, it's time for teh Google. And, per Orac's comments, it's time to block him back.

Here's an update of an update from Orac on April 18.

The "walks, quacks and acts" is further shone by his full Substack feed. A recent post is an interview about masks with Jay Bhattacharya. There's more stupidity there like "citation sorcery," a pseudoscientific phrase that's a classical informal logic fallacy of appeal to emotion.

On the third hand, Orac, he IS right about online harassment cutting both ways, as Zeynep Tufekci has written about with the likes of Alina Chan. In her case, on Twitter, I've witnessed that myself.

To be more thorough, I searched Orac's site. He'd written ONCE about Chen, more than 18 months ago, a largely rhetorical, and tribalist, since Orac does that well, piece about "Is the lab leak conspiracy theory dead?" And, even with a no-follow, I'm not linking. First of all, it's not a conspiracy theory, dude.

Related? He's only written twice focused on Tufekci.

Speaking of her? Tufekci called out COVID-related tribalism relative early in the pandemic's origins and related issues progress. She did so before Orac committed tribalism not once but twice on this.)

The bottom line is that, just as much as Thacker appears to be a multiple-issue pseudoscientist, Orac has long presented himself as a multiple-issue tribalist. That also is damaging beyond wars of words. Re COVID itself, people with a certain microphone in the world of science, and a political tilt, calling the lab leak hypothesis a conspiracy theory can undercut national biosecurity discussions. Not standing firm against medical overtesting dings our economy. IMO, people like this are Tar Baby and Brer Rabbit to each other.)

March 22, 2024

Presidential briefs, March 22

Instead of boasting about winning the Pennsylvania Green Party primary, shouldn't Jill Stein rather be concerned that she left 25 percent of the vote, and 20 percent of the delegates, on the floor against a craptacular field? Ditto on other recent GP state primaries. Related? Between that and other things, Texas Greens better have somebody damned good for at least one statewide office, or they'll miss the 2 percent mark for ballot access again, with 2026 the last election to hit it.

Don't win by too big of margins, anyway. It will hurt your fundraising, in all likelihood, and since SCOTUS officially said no on 2016, you'll need more funds.


"Shock me" that self-alleged Marxist Adolph Reed, who has a long history of sheepdogging for the left hand of the duopoly, is doing it again, and also, "shock me" that The Nation is giving him the space for it. Reed's first move to justify his decision is, "shock me," to attack non-duopoly leftists for leaning into electoral politics too hard. This:

A serious left movement would be driven by concerted strategic action aimed at eventually changing the terms of debate to produce electoral majorities capable of securing popular interventions—for example, eliminating our obscene, profit-driven healthcare system.

Really? Perhaps the action hasn't been concerted or strategic, but this has been a major talking point of third parties of the left for decades. 

Then, Gaza? Reed goes straight to the "lesser evilism" argument. 

In between, he says he won't discuss his previous voting history, though, reading between the lines and what I know elsewhere, I'm pretty sure it's all sheepdog, all the way down.


Speaking of? Biden is reportedly pissed off about his tumbling poll numbers in places like Michigan, but then has his Irish Alzheimer's kick and says he won't change on Gaza, even though that has nothing to do with US national security, contra his lies. Meanwhile, beyond his staff cocooning him over flub worries, he, they and surrogates are still failing to get out the Trump oppo research information that Trump is providing.


Mike Pence says he won't endorse Trump. I'm sure that Momma's Boy won't go as far as Lincoln Project people and come out for Biden, but even the public non-endorsement is a bit of a hit. He says abortion is part of the issue, but remains a "grab em by the pussy" hypocrite.

"Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years, and that's why I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign."

Really? Where? When? And this?

During his presidential campaign last year, Pence suggested during an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that Trump is “walking away” from conservative principles, including "a clear commitment to the right to life," and accused Trump of holding a position on the national debt that “is identical to Joe Biden’s.”

Dude, that was exactly the case in your term together. You're a hypocrite indeed.

That said, is it as serious as deal as Dan Pfeiffer says? Uhh, no.


Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a piece last week noting that Mike Rowe, as well as Aaron Rodgers and Jesse "the body" Ventura are on his Veep short list, promises an announcement March 26, although after those first names came out, it was leaked that Nicole Shanahan already has the nod. See my Twitter thread. Meanwhile, he's paused his petition signature drive. Stupid to do so, IMO, right now, right when the Veep hunt is ginning up interest, even with the allowance for needing to have a listed Veep in many cases. Focus on the states where that's not needed.


Tim Scott is reportedly on Trump's shortlist? Will the GOP accept a minority Veep who's also presumed by many to be a closeted gay?


At Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop says Geriatric Joe risks further pissing off younger voters if he stands by the idea of a forced sale of TikTok. Don't forget that Trumpist Steve Mnuchin waved his hands to buy TikTok even as House wingnuts were passing their forced sale bill.

March 21, 2024

Jill Stein: Sane vs other Green Party official candidates

Per the Wikipedia page on 2024 Green Party presidential primaries, we have three GP-certified candidates. As for the non-certified candidates, including Randy Toler, rightly "disputed" in his self-aggrandizing claim to be co-founder of the GP, the hurdles for becoming officially Party-recognized as a presidential candidate are pretty low IF you're active in the Green Party. We all went down this in 2020.

On the certified candidates? We have the seemingly hypocritical Jill Stein as the front-runner.

Then, we move to true whackjob Jorge Zavala, who wants to create a "water vortex implosion system." That's more New Age nutbar than Marianne Williamson's water faucets idea.

Jasmine Sherman seems to be perhaps a vanity candidate, also running/heading the one-candidate (for any office, it seems), Unicorn Party. Three guesses as to who the one candidate is. Her GP platform, largely lifted from previous UP documents, I think, is standard left-like identitarian politics.

Texas Progressives talk SXSW and more

Let's lead with that. The Monthly has a story about how a LOT of bands are ditching South by Southwest this year. Why? The U.S. Army being a sponsor and other issues related to the genocide in Gaza are No. 1. This is just mind-boggling, that SXSW would be SO FUCKING DUMB to have the Army be a sponsor. Related? SXSW also has "discussion panels" sponsored by likes of Raytheon. (Even though this brings the #GenocideInGaza issue officially into Texas, I expect Kuff will still manage to say nothing, and as of earlier this week, that was totally true.) The Observer pivots on this, on the issue of the military, AI and disinformation.

Juanita got VIP treatment at the SxSW premier of the Alex Jones documentary, which features her son as one of the attorneys that doggedly pursued justice for the Newtown parents that Jones has been tormenting. Here's an Austin Chronicle review of that movie.  The AC mentions nowhere onsite the quasi-boycott and Juanita doesn't have a search page so I don't know.

The Texas Medical Board, on March 22, will consider new rulemaking as to what constitutes a medical exception to Texas' abortion law after the Supreme Court tossed Roe v Wade. There is no guarantee they will adopt any new rule, nor any guarantee that, if they do, it will be a good rule.

Related? Texas law may ban Walgreens and CVS from selling mifepristone, but you CAN still order it by mail and there's not a damned thing Paxton, Abbott and Patrick can do. Know your options.

Also related? The Observer analyzes the federal court ruling that took away the right of Texas state employees to protect women's health, and enable them to keep their jobs, during pregnancy and while recovering from childbirt.

Semi-related? The Judicial Conference, which sets policy for the federal court system, said it will take action against judge-shopping. This sounds nice, but let's wait a bit to see just what that action is; there's also questions about whether it has the power to make these binding rules, or more just guidelines. That said, Mitch McConnell is already encouraging judges to defy this. He's not Moscow Mitch, but this further puts the lie to his claim at Trump's second impeachment that he's anything but MAGAts Mitch.

Matt Rinaldi will not seek re-election as the Texas GOP chair. Will Rethugs do even worse on a replacement? Possibly.

Justice Alito has just extended a stay on the enforcement of SB4.

From his second blog site,  SocraticGadfly says that the biggest differentiator on taking climate change seriously enough to talk about a "climate crisis" is NOT Democrats vs Republicans, nor is it "fundagelical" Christians vs others, nor is it liberal vs conservative peoples of any world religion. It is, rather, secularists vs religious believers in general.

Friends remember Aaron Bushnell. He's mentioned by nobody else among Texas Progressives, AFAIK.

Travis Clardy boo-hoos getting hung out to dry by Abbott — and by groups that had nothing to do with vouchers, but with whom Clardy had danced with them that brung him for years.

It's official: The Metromess is over 8 million.

Off the Kuff looked at the counties where Nikki Haley did well in the Republican primary in Texas.

Barring some late legal shenanigans, Nate Paul is going to jail for contempt.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said a majority of women on Houston City Council is great, but the Republican women on Council, and all Republicans on Council, should openly reject authoritarianism.

The Texas Living Waters Project reports on Austin's efforts towards becoming water sustainable.  

Your Local Epidemiologist updates us on measles and more.

The TSTA Blog says the fight over vouchers isn't over but warns that the bad guys still have all the money in that fight.  

Frank Strong would like to talk about the latest school district to fall victim to Christian nationalist influences.

March 20, 2024

Nope, Julian Assange still isn't a journo

If Andrew Cockburn is going to do a thin update of his Harper’s piece from a year ago that I refuted at that time, then I shall do the same, as we await the likely inevitable result of his Belmarsh hearing.

First, the Committee to Protect Journalists is also right on this issue.

Second, that does not mean that Assange is not entitled to the same protections while incarcerated as any other John/Jane Doe. Of course he is and the CPJ also said that.

Third? The nut graf? Since I wrote before, my thoughts on whether or not Assange is a Russian asset? And, I’m a non-duopoly lefist, not a BlueAnon Democrat screecher, mind you.

I’ll give you 50-50 on that. I had already leaded kind of that way a year ago. I didn’t tie in my 2021 piece on Putin banning Proekt, and no word on that from Assange.

I add this tweet:

In 2012, Assange refused to publish a leak on a 2 billion euro transaction between Assad and a Russian government bank. In 2016, Assange refused to publish a Russian intelligence dump on Russian military and intelligence involvement in Ukraine. We all know who he works for.

More on that here, noting that Assange didn’t always appear to be Putin’s lapdog. (OTOH, he reportedly sought a Russian visa already in 2010.)

That said, Cockburn is not alone in his wrongness. As noted below, tangential to the Seth Rich conspiracy, the likes of Ray McGovern and Patrick Lawrence (don’t even get me started on him) are wrong. John Pilger was wrong, laughably so. So were others that might be mentioned here.

OK, let’s dive in.

Update, May 23, 2019: Julian Assange has now received a superseding indictment on Espionage Act charges

Quick thoughts a year ago, still held?
1. Whether this puts a crimp or not on the freedom of the press portion of the First Amendment (and courts have ruled the Espionage Act does not violate the free speech portion of the amendment) is a secondary issue.
2. To me, the main issue is whether or not the Espionage Act is legally applicable to foreign nationals. I argue it is not.
3. Other than the "yes, but ..." below, I still haven't — and can't — come down squarely on "yes, he's a journalist."

3A. Strike that. As of 2022, I come down squarely on "he's not a journalist." I updated a post from 2019 to offer more thought on that before then writing what I linked above.. As we see how odious the Seth Rich conspiracy theory was, along with the increasing likelihood that Assange at some point knew the source of his information, plus the fact that he told Snowden to go to Russia not Latin America? Maybe he was a journalist long ago, but that long ago is long gone.
More thoughts at bottom.

Now, the original post:

I promised in my initial post about Assange's arrest that I would address this further. And here we are.

A simple answer is two words: "Yes, but ..."

And, that's with everything implied by folk psychology tropes by adding "but" after the "yes."

So, I'm going to break that out more, with a nutgraf of sorts kept down at the bottom.

So, here we go ...

Journalists don't just seek out, gather and collate information.

They analyze it.

Then they write about it.

Assange did little of the analysis or writing work even with the initial information he got from Chelsea Manning, when he had much greater degrees of freedom of space, time, and working space than he does now.

Writers, and even more, editors, make judgment calls with information they receive. Some of those judgments are whether the material is true or not. Others are whether it would be harmful to release some of it.

I think Glenn Greenwald, for whatever reasons, has gone overboard on what Edward Snowden information he and Laura Poitras have chosen not to release, but, they have made a judgment call.

Assange? In the past, at a point after his working space freedom started to close up but was not that tight, made decisions to dump information without redactions, and in the case of some Afghanistan material, was rightly criticized for an endangerment factor.

That's just one issue. As Wikipedia's page on Wikileaks notes, it's released Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and more. With basically no effort at redaction.

I also said in my initial piece on the actual "yes," that to the degree it's true, he's actually like a Beltway steno in reverse in some way. He's an opiner, not a news writer, to the degree we consider him a journalist, by what he gathers, and what he solicits. I've already, along with others, criticized him for not seeking and encouraging leakers inside places like Russia and China. I've criticized more his response to that initial criticism. Today, Russia has a home-grown version of something like Wikileaks — no thanks to Assange.

And, when Assange, or Wikileaks as its mouthpiece, has made editorial judgment calls, sometimes they've been off the wall. Like criticizing the leak of the Panama Papers.

Here? I suspect 190-proof red-eyed jealousy at work — as one motive.

Another? I'm still not ready to call him a Russian agent, but the Panama Papers' attacks on Russian businessmen (Mafiyya, let's be honest) is another reason Assange attacked their release, claiming the U.S. government was behind this, which is nonsense. Ken Silverstein had done some work on Mossack Fonseca even before the main Panama Papers leak and I KNOW he's not a government agent. (Actually, him routing Snowden to Russia? Maybe he IS a Russian agent. UPDATE, March 14, 2022. Dick Tofel, why he's not a journalist, references just that, among other things.)

And? Vlad the Impaler Putin himself cited Wikileaks in fighting to defend Russkies with likely government ties. Again, Assange may not be a Russian agent, but he has certainly left himself open to accusations of such.

Worsening the case against Assange here is that, in hosting his own show on RT, per Wiki's page about RT (and yes, selective Wiki-haters when your ox is gored, there's a link at the site), he admitted he RT would be less comfortable with him if he had encouraged anti-Russia leaks or written anti-Russia items.

(Greenwald and others like him — and the likes of Mark Ames and Yasha Levine may partially fall here, though I've not seen anything explicit so far — fall into their own version, that of certain leftists and certain semi-libertarians on US foreign policy — of #twosiderism in lumping legitimate and illegitimate attacks against RT and Sputnik together.)

Jealousy is not a one-off issue with Assange, either. Edward Snowden was among those who criticized Assange for not sufficiently curating and editing leaked materials, a charge he repeats in his memoir as reason why he didn't work through Wikileaks, and Assange claimed Snowden was pandering to Hillary Clinton.

Good journalists also have good ethics. In promoting the totally base and vile Seth Rich conspiracy theory, primarily to try to cover up that the initial DNC emails came from a Russian hack, Assange has shown his lack of ethics and his willingness to outrightly lie. (Given that nobody — not Assange, Patrick Lawrence, Adam Carter or anybody else that I know of — has tried to explicitly claim that the spearphishing attack that got the later emails was not Russian-done, why the lie was engaged in was perplexing, too, and remains so.)

And, related, Silverstein thinks Snowden, if not originally a Russian agent, got compromised at some point, so who knows?

Wikipedia also raises the issue of whether or not Assange is anti-Semitic. First, to the Assange nutbar fanbois, I know well myself the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and the use of the latter as a weapon against people calling out the former. As with Russian agent questions, at a minimum, I think Assange has left himself open to anti-Semitism claims.

And, per Andrew Stewart at Washington Babylon, Assange is definitely anti-feminist, which ties back to his troubles in Sweden (which have now been opened legally AGAIN!) He's also, weirdly but openly, anti-atheist, at least on Tweets that Stew collated. And his call for more births in Europe make him come off a bit like an Anders Breivik, or other white nationalists in Europe and America.

Bolded that for Cockburn, who talks about people shedding tears for Navalny. I know his past, too, myself; I’m not shedding.

Per the Intercept in 2016, right after the DNC hack, how Assange chose to frame the hack, as well as claiming they're absolutely not from Russia, which he actually couldn't know if Wikileaks does actually have as robust of source anonymity as Assange claims, means that if he IS doing journalism, it's not news reporting — it's as much or more op-ed only as the Gnu Media, Beltway stenos division.

Assange is also an idiot at times. In the link above, I mentioned his previous issues with lack of password protection. His belief that Trump would give him a pardon or something for all the DNC leaks further shows this idiocy. By the way, to riff on Janice Joplin, schadenfreude is just another word for someone else who arrogantly still has plenty to lose.

Journalism is also a collaborate effort in some way. Even at a small community newspaper, the managing editor will bounce ideas off other staff. A publisher will be a check, if the editor doesn't voluntarily include the publisher in his or her advisors.

Assange was, at the time, managing editor and publisher all in one, with a sycophantic, perhaps even cowering, editorial board, even if Kristinn Hrafnsson is listed as editor in chief.

Whether it is, if not autism, being "on the spectrum" somewhere, as the man hired to ghost Assange's autobiography details in writing about a six-month nightmare, or simple narcissism, or both, Assange simply doesn't play ball except on his terms.

Journalism is an art or a craft, not a science. It will always have a demarcation problem, per philosopher friend Massimo Pigliucci and his writings (in the sciences) on demarcation issues.


Sadly, the whataboutism and twosiderism on this issue, beyond the question of "is Assange a journalist" is ramping up.

Should Mueller be faulted if his Internet 12 indictments are based only, as far as computer evidence, on Crowdstrike mirrors of DNC servers? I'd argue yes.

But, that doesn't mean that the case is flimsy, let alone that by default, Seth Rich (or even a non-Seth Richer at DNC) stole the initial set of emails.

Update, Nov. 22, 2019, related to that and Crowdstrike:

Well put on Crowdstrike, & a  I didn't think of before that at least partially refudiates #TrumpTrain riders, #SethRich #conspiracytheory mongers like Ty Clevenger, and their fellow travelers in the VIPS world over #Forensicator. There was/is no single server to "hand over."

— reallyDonaldTrump  🚩🌻 (@AFCC_Esq) November 22, 2019

Back to the original.

I've covered ALL of this in depth before. I'm sure Consortium News and others are still going to peddle the Patrick Lawrence BS, since Ray McGovern is a chief peddler. AND, the two-siders should stop trying to claim that a burden of proof exists with the VIPS minority plus Ritter et al. Beyond that, I specifically commented on this related to Assange's arrest six weeks ago.

AND, if you're going to criticize Mueller, you need to criticize this Forensicator in spades. Or, Adam Carter, I should say. If you want Mueller to interview someone, toady Craig Murray, it's "interesting" how you want him to interview Bill Binney from VIPS, but not Thomas Drake, the man who said Binney and McGovern found their own "Curveball." Murray claimed early on, with comments here here, that he not only explicitly knew it was not Russians, but without naming Rich, talk about a DNC "insider."

And, sorry ... going down conspiracy theory lane in general?

Some mutes or blocks might be coming up. It's who I am.

The likes of Cockburn on stuff like this is why I continue to call myself a skeptical leftist.

March 19, 2024

Southwest vs JSX — the Monthly half-wrong again

Southwest is seemingly — note that word — getting hoist by its own playbook petard at Love Field. But is the "seemingly" actually so?

No, and that's where we get to the second half of the header.

I don't think JSX-type biz jets should be flying from Love. Let it, and other companies using the same current loophole, fly out of Dallas Executive, the old Redbird. To me, it's not primarily the baggage safety and TSA rules that Southwest raises (which American does as well) — rather, it's the congestion issues that will result if this expands. In addition, Southwest's loophole was purely about destinations and originations, not types of flights or anything else. In addition, JSX taking up slots at Love blocks another regular airline from doing that and offering more competition to Southwest. None of this gets mentioned in the Texas Monthly story. So, as with last week on the dunes sagebrush lizard, the Monthly's story is incomplete and badly framed.

No I don't 'revere' the Constitution and here's a bit of why

In my post a week and a half ago about the Supreme Court's Trump v Anderson ruling on ballot access, in his second comment, at one point, Cruxdaemon said:

In the Constitution that we all revere, federal elections are actually state elections.

Oh, no, as I told him back:

And, no, I don't "revere" the Constitution. I'm a leftist, not a liberal. I "accept" the Constitution. THAT is something entirely different.

And, here's a bit more detail on why.

First, directly related to that issue? Article III of the Constitution, on qualifications of judges? There's no minimum age to be a Supreme Court justice or inferior court federal judge. There's no minimum number of years of U.S. citizenship. There's no U.S. citizenship requirement at all!

I noted that in my "Swiftian modest proposal" piece on Substack, where I doubled down on the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that IVF eggs are humans, and said that if I were elected president, I'd be the ultimate pro-lifer by appointing such an egg to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Next, to go back to another originalist issue. And, that's the "three-fifths compromise" and other things in the Constitution dealing with "other persons," "such persons," or "person held to Service or Labor." The word "slave" is nowhere in the Constitution, and "slavery" not until the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing it (except in prison incarceration).

That's why William Lloyd Garrison called it:

"A covenant with death ... and an agreement with hell."

And he was right, excepting that this secularist knows hell doesn't exist. And, per the Thirteenth Amendment not calling incarceration "slavery," that's one more reason not to "revere" the Constitution.

In addition, I said, in my discussion of oral argument in the case a month ago, that the Constitution is in many ways a "clusterfuck."

I venture that Cruxdaemon smokes some Constitutional Law Scholar president hopium, or thinks Akil Reed Amar is a genius of modern constitutional interpretation. He's not:

The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era

The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era by Akhil Reed Amar
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

How Amar got to be a constitutional law prof at Yale writing dreck like he does, I don't know. This book is just the latest example, starting from the header.

Only dyed-in-the-wool originalists would talk about "timeless lessons" from the Constitution with a straight face and no nuance.

There are plenty of other howlers just in the introduction. Let's look:

"Between 1804, when the Constitution was amended to downgrade the vice presidency ..." (page 12)

Erm, the 12th Amendment did no such thing. The body of the Constitution clearly, with the amount of powers it specified for each office, showed how the VP was clearly "downgraded." If the words of the Constitution's body aren't clear enough, the comment of our first Veep, John Adams, writing well before the 12th Amendment, should be.

ALL the 12th Amendment did was create separate electoral colleges and electoral voting for the two offices. Period.

Then, on page 15, he buys into the money = speech argument on campaign finance, further showing where his interpretive bread is buttered. Long before Citizens United was wrongly adjudicated, Buckley was also wrongly adjudicated.

On page 17, he supports the National Popular Vote project without telling you that it would not survive a constitutional challenge.

Beyond his constitutional nuttery is this, in a footnote already on page 4:

"Slate makes a point of recording the precise minute that an item is published," as if this were special, even quasi-unique.

Erm, Amar, the semiweekly newspaper I edit does that. He sounds like Poppy Bush gushing in awe over a supermarket scanner.

I had been quite underwhelmed by a previous book of Amar's. I decided to give him another chance. He failed long before I read through the various actual essays in most chapters. (I did read the introductory summaries of several chapters, lest I be accused of not reading at all past the introduction. Besides, even if I had stopped at the introduction, per the above, I'd read more than enough.)

View all my reviews

And again, he's not, per that "earlier book" reference:

America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live ByAmerica's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By by Akhil Reed Amar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good, but not nearly as good as all the fluffing reviews crack it up to be. And, it's got a couple of specific problems.

It's perhaps a 3.5 star, but, I'm moving down rather than up a half star.

Among its problems?

Amar claims that the Constitution enshrines 2-party government. No it doesn't, not even after the 12th Amendment. Even taking into account his definition of an unwritten Constitution, it doesn't, not from where I sit. Things like the requirement for members of the Federal Election Commission, etc., are sub-constitutional.

Second is his quirky interpretation of the Second Amendment being written to enshrine local militia vis-a-vis a standing national army. That would surely be news to George Washington and probably to at least a few others of the Founders, as well as many Constitutional scholars past and present. Rather, it was surely written to make sure that local militias would be well-organized when, as necessary, they would be called into national service; i.e., seeing militias as adjuncts, not in opposition.

Third is the naivete in the last chapter about future Constitutional amendments. With the tea partiers of today, at least some of them, wanting to throw out the 17th Amendment and its direct election of senators, Amar's political acumen must seriously be questioned.

Finally, per one other reviewer, these are the biggest, but not the only ways, in which Amar offers unsubstantiated opinion.

The only outstandingly good part was his discussion of the rights of jurors, including not just nullification, but the right to convict of a lesser charge than the one in front of them and more.

Well, I'd heard of him for some time. And now I've read him. No need to read him further.

View all my reviews

March 18, 2024

Population growtherism and wingnuttery

From Off the Kuff, Kuffner in his weekend link dumps posts stuff without comment, and I'm taking silence as assent.

The weirdest of a couple of weeks ago? He's got a piece from some sort of "population growther." The piece is wrong by not looking at climate change, which we can't "growth" out of, for starters. Interestingly, per the tagline at end, philosopher friend Massimo Pigliucci's sometime co-author Maarten Boudry, but for different reasons, is also a growther. The reasons aren't that much different, and no, Julian Simon hasn't proven Paul Ehrlich wrong. Boudry also doesn't mention climate change, nor do either mention economic equity vs inequity in the world and how that would deplete resources even more. Neither mentions things like species extinction, either.

The reality of what climate change is likely to do to food supply is right here

The piece also, to the degree it touches on immigration, is clueless. Some Hein de Haas is needed.

More alarmingly, Boudry's piece first appeared in Quillette. And, the first piece? Site founder Jason Crawford, in discussing why he founded it, cites favorably libertarian economist Tyler Cowen, then Peter Thiel! (Guess Kuff doesn't read fine print.) In addition, Crawford, tho not the wife-murderer, is full of bullshit of the solutionist variety, as Yevgeny Morozov would call it, or salvific technologism, as I do. His own website shows he's a tech-neoliberal, who are just the type of people big on that.