Mr. Ramirez, would you please introduce our weekly feature?
Thank you, sir.
Well (finally) the oddsmakers have dropped the probability of President Hillary Clinton in 2021 below our 2% threshold. Are we safe? Maybe! She's (as I type) at 1.6%. Other longshots with reported odds are Mike Pence (1.0%), Nikki Haley (0.8%), Cuomo (0.5%) and Bernie (0.5%).
And so it's down to Bone Spurs vs. Asthma:
Warning: Google result counts are bogus.
You may be wondering: what about the Libertarians? Well, they picked
Jo Jorgensen, someone presentable and sane enough to be a professor at
And for Vice President they picked a guy named Spike Cohen, which inspired a Tweet.
People will never, and I mean NEVER, take the Libertarian Party seriously until it takes itself seriously.— James R. Harrigan (@JamesRHarrigan) May 27, 2020
Exhibit A. pic.twitter.com/qLlYTVQVwH
I'd really like to vote for Jo. I'm not sure I can vote for Spike as the heartbeat-away guy.
Michael Huemer has a number of handy tips in this article:
How to Spot a Liar.
Here are the first three (out of thirteen):
- Independent sources: This is obvious,
but it is the main way of identifying liars: if a person says
things that conflict with information from independent (reliable)
sources, then that person is probably a liar.
- Corollary: if you’re not sure whether person S is to be trusted, pick some factual claim S makes that is easily verifiable or refutable, and look it up. If S lies (or is wrong) about that, then S probably lies (or is wrong) about a lot of the things that you haven’t checked on.
- If you know that S lies to other people (e.g., because S has told you about these lies), then you should assume that S lies to you too.
- Intrinsic implausibility: If S frequently says things that have very low prior probabilities, then S may be a liar (or just bad at thinking).
It's a pretty good list, but I suspect most Pun Salad readers are pretty good at spotting liars already. Skipping down to Michael's bottom line:
The above points are not exactly amazing discoveries — most of that is very obvious. That’s why I am amazed that so many seem blissfully (or miserably?) unaware of them. I’m amazed, for example, that “prosperity gospel” preachers get rich, just by telling their congregants that if they give money to the preacher, God will reward them. I mean, it’d be hard to think of a more obvious scam.
Now, I know that most people are dumb, but you would expect them to have some sort of evolved “cheater-detection” instincts that would catch at least the very most obvious lies.
In the case of politicians, part of the problem is that talking about politics lowers people’s IQ by about 30 points; it’s like an instant lobotomy. So if some political figure or commentator is, or pretends to be, on “your side” politically, then suddenly you become the most naive mark.
In conclusion: try not to be mind-bogglingly gullible.
Good advice. Only could be improved by distinguishing between liars, bullshitters (an important distinction), and those who are genuinely delusional.
- Independent sources: This is obvious, but it is the main way of identifying liars: if a person says things that conflict with information from independent (reliable) sources, then that person is probably a liar.
It seems so long ago that we were all outraged by Joe Biden's
condescending “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Not to engage in whataboutism or anything, but Jay Nordlinger
from last year: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Not too different.
The disloyal Jew is an old trope.
Democrats made a big deal of Trump’s remark, Republicans are making a big deal of Biden’s. That’s the way it works. A tiny group of people, I suppose, object to both statements.
The bottom line (as Biden would say): Although we can discern patterns, race is not destiny, ethnicity is not destiny, religion is not destiny, when it comes to voting, etc., and a person is entitled to be bound only by conscience.
The nice thing about being a white male Christian* is that no decent person will demand you vote for them due to your racial/sexual/religious solidarity.
Trump also made noises over the week about bending Twitter to his
will. I wish he were the only one. James Pethokoukis asks the
How much power do we want to give Washington to decide what’s on social media?
("Zero. Does zero work for you?")
It might be the most important federal law that you’ve never heard of. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act protects internet companies from the actions of their users and allows them to moderate content. As Jeff Kosseff, assistant professor of cybersecurity law at the US Naval Academy, writes in “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” that seemingly simple provision “created the legal and social framework that we know today.” And as Kosseff added in an interview with me last year, “I can’t think of any other single law that has had more impact on the internet as we know it today.”
No Section 230? Well, you can probably forget about an internet that’s heavily driven by sharing and user-generated content. Definitely a blander and more boring place to visit. More one-way communication. Any effort to significantly change or limit this legal protection — as President Trump apparently wants to do — should require a really good reason.
What a concept! Government needing a good reason for arbitrary power grabs! Quaint! Welcome to the 21st century, James.
At the Technology Liberation Front, Adam Thierer reveals
The Surprising Ideological Origins of Trump’s Communications Collectivism.
Various others have already documented the many legal things wrong with Trump’s call for greater government oversight of private speech platforms. I want to focus on something slightly different here: The surprising ideological origins of what Trump and his allies are proposing. Because for those of us who are old-timers and have followed communications and media policy for many decades, this moment feels like deja vu all over again, but with the strange twist that supposed “conservatives” are calling for a form of communications collectivism that used to be the exclusive province of hard-core Leftists.
To begin, the truly crazy thing about President Trump and some conservatives saying that social media should be regulated as public forums is not just that they’re abandoning free speech rights, it’s that they’re betraying property rights, too. Treating private media like a “public square” entails a taking of private property. Amazingly, Trump and his followers have taken over the old “media access movement” and given it their own spin.
This is the sort of thing that happens when your only bedrock principle is "winning."
The Techfreedom folks are also less than impressed:
Trump Order Would Violate the First Amendment in the Name of Free Speech.
Today, the White House released a long-rumored Executive Order entitled “Preventing Online Censorship.” The Order blasts social media services for alleged political bias against conservatives; calls on the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules gutting Section 230 immunity, which has been essential to nearly all websites; asks the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General to sue websites for being political biased; bars all federal agencies from buying ads on social media services deemed to be “biased;” and calls for the new federal and legislation.
“This is pure political theatre — and an affront to the Constitution,” said Ashkhen Kazaryan, Director of Civil Liberties at TechFreedom. “The Order is a hodgepodge of outdated and inapplicable precedents combined with flagrant misinterpretations of both the First Amendment and Section 230. The Order claims that Twitter and Facebook are the ‘the functional equivalent of a traditional public forum,’ but the Supreme Court has clearly rejected such arguments — led by none other than Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh.”
So, vote for Biden? Well… read this first: Joe Biden doesn’t like Trump’s Twitter order, but still wants to revoke Section 230.