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Archive for October, 2010

Voting Fraud OK’d by the 9th Circuit

Voting irregularities have begun popping up, no surprise there. In North Carolina and Nevada, early voters have encountered ballot machine glitches that favor Democrats in hotly contested races. In Troy, N.Y., and Daytona Beach, Fla., police investigations into suspected absentee ballot fraud by elected government officials are underway. In Harris County, Texas, the voter registrar admitted that 20 percent of voter registration forms submitted by the liberal activist group Houston Votes had problems. The people who made this information public there are now being investigated by the Obama Justice Department and have been slapped with an ethics complaint by the Texas Democratic Party and a left-wing billionaire George Soros-funded group called Texans for Public Justice. The Justice Department refuses to prosecute organized disobedience of the MOVE act, but point out a violation of the law and they’ll be all over you, but not the lawbreaker.

In Yuma County, Ariz., election officials denied any fraud associated with thousands of requests for “permanent early voter list” status submitted en masse by open-borders group Mi Familia Vota (a social justice satellite group of the Service Employees International Union). But election officials admitted that some 6,000 out of 14,000 requests fielded by the Yuma County Recorder’s Office “were reviewed and rejected, under Arizona law, either due to the fact the request was a duplicate or the requestor was not eligible to vote in this election or within the jurisdiction.”

Liberals shrugged their shoulders at reports of illegal alien canvassers trolling for votes in Washington State. Not surprising, considering the radical goals spelled out by SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer and Mi Familia Vota founder Eliseo Medina, who views illegal alien amnesty as a powerful Democratic recruitment tool to capture millions of new progressive voters. By the way, who fixes the voting machines that are “glitching” in favor of the democrats? SEIU. You know, if there were a republican group that had its fingers all over voting fraud, the Obama justice department would be handing out RICO indictments left and right.

For as little as you have heard about that, you’ve heard even less about the Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and their incredibly poor decision the other day. The court invalidated parts of Arizona’s Proposition 200, a 2004 voter- approved initiative on registration for state and federal elections. A three-judge panel of the court, in a 2-1 decision, said the proof-of-citizenship requirement conflicted with the intent of the federal law aiming to increase voter registration by streamlining the process with a single form and removing state- imposed obstacles to registration. That law? Yup! Clinton’s Motor Voter Act.

People have rights, and those rights come with responsibilities. Conversely, people have responsibilities to the body politic, and those responsibilities come with rights. For example, we fought a revolution over the idea of no taxation without representation.

Nations also have rights, and responsibilities. Two of the indispensable and inalienable rights that nations have are the right to define and defend its borders, and the right to determine who is, and who is not, eligible to exercise the rights of citizens.

The court has, in this case, said that requiring someone to prove they are a citizen before allowing them to vote is illegal. The court has eliminated one of the traditional rights of a nation. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will uphold this decision, since it goes directly to what it means to be a nation.

The case was brought by voting rights and Hispanic advocacy groups, who were quick to say that “The decision is a warning to anyone who seeks to deter or prevent voter participation that the Constitution will protect our democratic process,” Thomas A. Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement. One would expect this from MALDEF. First, a misunderstanding of the nature of our government; second, a defense of the idea that anyone, regardless of citizen status, is entitled to participate in our elective process.

Oddly enough, this is the same court that decided that the other essential right of a nation, defending its borders, was not the province of any particular person or government, but only of the federal government. This is the circuit that seats the most infamous activist on the Ninth Circuit, Stephen Reinhardt, who in reaction to his frequent reversals by the Supreme Court once declared, “They can’t catch ’em all.”

Some enterprising young attorney should file a suit on behalf of every citizen, alleging that the failure to require proof of citizenship before allowing people to vote unconstitutionally dilutes each person’s vote. Such actions have been recognized as valid claims by the Supreme Court.

It appears to me that we, and by that I mean citizens, are now saddled with a government that is not indifferent to our rights in regard to voting, but is actively hostile to the notion that voting is a privilege of citizenship and a right that attaches to a citizen by the Constitution. The current occupants of the seats of power would do well to remember that the revolution was fought over the idea that citizens have an absolute right to an undiluted vote.

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Bad Economic Trends

October 27, 2010 1 comment

A few years ago, I read an article that said that in 1975, America produced 93 percent of what we consumed. Today, that figure is down to less than 11 percent. Gary Indiana, once a proud steel town is now a vast wasteland, not as fortunate as Pittsburgh, which has reinvented itself as an arts town. And it’s not alone. Small town after small town has died as the myth of a “service economy” comes home. Maytag goes to Mexico; lumber is being harvested at bargain rates by the Japanese, who process it ten miles offshore and then sell it back to us. Coal mining is a dying industry, choked by government and cheap oil, with nothing American to replace the jobs. The American economy is in a shambles, with little hope of recovery, unless we make a couple of fundamental changes. Doubt it?

#1 Ten years ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, the United States has fallen to seventh.

#2 The United States once had the highest proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees in the world. Today, the U.S. has fallen to 12th.

#3 In the 2009 “prosperity index” published by the Legatum Institute, the United States was ranked as just the ninth most prosperous country in the world. That was down five places from 2008.

#4 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.

#5 The economy of India is projected to become larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2050.

#6 One prominent economist now says that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

#7 According to a new study conducted by Thompson Reuters, China could become the global leader in patent filings by next year.

#8 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. Approximately 75 percent of those factories employed at least 500 workers while they were still in operation.

#9 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#10 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

#11 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent.

#12 The television manufacturing industry began in the United States. So how many televisions are manufactured in the United States today? According to Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder, the grand total is zero.

#13 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

#14 Back in 1980, the United States imported approximately 37 percent of the oil that we use. Now we import nearly 60 percent of the oil that we use.

#15 The U.S. trade deficit is running about 40 or 50 billion dollars a month in 2010. That means that by the end of the year approximately half a trillion dollars (or more) will have left the United States for good.

#16 Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent.

#17 Today, the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that China spends on goods from the United States.

#18 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

#19 American 15-year-olds do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#20 Median household income in the U.S. declined from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009. That was the second yearly decline in a row.

#21 The United States has the third worst poverty rate among the advanced nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#22 Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

#23 U.S. government spending as a percentage of GDP is now up to approximately 36 percent.

#24 The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

Which one of those is good news? Right, none. The funny thing is, there will be those who read this and start pointing fingers, trying desperately to apportion blame. That will do nothing, except delay coming to agreement on a solution. With that in mind, here’s what I propose.

Prohibit foreign owned companies from obtaining mining, lumber, or other material leases of Americas natural resources. Only Americans should profit from American resources.

Prohibit government purchases of any foreign made product. Our government should buy American, and only American.

Place a duty on all products that were formerly made in America and have since moved to offshore production. Make the duty high enough that it makes economic sense to reimport the jobs.

Do likewise with all imported goods. America should be built with American labor, with American materials, and by American workers.

Make it profitable to make, buy, and sell American, to Americans first. Our policies should be aimed at making America as self-sufficient as possible, and only to worry about other countries secondarily. America’s business is the business of making America great.

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Money In Politics

It was reported a couple of weeks ago by various outlets, most notably those in Obama’s amen corner, that a large number of Americans were unaware that Obama’s tax policies had put up 8 dollars a week back into people’s pockets. In the same span of time, the left wing, led by Obama, has set up a constant cry about corporate and special interest group spending during the current election cycle. Ignoring for a moment the irony of the darling of the trial lawyers and the bankers and now the auto industry complaining about special interest money, let’s address their chimerical concern. Let’s talk about money and politics.

The left would have you believe that money, especially in politics, is the root of all evil. In reality, they believe that only right-wing money is bad. They raise no hue and cry over Soros, or AFSCME, or SEIU spending. But their real concern, they say, is that somehow the right wing is “stealing” the elections, by taking contributions from “furriners” and businessmen, attempting to subvert the truth, justice, and the American way that flows from the pure humanitarian hearts of the left.

The money that is really a problem in politics is tax money. And the solution to money in politics is to make the tax policies of the government, whether federal, state, or local, completely transparent. The laws are public, anyone can go read the IRS code, if they’re sufficiently masochistic. The same goes for those of you who live in states that tax income. The number of taxing bodies is equally public. In the county I live in, twice a year they send me a notice containing a list of everyone who makes a claim on the money I earn. With a little, or a lot, of work, one can figure out a fair amount of the byzantine regulations of the property tax structure.

But the three largest taxes, federal income, state income, and property taxes, do their work almost invisibly to the average person. Ask someone about their taxes, and most of the time the answer comes back in terms of what happened on April 15th. I got x amount back, I had to pay x amount in. Very rarely do people discuss taxes in an absolute manner. They talk about withholding, and adjust their W-2s, and debate reductions in the marginal rates, but rarely does anyone look at their total tax bill.

So I thought about it, and I have developed a two-pronged solution to the problem of taxation and money in politics.

The first part of my solution is to eliminate withholding Make it illegal for any taxing entity, on any level, to withhold money from income based on a future tax obligation. The way it stands now, withholding is mandatory, and under-withholding is a regulatory offense that can incur penalties. Armed with that, the taxing authorities extort early payments on a debt that has yet to be determined, and they enjoy the use of your money interest-free. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that withholding desensitizes the taxpayer to the actual cost of government policies. We accept the depredations on our paychecks as a necessary concomitant of employment.

The solution to that problem is to require people to fend for themselves. Make withholding illegal, and require people to pay their taxes in one fell swoop, on or before April 15th. Make every single taxpayer write a check once a year. And this would apply to all levels. Two or three checks, for the total amount of taxes. And there is no reason this shouldn’t apply to social security and medicare/medicaid taxes, as well.

At the same time, make escrow accounts for property taxes illegal. Make the property owner responsible, once a year, for writing a check to the county to pay all taxes. And if one really wanted to be responsible, eliminate the bundling of taxing bodies on the property tax bill. Make the taxpayer write a check to each of the, in my area, 27 separate taxing bodies. Make this tax payment due once a year, on or before April 15th.

The second part of my solution would be to move election day to April 16th. Or, if you prefer, make tax payment day November 1st and leave election day as is. The key would be to tie tax payment day to election day. How many career politicians would be left, after writing increasingly large checks?

The left is concerned with where campaign money comes from. I think the really critical question is where does taxpayer money go. Withholding allows too many unscrupulous politicians a way to hide their raids on our pocketbooks. Eliminating withholding taxes would certainly bring a level of transparency that is sorely needed. And nobody’s against transparency in political spending, are they?

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A Plutocratic Scare Tactic

There was a column in the Washington Post the other day, that purported to explain how the Tea Party adherents were voting against their own interests, and backing the rich elite. He went on to say that all those people who contribute to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were an example of “the common man voluntarily giving money to make the rich richer. He went on, citing talking point after talking point, carrying the Democrat’s message that the rich are bad, and that they are stealing elections. The author of the column, Dana Milbank, and the rest of the kooky left, weaves a tapestry of rich and powerful professional politicians conspiring to erode our republic and replace it with a plutocracy. The problem is that it is a tapestry woven out of whole cloth, designed to frighten, not educate. So let me.

Milbank mentions a list of people that he suggest are the elite, not worthy of populist support. Linda McMahon, Ron Johnson, Rick Snyder, Carl Paladino, Rick Scott all make the rogues list of wealthy politicians. He also tosses in Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. So let’s see what these people have in common. McMahon has the wrestling money, Ron Johnson, manufacturing executive. Snyder is the former head of Gateway computers and Paldino is a developer. Scott made his money in health care, and Fiorina in HP.

Then he goes on to mock the well educated, claiming that guys like Joe Miller, Yale Law; Rand Paul, Duke Medical; and Ken Buck from Colorado, Princeton, are hardly anti-elite. Then he rags on the people working with the Tea Party, citing their previous political work as somehow being a bad thing. This from one of Obama’s (Columbia, Harvard Law)biggest supporters. Apparently, it’s OK to be elitist, if you’re a Democrat elitist. Like John Kerry, Yale, or Ted Kennedy, Harvard.

A couple of things got lost in Milbank’s screed. First, I wrote a blog about money and party affiliation a while back. The short version: money is spread roughly equally, but the democrats represent wealthier districts. Conservatives give more to charity. Read it for yourself at http://thedeadrepublic.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/rich-versus-poor-the-democrats-canard/ The second thing that got lost is how the people on Milbank’s hit list got wealthy. They earned it. Every single person on Milbank’s list worked for their money. Unlike the richest US Senator, John Kerry, who married into money, or Ted Kennedy, who was born into it.

Apparently, what Milbank really objects to is hard work and success, preferring the more patrician route of inheritance or marrying well. And this is really the core issue. The democrats would like to scare us, by claiming that the economy will fail, or health care will disappear, or the world will die, all to be averted if we would only vote for them. And then, if we don’t fall for that, they call us stupid. Obama came out and just last week and said that one reason democrats are faring poorly is that the administration didn’t explain things well enough. The Harvard guys get it, us dummies, not so much.

And the latest tactic: a plutocracy! This from the same people that insist on calling America a democracy. I’m surprised that they now pay attention to almost Aristotelian distinctions in forms of government. A plutocracy is a government by the wealthy. All democrats are now opposed to a plutocracy, as much as to a meritocracy, I suppose. But let’s look at some facts.

The U.S. Senate is the world’s most exclusive millionaire’s club. That includes both parties. I can’t think of a single poor Senator. The House is where you go to get rich. And the Presidency? Who was the last poor president? Hell, who was the last middle-class president? Lincoln? Tyler? Fillmore?

Since the dawn of America, politics has been played by the wealthy, for a couple of reasons. One is that they have the time for it. Most of the erst of us have to feed our families and clothe and house them. Another is that they have the money for it. Being a politician costs money. In some cases, it pays, but let’s leave that for another day. Washington and Jefferson weren’t impoverished men looking to start a class war; neither were the Lees or Hamilton. They were wealthy, prosperous men. Instead of castigating the wealthy, we should be encouraging the emulation of them.

Remember that poverty is not inherently noble, nor is wealth necessarily immoral. The founding fathers of this country were wealthy, white, and western civilized men. Just the way the left paints the Tea Partiers and republicans. One can only imagine how the media would have portrayed the revolutionaries of 1776. And finally, remember that these rich, powerful landowners were the men who pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” to the cause of American exceptionalism.

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Glenn Beck, The Elmer Gantry of the Right

I caught an episode of the Glenn Beck show on Fox News today. It was the end of something he had called his 40 days and 40 nights challenge. Not being privy to this challenge since I don’t watch the show, I had to go to his website (subtitled, “The fusion of entertainment and enlightenment”) to find out what that was about. It turns out that this challenge is a religious exhortation to act in certain ways and do certain things to prove that you love God and He loves you. And on today’s show, he had people coming on stage, confessing their sins, crying, begging forgiveness from the people they hurt, etc.

And then it struck me. Glenn Beck isn’t a newsman or journalist. He’s not an entertainer or commentator. He is a modern day Elmer Gantry. He is a Billy Graham or Oral Roberts knockoff, a contemporary Aimee Semple McPherson. He is a televangelist whose mission is to preach the good news. And it doesn’t matter what the news is, in particular, as long as he can draw an audience.

Doubt it? Watch a televangelist. Not the slick salesman types like Joel Osteen, but the “true believer” types. Watch as the televangelist quotes from various books and writes on a whiteboard, making all sorts of hidden connections. Then watch Glenn Beck. He draws all sorts of connections on a blackboard and quotes from a variety of sources, all pointing to a vast socialist conspiracy. Where Billy Graham rails about the devil, Beck rails against George Soros.

Where Oral Roberts gets people coming up the aisle, crying and waving their hands, seeking redemption or healing, Beck had the same thing on his show today. Both Roberts and Beck weep with their congregation; they hold hands, promising to be better, and grateful for the chance at salvation, whether religious or political.

And even the problems of Beck are similar to the problems of Roberts and Graham. Both Beck and his religious counterparts substitute feeling for thought. Whether it’s at a tent revival or on a tv stage, people shriek and shout, cry and wave, sing and dance. The problem is, there’s no thought. Everybody who attends these things becomes suffused with good feelings. But ask them a question about theology or economics, and the people are stymied, whether they’re Beck’s or Graham’s.

The other problem is that guys like Beck distract from serious political thought in the same way the Graham and Roberts distract from serious theological thought. Their adherents are content to have the feel-good, but are loathe to do the mental heavy lifting involved in difficult thought. And lest you think I am carrying a torch for the left, they have their own simplistic evangelicals like Ed Schultz doing the exact same things.

But people forget what becomes of a Graham or a Roberts. They wind up having presidents consulting them, and candidates courting their approval. Who can forget the pictures of Nixon and Graham praying together in the white house, less then fifteen years after America forced Kennedy to abandon his Catholicism? Or McCain and that guy in Virginia, whose endorsement McCain later had to reject?

I suggested a few years back that anyone who was an Obama supporter should read Warren Penn’s “All The King’s Men,” because I believe that Obama is Willie Stark. In the same vein, I believe that Beck supporters should watch the movie “A Face In The Crowd.” Glenn Beck is fast on his way to becoming a Lonesome Rhodes.

The problem is that both sides are fronting populist demagogues, who rely on manipulating people into using feelings instead of rationality.

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The Duty to Hate

The first and second paragraphs have been redacted. It appears that I have offended people, and I didn’t mean to. In its place:

I saw a quote about the level of hate and tolerance in our country the other day. The author of the quote had suggested that there was a great level of hate leveled at Muslims in America, and that we shouldn’t tolerate this hate. There are two problems with this quote.

The first is the suggestion that our country tolerates “so much hate.” If her complaint is limited to Muslim terrorists, then one is left to wonder why she said “so much,” instead of just hate? Is there some limit of acceptable hatred towards Muslims or terrorists? If so, how are we to know?

The second is her assertion that the “country” tolerates that hate. The country can either be the people or the government. If she meant the people, one wonders how she would encourage the people to stop “tolerating” hate? If she meant the government, it leaves the same question. We, as people, have the right to think as we wish. Neither the government nor the people have any right to pry into my mind. And, thanks to the first amendment, they can pry into what I say only in very limited circumstances.

The third, and perhaps most important, is her underlying assumption that hate is bad. It is an assumption that is all too familiar today, that hate and discrimination are somehow both undesirable, and it is our job to not fall prey to their insidious charms. I think that assumption is wrong, and more than wrong, dangerous.

Hate, like love, really only applies to people. One can’t rationally hate a rock, or a cow, or a hurricane. One can only hate other rational beings. We use the word “hate,” of course, but that’s just a figure of speech. Nobody really hates things, at least not sane people. Having said that, there are two types of hate.

The first species of hate is that which hates the person as a person, and wishes him or her evil. I believe, as I hope most people do, that this kind of hatred is wrong. No human being should hate another, or wish him to suffer. Our job is to reduce the suffering in the world, and to respect that inalienable dignity that inheres in each of us.

The second species of hatred is that in which the intense dislike is concentrated primarily on the qualities or attributes of a person, and only derivatively, upon the person himself. It is encapsulated, somewhat pithily, in the saying, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” This kind of hatred implies the reprobation of what is actually evil. For example, racism is an evil, therefore, I am justified in hating it. I am not, however, justified in hating a racist. It is a virtuous temper of the soul to hate evil. In other words, not only may I, but I even ought to, hate what is contrary to the moral law. Nobody in their right mind would assert that it was wrong to hate nazi-ism or fascism, or murder, or rape. But we also should be open to the possibility of redemption, either temporal or spiritual, of any particular malefactor.

Having said that, it is acceptable to wish for what normally would be bad, if by wishing for the bad, a greater good would occur. For example, it would be acceptable to wish for Hitler’s death if it would prevent 6 million deaths. Of course, this apparent zeal must not be an excuse for catering to personal spite or party rancor. I can’t seek vengeance or punishment against someone on the basis of some perceived good, if my real motive is personal hatred.

The problem is not that our country tolerates any, or too much, hate. The real problem is that we have forgotten how to hate correctly, and therefore have forgotten what we should hate. Once we figure out how and what to hate, this country will be in a much better position to fix our problems. The worst thing we can do is to believe the problem is hate itself. Remember what Chesterton taught us, “toleration is the virtue of a man with no convictions.”

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The Dying First Amendment

October 6, 2010 1 comment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Very familiar stuff. Or it should be, it’s the first amendment to our constitution. The part I’m concerned with today is the speech clause. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech…unless.

Unless it’s cross burning; unless the cross-burning is intended to be ideological. Or campaign financing. Or “hate crimes,” which is vaguely dissonant on its face. Or, in some cases, if it’s speech that minorities might find offensive. But, the first amendment continues to protect the important stuff, like nude dancing, and advocating the violent destruction of government property. It also used to prevent the government from setting up certain groups as deserving special treatment under the amendment. That may change, if today’s hearing was any indication.

Today was oral arguments involved a church, whose members picketed military funerals, and the father of a Marine killed in Iraq by adherents of a religion of peace. The church, and I use that word with some reservation, pickets the funerals of service members killed in the war, and says that the deaths are “God’s judgement” upon a sinful nation. They hold up signs with some offensive things written on them, and they shout out the same things at these funerals. It should be noted that the dead in these funerals are the rank and file, not policy makers, who never go to war anyway.

So the father in this case, was burying his son, when the Westboro Baptist Church show up. They start waving their signs, and yelling their inanities, while Mr. Snyder tries to peacefully bury his son. They yell about gays, and immorality, and abortion, and how these war deaths are God’s punishment for our sins. They are one rock thrown away from being our own little Taliban.

So Mr. Snyder, in an admirable show of restraint, waits until after the funeral and sues the church. Mirabile dictu, he wins. To the tune of 5 million bucks. The appellate court throws it out, Snyder appeals, and the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case. The question is, just how far does the first amendment go when it comes to dead military members and their parents.

Apparently, the Supreme Court justices are sympathetic to curtailing the amendment’s protection, suggesting they would like to rule for the father against church members who picketed his son’s funeral. While politics may create odd bedfellows, this case is certainly doing it. Justices Alito, Ginsburg, and Kagan all seem to be looking for something to hang a ruling on. Odd fellows indeed!

Margie Phelps, arguing the case for her family’s Westboro Baptist Church, said the message of the protests at military funerals and elsewhere is, “Nation, hear this little church. If you want them to stop dying, stop sinning.” It certainly puts one in mind of Warren Burger’s assertion that “the courtrooms of America all too often have Piper Cub advocates trying to handle the controls of Boeing 747 litigation.”

The justices asked repeatedly whether Snyder had any recourse. They seemed to be largely reluctant to embrace the idea that people are generally free to say what they will. That is, of course, free to speak as long as they follow the strictures mentioned above. If I had to guess, I would expect the Supreme Court to find rather narrow grounds to reinstate the verdict. And along with that, another nail driven into the coffin of American freedom.

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