By fire be purged
There are just so many things we take for granted that we really should remember to thank the government for. After all, without the government, who would build the roads? Without the government, who would remove the snow from the government roads? Without the government, who would put out fires? Without the government, who would block the road when a government snowplow catches fire outside the fire station, and the fire department isn’t equipped to deal with it?
The doctor is out
You knew it was coming, friends: Doctor President Barack H. Obama, PhD is no more. We’ll talk about that loud new gentleman in a bit; for now, I’d like to focus on the accomplishments of our last Dear Leader. Specifically, I’d like to focus on the lovely way he refused to go gentle into that good night without blessing us with another science article in a peer-reviewed journal, this time the esteemed, eponymous Science.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: hey, his last peer-reviewed science article was a huge scam, but that couldn’t possibly happen twice, could it? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader, but if you’d like a hint, your ever-so-humble narrator is only too happy to oblige: it’s about climate change. Do you detect the fine aroma of intellectual dishonesty wafting from the pages? It is a mystery!
In the climactic scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a dying Spock explains to Captain Kirk why he sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise. "The needs of the many," he famously quips, "outweigh the needs of the few, or of the one." Many libertarians hate that scene. Spock, you commie! Don’t you know that interpersonal utility comparisons are impossible? You’re from the future! This, I think, displays a fundamental confusion; Spock is not making an interpersonal utility comparison. Spock is dealing entirely with his own value scale. He is saying that, to him, the lives of his friends and crewmates are more important than his own. As such, he is not behaving "governmentally" at all; it becomes a noble act, not a tyrannical one.
The distinction, of course, is one of ownership. Spock is (at least presumably) a self-owner, who can elect to use or dispose of himself in any way he sees fit. For him to sacrifice himself in this manner is not in any way a violation of anyone’s rights. In contrast, we would view the same scene as monstrous if Spock were to order Chekhov to make the sacrifice instead — well, okay, maybe not if it were Chekhov, but like Scotty or McCoy or somebody we care about. You get it. But what’s the difference, really? In both cases, one man dies, and everybody else lives. Why is one noble and the other vile?
Golden slumbers fill your eyes
There is nothing so bizarre that the mainstream press won’t report it — so long as they think it’ll make Donald Trump look bad, anyhow. To wit, Buzzfeed simply couldn’t help itself; in a move that it desperately wants the American people to believe is just normal, everyday journalistic practice, Buzzfeed’s highly-paid staff of journalismic integrisaurs published this report — without verifying it at all — which is riddled with typographical and factual errors, reads like something written by a less-than-especially-bright teenager, and, above all, makes the following startling claim:
According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.[everything sic]
It seems like the internet just can’t stop crying embarrassing crocodile tears about how 2016 was allegedly just the worst year ever. In most cases, of course, this is a thinly-veiled whinge about how St. Hillary Clinton became a martyr for the cause of universal perfect justice when the Soviet Union forcibly installed some sort of orange space Hitler as the new dictator of the United States, which bone-brained rubbish you must forgive me for not treating with the gravity it deserves. On the other hand, we also have classic libertarianishes like Reason’s Nick Gillespie, who, amidst all the me-too hand wringing, can point to one thing about 2016 that was just super.
If there was anything good that happened in 2016 — a year filled so much awfulness [sic] that even the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series after a thousand-year drought — it was [Gary Johnson’s] ramshackle campaign to bring a very different way of thinking and talking about national politics to America.
In a just world, we could just assume that Gillespie is congratulating the Cubs for being the best thing in 2016 — in which he would be correct — and then all go have pie. In this fallen world in which we live, however… suffice it to say things are about to become maudlin.
With thunderous applause
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past few months, it’s that you just can’t trust them Russkies. I turned my back on them for one minute, and bam! They stole all of my elections. If you’re anything like me — and you know you are — you’re sick and tired of having your precious, hard-earned elections stolen by the Reds, but what can you do about it? Nothing, that’s what! Oh, if only someone from the government were here to help!
Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that’s "vital to our national interests," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering.
Lately, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with goofballs like Peter Van Buren and Robby Soave — goofballs who have persuaded themselves that there exists a "right to free speech" that libertarians must defend. This has put them in the awkward position of supporting governmental expropriation of private property in the former case, and saying word miasma like "the university is failing to cultivate an environment of maximally free speech" in the latter. Both could have been avoided with a few moments’ reflection, since the abstract "right to free speech" is a nonexistent right that finds no support in libertarian theory.
This seems unusual to people, since we’ve all had it drilled into our heads since childhood that the right to speak freely is the cornerstone of democracy and apple pie and mom and so on. Now, there’s a sense in which this sort of free speech rah-rahing is correct; it is the case that the government should not be policing speech, and if what you mean by "the right to free speech" is simply that the government doesn’t lock you in a box for saying unapproved things, then, sure, libertarians will get behind that. Pretty much anything that involves fewer people locked in government boxes is a winner with us. That’s not the way libertarians use the term "rights," though; since we have this stubborn tendency to view the state as illegitimate, we tend not to view rights as reprieves granted to us through the forbearance of our overlords.
The mincing communists over at Salon gave all four of their readers a bad case of the vapors a few weeks ago by calling on Twitter to ban Donald Trump. Their reasoning? He’s, like, rude and stuff. This sort of clueless line-toeing is par for the leftist course with Salon, to be sure, and I don’t intend to waste my time or yours refuting it, not least because I think it would be quite frankly hilarious if Twitter were to ban a popular celebrity loudmouth who will, in a few weeks, also be the sitting president of the United States.
No, what I’ve come to talk to you about today is Peter Van Buren, who is normally a reliable foreign policy commentator, but has apparently acquired some type of Trump Derangement Syndrome Derangement Syndrome, as he’s written an entirely madcap article entitled "Ban Trump, Twitter, and Free Speech" in which he seems to claim that the First Amendment compels the government to nationalize Twitter. You think I’m making that up? You tell me:
Ain’t no rest for the wicked
Bumbling Bees loves you. You know that. And Bumbling Bees is good to you. Other web sites are phoning it in this time of year — wasting your time with boring retrospectives and "Best of 2016" lists, as though said lists don’t begin and end with the utter annihilation of Hillary Clinton. Well, you’ll have none of that here. We’ll be soldiering boldly onward into 2017, because the weird don’t rest, so neither do we.
And neither does Slate, which has just published the absolute worst opinion piece of the year. I know what you’re thinking: mighty bold claim for January second. Still and all, I am confident this piece will survive 363 days of challenges. It’s a piece about a big problem with self-driving cars. Now, let’s play a little game. Take a minute or so and think about what this piece could possibly be saying. What could be this big problem with self-driving cars? What mind-bogglingly stupid thing do you suppose Slate has chosen to ring in the new year? Think of the dumbest thing you can possibly imagine, and then check and see how close you were.