Matthew DesOrmeaux

Recent Posts From Matthew DesOrmeaux

Snowden goes Hollywood, then goes live

-

Usually when an internet video feed cuts out, the people watching sigh, grumble, or curse their bad luck. When the live feed cut out from Edward Snowden being interviewed after the Fathom Events early preview of Oliver Stone’s film depicting the last few years of Snowden’s life, audiences around the nation gasped. Had they finally caught him? Did a drone strike take out his secret hideout in Russia, as the movie showed happening to anonymous targets via video in an NSA base?

Fortunately not, or unfortunately depending on your opinion of the now world famous surveillance leaker. A few seconds later when he came back on screen the power of Hollywood was proven viscerally. A simple computer glitch had rendered audiences horrified in the immediate context of such a dramatic film.

And dramatic it was. Stone is undeniably an auteur behind the camera, whether you agree with his perspective of his subject or not. And he chooses those subjects carefully. Snowden himself was portrayed expertly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who took on his speech, mannerisms, and look brilliantly, sometimes making me forget it was even a fictional portrayal at all.

jgl

In order to add a personal dimension to the cold, heartless world of data analysis and global surveillance, Stone focused on how the things Snowden learned, and hid until ultimately revealing them, affected his relationship with his still-girlfriend Lindsay Mills, played prosaicly by Shailene Woodley, and even his own health. After the film, Snowden himself lamented that the press had treated Mills as an “ornament” in his story, not knowing what else to do with an attractive woman in this kind of discussion. Stone’s film did a lot to give a relatable personality to someone most of us have only ever seen in photos published to add additional controversy to Snowden’s story.

Trumpism’s straw man war against “political correctness”

-

Skittles. It had to be Skittles.

In his 18-month quest to ruin everything that is good and laudible about America, Donald Trump’s campaign has finally come for my favorite fruit-flavored candy. And not even the apocryphal pastel ones.

Yesterday Donald Trump Jr tweeted an analogy comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles.

It’s not a new analogy, but it’s also not even close to proportionally correct either. In order to accurately compare the threat of Syrian refugees to the total US population, you’d need more than 3 billion Skittles in a swimming pool. And now I’m hungry.

There’s a more fundamental problem with Trump’s argument, though. A “politically correct agenda” is not what drives our refugee program. We accept refugees from war-torn countries because we are a good and moral people, and it is the right thing to do. Especially when we’ve been meddling in those wars and making them worse.

Justice reform bills face crucial hurdles in the House

-

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jason Pye of FreedomWorks discuss justice reform proposals.

Justice reform is a rare cross-partisan issue that unites conservatives, libertarians, and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, in agreement. But as with anything that comes before Congress, except perhaps naming post offices, it takes blood, sweat, and tears, sometimes literally, to get these vital policies passed.

Several justice reform bills are in the midst of that process in the House right now, possibly moving to final floor votes this month.

The Sentencing Reform Act was introduced last year and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a final vote to move to the floor. This bill, HR3713, would allow local criminal courts to reduce federally mandated minimum sentences for nonviolent charges and also reduces the mandatory minimum sentences for other crimes, especially those committed while in possession of a firearm. Why should people get punished more harshly for exercising but not abusing their Second Amendment rights?

The CBO has calculated that the Sentencing Reform Act alone would save almost $800 million from the federal budget.

A taco truck on every corner: Threat or promise?

-

After Donald Trump’s hysterical, radical, authoritarian immigration speech this week, it was going to be a challenge for his supporters to defend him in the press. So when the founder of Latinos for Trump went on MSNBC he probably should have avoided calling his culture “imposing” and threatening there would be taco trucks on every corner of America if it weren’t stopped.

Promise?

taco1

If you’re going to fearmonger to try to get American voters on your side, try something other than tacos. Tacos are delicious. They’re quickly becoming America’s favorite food. Salsa has already eclipsed ketchup as the most popular condiment in the country. The main dish can’t be far behind.

Nor should it be.

taco2

But maybe that means this Trumpkin is right! Maybe tacos are so popular because Hispanic culture is “imposing” its will (and spectacular food) on us.

There’s a simpler explanation - tacos are delicious. They’re like a sandwich, but with less nonsense and more fun. The lower carb option of a tortilla instead of bread is hard to pass up, as the post-sandwich wrap phenomenon of the last couple decades has shown.

This one small debate rule change could upend the two party system…which is why it won’t happen

-

Ever since it became clear that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, clamor has increased to allow other candidates into the fall debates. Clinton and Trump are the two least popular nominees in modern history, so people are thirsty for alternatives.

Recent polls have found huge majorities of voters want third party candidates to be included in the debates, regardless of who they are. But the current rules created last year, before the Clintrump circus was ordained, make that almost impossible.

Candidates have to be on the ballots of enough states to win an electoral college majority, but they also have to have an average of 15% in five national polls selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It’s this last requirement that will keep third parties out of the game, but it doesn’t have to be.

-

The five national polls selected by the Commission are among the highest in which Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson polls, but they are also the ones that do 4-person polling most often. That means some of his potential support gets split with Green nominee Jill Stein. If those polls only asked Clinton-Trump-Johnson and Clinton-Trump-Stein instead of Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, both third party candidates would probably find more support and increase their chances of making the all-important 15% threshold.

The danger of crying wolf on religious liberty

-

For the past few years religious liberty has been a litmus test issue for conservatives, helping them decide who they can support politically and who they can’t. As a fundamental First Amendment freedom, they’re right to make it that important to their politics. But the religious liberty that’s been legislated across the country since 2013 is all too often a smokescreen for something else, and that threatens the protection of actual freedom of religion when it’s needed.

Last week a Clemson University administrator ordered a man, pictured above, to stop praying on campus. Clemson and many other universities across the country have implemented “free speech zones” that non-students are required to use for protests or other First Amendment activities. Apparently that includes prayer.

This is an actual and egregious restriction of religious freedom. Congress, and by extension taxpayer-subsidized universities, cannot restrict the free exercise of religion. Clemson can’t tell students or non-students when or where they may pray on campus. I doubt almost anyone would disagree.

The newest presidential candidate has a surprisingly clear path to victory

-

Since many #NeverTrump voters are apparently sticklers for one or two issues that Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson can’t satisfy, a new conservative savior announced his candidacy for president today. Evan McMullin apparently has the backing of some big Republican donors to get his campaign rolling. The initial reaction of most (“Who?”) is understandable, but the relative unknown may actually have a better path to victory than even Johnson.

Sounds crazy, right? There’s plenty of reason to think so. McMullin is a total unknown outside political wonk circles. He’s never run for or held elected office before and thus has no name recognition. Unlike even a third party longshot like Johnson, he has no existing party or campaign apparatus, no fundraising history, and won’t be on most state ballots.

He may not need to be, even to win.

There’s one key state missing from that list: Utah. McMullin is a BYU alumnus and a Mormon (and conservative), which automatically gives him a head start in the state.

CNN’s second Libertarian Town Hall sets the record straight for Johnson and Weld

-

After CNN’s first Libertarian Town Hall for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld in June, the consensus among at least the rightist pundit class was that it was an awkward at best introduction for the ticket to the national television audience. In the sequel that aired Wednesday night, both former governors made a much more refined, articulate case for what they term their “down the middle” approach between the two major parties.

In the typical analysis, libertarians are seen as more socially permissive than Democrats, being more permissive on drugs and prostitution for example, and more fiscally restrictive than Republicans, seeking to cut government and rely on free market even more. This usually puts the Libertarian Party at the fringe on both spectrums.

Gary Johnson’s constitutional vision for non-divisive religious liberty

-

There was bound to be a schism between Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and his more conservative and right-libertarian potential supporters before the election. This week it finally came, on the controversial but vital issue of religious liberty.

In an interview with Tim Carney at the DNC, Johnson set off alarms by calling the issue, especially in the context of the cake debates, a “black hole”.

Here’s the issue. You’ve narrowly defined this. But if we allow for discrimination — if we pass a law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion — literally, we’re gonna open up a can of worms when it come stop discrimination of all forms, starting with Muslims … who knows. You’re narrowly looking at a situation where if you broaden that, I just tell you — on the basis of religious freedom, being able to discriminate — something that is currently not allowed — discrimination will exist in places we never dreamed of.

As a fellow left-libertarian, I think Johnson is exactly right, but read the whole thing for the full context. His campaign further clarified what he meant when asked by Taylor Millard.

The governor’s reference is to the fact that when you go down the path of legislating religious liberty, with the best of intentions, there is a very real risk of creating unintended consequences.

It is not in any way a suggestion that religious liberty and freedom is not essential — and protected in the constitution.

Trump crosses the line from troll to potential criminal

-

Throughout the primary and now the general election campaign, observers have asked which line Trump crosses will finally doom his campaign. He launched his campaign by calling Mexicans criminals and rapists, and survived. He bragged about the size of his genitals in a televised debate, and survived.

The Onion perfectly summarized this widening gyre in December.

onion

I realize it’s getting cruelly ironic at this point, but I think this time Increasingly Nervous Man (read: me) might be right.

At a rally today, the GOP nominee for president literally asked a foreign government to hack American infrastructure to reveal classified information to him to affect our elections. This is not just an offensive or crude remark; it’s treason.

Matthew DesOrmeaux

authoridad's picture
Contributor

married, father of two, atheist, libertarian, introvert.

@authoridad


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.