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Writing a good screed, U.S. edition

2012-07-04 , , , Comment

In honor of Independence Day, I’d like to offer some suggestions for writing a good political screed:

  • Reference one or more of the founding fathers
  • Describe a false dilemma, register everything in black or white.
  • Invoke the Constitution without being specific
  • Refer to the Articles of Confederation, Federalist Papers, or the private writings of the founders.
  • Misrepresent 18th & 19th C. thinking. Opportunities exist in misunderstanding Natural Rights, Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, the Enlightenment, Objective Idealism, Romanticism. Get creative here.
  • Make a inappropriate reference to the Separation of Powers.
  • Make an appeal to Anti-Federalism, ex. States Rights
  • Claim an immediate threat to a politically powerful but diffuse group: small business, seniors, the wealthy, etc.
  • Warn of an existential threat to the nation:
    • external threats might include Europeans, China, brown-skinned people, trade imbalances, or Communism
    • popular internal threats are debt, minorities, Socialism, Liberalism, and moral hazard
  • Engage in one or both of Naturalistic and Moralistic fallacies.
  • Include numbers without scale, history, or comparison taken from unnamed sources.
  • Reach a false conclusion (or none at all).

Following these hints will all but guarantee that your posts to your favorite social media sites will grab attention. Have a good time!


Interesting bit of junk mail

2011-05-09 , , , Comment [3]

I received an anti-school tax mailing today with no identifier other than the U.S.P.S. permit information “PRSRT. STD. Permit #370, Albany, NY”. A few minutes of searching turns up that this permit also appears on publications by:

and many others.

I wonder what the connection is? Are they using the same bulk mailing company?

Update 20110510 —
The local newspaper picked up on it too… Phantom Call for No Vote


Open letter to the Cusick campaign

2008-10-12 , , ,

To whom it may concern:

Prior to this morning I did not have a strong opinion on the Albany County District Attorney


A Pilot Comments on Security Theater

2007-12-31 , , , Comments

The New York Times has a cogent opinion piece by an airline pilot on Airport Security Follies. Think about it.


Are you worried about civil rights yet?

2006-02-02 , , , Comments

Whatever you think of Cindy Sheehan’s clumsy, personal brand of activism, read [Glen Greenwald’s discussion]( of her arrest at the State of the Union speech.

Are you worried about civil rights yet?


Observation on getting out to vote

2005-11-10 , , , Comments

Here are some numbers for New York City:

  • According to the [NYC Department of Planning and the U.S. Census](, there are 8,168,338 people in the Big Apple.
  • The 2000 U.S. Census demographics show that about 89% of those people were over age 18, which means that there should be roughly 7 million potential voters.
  • The Board of Elections reported in March there were only 3,903,852 registered voters across the five boroughs.
  • On Wednesday, 1.2 million people voted.

The next time you hear someone grousing about or praising the city government you can feel comfortable that the odds are better than 3-1 that they didn’t have anything to do with it.


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