Weekend Quick Takes

Short briefs of news of note this weekend…

DNC Vice-Chair Wants to Ban Books

Thinking Man wrote of the radicalization of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) when U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn became a vice-chair of the party. For all of the talk about battling racism, Ellison is an example of racism that some excuse. You may recall that Ellison had previously supported and worked for the Nation of Islam, the radical group headed by Louis Farrakhan, who is known for, among other things, his rampant anti-Semitism.

Rep. Ellison is at it again, and put on display the intolerance of those who say that advocate for tolerance. Ellison wrote a letter to Amazon, the online retail giant, asking them to ban the sale of books from any group that is considered a ‘hate group’ (of course he did not put the Nation of Islam in that category-some hate groups are ok, apparently).

There are things that most of us would find repugnant.  And we would differ on some of those things. Yet a foundation of the country is freedom of speech and the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that speech, even hateful and repugnant speech, is protected and a free society is one where no one is allowed to choose what can be said and what can’t be said.  True, it is a different proposition for a business to sell things that are offensive and Amazon has the right to do what it wants. Yet it is telling, not only that Ellison is trying to ban books, but which ones and which groups he does not put on his ‘ban list’.

A Road Trip Via Airplane

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Senator from Missouri who is running for re-election this year, announced that she was hitting the road in an RV to tour the state as part of her campaign to reach voters across Missouri.  The RV, named Big Blue by the campaign, was unveiled late in May by McCaskill, who said she was “very excited to hit the road” in it.

But the road can be long…   McCaskill forgot to mention the role her private plane played on the trip. The aircraft is a single-engine turboprop valued on her financial disclosure forms at more than $1 million dollars.

McCaskill tried to hide the use of her plane. In a 2017, the senator asked the Federal Aviation Administration to block radar tracking information on her plane from being publicly broadcast on the internet. The request blocks the ability to track her plane on websites such as FlightAware.com. (who knew there were tech geeks who just track flights for fun and then load the information onto the internet?!  But we digress…)

Websites such as ADS-B Exchange, however, use a different type of data transmission to make tracking information available to the public. Community members of the crowd-sourced website upload the ADS-B information broadcast by the plane and upload it straight into the site’s free database, which can in turn be used to track planes.

So apparently, “hitting the road” in the RV also meanings “flying the friendly skies” in her personal plane.

Even Water Isn’t Free

State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) has proposed a tax on tap water, ten cents on every thousand gallons used. Some politicians never miss an opportunity to tax (so they can turn around and show how much money they give to this group or that one), and this is one more example.  Of course, this would be on top of a pubic franchise tax that the state has on every water utility and its customers.

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