Chickens, Roosts and Sidney Powell


The thing about free speech is that it can be abused. There’s no requirement under the First Amendment that you tell the truth. Except in the most extreme circumstances, stopping free speech before it is uttered – “prior restraint” – is usually unconstitutional. But there can be consequences afterwards. False statements about a person or…

Gohmert Goobers GOP Coup


Rep. Louis Gohmert (Shawn Thew / Pool via AFP – Getty Images file) Sen. Josh Hawley (Greg Nash/Pool via AP, File) There’s “stupid.” There’s “criminal.” And then there’s U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, Cretins) and Josh Hawley (R, Blind Amibition). Gohmert attempted to use the U.S. District Court to effect a political coup. It didn’t…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

2020 in Review: Politics


In what passes for tradition here at Wickersham’s Conscience, we spend the last week of each year thinking about the year that is ending, and making our wishes for the coming year. This blog post is firmly in that tradition: a look back at the kidney stone that was 2020 and a look forward to…

The Tower of Inequality, United States Edition


WC admires the work of New Zealand’s Toby Morris. In 2018, Morris updated his Tower of Inequality, his graphic demonstration of the income and wealth disparities in New Zealand. WC lacks Morris’s illustration skills, so he will borrow Morris’s superb drawing and offer approximately parallel data on how the United States plays out in comparison.…

A National Party of Cheaters and Crooks


Trump and his fellow Republicans tried to cheat in the 2020 general election by purging voter rolls, imposing unnecessary voter identification requirements and closing polling places, all with the aim of suppressing votes by Democrats. It didn’t work. Trump and his clown car lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manufacture fake evidence in Ukraine against Joe…

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Notes on “Originalism”


I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must…

Burning Down the House


Hold tight, wait ’til the party’s over Hold tight, we’re in for nasty weather There has got to be a way Burning down the house — Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House” WC doubts he is the only one who thinks he has fallen into a Talking Heads song. With no competent evidence – accusations…

Tales from Wasilla: Gavin Christiansen


WC was going to let the latest news from Wasilla pass without comment. But subsequent developments pushed WC over the top, so you get the sordid, violent tale of Gavin Christiansen. Gavin Christiansen was a a wannabe Libertarian candidate for Alaska’s State Senate Seat F, the Mat-Su Valley. He withdrew his candidacy, reportedly for “medical…

Meet the New Jim Crow


The old Jim Crow was the body of segregationist laws used largely (but not exclusively) in the Old South to suppress and disenfranchise African-Americans. The name “Jim Crow” has nothing to do with corvids; it has been traced to  “Jump Jim Crow“, a song-and-dance caricature of African-American people performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface. Jim Crow laws…

Can You Help WC with a Question?


Donald Trump has announced repeatedly that we have “turned the curve” in the pandemic, that cases are on the decline. The claim is patently false in fact. The only “corner” was back in September, when the incidence of new cases began a steep climb. New cases are at an all time high: 90,728 in a…

Is Remdesivir a Remedy?


WC is 70 years old, and by reason of age, if nothing else, highly interested in remedies, or at least treatments, for COVID-19. So WC was pretty intrigued when the Food & Drug Administration approved Gilead Lab’s remdesivir (the brand name is Veklury). Remdesivir is a previously developed general anti-viral. The drug was run through three…

Elect a Clown, Expect a Circus


In the faint hope that a Trump voter might change his mind, or that one of the endangered species of undecided voters might benefit, WC, on the eve of the presidential election, will undertake to summarize how President Donald Trump has done in meeting his earlier campaign promises. In a sensible universe, that’s how a…

There's a reason she looks uncertain

Call WC “Mr. Suspicious”


Thanks to some smart reporting by Juliet Eilperin and Desmond Butler at The Washington Post we now know that U.S. Geological Survey Director James G. Reilly had been suppressing a report on polar bear populations that has the potential to kill oil well drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Under pressure from the Post…

Idaho State Capitol, via Wikicommons

Why Does the Idaho Legislature Hate the Voters?


WC is convinced the Idaho Legislature, a body overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans, hates, distrusts and ignores Idaho voters. Exhibit A: The Legislature refused for years exercise the option of states to expand Medicaid coverage to make health care more widely available under the Affordable Care Act. Idaho voters went ahead and did it by the…

Margaret Bourke-White, Louisville Flood, 1937

Bourke-White: Lessons from History


Old age brings perspective, WC was told. Well, WC has achieved old age, and what it has mostly brought is a sadness that so little has changed. WC will illustrate his point with some photos from another of his heroes, Margaret Bourke-White, a great photographer of the first half of the 20th Century. Here’s her…

On June 2, members of the D.C. National Guard stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during ongoing protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

Notes on Win Mcnamee’s Photo


WC had never heard of photographer Win Mcnamee before this photo appeared in the Washington Post. His capture of the Washington, D.C. national guard members standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is among the most forceful images to come out of the protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. The photo…

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans, circa 1640

“E pur si muove” (“And yet it moves”)


Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was tried by the inquisition, charged with suspicion of heresy. He was forced to recant his theory that the Earth orbited the Sun. Catholic Church dogma said the Sun orbited the Earth. Legend has it that after he recanted, while still in the presence of the Inquisitor, he muttered, “E pur si muove“ (“And yet…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

Notes on Trump’s Attack on the WHO


President Donald Trump has attacked the World Health Organization, accusing it of “covering up the spread of the coronavirus” and failing to “share information in a timely and transparent fashion.” He has declared he is cutting off funding for the world’s public health body in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a transparent attempt…

Alaska’s Economy: Authored by Lemony Snicket


Lemony Snicket, for anyone who has been avoiding children’s literature the last twenty years, is the pseudonym for Daniel Handler. Snicket has written a highly successful series of thirteen children’s books with the master title, A Series of Unfortunate Events. And that describes Alaska’s economy, doesn’t it? The decline in crude oil production as Prudhoe Bay…