The Senate: The Vestigal House?

We often hear the United States Senate referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” That expression was coined by the fifteenth President of the United States, the otherwise unremarkable James Buchanan. You could say that the United States Civil War was just Abraham Lincoln cleaning up the mess Buchanan left behind. Since Buchanan was himself once a Senator, calling a body of which he was a member “the world’s greatest” anything smacks of shameless self-promotion.

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Artificial Intelligence: Don’t Buy the Hype

This is supposedly the dawning of the age of artificial intelligence. We have cars that can drive themselves, sort of, and thermostats that can adjust to our daily patterns, more or less. Google just showed off a technology where the electronic “assistant” inside your phone can call a restaurant or a hair salon to make an appointment, and the person on the other end of the call won’t even know they’ve spoken to a piece of software.

Now we’ve all seen enough movies to know what happens next. Next, HAL murders the rest of the Discovery crew, then Skynet becomes self-aware, and, boom, we have Terminators.

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The Power to Make War

In 1967, Under-secretary of State Nick Katzenbach was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the progress of United States military operations in Vietnam. When Senator Fulbright expressed concern that President Johnson was waging war in Southeast Asia without the authority of a Congressional declaration of war, Katzenbach scoffed that this constitutionally-enumerated power reserved to the legislature was obsolete in the nuclear age, when a president might have mere minutes to respond to a Soviet missile launch.

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An Animated Debate

If you want to start a spirited debate among a group of technology-savvy young males, wait for one of them to mention the graphics file format known as the “GIF.” They’ll pronounce it with either a soft G, like “giraffe,” or a hard G, like “gift.” Whichever pronunciation they use, correct them by insisting the other one is proper.

Trust me. It’ll be hilarious.

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Words Have Meaning

If you pay attention to progressive media, you will hear people use the term “corporatist” to describe politicians who accept generous bribes, I mean campaign donations, from large corporations, usually via dark money contributions to their SuperPACs. In this use of the word, “corporatist” means “wholly owned by and beholden to corporate interests.”

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