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Whiskey & Wry — free society

33. Blame Canada

A familiar election cry: “If X wins, I'm moving to Canada!” But, if X = Trump, then a migration becomes more likely. And Canadians are wriggling cold toes in anticipatory delight at a possible flood of greenbacks and celebs. The “Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins” site was so inundated by American queries that immigration lawyers now offer free advice to ride an expected bonanza of business. Nova Scotia's official travel agency, Destination Cape Breton, is assisting the beleaguered website which was intended as a prank. The dating service Maple Match is now arranging for unwed Canadians to hook up...

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27. Monkeying around with H.L. Mencken

On February 3, 1931, the Arkansas legislature passed a motion to hold a group prayer to save the soul of the journalist H.L. Mencken. The proximate cause were three columns by Mencken in the Baltimore Evening Sun in January. Describing Arkansas as “perhaps the most shiftless and backward state in the whole galaxy,” he dubbed it “the apex of moronia.” Mencken shrugged off the prayer session, saying, “I didn’t make Arkansas the butt of ridicule. God did.”Mencken was especially harsh on the religious southeastern and south-central states, coining the phrase “Bible Belt” to describe them. There, aggressive evangelicals often used government to...

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21. Corn-Pone Opinions

In Corn-Pone Opinions, a posthumously published, autobiographical essay, the great Mark Twain addressed the timeless question of how people come to form their beliefs. As a child, Twain served as an audience of one for the private performances of a young, neighboring slave whom Twain regarded, at the time, as "the greatest orator in the United States." One of the skilled rhetorician's comments had a profound and lasting impact on the "Father of American Literature"; to wit: "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what is 'pinions is." Here, Twain's wise idol hits...

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20. Bi-partisan Builders of the Surveillance State

If you applaud Edward Snowden's courage in revealing the vast, surveillance apparatus monitoring the activities of American citizens, this year's presidential election offers little hope for a restoration of constitutional safeguards against such "Orwell-ianism." Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two major-party candidates for President, are avid surveillance hawks, and their expressed views on this weighty issue offer little hope for civil libertarians. Since June 2013, when Mr. Snowden first divulged the extent of domestic spying in the US, Mrs. Clinton has been a vocal critic of this conscientious whistle-blower. The Democratic nominee has maintained that Mr. Snowden should have...

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11. Bathroom Battles and Property Rights

Every election year, the American citizenry is treated to its own national "Theater of the Absurd." Establishment politicians and media assiduously avoid fundamental questions on the key issues of our day — for instance, the wisdom and sustainability of a profligate, world-straddling empire, the threat to constitutional liberties posed by an ever-expansive surveillance/police state, or the impoverishing effects of corporate-state cronyism, central banking, and a suffocating legal and regulatory regime. Instead, we're presented with a host of 'distraction issues' that divert attention from a status quo supported by both major parties, while also creating and encouraging conflict between various factions. "Divide et impera." (Divide and...

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