Trump’s October Fizzle: A Difference Which Makes No Difference

Photo by Wilson Afonso. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Photo by Wilson Afonso. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

When the New York Post began rolling out a series of stories on Hunter Biden’s supposed laptop and its supposed contents, I immediately thought of Stormy Daniels and the “hush money” incident.

“Everyone who cared about Donald Trump’s marital infidelities and sexual peccadilloes,” I wrote at the time, “already had enough — more than enough — information on the subject to reach the same conclusion that they would have reached from this particular incident. And it was therefore clear that nobody who still intended to vote for him as of late October 2016 DID care.”

Everyone — at least everyone who might care one way or another — knew by then that Donald Trump was a lying philanderer with a creepy, proprietary attitude toward women. The existence of one more extra-marital affair, one more non-disclosure agreement, one more cover-up, didn’t change any minds.

Ditto the Post‘s “blockbuster revelations” about Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Joe Biden.

Everyone who might care one way or another knew years ago that Biden the younger got a sweetheart job with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, because Biden the elder was vice-president of the United States. That was obvious — Hunter Biden had no particular qualifications for the job. His relationship with Joe Biden was the only plausible reason.

Everyone who might care one way or another also knew years ago the Joe Biden used his position as vice-president to intervene in Ukraine’s internal affairs, pressuring Kiev to fire a prosecutor  who had investigated Burisma, because Biden bragged about doing so on camera.

Everyone who might care one way or another about Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling or Joe Biden’s tolerance of (at least) or participation in (possibly) that influence-peddling knew about it long before early voting in the 2020 election began.

I could count the number of truly undecided voters left out there on the fingers of one thumb. Anyone who claims to be “undecided” at this late date is leaning hard toward the challenger, not the incumbent. Donald Trump has had four years to favorably impress them. If he hasn’t done so yet, he’s not going to do so in the next two weeks.

That’s why the whole thing is an October Fizzle rather than the October Surprise Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani had hoped it would be. “A difference which makes no difference,” wrote William James, “is no difference at all.” Supposed new evidence, supposedly proving what everyone who cared one way or the other already knew, is no difference at all.

If there’s a real news angle to this whole affair, that angle is in attempts by Facebook and Twitter to keep the Post‘s non-news from “going viral.” The Streisand Effect quickly foiled those efforts. Everyone who might care one way or another about the story quickly learned about it. And learned (if they didn’t already know) not to trust Facebook or Twitter.

If you haven’t voted yet, choose wisely between Libertarian Jo Jorgensen on one hand, or one of two creepy, handsy, senile, corrupt septuagenarians on the other.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


No, Google is Not a Monopoly

Photo by Caio from Pexels
Photo by Caio from Pexels

On October 20, the US Department of Justice — joined by 11 Republican state attorneys general — filed a civil lawsuit against Google, with the stated goal of stopping it from  “unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.”

The lawsuit is meritless on its face. Google is no monopoly. Nor could it plausibly become a monopoly without the full support of the global governments (the US is far from the first) who keep saying otherwise.

A “monopoly” is defined as “[t]he exclusive power, right, or privilege of dealing in some article, or of trading in some market,” (Webster’s 1913 edition) or “a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller” (Wordnet).

Google faces powerful and well-financed competitors in every market niche it serves. Some of the major ones:

Microsoft competes with Google in search (Bing vs. Google), email (Outlook vs. Gmail), search advertising (Microsoft Advertising vs. AdSense/AdWords), cloud applications (Office vs. Docs/Sheets/etc.), and computer operating systems (Windows vs. ChromeOS).

Apple competes with Google in desktop operating systems (OSX vs. ChromeOS) and phone operating systems (iOS vs. Android).

Facebook and Twitter, among many others, compete with Google in advertising.

Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, among many others, compete with Google in digital media.

Yes, Google does pretty well in those ongoing competitions, but there’s nothing wrong with that, nor any guarantee that it will always be so. The landscape is littered with the corpses of former supposed “monopolies” killed off by market competition, technological innovation, and changing consumer preferences, not by government action.

The supposed point of antitrust legislation is to preserve competition and consumer choice, not to slap down winners  and prop up losers.

I say “supposed point,” because the real purpose of antitrust legislation is, you guessed it, to slap down winners and prop up losers, at the expense of competition and consumer choice, and for the benefit of whichever political party needs a punching bag this week to put a shine on its peeling populist paint job.

If the US government is really interested in eliminating monopolies, it might start with the US Copyright Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office before moving on to Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice itself.

All those entities are ACTUAL monopolies, with which competition is legally banned, and which consumers are required by law to patronize and finance.

Google, not so much.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


COVID-19: Two Things About “The Science”

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels
Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

On October 4, three scientists published “The Great Barrington Declaration,” a statement named for the Massachusetts town in which they met.

Infectious disease epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, professor of medicine Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and professor of medicine Martin Kulldorff of Harvard Medical School call for a “focused protection” approach to overcoming COVID-19.  Versus the “lockdown/shutdown” efforts we’ve suffered through for the last seven months, they support letting the young and healthy get substantially back to normal life and start building herd immunity, while attempting to shield the most vulnerable among us: The elderly and those with particularly dangerous potential co-morbidities.

The Declaration now boasts more than half a million co-signers, ranging from eminent figures in the scientific, medical, and political communities, to interested regular citizens, and of course to the inevitable trolls (i.e. “Dr. Johnny Fartpants”).

Of course, popularity isn’t the same thing thing as scientific validity. The Declaration was instantly met with smug dismissal from the government and academic “experts” who recommended, and continue to recommend, the lockdown/shutdown approach.

I’m not a scientist. I don’t play a scientist on TV. I’m not going to try to fool you into thinking I’m an expert on the science surrounding COVID-19.

Nonetheless, I support the Great Barrington Declaration — not because of the specific approach it advocates, although I agree with that approach, but because it demonstrates two important truths about science that many seem to have lost sight of recently.

First, there is no such thing as “THE science.” Different scientists are reaching different conclusions about how COVID-19 spreads, how it might be prevented from spreading, who’s most at risk from it, etc.

All of those conclusions are necessarily tentative and provisional, and can change as new information becomes available. That’s how science works. More than a century after he first published it, physicists are still conducting experiments to test Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. COVID-19 has been on the radar for less than a year.

Claims of a “scientific consensus” on the pandemic are worse than false: They’re irrelevant. The truth is whatever it is, much of that truth remains to be discovered, and the percentage of scientists agreeing doesn’t tell us right from wrong. “This well-known scientist says it, I believe it, that settles it” isn’t respecting science, it’s practicing religion. Especially if the “scientist” in question is really just a bureaucrat in a lab coat.

Second, science can’t determine what we value or how much. Life involves trade-offs. How many millions have the “lockdown” mandates plunged into poverty? How many depressed individuals have finally given in to suicidal urges heightened by fear and confinement? How many businesses have shut their doors? We could end the pandemic in short order if we all starved ourselves to death. Would it be worth the cost? Science can’t tell us. Deciding what’s important to us isn’t its province.

Science holds, and deserves, an honored place in society. Turning it into a state religion damages both it and us.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.