The Monday Morning Teaser

This week it became clear that President Obama will nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Anton Scalia, but we don’t yet know who. Meanwhile on the Republican side, a number of reasons/excuses for not considering that nomination were raised. I’ll discuss them, along with the history of election-year Court nominations, in the first featured post “Replacing Scalia (or not)”. It should be out by 8 EST.

Another topic of discussion this week was Apple’s decision to fight a court order instructing it to help the FBI crack the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. To some, Apple is siding with terrorists over public safety, leading Donald Trump to call for a boycott of Apple products. To others, Apple is championing the individual right to privacy against a snooping government. My intuition puts me on Apple’s side of this question, but the deeper I looked, the more I realized that neither position is as clear-cut as a first glance makes it appear. I’ll sum up what I found in “The Apple/FBI question is harder than it looks”. That should be out by 9.

In the weekly summary, there are election results to consider: the Democratic Nevada caucuses and the Republican South Carolina primary. Digging into the entrance/exit polls reveals stuff with implications beyond the simple vote totals. The falling price of oil has led to speculation about the long-term stability of oil-dependent dictatorships like Russia and Saudi Arabia. Right-wing groups are experimenting to see which burn-Bernie attacks work, just in case. And we’ll close with a pitch for making Canada the next president of the United States.

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  • Larry Benjamin  On February 22, 2016 at 7:29 am

    It may be premature to point this out, but one reason for falling oil prices is Saudi Arabia increasing production deliberately to keep prices low. From their standpoint, the impact of this policy is to delay the implementation of American fracking technology by making it unfeasible due to its cost. The recent availability of Iranian oil on the world market is also having an effect and inadvertently leading to the same result.

  • Nancy  On March 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    I am sorry to leave you this matter as a comment, but I don’t know where else to find help. I have followed your blog for over 4 years, but now there is a problem with me following you. It started a few weeks ago when I asked to have all responses to a certain post sent to me. Then, I decided I was getting overwhelmed with email, so I went to manage the account. I might have dropped my account. So, I recently (3-4 times), asked to follow you again. Over the course of about a week, I have gotten no confirming emails. And when I click on the place for help, wordpress wants me to log in, as if I am the blogger. Is there anything you can do to help me? Thanks!

    • weeklysift  On March 7, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      I can’t control the WordPress subscriptions, but there’s a different list I can put you on if I have your email address. You can send it to

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