When I was a real newspaper journalist in ’04 with my own Sunday op-ed column, I made Internet enemies with the late Keith Olbermann, who was hallucinating about vote fraud in Florida and Ohio.116603122-e1424806219751

Olbermann, then a professional ranter on MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” went to his grave thinking that Bush II stole Florida a second time.

Shortly before he passed away, I tried to set him straight with this:

Keith Olbermann’s Dan Rather moment

So, America, what’s sloppier?

Our shaky elections system or the jayvee journalism practiced on Keith Olbermann’s fake MSNBC news show “Countdown With Keith Olbermann”?

I cast all of my votes for Olbermann.

The recovering sportscaster is openly liberal and his irreverent, run-and-quip offense is easy to detest. But I kind of like him and his fast-paced infotainment show, which has the fatal misfortune to occupy the 8 p.m. time slot opposite Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Olbermann, however, really made a Dan Rather of himself last week.

He never directly charged that Republicans stole the election or demanded that Karl Rove should be picked up for questioning by the U.N. But for 15 minutes on Monday, Olbermann pointed to a “small but blood-curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud” from across the country, topped it with some vague partisan innuendo from Democrat Congressman John Conyers, and acted like he deserved a Peabody Award for Civic Journalism.

On Tuesday I checked out some of Olbermann’s claims. Using a high-tech personal communication device professional journalists refer to as a “telephone,” I called an elections bureau person in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (greater Cleveland), where, as Olbermann pointed out, 93,000 extra votes had been inexplicably cast Nov. 2.

It turns out the votes were “a computer anomaly” that didn’t affect or reflect the official vote count. And those 18,472 votes Olbermann said were counted in Fairview Park, a Cleveland suburb that had only 13,342 registered voters• Absentee ballots from many precincts had been grouped together by the computer and credited to Fairview Park, where 8,421 voted.

But what about Florida, the Vote-Fraud State?

Olbermann had made a big sinister deal about 29 counties whose registered voters were predominantly Democrat “suddenly” voting “overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush.” He slyly left the impression that massive vote-stealing could have been perpetrated by ballot tabulating companies like Diebold, whose bosses were known Bush allies.

I called Baker County, Fla., Olbermann’s first example. Yes, twanged the cheery election lady, 69 percent of voters in her rural county on the Georgia border are registered Democrat. Yes, “Mr. Boosh” got 78 percent of the vote and trounced Kerry, 7,738 to 2,180.

This was nothing new or untoward, she said. Folks in Florida’s Panhandle are conservative, especially on social and moral issues. They mostly register as Democrats and vote that way on local issues, but in national and state elections, they go Republican. Been doing so for years.

I heard the same explanation from election ladies in the tiny and large counties of Calhoun, Lafayette, Escambia, Highland and Liberty, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by as much as 9 to 1. Yet Bush beat Kerry in every one.

If they had cared, Olbermann and the producers of “Countdown” could have discovered these facts before they began flogging their sloppy Internet-spawned conspiracy Monday and Tueday nights. Non-Republican journalists on Salon.com and Slate.com. had no trouble explaining/debunking it. Nor did bloggers.

By Wednesday, Olbermann’s fever had cooled. But he had abandoned the Florida conspiracy angle, explained Cleveland’s oddities and mostly was yukking it up about a Unilect computer that ate 4,000 votes in North Carolina.

Still, he and his guest enabler from the grownup world of journalism, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, were concerned about the wussiness of the news media. Why had no major print or electronic outlet pursued this shameful story•

I don’t know, boys. Maybe it’s because before they start making wild charges of “vote fraud,” real journalists pick up a telephone.

If anyone knows where Keith is buried, please tell me so I can put some of my old baseball cards on his grave.

Not me, but a brave Uber "driver" in a "driverless" car.

Not me, but a brave Uber “driver” in a “driverless” car.

Gizmodo’s weekend editor Rhett Jones made this childish attempt to impugn Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto for having the brains to welcome Uber to Pittsburgh, for 80 years the worst taxicab town in America.

Late breaking semi-correction: My tech savvier daughter Lucy claims Gizmodo had my comment hidden somewhere, which still makes my point.

Here, as part of my unpaid media crusade to defend Uber against its moronic “progressive” enemies, is my comment, which Gizmodo’s child editors did not see fit to approve:

Pittsburghers were abused for 80 years by a regulated taxicab monopoly that offered terrible “service,” charged some of the highest fares in the country, wouldn’t go into poor or black neighborhoods, refused short trips, put decrepit and smelly cabs on the street (used cop cars and ex-NYC cabs with 200k miles on them). The cab monopoly’s politically connected owners got rich.

This horrible cab system was set up by bad state laws that were written to prevent new cabs from starting. (Black people here invented Uber 80 years ago because they had to — older men with big cars that served their community tenderly; they still do and Uber is no threat to them. Jitneys were completely illegal; everyone knew it but cops and regulators left them alone because they served poor people in ways the taxi monopoly did not and could not because there were so few cabs.)

Pittsburgh in the mid 1990s had the fewest number of cabs per capita than any major city. The Yellow Cab monopoly that existed for 80 years would still exist today if Uber hadn’t come along and, as commentators below point out, saved the people of Pittsburgh and given them reliable, plentiful and friendly micro-transit. Uber especially benefited the young, especially the poor, especially the black and most especially young women who never have to be stranded on the South Side at 2 a.m. because their cab wouldn’t come.

Mayor Peduto knew these truths and he not only “discovered” Uber he realized how it would change Pittsburgh for the better, which it has. I’m an ex journalist and Uber driver with 3500 Uber rides under my seatbelt. At least 5000 people have gotten rides from me since January of 2015. Not one complained. I heard at least 500 Yellow Cab horror stories.

Pittsburgh and other cities are no longer captive to government-sanctioned and government-protected and government-coddled cab monopolies. The morons who complain about Uber, or complain when enlightened mayors like Peduto welcome Uber to their town or tell state regulators to back off (a rare thing, because most mayors are in bed with the local cab monopolies), need to grow up, read some history and learn about the cozy relations between regulators and what they regulate.

They need to learn what horrors Uber replaced and why those horrors existed for 80 years before a politician did something about getting rid of them. To complain when a mayor — a liberal Democrat — tells state regulators (who are monopoly taxicab company lovers/protectors) to let Uber operate in the Pittsburgh market is childish and stupid.

Peduto did the right thing for his city and his city’s people. Peduto should get praise for what he did. The fact that Uber is setting up shop here and is expected to bring 500 or 1000 jobs here is icing on the cake. For Gizmodo to spend three electrons whining about Peduto’s relation with Kalanick is pitiful.

War. Good God, y’all. Etc. Have had many fine adventures this summer, only some of which involve David Icke or Donald Trump. Regardless of that, here is the speech I gave at New York City’s Liberty Fest on September 10.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld need help.

The two most qualified Libertarian Party candidates to come along in my lifetime are getting lots of mainstream media attention, but they are doing a horrible job of selling and explaining the great ideas and principles they represent.

Have they never watched John Stossel or read Frederic Bastiat or Milton Friedman?

Have they never checked to see what the late Harry Browne said in his speeches or interviews? He wasn’t as qualified as either of these ex-blue-state governors, but he knew how to sell freedom. So did Ron Paul in a far less smooth, but more endearing way.

But Jeeze.

With Trump and Hillary competing hourly to see who is the most evil, this is a golden chance for the LP to capture a double-digit percentage of voters and become part of what passes for the national political conversation. But so far they are blowing it.

These nice guys not just dull, they were apparently each born without a marketing gene. Did they ever run for office or were they both appointed?

They need to come up with a couple of campaign slogans or little “parables” — the kind of stuff libertarians use at bars to try to persuade our clueless liberal friends that we aren’t neo-Nazis.

Johnson has blurted out the line that the Libertarian Twins want government to “stay out of our bedrooms” and “out of our wallets.” That’s a good start — the old “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” one-two.

But he and Weld need to elaborate and expound and offer examples of what that phrase means in terms of privacy rights and tax bites.

How about something like “We libertarians are against all government wars at home and abroad — wars on drugs, wars on poverty, wars on illiteracy, wars on Iraq and all other countries that haven’t done anything to harm us.”

Or how about the campaign slogan Rand Paul should have used but J&W and the LP are actually more suited for — “Peace, Pot and Uber”?

It appeals to the young and the heartbroken ex-Sanders supporters by being against foreign intervention, and for decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs.

It appeals to libertarians for the same reason, plus Uber is a symbol of entrepreneurial innovation, deregulation, free markets, and market-based solutions to bad government-rigged stuff like the monopoly taxicab “service” that has robbed and ill-served our urban populations for eighty years.

Ignorance of Uber by J&W is especially galling to me.

Millions of city people use Uber in the USA every week. It’s the greatest thing to happen to cities since sewers and sidewalks. But every candidate so far has missed the Uber vote — which is under 30, 60 percent female, urban/suburban, and diverse as hell.

As an Uber driver in Pittsburgh with 3,000-plus trips and 5,000 to 6,000 riders in my career, I can attest that 99.7 percent of Uber users love it — despite the nonstop attack against it by a mainstream media that has no clue about what Uber has done to improve life in cities and why it’s a win-win-win deal for drivers, previously stranded females, and a more sober society.

So what if under-30s don’t vote that much. Appeal to them the right way — with Uber and decriminalized drugs — and they might cast their first vote for a libertarian.

lucy-steigerwald-previewI understand the premise of the insult when a cascade of neo-Nazi trolls suggest that I am ugly, un-doable, and/or Jewish. Nobody wants to be ugly, and a woman is supposed to be extra skittish about the very idea of someone thinking her repulsive. (Obviously calling someone Jewish isn’t an insult, but Nazis, those poor dears, are trying.)

But what to make of the folks who send me emails insulting my nose ring, calling my a bull and a cow? They know I chose the nose ring, right? It was something I selected and paid for, not a tragic birthmark. Calling attention to a fashion choice seems like an oddly ineffectual way to be cruel. “The thing you like is bad, and I am pointing that out!” I must know that my taste is making me less attractive to them. It always comes down to the type of men who believe in reporting what their pants are doing. Strange Women Must Know Whether I Find Them Hot, and If So, How Hot!

Twice while clashing on Facebook with people of the right, I was called a cross-dressing, or someone dressed in men’s clothing because at the time my profile pic was of me wearing a tie and suspenders. I also had long hair, lipstick, and a fairly femme look, as you can see above.

Piercings are not exactly breaking new fashion ground in 2016. Ladies in men’s wear is tragically underappreciated, but far from unprecedented. And yet, these people seem genuinely disgusted and troubled by this small aesthetic choices (mustn’t show them my legs then).

I see this in other reactions. A libertarian former coworker gets bangs and people find it proof that she was always a wicked leftist. Bangs plus glasses with any thickness is suspect. Odd colored hair, piercings, glasses — a definite look that I have some overlap with, but not entirely — is tagged as leftist, slutty, threatening. Why can’t they be blonde and wholesome like Women Were Before? Why can’t they like my aesthetic, not that ugly girl aesthetic?

This is why trans people, femme gay men, tough lesbians are amazing. Not trying to condescend about special flowers and the youness of you, but people are assholes a lot. And more to the point, they’re weirdly terrified of anything outside the norm. And to a surprisingly large number of them, outside the norm involves a nose ring or a tie on a woman. To kick gender roles and “normal” identity in the ass is an amazing thing. It’s very cool, and it’s actually brave (not like wearing a tie).

It doesn’t have to be teenage rebellion, or pretense of having a wholly original look. You’re not a maverick for daring to pierce your nose (or even BOTH SIDES OF IT). But I love my nose piercing more than I ever thought I would — it’s like my face is fancy every day!

Freaking out the squares is so oddly easy.

With a little help from Wikipedia and some others, let’s dig up the holy remains of Robert Green “Bob” Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899), who, though a lawyer and a political leader, was one of America’s greatest publicists of individual liberty and bashers of religion.

As can be seen below in an excerpt from his famed 1876 Fourth of July speech, Bob Ingersoll was not only one of America’s greatest orators. He was “The Great Agnostic” who understood what the Christian and Muslim world still doesn’t understand — that no religion should ever be given the power of the sword or the bullet.

To put it simply, Ingersoll hated religion — he was a much smarter libertarian Bill Maher of the 19th century.

The whole Declaration of Independence speech in Indianapolis is kindly printed here, http://lectures-by-ingersoll.blogspot.com/2012/04/declaration-of-independence.html as are more than 40 of his other orations and lectures.

Here’s a video that introduces him to strangers.

Bob Ingersoll, unchristian

Bob Ingersoll — Go to Hell, Christianity.

Here are some great quotes from great men and women who praised the greatness of Ingersoll.

And here’s an excerpt that proves Ingersoll is a superstar of yesteryear who needs to revisited, revered and respected by libertarians of every stripe.

The Declaration of Independence

…. They met in Philadelphia; and the resolution was moved by Lee or Virginia that the colonies ought to be independent states, and ought to dissolve their political connections with Great Britain.

They made up their minds that a new nation must be formed. All nations had bee, so to speak, the wards of some church. The religious idea as to the source of power had been at the foundation, of all governments and had been the bane and curse of man.

Happily for us, there was no church strong enough to dictate to the rest. Fortunately for us, the colonists not only but the colonies differed widely in their religious views. There were the Puritans, who hate the Episcopalians; the Episcopalians, who hated the Catholics; and the Catholics, who hated both, while the Quakers held them all in contempt. There they were, of every sort and color and kind, and how was it that they came together? They had a common aspiration. They wanted to form a new nation. More than that, most of them cordially hated Great Britain; and they pledged each other to forget their religious prejudices for a time, at least, and agreed that there should be only one religion until they got through — and that was the religion of patriotism. They solemnly agreed that the new nation should not belong to any particular church but that it should secure the rights of all.

Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights, and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, who had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; that it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence. (Applause.)

You might as well have a government united by force with Art, or with Poetry, or with Oratory as with Religion. Religion should have the influence upon mankind that its goodness, that its morality, its justice, its charity, its reason, and its argument give it, and no more. Religion should have the effect upon mankind that it necessarily has, and no more. The religion that has to be supported by law is without value not only but a fraud and a curse. The religious argument that has to be supported by a musket is hardly worth making. A prayer that must have a cannon behind it better never be uttered. Forgiveness ought not to go in partnership with shot and shell. Love need not carry knives and revolvers.

So our fathers said: “We will form a secular government, and under the flag which we are going to enrich our air we will allow every man to worship God as he thinks best.” They said: “Religion is an individual thing between each man and his Creator, and he can worship as he pleases and as he desires.” And why did they do this? The history of the world warned them that the liberty of man was not safe in the clutch and grasp of any church. They had read of and seen the thumb-screws, the racks and the dungeons of the Inquisition. They knew all about the hypocrisy of the olden time. They knew that the church had stood side by side with the throne; that the high priests were hypocrites, and that the kings were robbers. They also knew that if they gave to any church power, it would corrupt the best church in the world. And so they said that power must not reside in a church, nor in a sect, but power must be wherever humanity is – in the great body of the people. And the officers and servants of the people must be responsible to them. And so I say again, as I said in the commencement, this is the wisest, the profoundest, the bravest political document that was ever written.

They turned, as I tell you, everything squarely about. They derived all their authority from the people. They did away forever with the theological idea of government.

And what more did they say? They said that wherever the rules abused this authority, the power, incapable of destruction, returned to the people. How did they come to say this? I will tell you; they were pushed into it. How? They felt that they were oppressed; and whenever a man feels that he is the subject of injustice, his perception of right and wrong is wonderfully quickened.

Nobody was ever in prison wrongfully who did not believe in the writ of habeas corpus. Nobody ever suffered wrongfully without instantly having ideas of justice.

And they began to inquire what rights the king of Great Britain had. They began to search for the charter of his authority. They began to investigate and dig down to the bedrock upon which society must be founded, and when they got down there — forced there, too, by their oppressors; forced against their own prejudices and education — they found at the bottom of things, not lords, not nobles, not pulpits, not thrones, but humanity and the rights of men. (Tremendous cheering.)

And so they said, we are men; we are men. They found out they were men. And the next they said was: “We will be free men; we are weary of being colonists; we are tired of being subjects; we are men; and these colonies ought to be states and these states ought to be a nation; and that nation ought to drive the last British soldier into the sea.” And so they signed that brave declaration of independence….