Archive for Political Science Fiction

Always be closing

A little at a time, then a little more, until we get a handle on the situation:

A lot of ink and a great many pixels have been lavished on a phantasm: the “government shutdown.” Whenever Congress bestirs itself to limit federal spending in any way, we’re threatened with a “government shutdown” … as if the federal government would ever willingly shut down 100%. Note that in each of the “government shutdowns” of recent years, approximately 85% of all federal employees have remained at their jobs, guaranteed to be paid their full salaries.

The most recent “government shutdown” frightened Americans so little that Barack Hussein Obama had to make it irritating: he instructed Parks Department employees to prevent access to any federal park or monument, even though the Parks Department remained open and functioning.

Clearly, the “shutdown” wasn’t frightening enough … yet the phrase “government shutdown” remains a scare-staple of the Establishment, particularly among Democrats. They want us to think that calamity of some sort will ensue should we dare to deny them what they demand. It just isn’t so. In reality, the fear runs in the opposite direction: The Establishment and its minions fear that we’ll discover that we don’t need them and in fact would do better without them.

The phrase that pays here is “particularly among Democrats.” This implies that there are co-conspirators who are not Democrats at all. And when the chips hit the fan, it’s all the same, red or blue, Coke or Pepsi, VHS or Beta.

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When two tribes go to war

A point is all you can score, and first one to a hundred points wins — not a goddamn thing:

We have a tribal war going on in this country that has officially gone beyond any real policy issues. While the US and the Soviet Union had real differences in philosophy and approach, most of their confrontations were in proxy wars which bore little resemblance to these values. That is what politics are now — a series of proxy wars. We spend several days focusing attention on Jeff Sessions, but spend pretty much zero time talking about real issues like approaches to the drug war, and police accountability, and sentencing reform. Instead all we can focus on is the political proxy war of this stupid Russia hacking story. Obama’s birth certificate and Hillary’s servers and Russian hacking and Trump’s real estate sales — all we fight are proxy wars.

And like most tribal warfare, the two tribes are incredibly similar. I have called them the Coke and Pepsi party for years. Go talk to the the rank and file and sure, one group may like Nascar and barbecue while the other likes Phish concerts and kale, but you will see them asking for the same sorts of things out of government. Take the minimum wage, a traditional blue tribe issue. In Arizona, a heavily red state (we have a super-majority in the legislature of the red team), a $10 minimum wage referendum passed by nearly 60% of the vote last year. The members of the two tribes absolutely hate each other, but they support the same laws. I guess I should be happy they don’t get together, since as a libertarian I think many of these things they want are bad ideas.

Just about anything that requires the government to provide something to a chosen few is a bad idea by definition, since the unchosen many are invariably required to finance it.

How to deal with this disconnect? Backing away, perhaps:

No more Twitter. For those of you who use Twitter as a news aggregator, my posts will still appear on twitter and from time to time I will post things there that fit on twitter better than in a full blog post. But I am not going to read my feed, and I am really not going to engage with things in my feed. Everyone is trying to piss me off, and worse, a few times they have been successful and I have posted juvenile retorts that I later regretted. I am going to keep a Civ 6 game on my computer and every time I am even tempted to open twitter I will play a couple of turns of Civ 6, worrying instead how to keep Gandhi from nuking me again. Ironically, I just today ticked over 1000 followers on Twitter, so thanks very much for the support, but if you tweet at me over the next month I won’t see it.

To my 1400 or so followers: I’m not going anywhere any time soon. But neither am I going to play this endless game of Your Team Sucks, since it’s becoming distressingly obvious that both teams suck and most of their cheerleaders should be dropped into an active volcano.

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These too shall pass

A timely reminder — most of hers are — from Roberta X:

Politics is a rough game; talking smack is a game for adolescents and nitwits. At their intersection, bad stuff happens, the kinds of things that can screw up a civilized government. I’m sick and tired of hearing that this President (or his predecessor, and on and on back) is the end of everything, a threat that needs to be rubbed out — Oh, nonsense. They’re all temporary jobs, for a couple of years, or four, or six, and then we can throw ’em right out if they’re a problem.* Talk against them if you don’t like them? Oppose the polices you think are bad (and cheer on the ones you like)? Sure, do that. But try to be a grown-up about it — because a few of the nominal adults around you aren’t.

The footnote:

* All right, except for Supreme Court justices. Still, having grown up in a rural county with “IMPEACH EARL WARREN” stickers on the fence posts at every third or fourth intersection leaves one aware that there’s a way to remove them, too.

Though no SCOTUS justice has ever been removed — yet.

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Available only in beta

I’ve met a few of these randos myself:

[S]ocialism has always had a unique version of the free-rider problem: Dorks jumping on the bandwagon trying to get laid. All the chiliastic socialists of the Middle Ages and Reformation preached that “common property” included common wives; Marx and Engels were still getting asked this question — and dodging it — well into the 19th century. Which makes sense when you look at Bolshevik women. If that’s your dating pool — and I think we all take it as read that SJWs have zero game — then oh my god yes, let’s socialize sex. Here again, the best Alt-Realist tactic seems to be: Make fun of these dorks for the dateless wonders they are.

Better yet, they’ll provide you, at least temporarily, with a forum in which you can mock them. It will last as long as they’re paying the freight, or they figure out what you really mean, whichever comes first.

Weirdly, I’ve encountered far fewer issues with way-left women. I’m not sure why, though it may simply be a case of too small a sample.

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And history loops back once more

“Only Nixon could go to China.” — Old Vulcan saying, quoted by Spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1992)

It might not even require both halves of that “if.”

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Says here it’s an act

It’s not that I object to the premise, it’s that I hate acronyms and backronyms of this sort:

The true definition of “covfefe” — born from a deleted, after-midnight tweet from President Trump — remains unsettled, even to the commander in chief, who appeared to mistype it into existence on Twitter last month. But a congressman from Illinois wants to bring new meaning to the word.

The COVFEFE Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) on Monday, aims to preserve tweets from the president’s personal Twitter account, ensuring that Trump’s social-media posts are archived as presidential records.

“In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets,” Quigley said in a statement. “If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference.”

Seems perfectly reasonable to me. I just wish Quigley’d called it something else; nine times out of ten, a stupid name undoes a sensible law. (The other time, it’s something like the PATRIOT Act, which was a stupid law with a stupid name.)

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Ferret-faced losers

Actually, ferrets are cuter:

I watched highlights of the Comey hearings. This public theater reminded me of a fact I learned decades ago watching the Sunday News shows — namely, that it is evident our best and brightest don’t usually choose politics as their career. I think politics is filled with a whole bunch of Frank Burns of M*A*S*H fame. In addition to being not that bright, I think a vast majority of politicians are egotistic corrupt power-hungry asswipes. At every level of government. Yes, that is a sentence fragment. You may fix the syntax on your own. Diagram the corrected passage and send it to me in order to get your final grade.

Add just a hint of avarice, and you’ve got them down to a formula.

(And just because, a toast.)

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Wishing for that next wish

Note: I swiped this from Joe Sherlock. I’m pretty sure he won’t mind.

A guy met a fairy who said she would grant him one wish.

He said, “I want to live forever.”

“Sorry, I’m not allowed to grant eternal life,” said the fairy.

“OK,” he replied. “Then, I want to die after Congress gets some work done.”

“You crafty bastard,” exclaimed the fairy.

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I quit … eventually

We assume there are lots of money-grubbing lice at the Capitol, but few seem so obvious about it:

State Senator Dan Newberry announced Tuesday he’s stepping aside from his seat with District 37.

In a news release, Newberry said he will continue to be in senior management at TTCU The Credit Union and is publishing a book.

Newberry said it was an honor to serve as the senator from District 37.

“I want to thank the citizens of District 37 for placing your trust in me to represent you at the Capitol for nearly 10 years,” he said.

Newberry, a Tulsa Republican, represents an area including Sand Springs and west Tulsa. And the Legislature has adjourned sine die, and barring a call by the governor for a special session, will not meet again until February 2018. I mention this latter because:

Newberry said in a statement he will resign January 31, 2018.

Because God forbid he should miss even a buck of his $38,400 annual salary as a legislator.

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Down that old gavel road

The Oklahoman has been sharply critical — or sometimes, not so sharply critical — of the proceedings of this year’s legislative session. This bit from Sunday’s editorial, however, is definitely pointed:

In floor debate, the appropriation chairs of both chambers praised the process that produced the budget.

“We had the most open and transparent budget process in the history of this state,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang.

“We’ve done a fantastic job this year of coming up with a budget,” said Sen. Kim David, R-Porter.

Those statements serve only to remind one why it’s a bad idea to let students grade their own homework.

Ouch.

Fortunately, both of them are Republicans, so there’s no chance that anyone is going to dump on the paper for picking on women in the legislature.

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No change

This is apparently not going to be the new national anthem of Australia:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made it official:

Thank you for your letter dated 20 March 2017 regarding petition EN0094, which requests that the Australian Government change the Australian National Anthem to the 2003 song ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast.

The words and tune of the Australian National Anthem were adopted only after exhaustive surveys of national opinion, starting in the 1970s, and were proclaimed by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia on 19 April 1984.

The Australian National Anthem is widely accepted and popularly supported by a majority of Australians. The Australian Government has no plans to change the Anthem.

Thank you for bringing this petition to my attention. I appreciate the important work of the Standing Committee on Petitions in putting community concerns before the Parliament.

I haven’t been so downhearted since Washington state rejected a measure to make “Louie, Louie” the state song.

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Trump needs plumbers

There must be some reason why the White House seems to be leaking like a big sandstone sieve, and the President must accept the responsibility:

After some thought, based on things I’ve read and heard about how Trump likes to do business, I realized that one of his main approaches is to take opinions and advice from all sides of an issue, and then make a final decision himself. He’s been doing it this way for decades, generally successfully.

So it may be nothing more than habit, a matter of not fixing something that doesn’t seem broken. But what I now fear is that Trump doesn’t understand that inviting Deep State swamp creatures into the pool, merely to get their sides of an issue, is being viewed by them as the President stupidly exposing his jugular to their long knives, which they then cheerfully wield to leak his political lifeblood in gushers to the NYT.

Frankly, Trump’s protests about the leakers seem a bit hollow to me, given that apparently he has invited many of those leakers into his own house and invited them to fill’er up from his own veins. I guess the short version is that I’ll believe he is really concerned about leaks when he starts acting as if he is concerned about leaks, and not just talking about how concerned he is.

Which, inevitably, means that some of the sneakier staff members will have to be flushed. You’d think that Donald J. Trump, of all people, would know how to fire someone.

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Himmler is somewhat similar

Does it ever seem to you that all these alleged Nazis look alike?

Back in November, the Left and the #NeverTrumpers (BIRM) wanted James Comey fired. Now that he actually has been fired, it’s a “coup.” Or is it a Reichstag fire? I thought Sessions’s appointment as Attorney General was the Reichstag fire, but maybe that was also a “coup.” He’s Literally Himmler, I’m pretty sure of that … if you wanna get technical I guess he’s Literally Otto Thierack, but since the Left doesn’t read they don’t know but three or four Nazis … which is funny in itself, given how much they love to throw Third Reich allusions around (for the record, comrades, CIA director Mike Pompeo is Literally Reinhard Heydrich, Education Secretary Betsy de Vos is Literally Bernhard Rust, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is Literally Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel. Why? [Belch] Why not?! And besides, it’s more fun to say “von Stülpnagel” than “Mnuchin,” and Trump’s Literally Hitler cabinet needs at least one guy with an umlaut in his name. Remember that, it’ll be on the midterm).

If you ask me, I’d be perfectly content were the rights to all that Nazi crap assigned to the one man who’s done something useful with the concept:

I tell you, that guy’s got balls.

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Whatever that may mean

Everyone over here seemed to have an opinion on the French election, and Dave Schuler points out that many of those opinions were horribly uninformed:

Some Republicans here backed Le Pen because she’s the “right wing” candidate without digging into what that means in France. Some Democrats backed Macron because he’s the center-left candidate, equally without learning what that actually means. IMO that’s incredibly short-sighted. You can’t understand another country’s politics without getting an in depth understanding of its economics, history, current events, and culture or, in other words, unless you’ve lived there, speak the language, and immerse yourself in it. Even then you probably won’t appreciate the nuances.

We’re not used to nuance. The American electorate, for many years now, has been mired in “We’re great and you suck,” and as a result we get the kind of candidates we so richly deserve. Naturally, we project our neuroses upon all those other candidates worldwide, when what we really want is to declare our allegiance to the one warlord who will crush all others. Warlords, unfortunately, ain’t what they used to be.

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Not available on LP

The Z Man washes his hands of those wacky libertarians:

Anyone who truly believes altering tax policy will reverse a thousand generations of evolution is an idiot.

That’s the fundamental problem with modern libertarians. They believe this or they simply are incapable of mastering ground floor level biology. The reason the country of Niger is a basket case is that’s the way the people of Niger want it. It is full of Hausa. The reason Paris was Paris was that, up until recently, it was full of Parisians! Now that Paris is filling up with North Africans and Arabs, it is looking like Algeria with better plumbing.

It may turn out to be that the last vestige of France as we know it may be in the Légion Étrangère; the Foreign Legion has always had a minority of actual Frenchmen, but French officers were always in command.

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Now comes the journalistic hardcore

Hilde Lysiak, the ten-year-old publisher of the Orange Street News in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, is requesting some of Donald Trump’s time:

I hope she gets it.

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Silver standard

When you get as old as I am, you start snickering at the phrase “younger woman”: aren’t they all younger women? Of course not. But I’m long past the point where anyone over 29 seems to have gone to seed.

Of course, it helps if you’re in a position to take care of yourself, as is Christine Lagarde, sixty-one, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, now in her second term despite this little contretemps:

From 1993 to 2008 there was a long legal battle between [Bernard] Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank (partly state-owned bank). Crédit Lyonnais had allegedly defrauded Tapie in 1993 and 1994 when it sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, apparently by arranging a larger sale with Dreyfus without Tapie’s knowledge.

In 2008 a special judicial panel ruled that Tapie should receive compensation of €404 million from the French Ministry of Finance, headed by Christine Lagarde. She decided not to challenge the ruling. On December 3, 2015, a French court ruled that Tapie should return this compensation with interest. A few days later, the Court of Justice of the Republic ordered that Lagarde should stand trial for negligence. On December 19, 2016, Lagarde was convicted of negligence; however, the conviction was not deemed a criminal record and Lagarde was not sentenced to a punishment.

The US has been supportive of Lagarde, who has been something of a hardliner in office, but only to a point: for example, as Greece circled the drain in 2015, she called for massive debt relief, but when concrete plans for such relief were not forthcoming, she subsequently declined to assist the Eurozone.

Behold the hardliner:

Christine Lagarde on the rise

Christine Lagarde in silver

Christine Lagarde stretches out

Looking for brief samples of her voice, I stumbled across this AP squib from the IMF spring meetings — not quite a minute and a half — in which Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin complains about the US tax code.

I think she just might be sympathetic to the cause.

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I can’t believe it’s not butthurt

He’s back, and this time … well, he’s back, anyway.

And what’s more:

But then, he’s always been like that:

Cam Edwards, contemplating the Democratic front-runner: “I look at Howard Dean and see a guy who’s going to invade Mexico because Taco Bell got his order wrong.”

And that was 2003, fercryingoutloud.

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Someone anonymous explains it all

And briefly, yet:

(Via Michelle Catlin.)

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Shutting the Fox up

WFXT in Boston, which was but is no longer owned by Fox Broadcasting, has been downplaying its network affiliation, apparently as a matter of branding:

FOX 25 Boston is dropping the FOX affiliation from its newscast names.

The station is switching to “Boston 25 News” starting April 24.

“The perception of what our TV news station does is not what we do. They perceive us to be part of the Fox News family,” said general manager of the Cox-owned station Tom Raponi.

The Fox 25 branding will remain for non-news shows, which presumably don’t embarrass leftish Bostonians the way Fox News apparently does.

(Via Patrick Phillips.)

Addendum: Then there’s this:

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No roads to Damascus

“What is the story in Syria?” asks Warren Meyer:

We kill a couple hundred folks with cruise missiles to avenge a few dozen folks killed with poison gasses and, what? Do the citizens of Syria really need yet another foreign power lobbing explosives into their country? The only argument I hear is that Assad crossed a line and now we have to show him what for. But this sounds like an 18th century aristocrat vowing to defend his honor after an insult. It’s sort of emotionally satisfying — take that, asshole! — but where does it get us except further mired in yet another foreign conflict we have no hope of making better? We look back and criticize the major powers in 1914 for getting involved in the constant squabbles in the Balkans but do the same thing in the Middle East, the 21st century’s Balkans.

Short answer: Because Russia. And were there any other quasi-superpowers [e.g. China] intruding, because them too; we have to protect our interests, and one of these days when there’s nothing else on the schedule, we’ll figure out just what those interests are.

This is not to say that we did a Bad Thing: dropping the occasional MOAB appeals to my sense of noblesse oblige. But if we’re going to pretend that there’s a reason we did it other than because we could — “Well, he needed killing,” said the Texas lawman of legend — the least we can do is go through the motions of announcing a plan, so everyone will have a chance to say “I told you so” when that plan, as it must, goes awry.

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Voters, schmoters

The people that matter to your Congressional delegation, says Bill Quick, are the ones who write the big checks:

I’ve been railing against the effective Ruling Class oligarchy of wealthy people who own and operate both houses of Congress and what I call the Ruling Party (and others call the Uniparty). Congressmen spend, at minimum, half their time (and generally considerably more) engaged in fund-raising activities. Just about every dime they raise comes with strings attached. Everybody hates congressmen (check any poll). The only reason to give these smarmy grifters anything at all is that you have solid expectations of getting more back from them than you give to them. In other words, it’s a straight business transaction in which the congressman sells his political power, and the donor buys it for his own use.

That is the state of political play in the most rarefied reaches of the American political system today. I have made the point that, as a professional writer, before the ubiquitous advent of Amazon, my “market” was not really my readers, but the tiny handful of editors in NYC who actually made decisions as to what books to buy, because without them buying what I was trying to sell, the mass market of readers out there would never see my work. In other words, my true readership, the one I responded to most readily (when they said jump, I said “how high?” were not readers, but acquisitions editors. They were my “Ruling Class,” if you will.

The same applies to politics. Clueless voters think their politicians see them as their primary constituency, but any politician will tell you that the only constituency that really matters to him are his donors. And until we find some way to change that, we will continue to have the best politics that the worst money can buy.

Well, he’ll tell you that if he knows it’s “off the record.” Lip service must be paid to constituents, after all.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve suggested somewhere along the line that if you want to get money out of politics, you need to get politics out of money. The smarmy grifters will of course never stand for that.

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Throw a rope toward that ship

It’s long since sailed, but the Tar Heels are digging in just the same:

Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina are proposing a bill that would ban gay marriage in the state, according to a local CBS affiliate report Tuesday.

North Carolina state Reps. Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, and Carl Ford, all Republicans, are the primary sponsors of the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act.”

Republicans? Really? Who would have known?

The bill says that the U.S. Supreme Court “overstepped its constitutional bounds” in the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. In the decision, the justices struck down “Amendment One” in North Carolina’s state constitution, which prohibited the state from recognizing or performing marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples.

Over 60 percent of voters approved the amendment in the spring of 2012.

Hey, you went three whole sentences without mentioning Republicans.

And how, since there have been at least 20 amendments to the 1971 North Carolina Constitution, did this one get designated Amendment One?

Assuming this passes, we’ll need to calculate the over/under on how many days it takes for it to be thrown out.

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Quote of the week

From Roberta X’s most recent Geopolitical Update:

It is snicker-worthy watching Uncle Vlad get all huffy about the “violation of international law” in the U. S. sending a missile salvo on a badwill tour of a Syrian air force base. Tell it to the Ukrainians, you scheming weasel, and then yank the veto chain from your comfy seat on the UN Security Council just like all the other Great Powers do after they’ve beat up some two-bit country that doesn’t have that option.

Note: There are exactly five permanent members of the Security Council. I suspect that the only advantage of being one of them is that ability to yank the veto chain, because God knows the Security Council isn’t going to do anything actually useful if it can possibly help it.

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Such a card

House Republicans have been passing around this card to represent what they say is their idea of what the Federal tax return should look like:

House GOP tax plan, not in its final form

One thing that’s obvious: no deduction for state and local taxes. You might think that high-tax states might object to this, and in the case of New York, you’d be correct:

Gov. Cuomo said eliminating the deduction would “effectively increase state and local taxes by 20 percent to 44 percent, depending on a person’s tax bracket.”

“This would be a deathblow to New York, putting us at a horrible competitive disadvantage,” Cuomo said.

Like the level of taxation in New York wasn’t a competitive disadvantage all by itself.

Meanwhile, in that other reputed high-tax state:

Eliminating the state and local tax deduction would hit New York and California especially hard, according to a Tax Policy Center 2016 study. Combined, residents of the two states accounted for 32 percent of the total state and local tax deductions claimed nationwide.

Peter Grant, now a resident of Texas, likes this idea:

This would bring home to all Americans how efficiently their home states are governed. Right now, high-taxing, high-spending states can mask their activities to a certain extent, because their taxpayers are sheltered from the local tax burden by deducting it from their federal taxes. If that were no longer an option, every taxpayer would know precisely how much their state politicians are costing them — because they’d be paying it on top of, over and above, their federal taxes.

I’m not quite so sanguine about this. Few states are governed particularly efficiently; the one in which I live levies taxes at a lower rate than either New York or California, and it’s been in a deep dark budget hole for some time.

Grant continues:

The odds are pretty good that those living in tax-and-spend states such as New York, California, etc. would be very, very unhappy to experience the full magnitude of those states’ punitive taxes. They’d probably launch loud, vociferous campaigns to change their politicians’ habits — or change their politicians altogether.

Complaining about the Oklahoma legislature is de rigueur in these parts, but we don’t seem to be accomplishing a great deal of incumbent disposal, just like those Other States.

That said, I like the basics of this plan, but I question Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who’s a prime mover behind it:

“We are proposing a change,” Brady said in an interview. “Rather than keep Washington taxes high and have just a few get relief from state and local taxes … No longer will Washington punish or reward you based on how much you earn or where you choose to live.”

They’ll find some way to reward their friends and punish their perceived enemies. They always do.

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Complete with plastic insects

Astroturfing, as described by Infogalactic:

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots.” The implication behind the use of the term is that there are no “true” or “natural” grassroots, but rather “fake” or “artificial” support, although some astroturfing operatives defend the practice.

One particularly egregious example of this appeared on page 16A of The Oklahoman this morning:

Not even a nickel?

“PAID ADVERTISING” appears in largish print near the top, as would seem appropriate. Where things get artificial is at the bottom:


PAID FOR BY OKLAHOMANS FOR BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES
BOBBY STEM, TREASURER
636 NE 41ST STREET, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA 73105
405-520-1874 OR BSTEM@WEBUILDOKLAHOMA.COM

It took all of four seconds to trace this back to the Association of General Contractors. Now I don’t have any problem with AOGC trying to wangle funding out of the state, as does seemingly every interest group from Black Mesa to Bokchito. But I object strenuously to this “Oklahomans for Better Roads and Bridges” nonsense, obviously intended to imply that your neighbors and mine contributed to the ideas and the cost of this Paid Advertisement; it’s a PAC, nothing more, with over a million dollars on hand to spend on fund-wangling. If we’re going to have PACs, and by all indications we are, the very least we can do is to require them to identify themselves as such.

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Vote being gotten out

Text message received yesterday:

This is David/Precinct Chair. TY for voting in 2016. Next election Tues. April 4! Text BALLOT to see your ballot. Signup to vote by mail, Text ABSENTEE. Thanks :)

Well, I know what’s on my ballot, since it’s a school-board runoff. I suppose if I were still paying per-text rates I’d be slightly peeved, but in general I approve of GOTV efforts, especially if there’s enough to them to rouse me from my traditional torpor.

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If only it would work

McG once said something to the effect that the next Constitutional amendment should begin “Congress shall make no law,” and end precisely there. I don’t see this being ratified any time soon, but then the problem has apparently existed for millennia:

It is said the ancient Greeks used a simple method to stop the multiplication of “laws.” Perhaps we should try it on our Congress. Anyone wishing to propose a new law had to do so while standing on a platform with a rope around his neck. If the law was passed, the rope was removed. If the law was voted down, the platform was removed. — “John Galt,” Dreams Come Due: Government and Economics As If Freedom Mattered, First Edition.

We don’t do that today for some reason.

It occurs to me that the presumably pseudonymous Mr. Galt might have been pulling our chains. Given some of the idiocies traceable to contemporary legislators, however, a mere yank on the chain would probably be welcomed as being preferable to forcible contributions by the overtaxed citizenry.

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No matter whose name is on it

“Reforming health care has become an impossibility,” says the Z Man:

As soon as anyone makes any noises about fixing the system, the army of lobbyists, hired by every vested interest, shows up to bury the reformers. If they are not able to kill the idea of reform entirely, they set about corrupting it into another grift that their clients can use to get a free shot at your wallet. The only people not represented in these efforts are the voters. They get no say.

This is the main reason Trump’s efforts to address the problems of ObamaCare failed last week. What Ryan and the other crooks in the GOP were hoping to do is pass a bill that made it easier for their paymasters to skim money from the rate payers, while providing fewer services. Ryan’s bill was just an attempt to help the people feeding at the trough get a little fatter off the middle-class. Its failure suggests we have reached the end phase.

Talk to anyone responsible for paying health insurance premiums and they will tell you that the rates are reaching the point where they cannot be paid. When premiums are going up by multiples of inflation, there can be only one result. Once rates pass a certain level, people stop paying those premiums. You get black markets, non-compliance and a system that can only persist through brute coercion. Soon after you get collapse.

Even Bernie Sanders has figured this out. You’d think someone in the Republican ranks would have caught on by now.

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Madame President

Roberta Anastase, born on this date in 1976, served as the first female President of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, from 2008 to 2012. She was a member of the Democratic Liberal Party, which held 115 of the 334 seats in the Chamber. In 2009, the Social Democratic Party, which held 114 seats, withdrew from the governing coalition; the government subsequently fell in a vote of no confidence, though Anastase held on to her seat until 2012.

Roberta Anastase at work

Roberta Anastase waits

Before all this political stuff, Anastase represented Romania in the 1996 Miss Universe competition, though this took some time on the pageant circuit:

Roberta Anastase in the swimsuit competition

Peripheral note: Before you ask: 1996 was the first year that Donald Trump (remember him?) owned the Miss Universe operation; he is no longer connected to Miss Universe.

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