Archive for Political Science Fiction

On Scott Pruitt

Some folks seem alarmed that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has actually spent a fair amount of time fighting the EPA, and the Usual Suspects are quite aware of that:

Grunwald writes for Politico, so undoubtedly he’s suffering some amount of butthurt these days, but there’s nothing extreme or even really remarkable about his observation: it’s been replicated in some form or other all across the Left.

On the other hand, there have been times when I wondered if the Agency hadn’t given up on actual environmental protection in favor of politicized environmental protection, in which all decisions are made to support The Narrative at the expense of everything else:

A major water infrastructure bill introduced Monday by the Republican leadership would put states back in charge of enforcing one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly coal rules, while making sure the agency pays for the damage it caused states during last year’s toxic waste water spill in Colorado.

The new Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill includes pending water resources and water waste bills, as well as significant tribal and natural resources legislation, and other important measures to improve the nation’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet.

“Fact sheets” are, well, not always factual, though dissembling was and is a bipartisan activity of the worst kind. Then again, EPA hasn’t exactly rushed to take care of that toxic waste, have they? If Pruitt’s mission is to strangle EPA in its crib, as Betsy DeVos is supposed to be dismantling the Department of Education — well, think how much we’ll save in the long run if the states resume control of functions that Washington was never Constitutionally authorized to perform.

Of course, some states are in better shape than others. I’m thinking back to January:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders, asking that about $6 million in state appropriations for his office be withheld in the next budget in view of financial problems affecting the state.

A hole of about $900 million is expected in the next state budget as revenues have fallen because of a downturn in the oil industry.

And hey, you can’t have things like agency heads asking for budget cuts. It’s un-American, for certain spendthrift values of “American.”

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We have all been here before

The running gag on the Holy Roman Empire was that it wasn’t holy, wasn’t Roman, and wasn’t an empire. It takes very little to update this gag for the European Union:

There’s a Holy Roman Empire vibe to Europe these days. At some point, one of these problems is going to prove unsolvable. At that point, the logic of the whole enterprise gets called into question. That was the reason the Germans were hell bent on bringing the Greeks to heel. The sensible solution was to let them leave, but that would have meant the EU was a voluntary association of nations. If the Greeks left then anyone could leave. It turns out that political unity only works when it is compulsory.

Quelle surprise.

That’s what may be tested now that the Italians have voted to reject the structural reforms most thought necessary to avoid a banking crisis in the country. Like the Greeks, the Italian banking system is in shambles, but the bigger issue is their political and legal system. Italian society is not engineered to work in a German economic model. That leaves two possible solutions. One is for the Italians to adopt the German political system or for them to go back to the Italian economic model, that is, leave the EU.

It turns out that Italians like being Italian and will not abandon their culture without a fight. This is a replay of the Greek crisis, except that the Italian economy is twice the size of the Greek economy. There’s also the fact that the Italians are much more of a core European nation, in the broader political and cultural sense. No one in Europe felt bad about stomping on the Greeks. The French and the Spanish will not be enthusiastic about siding with Berlin against Rome in a fight, because what comes next for Rome is next for Madrid and Paris.

And there are echoes of that sort of thing even in this hemisphere:

Inevitably, people begin to look at the managerial class the same way the commoners looked at the aristocracy in 18th century France. The average citizen of a Western country feels as if they are ruled by strangers. The result is the rising tide of populism we are seeing, which is nothing like the top-down variant a century ago. The Italian vote was not about nationalism. It was about rejecting rule by strangers. It is why Trump will be the next president and Britain will leave Europe. People prefer the familiar to the foreign.

Expect the next person who boastfully describes himself as “a citizen of the world” to wonder why some people are calling for his deportation.

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Fallin into place

The AP put this out yesterday:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been added to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, it was announced Tuesday evening.

According to a statement from the Trump organization, Fallin is one of seven vice-chairs being added to the transition team. It was not clear what her duties will be.

If she’s a Vice Chair, I hope they put her in charge of some form of vice.

Fallin reportedly is under consideration for a post with the Department of the Interior and met with Trump at Trump Tower in New York City last week. She said afterward that she would consider a job in Trump’s administration if it were offered.

“He didn’t give me any timeline on anything,” Fallin said of Trump last week. “We just talked in general about a lot of different issues. We talked about different positions he had to fill.”

I’m torn on this matter. While I’m sure the Guv is simpatico with Trump’s idea of Interior, if she goes she leaves behind Todd Lamb as governor, and I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for Todd Lamb as governor.

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Quote of the week

Gagdad Bob on influence-peddling:

[P]erhaps the central purpose of the founders was to create a political system in which government would have less power and influence. It is certainly not something we would put our hope in, except insofar as we hope it leaves us the hell alone.

As they say, the less things politicians control, the less it matters who controls the politicians. But the hundreds of millions raked in by the Clinton Foundation is simply a measure of just how much it matters who controls the politicians. The value of a 20 minute talk by Hillary Clinton has plummeted from $200-300,000 to negative territory, in that you’d have to pay people to listen to her now. What happened? What is the nature of the thing that has gone from being so valuable to being less than valueless?

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what I can persuade your country to do for you. Oh, and be sure to sign the check.”

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Politics in a nutshell

Says it all.

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Activists just want to be loved

Gagdad Bob is reading Extravagant Expectations: New Ways to Find Romantic Love in America by Paul Hollander, and he reprints an improbable-sounding personal ad:

These women are so perfect, one wonders why they have to resort to advertising their qualities. There are dozens to choose from — they’re everywhere! — so I’ll just pick one at random:

“Blonde, slender, tall, willowy DWF. Very attractive with graceful lightness of heart, refined intelligence, smiling eyes. PhD/academic. Optimistic, elegant, physically sensual, aesthetically attuned. Lovely profile, long legs. Considered great package: head, heart, spirit. Puts people at ease.” Etc.

I’ll bite. What’s the catch?

D’oh!

“Progressive worldview, passionate about social justice.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly put me at ease, if you know what I mean.

Seriously, I hope she (1) exists and (2) finds someone with a compatible worldview. Were I looking — God knows I have no reason to look — I’d probably look elsewhere.

I just wish there’d been a photo.

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Watch those dadgum signatures

Is this fellow still employed?

Kara Brown is a staff writer for Jezebel.

(Update, 5:45 pm: See also The Lost Ogle’s take.)

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No sense of perspective

A writer for New York magazine feels the strain:

He followed a few days later:

And I would happily have let it go at that, except perhaps to note that people’s capacity for empathy is inevitably diminished by claiming it in public, until things like this came along:

Even I, despite my reputation as an Olympic-class complainer, can’t beat that.

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Yuge data

Yeah, sure it is:

Reince Priebus is running around saying it was the GOP data operations that got the Trump vote out on Tuesday. He was on the radio claiming that his team “knew what people ate for lunch, when they went to work and how they voted in the past” so they could target these voters and get them to the polls. He made it sound like they had studied all of us since birth so they could maximize their vote.

This is nonsense. Trump had none of this stuff in the primary and he poleaxed everyone in his way. His “ground game” was to go on TV and radio and be interesting. Then he went on Twitter to give reporters something to ask him. In the general, he preferred the old fashioned whistle stop tour. Instead of a train, he flew around on his plane and did stadium shows near airports. His campaign was lean and mean, avoiding the trap of hiring an army of experts. Trump was outspent something close to 5-to-1 when including outside groups.

I think Reince is trying to psych out the Democrats, who have been crunching numbers for a heck of a long time. And I think they will not be deceived.

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Leave it blank

An Oklahoman editorial from yesterday:

Trump’s victory in Oklahoma was among the most lopsided in all 50 states. Yet he achieved that domination while attracting fewer Oklahoma voters than [George W.] Bush or McCain. Perhaps Trump did draw new voters out of the woodwork in Oklahoma. But if so, it seems he may have also prompted some traditional GOP voters to sit this election out.

The #NeverTrump hashtag bunch perhaps saw that it had no place to go; independent Evan McMullin wasn’t on the ballot and couldn’t be put there. (We have no provision for write-ins.)

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Quote of the week

Smitty, never exactly in the Trump camp, reports on what he thought he saw:

Possibly I’m over-reading all this, but I think that a lot of the Trumpology in circulation is still mis-underestimating something. Part of my early disdain for Trump was rooted in the fact that, when the Tea Party uprising occurred in 2009/10, he was not marching with the Tea Party. It seemed a crass appropriation of sincere patriotism to have this Yankee with a Tribble on his head demand my support.

Looking over the 2015/16 sequence of events, one wonders if he had not been, rather, taking notes. Plotting. Biding his time. Seeing Romney’s high-mindedness amount to a fart in a thunderstorm in 2012. Possibly even having a verbal agreement with Clinton to throw the match though Bill denies it. Whatever.

As time pulls these details into focus, and heals the wounds, it seems clear that Tribble-head’s whole loose-cannon thing is substantially disinformatzya. This Administration promises not to be boring.

And if you need drama for now, just watch the opposition, which will probably stop crying some time in mid-January. Maybe.

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A bit of the ultra-violets

I’ve long characterized my neck of the woods as neither fully red nor blue, but somewhere in between. This year’s precinct numbers suggest it’s getting slightly bluer:

President: Hillary Clinton (D) 687, Donald Trump (R) 519, Gary Johnson (L) 137.

Senate: James Lankford (R) 624, Mike Workman (D) 559, Robert Murphy (L) 69; independents 102.

Congress: Al McAffrey (D) 658, Steve Russell (R) 586, Zachary Knight (L) 97.

HD87: Collin Walke (D) 715, Bruce Lee Smith (R) 506, Elle Collins (L) 117.

Only one state question garnered 1000 Yes votes: 780, the simplification of drug penalties.

Previous red/blue balances: 2012; 2010.

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The aftermath

Yeah, I know, all the TV coverage dealt with who’s winning. Me, I wanted to know who’s losing, and I don’t mind telling you why.

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Burn it to the ground

My younger offspring (old enough to be President himself) analyzes the events of the week:

All of this presidential stuff reminds me of Nickelback.

If you ask people if they enjoy Nickelback they will unabashedly tell you no they do not. They might even go so far as to say they hate them. But Nickelback has sold 50 million albums.

Someone is lying here. Either we are buying these albums and supporting the band or Chad Kroeger figured out a way to buy 50 million of his own albums with the proceeds of selling his albums to himself.

So, did you vote for Trump? Nope, nuh uh, sure didn’t, no way José, no ma’am, I would never vote for that monster! But he got the popular vote and the electoral vote. And surprisingly, he got more female representation than Hillary did. America means progress …

Someone is lying here.

Actually, HRC wound up with about 100k more popular votes than Trump, which of course counts for nothing in the grand scheme of things.

As I noted earlier, I did not vote for Trump/Pence; for that matter, you will find that I own no Nickelback recordings, though I did score a few tracks from Kroeger’s ex-wife.

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Meanwhile in the Wiregrass

You may remember this from last month:

Relating to Henry County, proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person who is not over the age of 72 at the time of qualifying or appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Henry County.

The Amendment passed with about 60 percent of the vote, meaning if Judge David Money wants to run for another term in 2018, he can.

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Tweeting up a storm

I promised myself I wouldn’t get bogged down on Twitter during the election returns.

As I probably should have expected, I failed miserably:

Your Tweets earned 7,374 impressions over the last 24 hours

Although this doesn’t compare with the 22nd of October, during which I picked up 19,738 impressions with a lot less controversy.

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Is we edumacated good?

A letter to the Oklahoman starts off reasonably and then shoots itself in the foot at the end:

Remember House Bill 1017? Wagering on horse racing? Liquor by the drink? Lottery? All these things were supposed to provide more money for the schools. In addition, 78 percent of our property tax goes to the schools. Irresponsible spending needs to be reined in. Those in power continue to resist school consolidation. Anyone who lives on a budget could tell them that if superintendents were reduced to one per county (with an assistant in the larger counties), there would be money to pay teachers a raise without having to tax the people again. I ask, respectfully and without malice, why classroom teachers are so quiet on the subject when the solutions seem so obvious?

Perhaps they figure that consolidating a dozen school districts into one will cost more than just administrative jobs.

Then the argument goes off the rails:

Here in Krebs-McAlester, we are taxed at 10 percent. The raise would put us at 11 percent. For every $100 we have to spend for groceries, it will cost us an additional $11. There are many who are finding it difficult already. There must be another path to helping the classroom teachers without causing more hardship to low-income people.

Sales tax in Krebs is indeed 10 percent: 4.5 state, 4.0 city, 1.5 Pittsburg County. The tax on $100 worth of groceries is therefore $10. Increasing the tax rate to 11 percent will mean that the tax on $100 worth of groceries will be, um, $11. This is an additional dollar, not “an additional $11.”

If this is the prevailing arithmetic out there, no wonder many are finding it difficult.

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Party at the polls

There are those who argue, not entirely unconvincingly, that Election Day — the big one in November, anyway — should be a Federal holiday.

Not everyone, however, is buying this premise:

[T]oo many people will take the Monday night before as an excuse to party, and I suspect we will see no increase in turnout, and we already have enough Federal holidays where ordinary people have to work but the banks and DMVs are closed, and there’s no mail delivery.

I think the single biggest argument against it is that it’s a Tuesday. Who the hell wants a Tuesday off?

In defense of the idea, it might suggest to this state, where election planning is scattershot at best, that maybe we don’t need seven or eight little elections every damn year.

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Aw, heck, why not?

I mean, he chose the persona:

And apparently it wasn’t entirely parental pressure, either:

The Backstory: Our 5 yo daughter had no costume. We said: How about HRC? Daughter: Nope. Son: Well someone’s gotta be Hillary! @HFA #Proud

(Via Tim Blair, who says this is a contender for Saddest Thing of All Time.)

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All about that ballot

Yours truly is voting absentee this year, and on the off-chance that you actually care, I’m letting you know what sort of thinking went into my selections. It is not, I hasten to add, always sensible.

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They’ll make it up in volume

This strikes me as one hell of a lot of email:

I can’t wrap my mind around 650,000 emails. Even before the next round of spam clearing, I have 55,617 emails on this box, and it took nearly twenty years to accumulate that much. Of course, I don’t have Carlos Danger’s propensity for hitting on every female within 20 ZIP codes, either.

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You’d be doing us all a favor

“Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty,” says the YouTube video description, “is a proven fighter for better roads, lower taxes, and responsible county spending.” But there are other reasons to vote for him:

“Quite possibly the best ad of this political season,” says Pejman Yousefzadeh.

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To be the King

We don’t have royalty in this country, the best efforts of some people who think themselves throneworthy notwithstanding, but we do have a great deal of internecine warfare, which may be the one thing we have in common with kingdoms of the past:

[P]eers maneuvering to ruin each other was the national sport of every court in the Middle Ages, in their brief breaks between trying to kill each other on the battlefield. Very few kings got shanked, even when it was in everyone’s obvious best interest (e.g. the Hundred Years’ War, which would’ve been about 75 years shorter if someone had just slipped Jean II some tainted snails).

This is a lesson our wannabe-aristocrats in the political elite should ponder. As the Z Man points out re: Hillary Clinton, she’s not in it for the ego-stroke; she’s in it for the money. But the Clintons are arrivistes, the 21st century equivalent of hustling rubes from the sticks who bought their patents of nobility from an addled old monarch who found them almost as useful as they were amusing. While being a titled court jester suits Bill just fine — he’s a poonhound who only cares about droit de seigneur — Hillary’s got a hole in her soul that no amount of money will ever fill. She certainly thinks she’s in it for the money, as she has understandably confused money with security and above all prestige … but she’s wrong, as she will find out to her great dismay should she win the Presidency. Even if the King is a drooling halfwit, he’s still the King, and she’s not, and never will be. We can only hope she doesn’t set the world ablaze trying to avoid that lesson.

Then again, our purposes are not well served by electing a drooling halfwit and expecting him to behave in kingly fashion.

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Front of the line

It is de rigueur in some circles to complain about early voting, usually with dark, mumbled references to “vote fraud.” I suppose it could be a fraud vector — just one among many — but it’s still a defensible practice:

In principle, early voting is described as a bad thing because it encourages people to vote before having the chance to learn all there is to know about a candidate or ballot question. In practice, it dissipates the impact of “October Surprise” gotcha revelations about a candidate or ballot question — which in my mind isn’t a bad thing. Eliminating the incentive to play endgame gotcha tricks on the electorate changes the tenor and rhythm of campaigns, and really the only ones with reason to complain are those who rely on such tricks.

And in this particular year, where both major campaigns are decidedly, even desperately, gotcha-oriented, there’s a lot to be said for being able to tune that stuff out.

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Presumed absence

I have formally requested an absentee ballot for the November festivities, on the basis that I don’t expect to be able to stand in line for any substantial length of time that day. I am not actually required to give the State Election Board an explanation, but the application indicates that they’d like to know, probably for data-mining purposes, and it’s not like it’s any big secret in this town that I have mobility issues for the moment.

Applications are accepted no later than 5 pm on the Wednesday before the actual election.

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The oath made mock

A troubling thought from Rand Simberg:

The next President to take the oath to defend and preserve the Constitution will very likely either be someone who despises it (particularly the first two amendments of the Bill of Rights), or someone who has almost certainly never even read it.

Still hoping for the meteor:

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Putting the “trophy” in “atrophy”

A bit from Steve Sailer while he was watching the debate (so I didn’t have to):

Hillary’s answer on how she’s shocked, shocked by Trump’s 2005 lewd comments would be pretty good except for the fact that the only reason she ever got higher in life than, say, a Congressman’s chief of staff is because she is married to Bill Clinton.

But you are supposed to vote for Hillary because she is a self-made woman. Or something.

That’s one of the weirdest things about this election: it’s obvious that Hillary’s main reason for being the Democratic nominee is that her husband is term limited out of a third term, the way Lurleen Wallace was elected governor of Georgia when George Wallace got term limited out of running. But we’re all supposed to act like Hillary has taken on the entire male sex by running for President, rather than coasting on her husband’s slipstream.

Consistent with this viewpoint, Lurleen’s 1966 general-election opponent, Congressman James D. Martin (R-Gadsden), claimed that she was merely a “proxy” candidate, a manifestation of her husband’s “insatiable appetite for power.” But truth be told, I’m pretty well convinced that Bill Clinton, at least these days, is indifferent to power, so long as he can exercise the perks; I have no doubt that were it not for the optics, Hillary would have hung him out to dry years ago.

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On being too old for this

On the ballot this fall in Henry County, Alabama:

Proposed Local Amendment Number One (1)

Relating to Henry County, proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person who is not over the age of 72 at the time of qualifying or appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Henry County.

This would apply to — how many people, exactly? You got it. One:

Judge [David] Money is currently in the 4th year of his first term as Probate Judge. He’s 68, but is already looking to the future.

“It gives us an opportunity that if you want to pursue another term, you can, it doesn’t necessarily say that I will, or the next one will, but it’s there if we should wish to do that,” said Judge Money.

This office has a six-year term; Judge Money’s term expires in 2018.

I’m wondering why Alabama would have a maximum age on any elective office. But clearly they do:

“Probate judge” in the AL judiciary is kind of like justice of the peace elsewhere: it’s not a lawyerly job. Here are the requirements of the office, per the AL Secy. of State:

Must have resided in the district which candidate seeks to represent for one year prior to election. No one may be elected or appointed to a judicial office after reaching the age of 70.

State legislators, I note, have no such age restriction.

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Quote of the week

Severian says it’s a learning process:

You know, this election has taught me a lot. For instance, I believe that women are just people, no better or worse than anyone else. That makes me a “sexist.”

I believe that people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That makes me a “racist.”

I believe that governments exist to protect their citizens against foreigners. That makes me a “fascist.”

I believe that my fellow citizens have the right to want what they want, and like what they like, whether or not it’s “good for them,” as defined by idiots who racked up $100,000 in student loan debt getting a Gender Studies degree. That makes me a “populist.”

I believe that people are unique individuals, not interchangeable widgets or cells on a spreadsheet. That makes me … I don’t even know what anymore, but it sure isn’t a “conservative,” the definition of which now appears to be “trying to beggar myself and my children so that GOP donors can have cheap Mexican labor on their fourth yacht.”

The political culture values labels far more than it values performance, ideas, or for that matter voters.

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Very well then, we contradict ourselves

Dave Schuler looks at the major parties and diagnoses cognitive dissonance:

In the Republicans’ case for the last three decades they’ve been preaching small government while doing almost nothing to reduce the size and reach of government. The resolution of their conflict seems to be the quasi-religious but empirically unfounded belief that tax cuts always pay for themselves.

On the upside, the GOP is ever so slightly less likely to utter the perverse phrase “revenue-neutral.”

The Democrats for their part struggle to be the party of the little guy while deriving most of their strength from the very biggest guys. Their resolution appears to be the equally dubious belief that if you just pay the top quintile of income earners enough it will solve the problems of the poor.

Especially if you’re pretending to raise taxes on said top quintile.

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