Archive for Political Science Fiction

The most pressing issue of the day

Actual flyer received by a District 36 voter:

District 36 starts in northwest Tulsa and continues out into the countryside.

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Don’t leave Rome without her

Meet Virginia Raggi, newly elected Mayor of Rome:

Virginia Raggi

Judging from this interview, conducted three days before the election, she does stage presence well:

Movimento 5 Stelle, Raggi’s political party, which says it doesn’t particularly want to be called a “party” as such, is generally considered to be populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist and Eurosceptic. Who would start a non-party like that? Beppe Grillo, comedian, activist, and, um, blogger.

Raggi will turn 38 next month. As a proper Italian woman, she’s working some pretty high heels:

Virginia Raggi in d'Orsay pumps

I note purely in passing that her campaign site was apparently set up to take donations from abroad.

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Too much continuity

A theoretical I’d just as soon avoid:

There is some argument as to whether she could. See the 12th Amendment, last sentence:

But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Once he completes his second term, Barack Obama would presumably be “constitutionally ineligible,” per the 22nd Amendment, and therefore could not serve as Vice President, though an amusing argument otherwise can be made.

And there’s a nightmare scenario: A Clinton/Obama ticket is elected, and some nimrod manages to penetrate security and ventilate Her Majesty’s jacket. She dies, the Supremes rule that Barack can’t come back to the White House, and the Presidency devolves upon — the Speaker of the House. What you think of this may depend on whether you think Paul Ryan will be replaced next year.

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There Armani here among us

Hillary Clinton's infamous jacket… who feel that this entire discussion of Hillary Clinton’s pricey Armani jacket is but a joke:

People are saying mean things about Hillary’s wardrobe, particularly the $12,000 coat she appeared in recently. I think that’s a cheap shot. The coat is not becoming — she can’t carry it off. She looks like she picked it up at some store that features garments for older women. I can just see some upper middle class woman wearing it to church or to a do at the Women’s Club, and looking better in it than Hillary.

No kidding, I think I would look better in that coat than she does; she is not interested in looking attractive, and I am. Surely the pantsuits she wore in office were dreadful, but so was everything she wore, including her ugly hairstyle, which made her look like someone who does not visit her stylist often enough, or maybe doesn’t even have a hairstylist. She does not place a high value on her appearance, having more worthwhile things to concern herself with, like how many bombs to drop on ISIS this week or what to do about hunger. I’m not saying she shouldn’t spend a lot of money on her clothes; no one expects a millionaire in public life to shop at JCPenney.

Best handwave I’ve seen so far: someone imported into my tweetstream who swears that this shapelessness of hers is caused by bulletproof vests.

There is, I suggest, no point in getting worked up over the price of Mrs Clinton’s garb; she’s a private citizen and can spend her money any damned way she wants, and those who feel like yelling “But inequality!” can go whiz up a rope. This is not Pat Nixon’s Republican cloth coat. And let’s face it, you’ve seen worse.

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Counsel from Troi

“I wish you were running for President,” said the lovelorn loon on Twitter to actress Marina Sirtis. She graciously declined:

Regrets? Perhaps she’s had a few. She told the BBC she was delighted at being put in a proper Starfleet uniform in season 6 of Star Trek: The Next Generation:

“It covered up my cleavage and, consequently, I got all my brains back, because when you have a cleavage you can’t have brains in Hollywood. So I got all my brains back and I was allowed to do things that I hadn’t been allowed to do for five or six years. I went on away teams, I was in charge of staff, I had my pips back, I had phasers, I had all the equipment again, and it was fabulous. I was absolutely thrilled.”

Not offered so far: a definition of “too many.”

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Some limit that was

By any reasonable standard, Oklahomans could have been considered enthusiastic for term limits; when State Question 632 made it to the ballot in 1990, it passed with more than 67 percent approval. Has incumbent turnover increased? Not so much:

One knock on term limits is that they artificially remove lawmakers with institutional memory, people who’ve been around the block enough times to anticipate problems. That point is not without merit, but Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit for state legislators is hardly draconian. This year provides a reminder. In the House of Representatives, 19 lawmakers are being forced out by term limits. But another 11 are leaving voluntarily, meaning more than one-third of open seats have nothing to do with term limits. For many people, the allure of legislative office is eventually outweighed by the perceived benefits of running for another office or returning to the private sector well before term limits kick in. This is one reason the Oklahoma Policy Institute found the average length of service for House members was greater in 2014 than in 1990. While term limits may slightly increase legislative turnover, their impact appears marginal.

I wonder how much the fat raise given to legislators in 1997 — they now make $38,400 a year plus per diem — might be a factor; some of these guys, you wonder if they could survive in the private sector.

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Checking one’s hindsight (1)

Note: The following originally appeared in Vent #10, from this week in 1996.

Occasional Baptist counterexamples notwithstanding, the true religion of Oklahoma is football, which explains why two of the state’s Representatives (out of six) are former college football players who have little else to recommend them. The First District’s Steve Largent, recently stroked by America’s leading political magazine — People Weekly — is owned and operated by the Pat Robertson crowd, and this always plays well in Tulsa, which is, after all, Oral Roberts’ home base. Largent, therefore, will probably survive this fall. More troublesome for the GOP is Julius Caesar Watts, installed in the Fourth District seat after spending a couple of years on the Corporation Commission shilling for utility companies. In the House, he rails against all government programs except the one that enabled him to buy a distressed Midwest City apartment complex dirt-cheap. And remember all that yammering about how Congress shouldn’t exempt itself from the laws it inflicts on the public sector? Our friend J. C. has managed to exempt a mere 94 percent of his staff from the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Steve Largent, by comparison, has fully a third of his staff covered, which by this state’s standards borders on commendable. The Tulsa World covered all this during the spring, if anyone is curious.) Word is now out that Watts turned a profit on his investment with Hillary-like speed, which automatically arouses suspicion around Dustbury, and this could well cost him his seat come November.

As it happens, neither Largent nor Watts had anything to worry about in the ’96 election, or the next two. Largent gave up his seat in 2002 to run for Governor, but was beaten by Brad Henry. Watts left in 2002 to sort of return to the private sector; he’s now CEO of the no-longer-scandal-ridden charity Feed the Children.

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Dole House cookies

The Swiss voted down a measure to give every legally resident citizen of Switzerland an income of CHF 2500 (about $2555 US) every month. The Z Man considers the issue:

There are some good arguments in favor of the guaranteed basic income. One is it is simple. Like the flat tax, the GBI replaces the myriad of welfare programs and the government vipers that come with them. The other point in its favor is it addresses the growing problem of mass unemployment. In the robot future, most people don’t work so this solves the problem of people not having a way to earn money. There’s also the fact that it is value neutral. People get the money to spend on whatever they wish, without the nanny state harassing them.

There is, of course, a downside, at least from the US point of view:

There are many arguments against it, with the most obvious being that welfare programs never go away. In America, the US Congress has repealed exactly one welfare program in the last century. The WPA was passed in the 1930s and later replaced by Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which was such a hilarious disaster, it was replaced by a program called the Jobs Training Partnership Act. That was eventually repealed in the 90s. That’s a long time to kill one horrible welfare program.

The most likely result, at least in America, is a basic income on top of existing welfare programs. There are 79 means tested welfare programs in America. Everyone of those programs has a federal agency employing thousands of people who do nothing but administer welfare programs. Congress will get rid of those right after they do something about the unicorn infestation. Until the inevitable fiscal crisis forces a mass retrenchment of industrial era government programs, there will be no reform of welfare in America.

I’m not holding my breath. Still, it would be amusing to have a referendum on the matter, the way the Swiss did:

There was little support among Swiss politicians for the idea and not a single parliamentary party came out in favour, but the proposal gathered more than 100,000 signatures and was therefore put to the vote under the Swiss popular initiative system.

What percentage could such a referendum get in the States? Thirty percent, maybe?

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Ruining the brand

A lot of names don’t mean what they used to mean. Like “Cadillac,” for instance. Or “Democrat” or “Republican.”

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Quote of the week

Roberta X notices the Senate wasting some time — specifically, a resolution to commemorate the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 — and suggests an upside to such waste:

The positive side is that every second the Senate spends — and I’ll be back to that word in a moment, “spends” — on frivolity of this sort, National Gardenia-Scent Aftershave Day, Hug A Scorpion Day, whatever, is one less second spent misappropriating funds and sodomizing pages. If, like me, you figure the fed.gov has all the laws they could possibly need for the next hundred years or more, such wheel-spinners do keep the empty suits from making it more illegal to serve guests milk from your own cow or making lists of approved pronouns (better write your Senator now, you frelks and throons!).

Which does not mean there isn’t a price to be paid for this wankery:

On the other hand, they’ve got the lights on and the air-conditioning running, coffeemakers gurgling and the vast presses of the Federal Register humming, world-famous Senatorial bean soup* glooping gently in the stewpots and filling every task, even the ones usually automated elsewhere, well-paid workers, hardworking (or heavy-sleeping, but I didn’t pay for a first-class flight of fancy ticket just to judge some low-level functionary) and ready to fulfill just about every whim … of the people in the big, fancy room, orating grandiloquently on the anniversary of an automobile race a third of a continent away: they’re spending my tax money at a nearly moonshot rate to perform self-important nonsense.

Mandatory footnote:

* Coals to Newcastle, beans to the legislatively flatulent. And nary a block of government cheese in sight!

And truth be told, some of those fart-ridden geezers couldn’t tell the Indy 500 from a Roman chariot race.

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We build nations

Except for the minor detail that actually, we don’t:

I was one of the fools who believed in W’s grand “nation building” project in the Middle East. I know more history than the average guy, and yet I was fooled, too — such is the power of wishcasting.

In reality, representative government is an Anglo-Saxon thing. And given the problems we have with it — our current election is between a criminal narcissist and a narcissist criminal — it’s no surprise that cultures with no tradition other than the despotic can’t get the hang of it in just a few years, despite the best efforts of National Review and the Peace and/or Marine Corps.

This is not, you should note, some kind of ethnic thing:

[N]one of this should be taken for an argument that only white people can do democracy — as if the ability to mark a ballot is somehow genetic. Again, see Presidential Election 2016, or any of the literally Caucasian countries surrounding the former USSR. The point is that representative democracy is the result of a long, long, long history, a unique combination of circumstances stretching back to the Greek polis (and, again, if you want to maintain that white folks have a “government” gene, imagine what would happen if you time-warped Demosthenes into modern America and told him that this is representative government. The poor dude would stroke out). Other cultures simply don’t have that history, and even the best-intentioned attempts to impose a facsimile from above give you — at best — India. Which bills itself as “the world’s largest democracy,” and it is … sort of, if you add a list of qualifiers about the size of the Chicago phone book.

Still, if India is the best-case scenario, and you can make a case that it is — well, you don’t want to think too hard about the worst-case scenario.

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Dollars here, dollars there

The apparently not-dead-yet Ted Cruz — at least, that’s the name in the From field — has issued this blurb on behalf of Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma’s 1st District:

There are hundreds of congressional races taking place across the country this year, but this election in Oklahoma is especially important.

Jim Bridenstine is one of the top conservative leaders in the House today and he isn’t afraid to stand up to the powerful interests in Washington.

He has fought to stop Obamacare, to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty, and to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer money.

Time after time, Jim has stood with me and other conservatives in Congress to defend the Constitution, and now he needs your help.

The Washington establishment has recruited a candidate to run against Jim in the June 28th Republican primary election. He’s a threat to the Beltway insiders so they are determined to defeat him.

*Please join me in supporting this outstanding conservative leader by making a contribution to his campaign today.*

Some of us down here in Soonerland are, shall we say, suspicious of solicitations for out-of-state money. And we know this is going out of state, because Ted Cruz and/or his fellow travelers in this particular PAC didn’t send this to me; it was sent to good old Roger Green in Albany, New York, who isn’t the least likely person on earth to send a contribution to the Jim Bridenstine campaign, but he’s a long way from the top of the list, if you know what I mean.

There is no Democrat running in the First District, which should give you an idea of how this area skews politically. (There is an Independent in the race.) Tom Atkinson, the “establishment” Republican candidate, actually considered running against Bridenstine two years ago, but eventually thought better of it. With Bridenstine vowing to serve a maximum of three terms — he’s completed two — Atkinson may actually get a chance in 2018.

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Irrational for the moment

I could probably find some exceptions to this rule:

Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they’d recently left the GOP.

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You heard it here third

Possibly second, but definitely not first:

If Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination for President, the media will close ranks both on the news side and on the advertising side — and the only pro-Trump stories or ads that will ever see the light of day will be the ones that make him (and Republicans in general) look the most ridiculous, and Hillary look the most sympathetic.

With Ted Cruz exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, we should be able to see examples of this phenomenon Real Soon Now.

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Didn’t need this after all

From page A5 of yesterday’s Oklahoman:

Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan is giving campaign donors their money back.

The District 2 commissioner secured a third term earlier this month when the deadline passed without an opponent filing for the seat. Maughan says he returned $75,810.11 to 372 donors after deducting expenses.

Maughan had geared up for a challenge after others announced plans to run. Maughan says each donor got back about 79 percent of what they contributed.

I suppose the scary aspect of this is that it takes about a hundred grand to run for County Commissioner, at least in a county this size. (There are 77 counties in Oklahoma, each divided into three districts.)

Still, this is a far better return on investment than a donor normally gets without Actual Graft.

Maughan’s campaign Web site is still up, though it probably doesn’t cost a whole lot.

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A consummation he will surely miss

Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana calls the state Republican primary for Donald Trump:

If I’m not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegate race — assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot. Most of those delegates favored John Kasich at the time they were chosen. Only two of the delegates named by state party officials publicly declared their support for Trump, although some have indicated they would feel obligated to support the voters’ wishes.

What’s surprising here is that opening phrase: “If I’m not around to see the vote results.” Because he won’t be:

Prominent Indianapolis blogger Gary Welsh has died, according to Indianapolis police, who say they are investigating the death as a “tragic suicide.”

Welsh, 53, wrote the widely followed conservative blog Advance Indiana, which he launched more than a decade ago. He also was a practicing attorney.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s incident report says officers were dispatched to the Lockerbie Glove Factory Lofts, 430 N. Park Ave., before 8 a.m. Sunday after receiving a report of a person found shot in the stairwell of the building. The witnesses who called 911 reported that a gun was next to the body.

That last post went up just after noon on Friday. I didn’t see anything in the preceding week’s worth of posts to suggest that this was coming.

(Via Aaron M. Renn.)

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Redeeming social value

The Oklahoman Scissortales page 30 April 2016Earlier this year, Ted Cruz won the GOP primary in this state, and I assume the Oklahoman is fine with that, since they tend to tilt a bit rightward, as does Cruz. Still, a person in page-turning mode, as I was this afternoon, might have been taken aback by this image on the editorial page.

It took a moment, but: “Oh. I get it.”

The paragraph, complete:

Donald Trump has struggled to convince Americans to support his presidential candidacy, as evidenced by his poor showing in many polls. Notably, he typically falls below 50 percent support even in polls of Republican voters, despite dominating the news cycle for months and notching up plurality wins in many primaries. But others are unintentionally providing reason to support Trump for president: If he is elected, some Hollywood lightweights promise to leave the country. That list includes Lena Dunham, Jon Stewart and Rosie O’Donnell. Dunham recently declared, “I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will. I know a lovely place in Vancouver and I can get my work done from there.” When asked about those comments during a Fox News interview, Trump responded, “That would be a great thing for our country.” No doubt, many Americans agree with Trump on that point.

Note to travel agents: You are not going to make a killing on all these celebrities who claim they’re going to leave the country, no matter what they claim.

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Minor political content

Considered purely as a poem, it’s not much, but it does make a point:

Victoria Moll-Ramirez, last I heard, was a Segment Producer for The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart at MSNBC.

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This doesn’t look like a primary

The last two elections, we had more than 50 (!) legislative incumbents returned to office because they didn’t draw any opposition. This year, not so much. There are no unchallenged Senators, and only a handful of House members got a free pass:

  • H22: Charles A. McCall (R-Atoka)
  • H24: Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs)
  • H34: Cory T. Williams (D-Stillwater)
  • H35: Dennis Casey (R-Morrison)
  • H37: Steven E. Vaughan (R-Ponca City)
  • H38: John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando)
  • H48: Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore)
  • H57: Harold Wright (R-Weatherford)
  • H59: Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher)
  • H68: Glen Mulready (R-Tulsa)
  • H77: Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa)
  • H88: Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City)
  • H90: John Echols (R-Oklahoma City)

Of these thirteen, nine appeared on the 2014 list.

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It’s starting to look like a primary

Collin Walke, who ran for House District 87 two years ago and was beaten by incumbent Jason Nelson, is trying again, now that Nelson’s out of the running. (He left a small flyer on my door some time between 11:30 and 1 yesterday.) He’s the second Democrat I’ve heard from, following the opening salvo last week by Kelly Meredith. And there won’t be any more: no other Democrats filed before the end of the official filing period Friday.

Meanwhile, four Republicans have signed up to take a stab at it, and with this year’s actual recognition of the party, there’s a Libertarian; in fact, the LP has sixteen candidates for 2016, and there will be an actual Libertarian primary, there being two candidates for Senator James Lankford’s seat.

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Greater Scott

Scott Inman is the Minority Leader in the Oklahoma House, charged with keeping the Democrats more or less in line. He has a short bio in Wikipedia, which used to be a lot longer before this section was excised:

Bogus biographical details about Scott Inman

Okay, we get it: Scott Inman is not Aquaman.

Inman’s comment upon reading this:

[M]y friends have a unique and clever sense of humor. And apparently they have a lot of time on their hands too.

(Via Phil Cross at Fox 25. He didn’t do it, I’m pretty sure.)

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Live with Kelly

Last week, Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City) announced he would not seek reelection:

The Republican floor leader of the Oklahoma House says he will step aside from his northwest Oklahoma City seat after eight years in office.

Rep. Jason Nelson said Wednesday he will not seek re-election to his District 87 House seat in November. The 44-year-old Nelson announced his decision on the floor of the House where he was congratulated by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Republican and Democratic House members.

As an actual resident of District 87, I am of course interested in Nelson’s successor. And the first flyer has arrived, on behalf of Kelly Meredith. Her political affiliation is not disclosed, but let’s read between the lines, specifically these lines from the flyer:

Kelly will bring her experience as a strategic planner, an educator, and a mother to the Capitol. She is tired of seeing reckless budgeting, wasteful legislation, and political games that hurt our children and our state.

Got to be a Democrat. (Republicans have a 70-31 majority in the House, so at least two of those charges will presumably be blamed on the GOP.) Which means I will eventually meet her; in the 12 years I’ve lived in 87, every single Democratic candidate — and no Republican — has come out to knock on my door at a time when I could conceivably have answered it.

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Please don’t kill our bomber

There exists on change.org a petition to spare the life of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, largely referencing the usual “Capital punishment is yucky” suspects. Most of it is fairly predictable — it’s not like we haven’t seen anything like this before — but this one paragraph toward the end is, well, striking:

Depriving Mr. Tsarnaev of his essential rights as a human being in response to his own disregard for human life is a senseless and counterproductive way of addressing the issues at hand.

Um, what issues might those be? Whether bombers should have their selfies on the cover of the Rolling Stone?

Last I looked, 34 people had their names affixed to this appeal.

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Muddle in the middle

“Moderate” is kind of a bad word around elections, especially this election. Chris Lawrence, who describes himself as “College professor and all-around troublemaker,” once said this:

Most Americans — and most people the world over, in fact — don’t have consistent, ideological belief systems. The absence of those belief systems makes them moderate, because they just react to whatever’s going on in the political ether; if you’re lucky, you might be able to pin their beliefs to some overarching fundamental value (“hard work”, “equality”, “liberty”).

There are only two types of true moderate: people who don’t care about politics, and centrist politicians (and this latter class of people generally care less about politics than they care about keeping their jobs — I defy you to explain the behavior of Arlen Specter or Olympia Snowe otherwise).

I aspire to be a person who does not care about politics, although politics, damn it, persists in caring about me, or at least in pretending to do so. Still, if there’s such baggage attached to “moderate,” maybe I need a new word. How about “centrist”? Does “centrist” work for me?

Hmmm. It has potential.

(Via Will Truman.)

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When things get complicated

Middle of the morning, I got a note from a neighbor via Nextdoor: “I am going to close your garage door.” This, of course, leads to the obvious question: why in the fark is it open? I contemplated several possibilities, the most unnerving of which was the chance that someone might have figured out the Double Super Secret Code that runs the remote. This particular garage-door opener dates back to — well, not the Pleistocene, exactly, but it’s old enough to have its code set by a row of jumpers, the sort of thing we haven’t seen since we got rid of master and slave drives in PCs. I put in a call to William of Ockham, who noted that I happened to be carrying two remotes, one in the car, one on my person, and if I started the process with the former and inadvertently engaged the latter while turning away from the house, I could easily have created this situation myself. I argued that I didn’t think the secondary remote had that kind of range, but to no avail. I arrived back home about 11:30, and everything seemed to be in order.

And it is an election day, so I figured I’d take care of that detail on the way back to work. Turnout was expected to be light, given the single race on the ballot: finishing the unexpired term of Oklahoma County Court Clerk Tim Rhodes, who resigned last year to take a job at the Corp Comm. I did not, however, imagine it to be this light: at a quarter to twelve, four hours and forty-five minutes into the session, I was preceded by a mere 23 voters. There are more than 1500 registered voters in this precinct.

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The phrase that pays

The original Vision 2025 sales-tax scheme in Tulsa County has come to an end, and with the horror of losing that 0.6 percent staring them in the face, the powers that be have assembled a wish list for a renewal of the scheme. One of the bigger items on that list is a pair of low-water dams on the Arkansas River to supplement the existing Zink Dam. And those dams are on the list, apparently, because it is assumed the suckers will vote for them even if they’re not actually going to be built:

According to emails obtained by FOX23 News and videos of city council committee meetings being held throughout the month of February, city officials were aware the south Tulsa-Jenks dam was falling through and began to set up “contingencies” where voters would approve the two low-water dams, but the money raised from the sales tax, at least on the City of Tulsa side, would go to improving the Zink Dam, setting up a maintenance endowment for the Zink Dam, and then distributing what was left of the two dam plan’s funding to various projects throughout the City of Tulsa, some in council districts nowhere near the Arkansas River.

Cynical in the extreme, even by Tulsa standards.

The vote comes Tuesday, 5 April. In the meantime, expect to see these sprout up:

No More Dam Taxes

(Via BatesLine.)

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Dick Deux

The Z Man seems persuaded that Ted Cruz is the second coming of Richard Milhous Nixon:

Cruz, like Nixon, is a guy you instinctively want to avoid. There was an alien aspect to Nixon that even his friends found to be off-putting. His enemies, of course, pounced on these things, hence the name “Tricky Dick.” Cruz has this same problem. His friends are not enthusiastic about him, but his enemies are very enthusiastic.

Nixon, like Cruz, was never embraced by the GOP. Eisenhower picked him as his VP, but treated him like bad odor. Ike was universally revered, but Nixon, despite his talents, was despised by the WASP elite of both parties. Democrats hated him for Alger Hiss and Republicans hated him for being low-class. The fact that Nixon was smarter and more knowledgeable about international affairs made things worse as he could not be dismissed as a rube.

Then again, in Nixon’s day, the GOP actually went to the trouble to appear as though they believed in something. Today they can hardly be bothered.

And then there’s that whole 19th-century ethos, explained by Severian:

Pick any 19th century president — the odds are you’ll find a weirdo with limited interpersonal skills. In the newsprint-and-telegraph media era, the President was basically just his party’s designated flak-catcher. Nixon was a Martin van Buren type — an ideas guy, an organizer, a wire-puller, who through a weird confluence of circumstances ended up as the nominee. It’s only the media era, and really the tv era, where you get the “imperial presidency” (in that jerkoff’s condescending but wonderful phrase) and all the hoopla and nonsense that goes along with it. As I’ve said before, Cruz would’ve cleaned up in the 19th century.

And Van Buren, who arrived at the White House from the Andrew Jackson administration — he was Andy’s second-term Vice President — caught plenty of flak just from the Panic of 1837. At any rate, the electorate was disinclined to elevate any sitting Veeps thereafter, including Nixon in 1960; the only one since to break through was Bush 41. (Joe Biden? Don’t get your hopes up.)

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Drawing lots of lines

The other day, I asked Roger this: “What would be the one change you’d most like to see in the governance of the State of New York?” His response:

Generally, I disdain term limits, because I believe philosophically the people should be able to elect who they want. But I also recognize that the state legislature gets to pick the gerrymandered boundaries of the state legislature.

I like the idea of a truly independent board that would redraw the lines every ten years, pretty much ignoring the previous boundaries, and primarily paying attention to finding the population balance, still with some consideration of neighborhoods, would be nice. I just don’t know what that looks like.

Neither do I. But it would definitely be nice to find out.

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Quote of the week

Amanda Kerri writes for The Advocate:

Somehow we have put up some qualifiers on which political party you’re supposed to be a member or supporter of as an LGBT person. It’s somehow become the accepted norm that when a person comes out of the closet, they come out carrying old WPA posters, a yellowed newspaper saying “Dewey Defeats Truman,” and a Mondale-Ferraro button. I’m alluding to the Democratic Party, of course. To be fair, we tend to get weird about Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, who complicate the narratives. Still, we seem to have become wedded to the idea that we are at least supposed to be Democrats as LGBT people, and to some you’re not truly “woke” on LGBT issues unless you’re slightly to the left of Trotsky. It’s odd that we think that way — that for some reason who we love or how we identify determines our attitudes about taxes, foreign policy, Wall Street oversight, and the Second Amendment.

Let me lay it out straight for you — pun intended — your sexual orientation and/or gender identity has nothing to do with what you should believe politically. It may shock you, but 20 percent of LGBT people self-identify as conservative. It goes up to 30 percent if you’re polling people over 50, but of course we all know gay people quit mattering after 40.

I did not know that. I did, however, know this:

Not everyone who falls into the conservative camp is a vile hatemonger corporate stooge, while not everyone on the progressive side is ready to cut off rich people’s heads and quote from Das Kapital.

With respect to that article, “don’t read the comments” applies particularly strongly.

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A unified theory of Trump

Severian explains Donald Trump about as well as Donald Trump can be explained:

I’m far from a Trump fan (though I do support him — he’s exactly what we deserve, and I want to help us get it). But Teh Donald epitomizes a facet of the American character, which Euros, Leftists, and assorted other dummkopfs call “anti-intellectualism.” Americans aren’t against thinking, or even high-level abstract airy-fairy cogitating — if we were, we’d never have led the world in pretty much everything ever. What we’re against is being educated past our hat size, and we’re utterly opposed to thinking that words like “critique” and “studies” are anything other than dangerous boondoggles. Euros and Leftists think that pretending to know what the hell Lacan was talking about means you’re a super-smart deep thinker; Americans take it as a sign that you got took, that you handed over your house deed along with your wallet to a snake oil salesman.

Hence, Obama. He’s everything the latte-slurping, soccer-loving, paper-chasing crowd wishes they could be. Trump openly thumbs his nose at all that, and when you call him on it, he just says “scoreboard, bitches.” He must’ve learned something with all those bankruptcies, because he keeps getting back on the Richest People list every time he gets knocked off.

Now, it’s entirely possible that he hasn’t learned anything since then, or that he’s bought into his own schtick, or that he’s gone completely delusional. But telling the American people that they ain’t not no un-dummies for not having PhDs — that they can, in fact, be wildly successful while misspelling every third word on Twitter — will take you a long, long way.

Bonus points for that triple negative (I think) in the last graf.

For the record, Noam Chomsky thought that Lacan was an “amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan.”

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