Archive for Political Science Fiction

Decentralization already

Smitty observes:

It’s not good when the one you don’t like is in the office with too much power; it’s not good when the one you do like is in the office with too much power: maybe someday we’ll realize that the fundamental problem is that the office has too much power.

What are we to do?

  • Make the House more representative?
  • Nuke the 17th Amendment, so that States matter more?
  • Replace gerrymandering with a modern mapping algorithm, to weaken parties?
  • Apply pliers and a blow torch to the IRS, and craft a 21st-century taxation system?
  • Term-limit pretty much everything, and blow up the petty aristocracy of the Beltway?

All of these ideas have merit. On the “more representative” question, it’s worth remembering that the original deal was 30,000 per House member. We’re now at the point where it’s 80,000 per member of the Oklahoma City Council. (The state of Oklahoma has five Representatives for 3.7 million people.)

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A politics-free zone

In the best of all possible worlds, the entire world would be a politics-free zone. But this isn’t happening:

I started following a few “pretty pictures” accounts on Twitter to try to counteract a lot of the political stuff that’s being discussed on there. And then guess what: yesterday afternoon an account or two of them suddenly decided that it was time to get political.

They chose … poorly.

I think about a lot of this, and I think about something the survivalist types talk about, the whole “head on a swivel” idea — that every public place now is Potentially Dangerous, so you need to be in a state of heightened awareness and that just exhausts me and makes me want to be a hermit. I mean, I have halfway-decent situational awareness just because I’m observant and my history of being teased and made the butt of jokes makes me super sensitive to “hey, this thing isn’t quite right in my environment” but the idea of thinking of five escape routes for every part of the wal-mart I might happen to be in just makes me exhausted, and makes me almost want to say, “Okay, if a crazed shooter wants to take me out while I’m buying frozen cauliflower, then it was my time to go, and hopefully I’ll have that last chance to ask forgiveness for my sins before I die…”

And I think the being hyper-aware of political stuff is similar.

I stick by what I said yesterday to a friend in Canada:

And if anyone should come back with “But … but we’re marginalized!” I’m going to reply “Yet I can still hear you.”

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He was the bravest of them all

The Z Man titled a post “We Need a Tom Doniphon,” and I knew at once what he meant. Just to make sure we’re paying attention, though, Z plugged in this last paragraph:

America is headed for a bad end unless things change quickly and radically. The suicide cult that has control of our society is not going to stop until we’re all dead. At some point, you have to use every means necessary to prevent a catastrophe. If that means Lindsay Graham winds up in a pit covered in lime, so be it. If Bill Kristol has to write his tantrums from exile in Israel, I can live with that. In order to have a world run by Senator Ranse Stoddard, you first need a Tom Doniphon to do the dirty work of clearing out Liberty Valance.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David put together a wonderful song called “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” after John Ford’s film; however, the song does not appear in the film. (Ask Eddy Grant what that’s like.) Some latter-day genius came up with the idea of creating a video for the song, based on the original trailer plus a couple of pertinent scenes. (Jimmy Stewart was Ranse Stoddard, and John Wayne was Tom Doniphon.)

Gene Pitney was never better, and today, 55 years after the film, Liberty Valance is as relevant as ever.

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The post-ACA future

Assuming the GOP delivers on a campaign promise, which admittedly is a hell of a lot to assume, Obamacare is good as gone. Then what? Fred speculates:

When national medical care is considered in America, nobody — so far as I am aware, anyway — thinks to look at other countries, see what they are doing, and ask, “Does it work?” To do so would make sense, and so is rejected out of hand, and anyway Americans apparently cannot conceive that other countries might do things well. Instead we hear about this that economic theory, and freedom, and what Adam Smith said about bypass surgery, and tyranny.

Invariably you hear of the pregnant woman in London who couldn’t see a doctor under national health care and had to giver herself a Caesarian with a chainsaw. These nightmares are offered as proof that national care doesn’t work. In fact the medical business lobbies to underfund national care, ensuring that it won’t work well. Then they talk about the evils of socialism.

By comparison:

Military medical care is the obvious, available, and easily studied alternative to Obamacare. So far as I know, nobody thought of this. In the military you go to the hospital or clinic, show your ID card, get done whatever you need, and leave. Thank you, good day. No paperwork. No paperwork. No insurance forms, deductibles, receipts. No insurance companies trying to pay as little as possible, since that’s how they make money. The doctor doesn’t order a PET scan, three MRIs, and a DNA analysis of your grandmother’s dog to run up the bill.

This would never do, and it didn’t. Say hello to Tricare. But don’t look directly at it.

From the taxpayer’s point of view, real national care involves no insurance companies. For this reason Congress, for sale to the highest bidder, will never consider such a system.

Any meaningful improvement would have to get rid of at least one, and preferably two, of the established middlemen: either Big Insurance, or Big Government. Both of them, of course, are dug in for the long haul.

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So! Sad!

I’m almost surprised it took this long:

Opening act: the Stephen Miller Band.

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Quote of the week

Whomever you choose to take the blame for our Parlous Times, you’re sort of missing the point:

You know what the reality is? Every one of those guys — even the sneakiest, cleverest, richest of the lot, pick your choice, is floundering. Oh, they may stumble a little less than we do, and get a little more light shed in one corner or another, but they, like you or me, are doing good to keep up. It’s 2017 and a goatherd barely out of the Stone Age armed with a can of gasoline can, for a short while, speak just as loudly and influentially as the greasiest éminence grise. Those fellows who look so confident, generals and zillionaires, Congressthings and shady wheeler-dealers? It’s a front; they’ve got their refuges and boltholes and they hope their ride will wait, but they have no better handle on the future than you do and their only real plan is to see the next sunrise with their skin intact. They rely on custom and habit and the dull goodwill of their fellow humans every bit as much as you do.

Which explains the current state of things:

In January, we saw one of the great civil miracles of modern civilization: the peaceful transfer of power of a major nation going off without a hitch in a ceremony that’s been performed every four years since the end of April, 1789, and you know what people did? They went after trivia. After speculative nonsense. And it has only become worse every day since.

If you’re heavily emotionally invested in contemporary politics, you’re wasting the best part of your life.

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This may mean nothing at all

The Web host I have used since 2001 offers some 350 different top-level domains, from ten bucks a year to several thousand. Pricing, one assumes, is at least somewhat based on demand, which may or may not explain this:

29.99 to register dot democrat

34.99 to register dot republican

For some reason, they don’t have .gop or .socialist.

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Don’t make me combover there

I’m the first, maybe the second, to tell you that Donald J. Trump is not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed. But at least he’s in the shed, while his loudest opponents evidently were left out in the rain:

The Soros-ites think Trump is a gravy train, keeping the money flowing into their various causes. The GOPe think that the Uniparty’s big money donors will reward them with power and influence if they obstruct Trump’s agenda. The Cucks think they can play their usual game of “advance the Left’s agenda, but politely,” and reap the usual rewards. The idiot apparatchiks in #TheResistance think they’ll be first in line for a promotion when things return to normal.

That’s not going to happen. Trump’s been doing the Lucy-with-the-football routine since the primaries, far earlier than most of us — myself most definitely included — could see it. Remember all those Dems crossing over in the open primaries to vote for Trump? Remember those few weeks when every Lefty pundit in existence was gleefully on the Trump train, begging Republicans to vote for him? How’d that work out, geniuses? To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s pretty clear that Trump loves giving people enough rope to hang themselves … and like Lenin said, he’ll even sell them the rope. He’s already talking about defunding Berkeley, and at this rate Soros will find himself deported into the loving arms of Viktor Orbán. Smarten up, comrades.

The Donald doesn’t have to be smarter than everyone; he just has to be smarter than them. Fortunately, this is not difficult.

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Widgetology 101

Joe explains how it works, and how quickly it can be made to fail:

Suppose the owners decided they will source our widgets from an outside source, say a group of Aborigines from the darkest jungle of New Guinea. These people not only lack advanced manufacturing techniques, they have no quality source of raw materials and only a basic idea of our widget. The result is a low quality, barely working, yet highly profitable version of our product.

The boss sends me out to sell the new product. What would happen if I went to the customers, told them our product was junk and they should buy from our competitors? How long would I have a job? Would the boss have every reason to fire me? I may not like the new product. I may think it is junk. I may think it is morally wrong to sell the widget’s benefits. Would it be my right to disparage the product and still keep my job?

Um, what are you getting at here?

Why in heck is anyone defending Sally Yates? Of course she deserved to be fired.

And she was. (One thing President Trump apparently remembers from a previous life: how to fire people.)

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An F word

No, not that one. If I regret anything at this point, it’s that I don’t own the trademark on words like “fascist.” Not that it’s being used correctly these days, you know.

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The privilege is ours

Bark M. is awakened (as distinguished from “being woke”):

“I have learned something this morning,” my friend wrote to me via Facebook Messenger early today. “White people love to protest.

You know what? He’s right! I spent the day watching various news reports on CNN, Fox, and NBC, and I couldn’t find any image of a protest that was comprised of less than 95% white people (unless it was a staged photo with POC propped up behind the Democrat of your choice — although even that went waaaaay wrong a couple of times). As my friend said, it’s easy to go hold a sign at an airport. Marching, chanting, holding hands — none of that actually costs you anything.

But what about volunteering with an organization that houses refugees? or putting together meal packages at a food bank? or cooking food for families at the Ronald McDonald house? or building a Habitat for Humanity? (Four things that your author has actually done, by the way.) Nah. That might require effort. And there won’t be any news cameras present, or celebrities, or live streaming.

No, it’s easy to take the Saturday and Sunday afternoon that you have off (because you don’t work a menial/retail job that would require you to be present) and go hold a sign at the airport (making it harder for those of us who travel for a living and make the country actually run) because you’ll have so much to talk about at the water cooler on Monday. In other words, the people who are ensuring that you have a latte to drink before your protest or shuttle you to the protest in your Uber or serve you a delicious cocktail at the new hip bar in town have better things to do.

Except, of course, that you’re supposed to be boycotting Uber because wicked Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is on one of Trump’s advisory boards.

But yeah, for a lot of these folks it’s purely a matter of virtue signaling, nothing more — because they have nothing to lose. You want credit for civil disobedience, you have to risk your neck, or at least more of your time than it takes to get on cable news.

Not that I’m going to tell you to stay home or anything. Wouldn’t be right, wouldn’t be prudent, wouldn’t be consistent with actual free speech, you know? But you’re going to be a lot more persuasive on behalf of the downtrodden if someone treads on you now and then. I hate to invoke the dread spectre of intersectionality, but believe me, there’s always someone who has it worse than you do, and who may not have your gift for finding a camera to dash in front of.

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You are not supposed to know this

Word around the Twitterverse and elsewhere yesterday was that Donald Trump canceled this last-minute ad for healthcare.gov, blowing off some $5 million, out of purest spite.

This does not mean that applications before the January 31st deadline will be rejected; it does presumably mean that the Administration would just as soon you didn’t apply.

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Wholly guacamole

So far, this is the most cogent comment on the Trump administration’s idea of imposing a 20-percent tariff on goods imported from Mexico:

Nice to see Senator Graham has his priorities in order for once.

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Not all that red

The Z Man rather hilariously dismisses the site known as Red State:

Red State is a website that was originally started as sort of a “conservative” alternative to the left-wing blogosphere. I put quotes there because Red State’s brand of conservatism has always been the housebroken type of stuff popular on the Bush wing of the GOP. Like a lot of so-called conservatives in the Bush years, Red State was basically just a cheering section for the Republicans. Whatever Team Bush proposed, Red State branded as “Reaganesque” and “principled conservatism,” especially if it meant killing Muslims.

That probably sounds harsh, but I’m just getting started. Serial plagiarist Ben Domenech, pen for hire Joshua Trevino and the portly proselytizer Erick Erickson saw an opportunity to promote themselves, and maybe lever their popularity with conservative voters, into the careers they thought they deserved. The whole point of Red State was to ball-gargle the establishment, hoping to turn their obsequious rumpswabbery into a Jonah Goldberg lifestyle. The three of them are emblematic of what went wrong with conservatism.

I do love the sound of “obsequious rumpswabbery.”

(About that “plagiarism” charge against Domenech: a New York Times story describing it.)

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Fantasy killers

The funny thing about assassins is: you start taking the ass out of them, and there’s still ass remaining. Which is a half-assed way of saying what Roberta X says here:

Then we have the calls for assassination. Hey, idiots, do you know how you get an Imperial Presidency? That way. One of the wonderful, distinguishing characteristics of the U. S. federal government is that we have an effective mechanism for the peaceful transfer of power, to which no less an experienced, partisan figure than President Obama has recently alluded. Do you suppose he’s thrilled with his replacement? I’ll tell you one thing, he does know how the system is supposed to work, and why. And if an incumbent President turns out badly, there are mechanisms for dealing with that, too, like impeachment (a process started against multiple Presidents and often resulting in significant change even without actually removing them) and the more-obscure process of removing an ailing or insane Chief Executive. But with every change of the party in power, the more tinfoil-hatted among the opposition, usually the very same people who have been glowing in their praises for Working Within The System, are suddenly shouting “Off with his head!” I think they’re already off their heads, but it’s not quite the same thing.

To some of these yutzes (“yutzim”?), delayed gratification is no gratification at all. If that sounds like a second-grader to you, well, you should not be surprised.

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And timely, too

This was the Quote of the Week at Finestkind Clinic and fish market:

Not long after [Andrew Ferguson] and I met, we were driving down Pennsylvania Avenue and encountered some or another noisy pinko demonstration. “How come,” I asked Andy, “whenever something upsets the Left, you see immediate marches and parades and rallies with signs already printed and rhyming slogans already composed, whereas whenever something upsets the Right, you see two members of the Young Americans for Freedom waving a six-inch American flag?”

“We have jobs,” said Andy.

[P. J. O’Rourke, from the introduction to Parliament of Whores, published in 1992]

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For your consideration

For President in 2020, Lynn’s cat Dax:

She is, for the most part, quite honest. She has literally never told a lie. She has on a few occasions tried to steal the dog’s food and she has been seen licking her own butt but she has never tried to hide these habits and we do not think they will interfere with her ability to serve the nation as President, especially when you consider the habits of some former and soon to be Presidents.

She shoots, she scores.

Dax is a peace lover but she does believe in self-defense when necessary. She is in favor of universal health care and enough food for everyone (as long as she gets hers first) so, at heart, she’s a Democrat but, as her chief advisor has observed, labels are what is most important to people and since it has recently been demonstrated that Republican voters will vote for anyone as long as he or she is Republican, after much soul searching Dax has decided to run as a Republican.

Hey, it worked for Nanny Bloomberg, didn’t it? (It technically did not work for Donald Trump, who is no more Republican than I.)

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Quote of the week

Why the election came out the way it did, by Francis W. Porretto:

Americans have long cherished a view of political institutions as servants: agents charged with providing us certain services, rather than masters to which we are obligated regardless of any contrary inclination. The Left, of course, and much of the Establishment Right dislike that premise; they would prefer that we concede our subjugation to the State, that we might be more efficiently “managed.”

The 2016 election makes plain that a substantial fraction — probably a majority — of the people of this nation are unwilling to be managed. We defied the luminaries, the pundits, the bien-pensants, and in many cases our friends, relatives, and colleagues to elevate a Queens real-estate mogul to the highest executive office in the land … and it’s driving those aforementioned luminaries, pundits, bien-pensants, friends, relatives, and colleagues completely batshit.

“How could they have done this?” they wail. “We thought they understood!”

That’s their problem, you see. We did understand. We grasped, in sufficient numbers adequately distributed, what was being done to us. We decided we didn’t like it, wouldn’t have it, and reached for the sole available alternative. That alternative will be inaugurated this coming Friday.

I admit that it’s a lot of fun, watching our would-be overseers drowning in their own guanophenia. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to crawl into a hole and die, so they will have to be carefully watched for the next four years.

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Bubbleheaded reasoning

As of the first of the year, Philadelphia has imposed a 1.5-cent per ounce tax on soft drinks. Inevitably, this has meant an increase in retail prices, much to the surprise of the Mayor:

Mayor Jim Kenney, who proposed the soda tax and championed its passage through city council last year, told reporters on Tuesday it’s not the new 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax that’s making it more expensive to buy a can of Coke in Philly. No, according to the mayor, those higher prices are caused by city businesses price gouging their customers in order to stir up opposition to the tax.

Is he kidding or what?

[T]he new tax technically is applied at the wholesale level. That is, the city is charging a tax on the transaction that takes place when a business, like a sandwich shop or grocery store, purchases soda (or the syrup used to make soda in a fountain) from a distributor. In the mayor’s mind, it seems, distributors and retailers are supposed to eat the cost of the tax and continue selling their products at the same price as before the tax went into effect.

In the real world, those sandwich shops and grocery stores, of course, are adjusting the retail price of sugary drinks to make up for the added cost imposed by the tax. Some of them have posted signs to inform customers why drink prices have skyrocketed.

Kenney doesn’t like that. He called those efforts “wrong” and “misleading” and suggested that it could be an extension of the expensive fight put up by soda companies, retailers, and even the city’s Teamsters Union in a failing effort to prevent the tax from passing in the first place.

How does someone this dumb-with-a-capital-D get elected, anyway?

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Buy your Pepsi in Camden, New Jersey

I am a fan of neither Pepsi nor of Camden, but foiling the pols in Philly would be worth it:

Philadelphia rang in the new year with a controversial new beverage tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks. The tax, which went into effect on Sunday, is the first one of its kind in a major city in the United States.

While the tax is technically 1.5 cents per ounce, which doesn’t sound too terrible, when buying a 10-pack of 20 oz bottles those numbers climb pretty quickly … a 10-pack of Propel flavored water that originally retailed for $5.99 had an additional three dollars tacked on to it in taxes.

The Cola Wars being what they are, I can usually find one of the two and a half major brands — I do love the zip of RC, but it’s lacking in majority — in a two-liter bottle for a buck. Tack on a cent and a half per ounce and that two-liter bottle is suddenly $2.01.

Where is all this money going to go? Ostensible community-health programs? Not a chance:

The money generated from the tax will help fund Mayor Jim Kenney’s Pre-K program.

Answer me this. Did any of your friends attend Pre-K? It didn’t even exist for some of us: as a resident (then) of Texas, I couldn’t start first grade until I was almost seven. This might not matter if the School District of Philadelphia were doing a good job. Fat chance of that:

The Philadelphia public schools do not educate any group of their students as well as national averages for each group. They fail to come anywhere near to providing the quality of education given to students in nearby districts. Although family income and parental education levels have some effect on student achievement, this simply defines the task of the schools. The extent of these failures in Philadelphia is too great to be attributed to anything other than the quality of the schools themselves.

All the more reason to get those kids as early as possible, so they can get used to their eventual fates: smuggling Dr Pepper from Delaware.

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The cycle begins anew

Thursday afternoon, a new insurance card arrived in the mail. Apparently CFI Care (not its real initials) is not dumping me, despite $150,000 worth of claims in the latter half of the year. (You know, 2016 really did suck out loud.) The employer hasn’t divulged what it’s spending for this coverage next year, but it’s got to be a ton of money, especially since I have enough tenure to get them to pay for the entire ball of wax. The ID and group numbers are unchanged, so I suspect the actual coverages will remain as they were.

As if to ratify my new status, if status this be, the County Election Board sent me a blank absentee-ballot application, which will supposedly put me on the mailing list for any ballot that comes down the pike during 2017. Truth be told, I was hoping not to need one ever again — but with my physical condition in No Improvement mode, I may have to deal with them after all.

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A defiring moment

Francis W. Porretto’s been hanging around that Plutarch guy again. Here he evokes the tale of the Ship of Theseus:

At this time, the Obama Administration is, for all practical purposes, the State that governs the U.S. However, as of the coming January 21, that will no longer be the case according to our Constitution. But what if every single component of the federal executive branch as it stands today were to “re-assemble” somewhere after 1/21/2017 and assert that it’s still the government of the United States?

FWP concludes that this can end in only one of two ways:

Clearly there are only two possible outcomes to such a development: raucous laughter and civil war. Hope for the former.

I suspect it at least partly depends on the impostors’ (as I assert they would be) fear of the latter.

I’d be willing to bet, though, that Presidential advisor/string-puller Valerie Jarrett has at least thought about it.

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The Age of Trump

To hear some people tell it, it’s the end of the world as they know it. We should be so lucky.

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Russian unleaded

Vladimir Putin has a shot at rather a lot of American petroleum-refining capacity:

A Delaware Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filing against Citgo parent PDV Holding, Inc. on November 30 reveals that Venezuela has secretly mortgaged their Citgo refineries in the United States to Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft.

Redd Intelligence uncovered the UCC filing and broke the news.

PDV Holding Inc., owned by Venezuela state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), owns Citgo Holding Inc., which in turn, owns Citgo Petroleum Corporation, which has 3 refineries and pipelines throughout the United States.

The lien means that should Citgo or PDVSA default, Russia’s state controlled oil company Rosneft could end up owning strategically important oil refineries and pipelines in the United States.

Citgo owns oil and gas pipelines throughout the country as well as oil refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Lemont, Illinois (outside of Chicago). Citgo’s refineries can refine 749,000 barrels per day and the Lake Charles refinery is the sixth-largest refining facility in the U.S.

Rosneft, it appears, cut PDVSA a check for $1.5 billion against 49.9 percent of Citgo. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, except for this minor detail:

In October, in addition to a 20% bonus, PDVSA used 50.1% of Citgo Holding Inc. as collateral to induce $2.8 billion of holders of PDVSA debt maturing within the year to extend into a new 4 year amortizing bond. As a result, should PDVSA default, the holders of the new $3.4 billion PDVSA 8.5% of 2020 would be able to take 50.1% of Citgo Holding Inc.

So 100 percent of Citgo is now in hock. This does not strike me as a Good Sign.

(Via Fausta Wertz.)

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Quote of the week

What the hell is wrong with Europe these days? A lack of adult supervision, says the Z Man:

For close to fifty years, Western Europe was America’s daycare center. Americans did all the heavy lifting with regard to the defense of Western Civilization both militarily and economically. European elites were allowed to play dress up and pretend to be in charge, but everyone knew the Americans were in charge. If something broke, America fixed it. If someone got an ouchy, America would salve their boo-boo. The Pax Americana allowed the West to remain in a state of perpetual adolescence.

The result was at least one generation of leaders lacking any training in responsible government. They dress up like proper rulers, but they have no idea what it means to defend their people. In fact, they don’t even think about the hoi polloi as their people. They are just the great unwashed, an undifferentiated mass of greedy mouths and grasping hands. They were free to evolve this way because the Americans were always there to make sure nothing bad happened. As the protective bubble is removed, all of this being exposed.

At some point, people get tired of being murdered. The young German with a taste for politics is going to start to question why he is loyal to people, who show more concern for foreigners than they do for him. A lesson of the French Revolution is that once people begin to question the legitimacy of the system, everything is soon up for grabs. The reckless disregard for their duties, by people like Merkel, is planting the seeds for something much worse than the monthly Exploding Mohamed we see in the news.

What he doesn’t say, but probably doesn’t have to, is that the Americans don’t even bother with overseeing America these days; they’re busy with their tedious little cultural proscriptions and other trivia.

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Feces in the news

The Orange Street News (December ’16 hard-copy edition) reports on Snyder County’s write-in votes. Donald Trump carried the county, 11,710 to 3,991 for Hillary Clinton, but there were single-digit totals for John Kasich (4), Ted Cruz (2) and Bernie Sanders (2).

Those, at least, are explainable. In the race for Attorney General, won by Democrat Josh Shapiro over Republican John Rafferty, one Snyder County voter wrote in “Turd Sandwich.”

That’s what it says. OSN publisher Hilde Lysiak printed a picture of the official Commonwealth of Pennsylvania form, completed by hand by Snyder County election officials, and that’s definitely what it says.

Said Lysiak: “Turd Sandwich was not available for comment.” Well played, Ms. L.

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Yeah, good luck with that

A legislator in the Palmetto State doesn’t want you looking at those feelthy pictures on the Intarwebs:

People buying computers in South Carolina would be limited in their access to porn online under newly proposed legislation.

A bill pre-filed this month by state Rep. Bill Chumley would require sellers to install digital blocking capabilities on computers and other devices that access the internet to prevent the viewing of obscene content.

The proposal also would prohibit access to any online hub that facilities prostitution and would require manufacturers or sellers to block any websites that facilitate trafficking.

Chumley, a Spartanburg Republican, presumably did not offer a definition of “obscene.”

Both sellers and buyers could get around the limitation, for a fee. The bill would fine manufacturers that sell a device without the blocking system, but they could opt out by paying $20 per device sold. Buyers could also verify their age and pay $20 to remove the filter.

Money collected would go toward the Attorney General Office’s human trafficking task force.

“Step right up and get yer PORN LICENSE! Only twenty bucks!”

I have no idea how the South Carolina General Assembly, which is largely Republican, will vote on this thing, though undoubtedly there will be Republicans playing the Jesus card, and I can see several Democrats homing in on that twenty-dollar tax fee.

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Ring, meet hat

A friend of mine is seeking a spot on the Minneapolis City Council. From Erica Mauter’s campaign info:

I grew up in Detroit. My mom is a small business owner. My dad was an auto plant cafeteria manager while I was growing up. They worked really hard to send me and my sister to good schools, made sure we got good grades and participated in lots of activities, and sent us off to good colleges. With that foundation, as soon as I graduated from college, I moved here to the Twin Cities. I thought for many years after moving here that I would be leaving. And then I realized I like it here and I don’t want to leave!

My wife Missy and I live in the Tangletown neighborhood of Ward 11 with our two dogs, Peanut Louise and Florence. I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities to serve. I’ve given my support to a number of arts and social justice nonprofits, and issue and candidate campaigns. I have season tickets to the Minnesota Lynx. I serve on the City of Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee, the citizen committee that advises on the city’s capital budget. Having worked for over a decade as a chemical engineer, I know the importance of systems that work well and how they can be adapted for better results. As the leader of a small arts organization that primarily serves women, I see on a daily basis what people can do when they are empowered and affirmed, and when they come together around shared experience and common goals.

How far do we go back? When we met, she was still a resident of Detroit. And she drove a Jeep.

She was a director of Project 515, the Minnesota same-sex marriage initiative; it was a group for which I had considerable respect, especially since once the achievement was unlocked, they dissolved the group, which is unheard of in these days of the Perennially Overactive. (Disclosure: I donated a small sum to Project 515.) I can’t help but think she’ll do great things for Minneapolis.

Donations: Neighbors for Erica Mauter, 4631 Harriet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419.

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Is anyone surprised by this?

Furthermore:

Only 13% of the public say they blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media because of what they posted about politics. Again, sharp political divisions emerged in the tendency to remove people because of the political opinions they expressed.

Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Democrats say they blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media after the election because of their political posts on social media. Fewer than one in ten Republicans (9%) and independents (9%) report eliminating people from their social media circle.

Political liberals are also far more likely than conservatives to say they removed someone from their social media circle due to what they shared online (28% vs. 8%, respectively). Eleven percent of moderates say they blocked, unfollowed, or unfriended someone due to what they posted online.

Lesson to be learned: Different echo chambers have different volume-control settings.

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Replace and repeal

Or maybe just rename:

It’s just barely possible that Obamacare will be repealed, though I don’t think that will really happen in practice. Maybe the Republicans will change its name; maybe they’ll pass a bill titled “repeal of Obamacare,” and President Trump will sign it. Maybe they’ll simply amend Obamacare to the advantage of different constituencies. Whatever they do, the powers of the federal government over doctors, nurses, and patients will remain, and grow.

Whatever powers we granted to President Obama will be used by President Trump. Whatever powers we grant to President Trump will be used by his successor. The founding fathers understood what people seem to have forgotten.

So long as the level is unchanged, the swamp will not be drained.

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