Archive for Political Science Fiction

Ol’ Blank Flank is back

Quelle surprise:

Hillary Clinton in pony form

Note the total absence of a cutie mark. As teacher Cheerilee explains:

A cutie mark appears on a pony’s flank when he or she finds that certain something that makes them different from every other pony.

Not gonna happen in her lifetime: never a leader, always a follower, and what she follows mostly are the twin scents of money and power. Like most of the competition, in fact.

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Quote of the week

Said I earlier today: “You can’t hide from Possibly Upsetting Things all your life, though God knows some people try awfully hard.”

I yield to this man’s superior knowledge of the subject:

Like a lot of black folks in my generation, I felt that it was my responsibility to become more attuned to racial sensibility — to achieve a higher level of sensitivity to those people and conditions that might lead to oppression. It was a constant theme in my youth during which the very term “black” was coined and people questioned having been “Negro”. During that time as well, many of us went from passive observation to active participation in both directions. In 1967 many of us were adamant about looking for “safe space” and determined that could not be found anywhere at all in the USA. We looked to Cuba, to Brazil, to Ghana. Similarly during the Vietnam war, many looked to Canada as an escape route. But in the end we found, even through assassinations and jailing, that racial integration in America was the far superior road for practical and moral reasons. It was not simple, it was not easy. It was worth it.

Said James Brown in 1969: “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door, I’ll get it myself.” Today, that position has been completely inverted:

It is frighteningly disturbing that this generation of students has chosen to ignore the achievements of crossover and gone to greater extremes of racial sensitivity in their demands for resignations. I can’t imagine college universities now having the stomach to even listen to Richard Pryor or George Carlin, two of the many whose humor brought us together in the 70s. Indeed today’s students seem to have lost all sense of humor. I can only speculate this comes from a poor interpretation of what they expected that we went through or what others before us did. We sought the guarantees of the Constitution and we also wanted to escape small places and move about freely. Listen to the students at Little Rock High School. Remember Charlayne Hunter. Study James Farmer. They worked to end segregation, not to hide from insults or even injuries. What is clear to me is that far too many Americans expect from oppositional politics what can only be achieved from actual friendship, which is mutual respect and admiration. What a sad result. Finally calling someone a “racist” has nothing to do with what someone actually believes, but one’s position in an artificial political war. This fight is not about crime and punishment, it’s not even about the law. It’s a tawdry catfight over bourgeois privileges between bourgeois actors who desperately seek to inherit the imprimatur of Civil Rights struggle. My ass.

Which is, of course, not to say that all the brouhaha on campus is wholly unprovoked. But contemporary claims by college students of being oppressed and downtrodden sometimes seem downright laughable.

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A dime’s worth of difference

Of course, adjusted for inflation, it’s worth nothing at all:

A Bernie Sanders type has been running for president every four years for the last six decades. Sixties flower children had Gene McCarthy; George McGovern was the kumbayah kid of the 1970s; Ralph Nader captured the moonbat imagination in the 80s and 90s; Dennis Kucinich and his “Department of Peace” hung around in the Bush years … but those guys were all third- or -fourth-party jokes (except McGovern, I guess, though he should have been; the dude carried one state against Tricky Dick Nixon. In 1972). It’s only now that a Sanders type — an honest-to-god Socialist, running on out-and-proud Socialism — is finally viable.

Now, before you rush in to tell me that’s because Hillary Clinton is the lousiest, most corrupt candidate this side of Robert Mugabe, please note that she still leads most Republicans in most nationwide polls. And before you rush in to tell me that’s because the GOP’s candidates are also historically awful, please note that the leader of that pathetic pack may well be Ben Carson … and if it’s not, it’s Donald Trump.

The American electorate, in other words, is living in fantasyland. Nobody even pretends to be voting for a competent elected official. How could they? The only candidate with significant electoral experience is Sanders, and a Chicago city alderman makes bigger budget decisions, affecting way more people, than a Vermont senator. Hillary Clinton spends most of her free time dodging subpoenas from her limited government service, and Carson and Trump have never been elected to anything, anywhere. As late as 1992, the American public would’ve laughed itself into an aneurysm at the proposition that any of these clowns, or all of them combined Voltron-like into one uber-clown, could possibly be qualified for the Presidency of the United States.

And in 1992, we embraced chameleon Bill Clinton, all things to everyone. We should have run away when we had the chance.

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Epidermis of inhuman thinness

Not that I needed another reason not to vote for this ridiculous individual or anything:

In what appears to be a first for a serious presidential contender, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is going after five comedians who made fun of the former Secretary of State in standup skits at a popular Hollywood comedy club.

She’s not a “serious presidential contender.” She expects the job to be handed to her, because [reasons].

A video of the short performance, which is less than three minutes, is posted on the website of the renowned club, Laugh Factory, and the Clinton campaign has tried to censor it. Besides demanding that the video be taken down, the Clinton campaign has demanded the personal contact information of the performers that appear in the recording. This is no laughing matter for club owner Jamie Masada, a comedy guru who opened Laugh Factory more than three decades ago and has been instrumental in launching the careers of many famous comics. “They threatened me,” Masada told Judicial Watch. ‘I have received complaints before but never a call like this, threatening to put me out of business if I don’t cut the video.”

If I’m Bernie Sanders, I’m passing along this story to the entire freaking world.

Disclaimer: I am not Bernie Sanders. Just the same, I’m passing along this story.

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All this and World War III

Severian on the possibility, or lack thereof, of World Peace:

Let’s be generous and say that Trump, Carson, Rubio, Sanders, and Clinton are all viable candidates. Sadly, if “preventing World War III” is your top priority, your best options are the Kumbayah Kids, Carson and Sanders … and they might inadvertently provoke it by unilaterally disarming (Carson is a gun-grabber from way back, and Sanders, bless his senile old soul, really does think you can trade in an aircraft carrier for some inner city midnight basketball programs). Trump and Rubio might let the missiles fly because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, and Clinton might do it to show she’s got a bigger dick than any of them. (Admittedly, Vlad and the Chinese can do whatever they want in the world provided they send a big enough check to her “charitable foundation,” but the danger there is that she might think the US Army is her own personal collection agency.)

A coherent policy, forcefully stated by a credible spokesman, prevents all of this.

Yeah, but what are the chances of getting either of those? Arguably the hardest of the hardasses in the campaign is Carly Fiorina, and vis-à-vis Vlad the Exhaler she’s basically Trump 2.0.


Otherwise it’s fine

With one exception, I am pleased to endorse McGehee’s 2016 Presidential Campaign platform. That exception is item six:

A jobs program should benefit more than comedy writers and op-ed cartoonists.

Since Washington, pretty much by design, is not in much of a position to create any actual jobs — at best, all they can do is pad out the existing bureaucracy, which is the very antithesis of job creation — anything they do that benefits anyone other than comedy writers and op-ed cartoonists can’t be an actual jobs program.

See also the various “stimulus” programs, which stashed cash in the pockets of a concupiscent few members of the elite Donor Class at the expense of everyone else in the nation; this technique dates back decades and has never worked as advertised in any of its applications.

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The revolution will not be realized

However disgruntled the residents of the Barely United States may be these days, Dave Schuler is pretty sure things aren’t going to turn especially bloody:

I don’t think that America has a revolution in store or even, in what might be better diction, a paradigm shift. Revolutions, real or figurative, aren’t started by the poor. They’re fomented and led by the middle class, the intelligentsia to use the Russian phrase, and our middle class are so thoroughly dependent on Things As They Are I suspect they’ll defend them to collapse and beyond.

What I expect is the Detroitification of the United States, an ongoing slow motion decay in which things just aren’t quite as good for this generation as they were for the last and things just aren’t quite as good for the next generation as they were for this, accompanied by a general lack of optimism. Look to Chicago and Illinois as Ground Zero.

Can this hypothesis be falsified? Yes, it can:

If, within a generation, Chicago introduces either a) a major decentralization of power and a reversal of the high tax, corrupt, government-centric style that has prevailed here for the last sixty or seventy years or b) has a socialist revolution, I’ll be proven wrong. If, on the other hand, Chicago’s political leadership continues to pursue the same old policies regardless of their efficacy and the people of Chicago keep right on voting for them, it will strongly suggest I am right.

Like I always say sometimes, the ability of politicians to kick the can is limited solely by the length of the road.

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Jack Baruth makes a sacrifice on behalf of the rest of us:

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been reading The Nation a lot while I’ve been laid up. I cannot recommend you do the same. The youngest generation of the publication’s writers grew up taking Orwell as an instruction manual rather than as a cautionary tale; you won’t get through any two random features on the site without being lectured that Hillary Clinton’s decision to host classified e-mail in a bathroom closet is a “non-issue” and that race is the only issue of any importance facing America today. Words like “racist” and “racial” appear everywhere with a frequency approximately equal to that enjoyed by “cock” and “wet” over at, and for the same reason: the average millennial is constantly battered with demands that he or she be racially outraged and/or sexually stimulated and therefore they require ever-stronger imagery to get it up for the cause.

Take the audio from a Sasha Grey porn, overdub every one of her groans with the word “RACISM”, and you’d basically have created a Books-On-Tape version of The Nation.

Disclosure: I have read something like half a dozen, um, features on Literotica. I will vouch for the word distribution therein.


Separation of text and footnote

Actually, Roberta X’s footnotes are better than some people’s articles, and I single out this one for both economy and precision:

The American Revolution can be cast as a kind of dialogue between the Enlightenment/Age of Reason ideas that pushed it and the Great Awakenings that bookended it. From that angle, the Establishment Clause of [the] First Amendment represents a brilliantly common goal: neither party was desirous of a State church. Thus the United States was explicitly made a safe place for believers and nonbelievers of every stripe. This is a delicate balance and has been maintained with varying degrees of elegance and civility though the years. We should fear any politician who feels a mandate to Do Good — especially if he or she believes it was granted by Divine authority.

Not bad for a little over 100 words, if I say so myself, and I do so say.

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When we was glib

While poking around in the archives, I found this paragraph from December ’04 that technically doesn’t require an update, but perhaps deserves to be spread further:

The Mandatory Serenity Amendment — “The right of the peoples of the United States to be free from any ideas or materials or products, which they may find offensive, shall not be infringed” — has so far been ratified by 0 states.

We owe it to ourselves to keep it that way.

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Quote of the week

Severian, over at Freeberg’s place, on the contradiction inherent in the word “progressive”:

There seems to be a certain type of human — and how this comes about in an evolutionary framework escapes me — who longs for stasis above all things.

Sometimes it’s easier to see than others. Medieval philosophers, for instance, had a beef with motion. “Motion” entails “moving towards” or “moving away,” which means that a moving thing lacks some perfection — if it were perfect, it wouldn’t need what it was moving towards, or need to avoid that from which it was moving away. The ideal was an utterly static universe.

Our modern liberals, as you say, are always redefining things. They seem to be defined by frantic motion; they even call themselves “Progressives.” But: what are they progressing towards? Their ideal world, too, is completely static. They trend autistic, so they can’t read social cues very well — thus, the idea that someone can be one way today, and through his own effort be something different tomorrow, stresses them out. They’re not very bright, so they need everything precisely defined. Because of this, they can’t handle nuance — witness their zeal for coming up with ever more elaborate micro-identities.

Follow that “logic” out, and you see that their ideal world is a giant cubicle farm — everyone in his box, doing (being) one thing and one thing only, forever, world without end amen. Government is simply the most efficient way to achieve this objective. If you load the ambitious up with enough red tape, they’ll stop innovating. Laws can silence the cantankerous, and as soon as we get those census forms juuuuuuust right, we’ll have a check box for every conceivable race/gender/orientation.

And then we can freeze the whole thing in carbonite and hang it on the wall, forever. And then we shall have utopia.

I need hardly point out that this explains Climate Change Fever better than anything else; what they ultimately desire is an Official Thermostat and a designated setting thereupon, after which no changes are allowed or even allowed to be contemplated.

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The government will assign you a car

This sounds rather a lot like a Woody Allen description: ” … one of those guys with saliva dribbling out of his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag screaming about socialism.”

Okay, you listen to him:

I am confused after seeing a nice, newer corvette had a big Bernie Sanders 2016 lawn sign on its dashboard. Doesn’t add up?

And these are the bits of the equation he can’t combine:

An older, white women exited the car, not that that should matter. I wasn’t stalking her, I just like analyzing nice cars. I thought if anything, the sign would be supporting a Republican. It seems so very hypocritical, deeply ironic, utterly contradictory. Sure, Bernie wants everyone to be wealthy … is that her argument? Sounds like anyone would argue that. Socialists want everyone to be equal, or is that incorrect? Shouldn’t the corvette driver spread her wealth. I’m in a chevy lumina that won’t pass emissions, and I’m not voting for Bernie. This lady should sell the car and give some money to me so I can catch up to where she is, if you believe in Bernie. I’m a college graduate. I’m just not where she is. I could cry I fell through the cracks and she should help me. Isn’t that what Socialism and Bernie would advocate? Something along those lines that party would advocate. Socialists don’t drive around Corvettes? If they do, then we’ve all be mistaken and should pick Bernie immediately. We want our Corvette. We all work hard. We all should be equal then. All jobs paid the same, right? (take your guess at where I’m playing devil’s advocate.) I really wanted to stop and converse with her, but I get too political with this stuff and I’m not afraid to get in the dirt with it. I have nothing to lose. Hek, I’m not the one with the Corvette. Doesn’t a muscle car take more fuel and pollute more? Not sure where Bernie stands on that, but I would think he’s a big environmentalist.

One expects of a devil’s advocate, at the very least, the ability to advocate for something, or at least against something. This is basically “Let’s see how many talking points I can use in half an hour.”

And besides: a lawn sign on the dashboard? This ain’t no bumper sticker, Ryball. For all you can tell, she may have just swiped that sign from a neighbor with whom she disagrees.

Now shut up and get your crummy Lumina fixed.

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We shall overcomb

Artist Pixelkitties tweeted this picture a couple of days ago:

New tax on bad hairpieces by Pixelkitties

Still makes me smile.

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Kanter attacks

Even more turmoil in Turkey these days:

In yet another government-orchestrated operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, counterterrorism police units accompanied officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM), raiding and searching Samanyolu schools on Monday. Officers involved in a raid on one branch asked the administrators to deactivate all of the school’s security cameras while they searched for drugs.

“Gülen” comes from movement founder Fethullah Gülen. “Hizmet” means “service,” but the name is unofficial: Gülen apparently didn’t want any particular name on it, especially his own. He departed Turkey for the US in 1999, ostensibly for medical reasons; he has not gone back, and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried him in absentia but failed to obtain a conviction.

Samanyolu — “Milky Way” — is an umbrella name for Gülen-related private schools. Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter attended one such school, and he is not happy about the raids:

“I never witnessed bad habits or even rudeness at these schools. It is really shameful to raid such a school with counterterrorism police,” Kanter tweeted on Monday. “The accusation of supporting terrorism befits those who carry out these raids, not the schools,” he added.

There is a village called Samanyolu, in Batman province, but it is not involved.

Note: The newspaper Today’s Zaman, whence comes this story, is operated by Gülen sympathizers.


More sensibly

I can’t argue with any of this:

We need a constitutional amendment prohibiting presidential campaign activities and fundraising more than six months before the November election. When you set out to separate the wheat from the chaff, and end up with only chaff, you’re doing something wrong.

I’d like to think this would be approved by the states, 48-2. (You need not guess which two.)

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Hey, small spender

Money, we are told, wins elections. I am always happy to see an instance where it didn’t:

Cyndi Munson easily became the first Democrat to represent Oklahoma City’s House District 85 in a half-century despite raising much less money than her opponent.

Campaign finance reports show Chip Carter, the Republican candidate, pulled in nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions and benefited from $100,000 in independent expenditures.

Munson raised less than $100,000 total, but beat Carter 2,640 to 2,268 Tuesday in a district where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats.

Two things worked in her favor: she had name recognition in the district — she ran for this seat against David Dank in 2014 and lost — and there is, I think, a tendency among local Republicans to see victory as inevitable except in a handful of heavily Democratic districts. Even Chip Carter saw it coming:

“There was a degree of complacency or something. They thought it’s always been a Republican seat and will stay that way. And my opponent worked her tail off.”

For quite a while, it was a Dank seat: David Dank was the second Dank to represent 85, his wife Odilia being the first. (She was term-limited in 2006.) Both Danks are now deceased.

The GOP majority in the House is now 71-30.

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Curses, FOIAed again

Freedom, as the saying goes, isn’t free. This does not mean, however, that requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and similar measures should cost an arm and a leg and a kidney to be named later:

Kind of makes you wonder if this is a back-door scheme to bail Jefferson County out of its bankruptcy.

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The sad fact is

And will likely continue to be:

Headline: someone will win presidential race

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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The noncorporeal girl of my dreams

Something I said four years ago:

Given Siri’s lack of physical form — all those apps look alike to me — I’ll almost certainly impute wholly-unwarranted characteristics to her, such as a sense of humor.

And maybe, it seems, a trace of actual wisdom:

Bless you, autocorrect.


A dime’s worth of difference

And hey, ten cents isn’t worth a nickel anymore:

Think Bush v. Gore in 2000. I was no big fan of Dubya, but oh God, the thought of Al Gore in the White House gave me the shivers. But now?

I maintain that the only thing left for most people is anger. Hillary, Jeb, Sanders, Rubio, whomever — they’re all on the same team. We could take every single non-Trump candidate and make them all president, collectively, and we’d never know the difference. Did Bobby Jindal just sign that deal offshoring more of our jobs, or was that Sanders? Was that Hillary’s massive subsidy to the college racket, or Fiorina’s? Did Jeb just sign that massive amnesty, or was it Hillary? Or Rubio? Or Sanders? Or Biden? Walker? Jindal? Perry? Let one of them sign things on Tuesday, another when the wind’s north-northwest … could anyone consistently tell the difference?

Only three things are certain, no matter who signs: The fucking borders stay open, the banksters get richer, and the rest of us bleed for it.

Sanders, at least, gives the impression that he believes in something other than his own care and feeding, something that has never been said, and never will be said, of Hillary. Still, almost everybody in this race is vanilla, and artificially flavored vanilla at that. Even your putative Ethnic Candidates — Jindal, Carson — are largely inseparable from the rest, indistinguishable from the collective din.

I am, let us say, not hopeful.

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The long, hot sideshow

How could this Presidential campaign possibly be any worse? Just try to imagine how dull it would be without Donald Trump.

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Surly about surnames

An observation from Mike out there in Fishersville:

Jeb Bush has a problem — his last name. The same as too many recent former Presidents.

I’d argue that Jeb has several problems besides his ongoing Bushitude, but I’m thinking he’d be only marginally more acceptable were he named, for instance, John Ellis Barabajagal.

Still, I’m finding it hard to disagree with Fausta here:

By now, I’m all for excluding any blood relative of a former president from holding the office of POTUS for at least three decades and one generation, whichever is the longest.

If that means no John Quincy Adams, FDR, or GWBush, so be it.

Well, we can’t disqualify them retroactively, but I am quite weary of political dynasties.

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Quote of the week

Richard “Belmont Club” Fernandez, on what’s coming:

When you see the peasants heading your way with pitchforks then clearly it is time to start moving.

Which direction you go will depend on your party. The Democrats will argue for more carbon controls, more immigration, Single Payer, more deals with foreign dictators, etc. The Republicans will argue for more GOP Senators and Congressmen to be elected to Capitol Hill — after which they will vote for more carbon controls, more immigration, Single Payer, more deals with foreign dictators, etc.

Each side will assert that the problem is that we haven’t gone far enough; therefore the solution to all problems is to go a little further yet: one more donation, one more grant of power to bring final victory. Which of course won’t happen any more than the promotional mailers which proclaim you’ve been selected to enter a narrowing group of lottery candidates will pay off, if you just buy one more ticket, one more time.

Maybe pitchforks just aren’t enough.


Neither bread nor circuses

“Didn’t need no welfare state,” intoned Archie Bunker forty-odd years ago. Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, still in his forties, seems to have come to the same conclusion:

King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a “participation society” is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.

The king traveled past waving fans in an ornate horse-drawn carriage to the 13th-century Hall of Knights in The Hague for the monarch’s traditional annual address on the day the government presents its budget for the coming year. It was Willem-Alexander’s first appearance on the national stage since former Queen Beatrix abdicated in April and he ascended to the throne.

This was not entirely unexpected: the Dutch budget is seriously strained of late, though Prime Minister Mark Rutte expects the opposition in Parliament to do the right thing:

Challenged as to whether his Cabinet may be facing a crisis, Rutte insisted in an interview with national broadcaster NOS on Tuesday that he ultimately will find support for the budget.

“At crucial moments, the opposition is willing to do its share,” he said.

Where have we heard that?


Quote of the week

How do you know when the electorate is fed up? When actual members of it, as distinguished from court jesters of the Jon Stewart ilk, start cracking wise and making it count:

[W]e saw something similar in Europe where utra-fringy groups, branded as off-limits to decent people, gained support mocking the ruling elite over issues like immigration. They had their share of cranks and wack-jobs dressing up as Hitler, but they also had snarky amused types who made sport of the very serious people warning about the comedic threats on social media. Before long a lot of normal people started joining in on the fun.

The best example of this phenomenon is Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. Its best weapon has been mockery. It’s very hard to demonize someone who is laughing and having a good time. This was something the American Right said they learned from Reagan. They were running around calling each other happy warriors throughout the 90s, but that was mostly to hide the surrendering. Now, the Right is nothing but dry technocrats.

Donald Trump is where he is right now because he is good at mocking the very serious people in the GOP and in the media. Ted Cruz is probably even more critical of his party and the media establishment, but he is about as funny as cancer. I saw him on television the other day and I was reminded of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, except Cruz is not as self-deprecating.

I note here that Grillo’s M5S, still billing itself as a movement rather than a political party, won 109 seats in the Italian Chamber of Deputies in the 2013 general election. This may not mean squat in a non-parliamentary system like ours — but all that None Of The Above sentiment has to go somewhere.

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In a newer nutshell

Not that anyone was asking for one, but here’s a new position paper, loosely based on an old position paper.

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A somewhat bigger tent

Last month, Oklahoma Democrats let it be known to all and sundry that they were considering backing away from the closed-primary system by allowing registered Independents to vote in their primaries.

Yesterday, the state convention approved the proposal, 314-137. I asked a local activist if she thought this would be a boon to the party. Said she: “I think it’s worth a try. Status quo not in Dem’s favor.” Which in this state is surely true: registrations are about even, but the Republicans hold almost all the offices.

The GOP, which has already had its annual meeting, has given no indication that it might do likewise, and party chair/loose cannon Randy Brogdon has already poo-poohed the idea once.

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Confiscation nation

You can probably find someone Stateside who thinks this is a swell idea:

Venezuela’s embattled government has taken the drastic step of forcing food producers to sell their produce to the state, in a bid to counter the ever-worsening shortages.

Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores. Shortages, rationing and queues outside supermarkets have become a way of life for Venezuelans, as their isolated country battles against rigid currency controls and a shortage of US dollars — making it difficult for Venezuelans to find imported goods.

The state stores, numbering 7245, are presumably hoping to get some coin of the realm back from people who prefer the 113,000 or so grocers in the private sector, represented by the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber. You can guess what Pablo Baraybar, head of the Chamber, thinks of this whole scheme:

“Taking products from the supermarkets and shops to hand them over to the state network doesn’t help in any way,” he said. “And problems like speculating will only get worse, because the foods will be concentrated precisely in the areas where the resellers go.

“Consumers will be forced to spend more time in queues, given that the goods will be available in fewer stores.”

And you might think that Venezuelans have suffered enough already:

In March, Venezuelans were so worried about food shortages and diminishing stocks of basic goods, fingerprint scanners were installed in supermarkets in an attempt to crack down on hoarding.

Venezuela’s official rate of inflation hit 64 per cent last year — the highest in the world. The government hides the scale of shortages, but angry consumers regularly post photos of empty shelves on social media.

As with all socialist (and more than a few non-socialist) governments, “official” numbers are arguable at best.

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How little things change

Just an historical note, or a point in the cycle we’re bound to repeat?

The Whigs collapsed in 1856, and the Democrats in 1860, because neither represented the views of the majority of Americans. American politics had been all about slavery since at least the 1830s, but both parties studiously avoided it. You could vote for the Whigs, who stood for nothing but not being Democrats, or you could vote for the Democrats, who were pro-slavery but wouldn’t admit it under torture. The Dems were better at coalition building — some things never change — and were able to cobble together the “Hard Shell,” “Soft Shell,” “Barnburner,” etc. factions together for one election longer than the Whigs were, but when faced with a legitimate protest party, they too collapsed. Their vote split several different ways, Lincoln won the White House, and I forget what happened next.

Today’s Republican leadership, in case you hadn’t noticed, stands for nothing but not being Democrats. And anyone paying attention knows the Democrats’ poster child: it’s a nonwhite female college student who will do anything to not get pregnant, but she won’t do that. (Or rather, she won’t not do that.) I can’t wait for the grownups to start running the playground again.

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Someone call the government

Shihka Dalmia writes at

[P]rivatizing marriage can’t sidestep the broader questions about who should get married to whom and under what circumstances.

Bill Quick took a shot at this notion, pointing out that people routinely make contracts that don’t have to have governmental approval, which led to this exchange in the comments. First, Bill, refuting an earlier comment:

Except for the fact that marrying close relatives has been a feature of marriage all through history (and we now have the technological means to determine potential harm in such marriages), polygamy may or may not be socially destructive, it is practiced in much of the world openly, and much of the rest sub rosa, and “socially destructive” is a flimsy and often ugly reason for banning something.

Many believe private ownership of guns is socially destructive. Private ownership of automobiles certainly delivers a mass slaughter every year. And we all know how fantastically successful the ban on some drugs has been — why, no social destruction issuing from that ban at all, eh?

Return volley by SteveF:

Private ownership of automobiles causes social destruction not by the endless, inevitable slaughter of innocents but by allowing people to travel easily, quickly, and privately. If people can go where they want, when they want, and are not limited by the schedule of buses and trains and don’t need to show ID to get from place to place, who knows what mischief they might get up to?

Besides that, I’ve heard tell that some young men drive their automobiles to meet young women from outside the village. Society is doomed if we don’t put an end to this!

It could be worse. Those young men could be dating female college students.