Archive for Political Science Fiction

711 craps out

For those around here who might not remember the original referendum from ten years ago, the text of the measure enacted by Oklahoma State Question 711, now picking up speed on its presumably inevitable roll to the dustbin:

(a.) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. Neither this Constitution nor any other provision of law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

(b.) A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage.

(c.) Any person knowingly issuing a marriage license in violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This is what I said at the time:

Inasmuch as same-sex marriages are already illegal in this state, this measure is superfluous; more to the point, while there are perfectly logical reasons to oppose them which don’t imply that the opponent is necessarily some horrid hidebound bigot, I don’t like the idea of establishing a precedent that in the future could be used by horrid hidebound bigots for some nefarious purpose — this isn’t a chainsaw, it’s a bludgeon — and that reason alone is enough for me to vote No on 711.

That slippery slope can go in several different directions, you know?

Anyway, no licenses are yet being issued, and nothing is final, even by the dubious political definition of “final.”

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Quote of the week

The Ruling Class really, really hates not getting to rule:

Most of all, I think — they despise us for not giving a damn what they think particularly, and rejecting practically everything that they tell us to do — ride public transportation, move into urban stack-a-prole housing, give up eating meat (or much of anything else), and continuing to believe that we can raise our own children and sort out our own lives without self-elected nannies breathing down our necks 24-7. Very likely the well-manicured and delicate hands of the new ruling class itch for a whip to give us all a good thrashing for our temerity. Indeed — they are no longer our countrymen in spirit, any more than the Tory sympathizers who departed the American colonies two hundred years and more ago are.

Civil war, you say? Not a chance — of it being civil, anyway.

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And sitteth at the left hand of .GOP

This passes for Republican strategy, or strategery, these days:

The Republican Party has come into the Internet age, just barely, or is at least cynically attempting to acknowledge the existence of the Internet by allowing young people to pour money into the RNC’s coffers one $20.16 domain name at a time (yes, $20.16). Or they’re just screwing with everyone and distracting the wider Interwebs by challenging them to find every last domain name on the RNC’s .GOP block list (for the record, porn.GOP was not available, even though all we were going to do with it is put up a black screen and make some awkward shuffling noises).

Does this mean we can expect to see Republicans In Domain Name Only? [Answer: yes.]

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Up from wherever

Tony Woodlief on the Littlest Immigrants:

I don’t think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves — as many as 60,000 this year — and we don’t want them. We don’t want their skin lesions and their hungry bellies, we don’t want their parents and aunts and uncles likely to follow, we don’t want them taking our jobs and clogging our classrooms and driving without insurance on our roads. We have no place for them in our country and certainly not in our hearts.

And yet:

What if, instead of greeting the federal agents with protest signs, we greeted them with petitions? Give us these children. We will feed them, we will clothe them, we will give them shelter. We will teach them and we will pray over them. Their parents, God help them, sent them away, and now here we stand to make good on the faith or hope or desperation in which those mothers and fathers sent them forth. Give us these children, and we will find a way. We will show mercy, because while we can scarcely agree between ourselves on anything else, we agree that the kingdom of heaven includes a hand stretched out in love.

It’s utterly impractical, I know. But how have we done so far, Christians, with practicality? For Christ’s sake, let’s not be known for our practicality.

Yeah, I know, I know: we’re being played for chumps by our wicked (no other word applies) government. Think in terms of a Higher Authority.

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Quote of the week

Your humble narrator, having previously contemplated continuing shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund, has recommended an increase in the fuel tax, one of the less intrusive options available.

Congressmen don’t think like that. Jack Baruth quotes one, and gets at the heart of the matter:

“If all we did was set this up to collect the road fee, that’s actually a more expensive way to collect the fee. The gas tax is actually a very inexpensive tax to collect. But if we are able to have a platform that does all these other things, to share the costs, and give people a richer transportation experience, I think people will voluntarily make that transition.”

We’re missing all the air quotes, I think, let’s put them back in:

I “think” people will “voluntarily” make that “transition”

When you read “voluntarily” in modern wonk-speak, you can take that to mean “Any amount of resistance short of facing down the Bureau of Land Management with the local redneck militia,” and that’s what it means here as well. The motorists of America will be given a single option: GPS-based usage tracking tied to a central payment account that will also be debited for parking and traffic tickets. It’s perfectly easy to imagine a speed camera just sitting by the site of the road dinging every motorist who goes by at 1mph over the limit a nice, round five hundred bucks. And why not?

Naturally, the same government that manages to lose all the incriminating IRS emails will keep solid-gold-permanent records of your travels until the end of time. If they do it with the justly-reviled public-private partnership, those records will be sold to Equifax and your insurance company as well. With your travel and your Carnivore records, the government knows exactly who and what you are. In real time, they’ll be able to understand your entire life. Imagine the day when driving to an oncology clinic results in a sit-down with your company’s HR representative to discuss your future with the company. Or the day when your employer can simply buy a list of your whereabouts sorted to its particular interest. Or the day when parking your car outside a gun store every Sunday and walking across the street for ice cream results in the ATF visiting your house to discuss your gun-nut tendencies. Or the day when driving through known drug-sales areas results in a SWAT team tossing a flashbang into your child’s crib.

Note the ludicrous phrase “richer transportation experience.” Any “richer” experience, as defined in DC-speak, makes you poorer by definition: not only are the results not favorable to you, but you have to pay for them in the first place.

“Oh, Jack, you teatard anarchist commie libertarian,” you’re sighing. “How else are they supposed to address the Highway Fund problem?” Well, I would suggest that destroying the last vestiges of privacy and liberty in this country are not any less meaningful than keeping up the pace of road construction. I would also suggest that it’s not my job to come up with ideas as to how the government can easily accomplish its goals without trampling its citizens underfoot. But since you asked, I’ll come up with one: A ten percent tariff on cheap goods imported from China would add 50% to the existing Highway Fund tax level, enough to address all concerns for the foreseeable future.

Assuming, of course, you could get the idiots in Washington to spend it on that, as opposed to any of the useless crap they’d want to spend it on.

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It’s easier than it looks

Thoughts on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby by Warren Meyer:

It seems that a huge number of Americans, even nominally intelligent ones, cannot parse the difference between banning an activity and some third party simply refusing to pay for you to engage in that activity. This really does not seem to be a complicated distinction, but yesterday I watched something like 40% of America fail to make it. How is it possible to make any progress on liberty and individual rights if people’s thinking is so sloppy?

It’s not. Although in some cases, based on my own observations, it’s less “thinking” than simple reflex.

I am minded of Justice Scalia’s concurrence in NEA v. Finley, 1998:

“Those who wish to create indecent and disrespectful art are as unconstrained now as they were before the enactment of this statute. Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to epater les bourgeois; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it.”

Some people didn’t comprehend that either.

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Run it off now

Way back in 2006, Michael Bates made a pretty persuasive case for Instant Runoff Voting.

How would this have worked in, say, the recent Mississippi Senate primary? Roger Green explains the process:

In the Mississippi GOP scenario, after the June 3 primary, Thomas Carey’s votes would have been distributed to [Thad] Cochran and [Chris] McDaniel, based on who was Carey voters’ second choice. Majority would have been reached. There would have been no need for the June 24 runoff, and no chance for the Democratic party supporters to vote in the Republican primary without foregoing their opportunity to vote in their OWN primary.

Which would have avoided that whole debacle rather neatly.

I once questioned how this could be implemented on this state’s optical-ballot system, but that doesn’t really seem to be much of an issue, and besides we’ve replaced the entire fleet of scanners since then.

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Quote of the week

Francis W. Porretto, on the country’s rapidly expanding “non-military” military:

In a nation where “laws” (and “regulations” enforced as “laws”) have proliferated so voluminously that even the most astute legal specialists cannot know them adequately, does “law and order” constitute a sufficient justification for a fully militarized police system?

An effectively nationalized police system?

Armed and armored by the Department of Defense?

Equipped with tools of surveillance beyond Orwell’s imagination?

Whose myrmidons are indemnified for any acts of wrongdoing no matter how dramatic?

If so, how do these United States differ in principle from North Korea?

After reading up on the DPRK’s Ministry of People’s Security, I’m inclined to think that the only substantive difference is volume.

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Dead man running

There’s really not much one can add to this:

Political opponents accuse each other of lying all the time, but one Oklahoma congressional candidate took his accusation to a new level this week when he claimed his opponent was actually dead and being represented by a body double.

KFOR in Oklahoma reports that Timothy Ray Murray believes Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), his opponent in the congressional Republican primary, was executed three years ago and is being represented by a look-alike. Because he believes Lucas is really dead, Murray said he will challenge the results of Tuesday’s Republican primary, in which Murray received 5.2 percent of the vote. Lucas won the primary with 82.8 percent of the vote.

“It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011,” Murray said in a statement posted on his campaign website. The statement claimed Lucas and “a few other” members of Congress from Oklahoma and other states were shown on television being hanged by “The World Court.”

Not that I object to Congressmen being hanged or anything, but “The World Court”? What, did the Illuminati have the week off?

And we’ve had dead people on the ballot before, but you can usually assume that they were alive on the filing date.

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Dollars of darkness

A chap named “badanov,” and I presume he is, left this comment at The Other McCain, riffing off a Molly Ball piece for the Atlantic that McCain linked to for background:

T. W. Shannon may have received endorsements of Freedom Works, Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, but what Miss Ball failed to note is that Shannon was supported by a galaxy of democrats as well as liberal republicans. No one in Oklahoma thought those endorsements were carefully considered; I certainly didn’t think so. Those endorsements were all head scratchers, endorsing a politician with such little experience.

So when the head of the PAC which was the first in line to give Shannon money was busted for drug possession, a pattern emerged that those endorsements were poorly considered. Despite the star power of all those endorsements, they couldn’t hide the stink, and so Shannon went down harder than an Obamacare website.

Shannon has a promising future if he carefully considers who [his] paymaster is, and he stops taking dark money without considering the source. This election cycle he didn’t and he thankfully got caught.

There are those who think all money in politics — except, of course, funding from their friends — qualifies as “dark,” but this is hardly their sole delusion.

Incidentally, this was Ball’s conclusion on l’affaire Shannon:

The race was expected to be close, but it was not. Lankford ran away with it, taking 57 percent of the vote, crushing Shannon by more than 20 points and avoiding a runoff. The very conservative voters of Oklahoma, a very conservative state, wanted the candidate with conservative positions but a responsible profile — someone who doesn’t want to burn Washington down and might see fit to vote some other way than “no” once in a while. What Republicans want isn’t more Thad Cochrans. It’s more James Lankfords.

She says “burn Washington down” like it’s a bad thing. Then again, I didn’t vote in that race, for the most obvious of reasons. (Hint: closed primary.)

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Hoosier spouse

Same-sex marriage comes to Indiana, and Roberta X gauges the response:

State GOP politicians are cheering on the appeal and seem to be implying there’s a circuit split (which would be an excellent reason to haul the mess up before the Supreme Court, who might even hear it — I wonder how many appeals are refused after a Justice has a nightmare about Dred Scott?). If there is a circuit split, I’m not finding it.

And predictions of what is to come, from the fervid imaginations of the General Public:

The next step, according to some, will be dogs and cats living together, followed by Nazis riding dinosaurs, people marrying houseplants and legalized polyamorous unions — I suspect the last strongly supported by the divorce attorney union in quivering anticipation of the financial resources of an 8-person marriage.* (Conversely, nobody older than age six really wants stormtroopers on T-Rexes goose-stepping down Main Street. Common ground at last!)

And you got this mainly because I wanted to reproduce the footnote:

* “Buy in bulk and save!” One would expect more huddling-up when times are difficult, especially in this age of extended families no longer living in the same neighborhood. This leads me to suspect the demand for more-formal polyamory is already well-matched to supply: pretty small. The “If they legalize it, everyone will want to do it,” argument is bilgewater: the people who want to already are. One might apply this principle more widely…

And should, if only because slopes are really hard to gauge for slipperiness until you actually lose your footing.

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Not to mention the Greens

Once you’ve reached a Certain Age, you inevitably wonder about things like this:

If Democrats are liberals, and liberals are socialists, and socialists are blood-brothers of communists, how did the Democrats become associated with the color blue? I mean communists have been called Reds for forever, but in the modern USA, it is the Republicans, the staunch opponents of anything that even smells of cooperation, who are the Reds. Why is that?

As is the case with most modern idiosyncrasies, it’s a television thing. From the Washington Post, just before the 2004 elections:

The first reference to “red states” and “blue states,” according to a database search of newspapers, magazines and TV news transcripts since 1980, occurred on NBC’s Today show about a week before the 2000 election. Matt Lauer and Tim Russert discussed the projected alignment of the states, using a map and a color scheme that had first shown up a few days earlier on NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC. “So how does [Bush] get those remaining 61 electoral red states, if you will?” Russert asked at one point.

In an interview yesterday, Russert disclaimed credit for coining the red-state, blue-state distinction. “I’m sure I wasn’t the first to come up with it,” he said. “But I will take credit for the white board,” Russert’s signature, hands-on electoral vote tracker.

But it may have been David Letterman at CBS who provided the cultural imprimatur:

As the 2000 election became a 36-day recount debacle, the commentariat magically reached consensus on the proper colors. Newspapers began discussing the race in the larger, abstract context of red vs. blue. The deal may have been sealed when Letterman suggested a week after the vote that a compromise would “make George W. Bush president of the red states and Al Gore head of the blue ones.”

Incidentally, Prince’s Purple Rain album was released 30 years ago this week.

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Turned out like before

There wasn’t much on the Democratic ballot in today’s primary, rather a lot more for the GOP; in fact, signs were posted to the effect of “REPUBLICANS USE BOTH SIDES OF BALLOT.” I showed up at the two-precinct polling place at 4:52 pm and cast what appeared to be ballot #408. Behind me were two Republicans: a pretty young lady and a grizzled old man. (Now that’s a coalition.) I was back in the parking lot before 4:56. Overall, nothing seemed out of the ordinary; this is normally a semi-slack period, with things getting busy after 5:30 to 6 pm. (Polls close at 7; there’s also a rush first thing in the morning for the 7 am opening.)

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Some semblance of a ballot

Oklahoma Democrats are in about the same sad state as California Republicans: outnumbered and then some in state offices, they’re more than decimated but less than demoralized. Maybe. At any rate, Tuesday’s primary gives me, as an actual Oklahoma Democrat, a very short ballot to contemplate.

Four Democrats — and, for that matter, two Republicans — would like to chase Janet Barresi out of the Superintendent of Public Instruction office. Of the four on my ballot, I’m leaning toward Freda Deskin, who founded a charter school (ASTEC) in the east end of the old Shepherd Mall back in 2000. It’s not a selective school, either: “ASTEC does not test students for admittance, require only students eligible for AP courses or ask students to leave if test scores are low. We believe all students can grow from where they are.” Evidence of same: the middle school gets a blah D-plus on the most recent state ratings, but the high school scores an A. At some point, it appears, they’re indeed growing.

For US Senator (Unexpired Term) — in other words, Tom Coburn’s seat, Dr. No having decided to retire two years early — we have three candidates, one of whom (Jim Rogers) I’ve seen on a ballot before. My pick here is Connie Johnson, who just finished up her fourth full term representing Senate District 48, on the city’s northeast side, mostly because she’s pretty good at thinking outside the box. (She worked to knock down one of the state’s perennial Fetus Personhood bills; I generally tend to favor such things, but the amendment she offered was a classic of its kind. That bill never made it to the House, let alone the governor’s desk.)

For House District 5, vacated by James Lankford, who’s running on the GOP side for Coburn’s old seat, we have three Democrats. From the Old Guard, there’s Tom Guild, retired college professor, making his third try; from the Far Corner, there’s Leona Leonard, chair of the Seminole County party apparatus; and somewhere in between, there’s Al McAffrey, who served three terms in the State House, representing District 88, and then a term in Senate District 46. Truth be told, what I’m hoping for is for McAffrey to prevail in the primary and then take on Republican Patrice Douglas, former Edmond mayor most recently on the Corporation Commission, just to see who gets the most out-of-state money.

My rule for County Commissioners has been honed down over the years to “Is the incumbent under indictment?” Willa Johnson, who came to District 1 after years on the City Council (Ward 7), is not under indictment, and I know from nothing about her opponent, one Ron Henry from Luther, so Johnson gets the nod.

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Something, um, happened

Can’t find your tax-return documentation? Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to the rescue:

Taxpayers who do not produce documents for the Internal Revenue Service will be able to offer a variety of dubious excuses under legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX 36) a week after the IRS offered an incredibly dubious excuse for its failure to turn documents over to House investigators.

Under Stockman’s bill, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” taxpayers who do not provide documents requested by the IRS can claim one of the following reasons:

  1. The dog ate my tax receipts
  2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
  3. Traded documents for five terrorists
  4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
  5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
  6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
  7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
  8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
  9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
  10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Stockman’s bill likely faces an uphill battle in Congress, whose attention has been distracted of late by the annual Invertebrate Festival (January 2 until gaveled to a close).

(Via this Smitty tweet.)

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Turned off by turnout

A friend from Canada weighs in on the desirability of a truly universal franchise:

There is one phrase you hear a LOT around election time which I can guarantee that my friends and acquaintances will never hear leave my lips. It’s “I don’t care/It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just be sure to vote!” Uh, no … not for me at least. The reason they’ll never hear it is simply because I care VERY much who people vote for and I can’t flippantly suggest otherwise. I also freely admit that while I am not at all a fan of voter apathy, if said apathy were to keep those who might be inclined to support the right-wing agenda from going to the polls, I’d be in no way broken up over their failure to exercise their civic duty. So yeah … that’s one phrase I never say.

I used to worry about voter apathy, but I don’t anymore.

And I’m just self-centered enough to figure that if fewer folks show up at the polls, my single solitary ballot is worth that much more.

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Fill those holes with money

A survey conducted by the American Automobile Association says that drivers would be willing to pay more in fuel tax:

Two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now on roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new AAA omnibus survey of 2,013 adults. Only five percent of respondents believe the federal government should spend less on transportation. These results come as AAA urges members of Congress to increase the fuel tax, which will address significant transportation safety and congestion issues nationwide.

Survey Highlights:

  • About half of Americans (52 percent) are willing to pay higher fuel taxes per month on average for better roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
  • Nearly three times as many people (51 percent) are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased federal spending on transportation than would be less likely (19 percent).
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree that taxes on gasoline and diesel consumption are appropriate for transportation funding.
  • More people believe that roads, bridges and transit systems have declined in quality over the previous three years (43 percent) than those who believe the quality has improved (32 percent).

Not mentioned here, but not hard to find, are those who believe that any increase in the fuel tax will go, not to improving the state of transportation, but into general governmental slush funds: they’d support the tax if they thought it would actually do some good.

I suggested a plan about three years ago:

[I]ncrease domestic production enough to cause a noticeable decrease in the price at the pump, increase the tax enough to take up the slack, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. It would never fly, of course.

Certainly not. In Glenn Reynolds’ immortal phrase, “insufficient opportunity for graft.”

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I wasn’t ready for this

The “Ready for Hillary” campaign — “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee,” as the fine print says — sent me a packet this week, and instead of sacrificing it to Weber, God of Charcoal, I actually opened the darn thing. As such things go, it was fairly innocuous, with a cover letter by Senior Adviser (huh?) Craig T. Smith, informal enough to open with the phrase “So here’s the deal.” The recommended donation is $35, and I suppose I’d feel better if the credit-card information included the CVV, but the trend in political campaigns — and not just Democratic political campaigns, either — is toward Minimum Security Possible.

Also included is a print of a 2009 photo of her taking the oath of office as Secretary of State, which looks something like this:

Hillary Clinton being sworn in as Secretary of State, January 2009

Of course, she was five years younger back then, but what perplexes me is that shadow in the shape of a chin strap. At least, I think it’s a shadow.

I did look for the obligatory Koch Brothers reference, and found only a hint in Smith’s letter, which refers to “billionaires with personal agendas.” As a thousandaire with a personal agenda, I automatically tune out this kind of class-warfare stuff.

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Quote of the week

David Warren’s conspectus — as distinguished from “prospectus” — for Canada’s Conservative Party:

If elected, we promise to do nothing. There will be no new initiative in any area of government. Should some foreign power threaten us, we shall smoosh them promptly. Should some other unforeseen event positively demand our attention, we shall respond in like spirit to make it go away. Such contingencies aside, we shall avoid enterprise of any sort. Instead, we shall devote our entire attention, not to doing, but to undoing things. And not just little things but big things; and not just a few notoriously rotten apples in the eyes of vested interests known to be unloved, but the whole apple pie, the whole bakery. We shall make the Tea Party in the United States look like a bunch of socialist whiners. We shall make the UKIP in Britain look like Europhiles. Our ambition, as we cling to power, shall be to undo every gratuitous Act of Parliament, or other superannuated government measure, going back to Confederation, if not to Champlain. We shall repeal legislation, erase regulations, close government departments, demolish the buildings, salt the earth on which they stood, fire and retire civil servants by the refugee shipload. We shall sack them on the beaches, we shall sack them on the landing grounds, we shall sack them in the fields and in the streets, we shall start with the CBC. Our motto shall be that of the Machine Gun Corps of the British Army in the Great War. (“Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.”) We shall do this deliberately and persistently and remorselessly with no more attention to public opinion than will be necessary to lure our opponents into traps.

Inexplicably — or maybe not so inexplicably — the Conservatives chose not to adopt this as a platform.

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Decades of disservice

The current Conventional Wisdom is that the Veterans Administration is about a news item and a half away from complete and utter chaos. Wombat-socho would like you to know that this has been brewing for a long, long time:

CNN points out in this excellent article (apparently they do still have good reporters, they just don’t let them on the air) the VA has been a disastrous pile of fail ever since 1921, when Congress formed the Veterans Bureau only to see it collapse into a slough of corruption so bad that it had to be abolished in 1930 and replaced with the Veterans Administration, which also took over pensions from the Interior Department and the National Home For Disabled Veterans, this last actually comprising a number of Federally operated homes for destitute and disabled veterans.

More recent woes, of course, have more recent causes:

Part of the problem is that while theoretically the VA is supposed to provide care for all veterans, in practice, it triages veterans based on whether their injuries/illnesses are combat-related (this was at the root of the Agent Orange brouhaha) and whether they can afford to pay for their own care. Another part of the problem is that the VA has arguably never had the assets to properly do its job, and while the VA budget has increased since 2008, it hasn’t kept up with the surge of elderly veterans from the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom who now comprise most of the patient load. This is also the reason why you’re seeing most of the “dying in line” cases coming out of the VA medical centers in Arizona and Florida — those states are very attractive to retirees, and so retired vets tend to flock there. You don’t hear about problems like this in Minneapolis, Washington DC and Boston, for example, because most retired vets either aren’t interested in living in climatic hellholes or simply can’t afford to live in the latter two areas due to their high costs of living. The number of Iraq/Afghanistan vets trying to fight their way through the paperwork to get their benefits is relatively small by comparison.

My youngest brother was complaining on Facebook earlier this week that the VA had put him on hold for more than half an hour. Someone (not me) explained to him that the ideal time to call is, well, there’s no ideal time, but right after a three-day weekend is about the worst. Still, being kept on the phone for 30 minutes isn’t much compared to what some of these guys have had to endure.

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Quote of the week

This dates back almost a hundred years, and in so doing has dated not a whit:

The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto “In God we trust” were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, “verboten,” substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.

(From The American Credo: A Contribution toward the Interpretation of the National Mind, by H. L. Mencken, 1920.)

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Grand Old Pillpopper

More than once I have wondered just how much the state of this state can be explained by political operatives who were totally out of their gourds. This doesn’t help:

Chad Alexander, a prominent lobbyist and former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, was arrested on drug complaints after a traffic stop in Oklahoma City in which police officers said they found cocaine and pills.

Cocaine and pills? Holy flurking schnitt, it’s a double dipper!

A police report indicates Alexander was arrested on complaints of possession of 3.35 grams of cocaine and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, which consisted of nine pills. His 2014 Mercedes-Benz was searched after he was pulled over at 7:20 p.m. at NW 36 and Western Ave. because his vehicle was “straddling lane lines,” according to a court affidavit. The affidavit stated the controlled substance was the pain-killer oxycodone.

Let’s hope he was actually on 36th, because the lanes on Western — both of them — are seriously narrow.

And, as is de rigueur these days, he’s on his way to rehab:

“I regret to inform you that I will be taking a leave of absence from my personal and professional obligations for approximately the next 28 days,” he said in [a] statement. “I am leaving immediately for inpatient care at the Santé Center for Healing.”

Some Democrat ought to make hay with this, inasmuch as the Santé Center is out of state, specifically in Argyle, Texas. “Don’t we have enough rehab facilities?” My guess: he’s had them on speed-dial for some time, though I suspect not for himself.

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And it must follow, as the night the day

Marcel on yet another dubious DOJ initiative:

So the government is getting banks to suspend the accounts of pornographers, and that might be okay with me, though probably it would be simpler for the government to just make pornography illegal, or at least stop subsidizing its production with tax breaks for Hollywood. But anyway, today the Department of Justice is going after some pornographers. Who will these laws and precedents be used against in twenty years? Or after the next election?

Which is precisely the question that should be asked about every new governmental scheme, but never, ever is. Inevitably, this is the result:

If the government is given power to do good, it will first use that power to get more power, then use it to do some good, and then use it to do a lot of evil. What it will not do, ever, is willingly give up any power.

And it’s damned hard to get it to give up any power unwillingly, given the clamor one can expect from the hordes of (un)individuals who benefit by the wielding of that power.

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Coming in January 2017

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that the GOP has recaptured the White House. What happens next? This, says Miriam:

[T]he homeless, who you never read about during the Obama administration, will start flooding the streets of American cities.

Among them will be decorated veterans, many with limbs missing, and small children. This great mass of homeless will take to the streets the day after inauguration, January 2017.

Assuming the machine is willing to wait that long. Finding a TV screen full of people who look pathetic is child’s play for the Democrats.

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As the ruling classes fail to tremble

“Drug-war conservatives are better than Marxists,” but not that much better:

While conservative drug warriors want to punish people for (in their view) hurting themselves, Marxists want to punish people for bettering themselves and creating jobs (because making money is evil and hiring people is exploitative). So, while both want to criminalize private consensual activities, the Marxists’ goal is to kill the economy entirely, while the conservatives’ goal is to make the people’s lives more miserable for wanting relief from misery, while creating economic opportunities for lawbreakers.

Rock. Hard place. Choose one.

But why do I have to keep having to choose between the two?

Because they have a common enemy, and that common enemy is Everybody Else.

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No Rice for you

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will apparently not be giving the commencement speech at Rutgers after all, leaving the New Jersey school with a time slot to fill. What to do?

The university will now tap someone as its commencement speaker who is probably lower profile, less controversial, and OK with the idea that the only reason he or she is speaking is because the original selection bowed out. My suggestion is that commencement ceremony organizers do not select a substitute, ask Rice about how long her speech would have been and simply have everyone in attendance sit there for that length of time.

Did I mention that Rutgers is in New Jersey?

Oh, and there’s this:

Rutgers, of course, is also the university that paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 to tell its students to “study hard, but party harder” in the same year that it paid commencement speaker (and Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author) Toni Morrison $30,000. This suggests to me that the Rutgers community is ignorant not only of the value of free speech, but of worthless speech as well.

Let’s not be unkind here. Snooki has written four books.

Update: Rutgers went with paralyzed football player Eric LeGrand — then disinvited him in favor of ex-Governor Thomas Kean.

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105 percent grey

Jack Baruth considers the Cliven Bundy dust-up:

[I]f you read most of what’s been written about Bundy, the primary problem seems to be that he used the word “Negro.” You know, like United Negro College Fund. Like MLK, who said “But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. All I get from Bundy’s use of the word “Negro” is that he doesn’t consume enough mainstream media to know that we don’t say that anymore. That, in and of itself, shouldn’t be a sin. I sure as hell don’t say “Negro,” but I grew up on the East Coast where “Black” was the preferred phrase. The day will come, mind you, when I’m seventy-something years old and I say “Black” or “African-American” and my kid’s going to visibly blanch. “Dad, we say Chromosome-18-flipped now.” Hell, you can’t even say “Afro-American” in polite conversation and the use of that phrase was once a gold-plated demonstration of progressive credentials.

Based on this display, I suggest that Baruth picked a chromosome at random.

But the slope is slippery enough that this outcome seems unavoidable:

In the future, the accusation of racism will be used, wholesale, to level opposition to any position or figure that doesn’t have the favor of our corpo-govern-media machine. Future generations might see it as the equivalent to the “Red Scare” or the Puritan witch hunts. But note this: it does you no good to be exonerated by posterity if you’re dead, or homeless, or beaten, in the present life. This is what’s going to happen. Mr. Bundy is going to be told to give up his claim to the land, and eventually he’s going to do it. Mr. [Donald] Sterling will have it suggested to him that he sell his team at favorable rates to someone whom the media and the NBA like better, the same way Anheuser-Busch moved a Hispanic manager aside to make room for Jesse Jackson’s sweetheart deal. Business will go on as usual. Bundy and Sterling will be swept aside. And it will, as the French said, encourage the others. To comply, to play nice, to do what they’re told.

The race card is about the only one the machine has left. And the machine has a long history of using whatever was at hand to enforce its will; you’ll recall that they finally got Al Capone, who treated the 18th Amendment with the respect it deserved, on tax-evasion charges.

Addendum: Francis W. Porretto defends Bundy’s statement, though not on the basis of word choice.

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Suits her

Suzette finds a smidgen of redeeming social value in the inevitable Clinton presidency:

I can think of a blazing bright side right off: I am almost positive that we’ll never see her exposing her 70something bare legs.

The key word, though, is “almost”:

She is a Democrat after all and their prime directive does seem to be the degradation of standards wherever possible.

The YouTube channel known as ShePolitico has a couple of dozen videos (if “videos” describes a series of still photos with occasional zoom) of women in politics, concentrating on their legs (is anyone surprised at this?), and yes, they have a 90-second overview of the Hillarygams, though I must note that, atypically for ShePolitico, there are no drooling close-ups.

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Unbalance sheet

Not all income inequality is created, um, equal. Dave Schuler explains:

[M]y greatest concern on this subject is how rent-seeking drives income inequality rather than on income inequality per se. Michael Jordan’s or Tiger Woods’s wealth do not concern me. The Kennedy family trust does. In a society as complex as ours with a government as pervasive as ours these rents take a vast number of forms — they encompass everything from royalty income to physicians’ wages to the subsidies received by bankers or GM executives and workers in the late recession. When you use the wealth you’ve gained through these rents to promote increases in your rents, as the late Sonny Bono manifestly did, it presents an assault on liberal democracy.

Not surprisingly, tax rates — effective tax rates, anyway — won’t be going up any time soon:

[W]hen the highest marginal tax rate was over 90%, effective tax rates were little higher than they are now, i.e. marginal tax rates are virtually irrelevant to income inequality. Also, consider how many millionaires are sitting in the U. S. Congress. Does it actually seem likely to you that Congress will enact a tax on wealth? IMO a significant number of them are there to ensure that such a tax is never enacted into law.

And the rest, I’d be willing to bet, are willing to prevaricate about it in order to shore up their own positions.

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Under the bus with you

It seems so strange, at least to Crimsonic, that Kathleen Sebelius would resign:

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortish whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Okay, that’s the important stuff. What else?

Kathleen SebeliusWiki says she has a master’s degree in “Public Administration”. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

To sum up:

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

These are not the criteria we claim to espouse, mind you: these are the criteria we actually use.

And as you may have noticed, I am utterly indifferent to pantsuits.

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