Archive for Political Science Fiction

Czardonic

Recent administrations, rather than trying to get anything out of those damn bureaucrats, have appointed so-called “czars” to take control of a matter without any of that tedious “responsibility” business. This works about as well as you might think, though clearly the process could be improved:

I would not mind the office so much if the office-holders, like some blood-soaked versions of dollar-a-year men, took it with the understanding that it would end with internal exile followed by a firing squad.

Even external exile would work, provided the location is suitably difficult to escape. Heck, if we rocketed them into the sun, we wouldn’t even need the firing squad.

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Older but no grander

With Mitt “Mitt” Romney out of the picture for 2016, Roberta X contemplates the further thinning of the Republican field:

Now if a few more of the perennial it’s-my-turn GOP suits would step down, and their party admit there might be a little more wrong in DC than just the policies of a dislikable El Supremo, they might get somewhere in 2016. —Don’t hold your breath; with the media firmly against them and a general tradition of tone-deafness, I fully expect the Republicans to have me voting Libertarian again in ’16, even if they mostly only beat up on the Bill of Rights seven-eighths as much as the current leading brand… (Some of you will blame me for President Hillary afterwards. Hey, get your party to run someone I can in conscience vote for or shut the heck up.)

Oklahoma doesn’t allow write-ins — screws up the optical-scanning devices — and I figure they probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I wrote in Cthulhu, who, if nothing else, will not cause you to wonder if he is the lesser of two evils.

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Privilege checked and acknowledged

Not that I feel compelled to apologize for it or anything. Michael Kinsley writes in the November Vanity Fair:

[T]he least attractive man will always have one advantage over the most attractive woman: he’ll need less time for physical preparation each day. The most vain male politician (that would be John Edwards, who once paid $1,250 for a haircut) probably spends less time on his hair, his cosmetics, and his clothes than the most indifferent or naturally beautiful woman. This is extra time he can spend developing an anti-terrorism policy or catching up on sleep.

Naturally beautiful women are indifferent to me, but that’s a different matter. (Besides, so are the rest of them.)

Feminism is no longer, if it ever was, about burning bras or not shaving your legs. Or at least the female leadership pioneers in business and politics do not interpret feminism that way. The first woman president, be it Hillary Clinton or someone else, will travel with a hairdresser and wear designer clothes. And she will need an extra half-hour or more every morning to do things that cannot be delegated to an aide and that even Barack Obama — probably our most physically fastidious if not downright dandyish president ever — never has had to bother with.

It will certainly take longer than eight minutes, thirty-four seconds.

Did I mention that Kinsley’s piece was about Chris Christie? (Did I have to?)

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More patience than I would have had

The Friar actually answers one of those automated telephone polls from a state-senate campaign:

But now I’m confused, because I don’t understand what an election to a state legislature has to do with what religion I think the President is, whether or not he is effective in leading the nation against terrorism and whether his health care reform initiative has been a plus or a minus.

Which suggests that this was a Republican campaign calling, since state Democrats hardly ever mention that Obama fellow, who apparently isn’t all that popular in this neck of the woods.

Still, the relevance of this material is questionable:

What that has to do with who represents this part of the state in a crumbling capitol building and state political leadership that has at best one adult in the room when the heads of the executive and legislative branches gather together is beyond me. Maybe I’m just a low-information voter.

The best kind, according to campaign types.

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A site old enough to vote

Still like that old-time Robert Dole? Jonathan Blake advises that the Dole/Kemp 1996 campaign Web site is still up in more or less its original format, maintained by political-history site 4President.org.

I must tell you, it looks every one of its eighteen years. (Like I should talk, right?) Still, it’s no Space Jam, as Bob Dole would tell you if you were talking to Bob Dole.

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Enthusiasm curbed

Robert Stacy McCain, on the dodgy subject of GOP Election Possibilities:

The Republican Party reminds me of a Bible verse, which is to say it is “without form and void” (Genesis 1:2).

I might suggest “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

If the Republican Party were listed on the periodic table of elements, it would be in the right column, among the inert gases.

Also known as the “noble” gases, but that wouldn’t work here, would it?

From the foregoing discussion, you can perhaps understand that I’m just quivering in anticipation at the prospect that Republicans might — just barely, maybe — capture a majority in the Senate on Nov. 4.

Which they might, which is to say that the possibility is nonzero. However, one should never underestimate the GOP’s capacity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at the last moment.

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Versus Tweedledullard

Dave Schuler finds it hard to pick the next Governor of Illinois, given the choices available:

I honestly don’t know who will prevail in the Illinois governor’s race, the incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn or the challenger, wealthy Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.

On the one hand I don’t see how the same policies that have dug Illinois into the hole in which we now find ourselves will eventually succeed if we just persist at them long enough. On the other hand Rauner’s proposals consist largely of Underpants Gnome schemes and the reality is that his campaign is predicated on his not being Pat Quinn.

Which latter is not an inconsiderable virtue; Joe Dornan will pick up a fair number of votes in Oklahoma by dint of not being Mary Fallin. This Illinois race may wind up like so many: it’s a damn shame someone had to win.

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And we’re here to help

Constituent service will never be quite as important to politicians as fundraising, but it will never go away either, because it serves the purpose of burnishing the pol’s public image, a definite boon in his eyes.

Of course, what’s going on behind the curtain is perhaps a hair more sinister:

There are approximately half a million elective positions in the United States at this time, from the federal level all the way down to the school and library boards. Every politician who contends for an elective position wants above all else someone or something he can use as his target: an incompetent or a villain he can position himself against. This is because nearly all politicians would prefer not to have to run on their records; that would invite far too much scrutiny for most of them to bear. They’d rather campaign against some vilifiable enemy, and a faceless bureaucracy that can be castigated for its misdeeds, with promises of “reform” to come, is the ideal variety.

“Constituent service” is an integral element in this strategy. Consider a Congressman to whom some constituent appeals for help with something impeded by a regulatory bureaucracy. If the Congressman can “assist” the constituent past his difficulty — perhaps by promising to support the agency’s quest for expanded funding, or perhaps by threatening the relevant bureaucrats with a federal investigation aimed at them personally — he can create a loyalist, a potential campaign donor, and possibly an activist who will help him rally others to his side. Such a loyalist is likely to be much more strongly motivated to support the Congressman than are any of his detractors to unseat him. It’s basic “Public Choice” economics at work, with the “organizer” being the politician himself.

I can testify to the accuracy of this personally, having myself once prevailed upon a Senator to get me out of a potentially uncomfortable situation. (He is no longer in an elective office, so I can no longer support him; but while he was, I did.)

And this is, of course, a major reason why the faceless bureaucracy can never die, so long as a pol needs someone on whom to blame something — and a pol will always need someone on whom to to blame something.

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Your 2014 State Questions

Only three this time around, and two of them are kissing cousins. (Okay, they’re not about cousins, or kissing either, but they did sort of grow up together.) As always, I have my own take on all the measures under consideration, and also the ones that aren’t.

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As long as you give us money

You’ll notice that no one actually wants this structure to be torn down or anything:

If you’ve walked past New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art lately, you’ll have noticed the brand-new plaza in front of the building with the Beaux-Arts façade that is home to America’s greatest art collection. Whenever alterations are made to a familiar structure, opinions usually vary widely and sharply. But one view is currently drowning out all others: Several art critics are miffed by the fact that golden letters emblazoned on the Met’s new twin fountains identify the site as the David H. Koch Plaza, in honor of the trustee who wrote the $65 million check that paid for it in full.

And it’s not like you haven’t seen this sort of thing before:

In our bipolar age, political purists are increasingly disposed to raise a stink whenever arts groups accept gifts from sources deemed by said purists to be unworthy. This tendency initially manifested itself in the case of tobacco companies like Philip Morris International that supported the arts. No doubt the company’s commitment to what it calls “corporate social responsibility” was in part an attempt to divert attention from its less-than-socially responsible products. Nevertheless, the fact of its generosity is not to be ignored — or despised.

If you think about it, the idea of a “political purist” is absurd on the face of it: nothing in politics is “pure,” or ever can be, and those who would pride themselves on their ideological purity tend to be delusional, or worse. If you object to Koch Brothers money, but happily tolerate dollars from George Soros — or, for that matter, the other way around — I, for one, am grateful that there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it.

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Faster than my ballot

My fellow Americans, meet your candidates for the foreseeable future:

“Senator X said so-and so! President Y smoked the dope! Mr. Justice Z is a mean ol’ poopyhead!” The media does it. Opposition politicians do it. You do it. Hey, guess what? They’re flawed. It’s no surprise when they have a skeleton or ten in the closet. Nobody wants those jobs without being deeply flawed — workaholics, people with so much to hide they figure they’d better help write themselves clear of the laws, attorneys with no knack for wills, contracts or litigation, weirdos who have never really felt loved or secure, philosophical whackos with an ax to grind: our government is mostly made up of people who couldn’t function in a real job. Some of them are plenty bright, plenty useful when kept on task; others help keep the chairs warm. The actually functional ones only do it as a part-time job.

Emphasis added. Yes, there are idealists; I give them about three months into their first term, and then the toxins seep into their brains and their hearts, not necessarily in that order.

And there’s this:

Nearly all of them think of the Bill of Rights as something to be read closely and weaseled around. It will not surprise you that most of them have law degrees.

Well, it’s the easiest part of the Constitution to misquote.

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Justice much as ever

Balladeer says goodbye to Eric Holder:

Holder will be remembered as the most corrupt Attorney General in history and as the man who did the most to violate the civil rights of American citizens since the late FBI Director J Edgar Hoover. Despite his misconduct Hoover got a building named after him so at some future date I guess we’ll see the “Eric Holder Sewage Plant” or some such construct. The Democratic and Republican crime gangs afford each other these little courtesies, after all.

There once was a referendum to name a San Francisco sewage plant — um, “water pollution control plant” — after George W. Bush. The measure was somehow rejected.

Also, because we must, Fark reports on Holder’s departure this way: “US Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, presumably to take care of unfinished business at Coruscant”.

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Political branding

Most campaign signs are boring as hell, perhaps because the people running campaigns are mortally afraid of doing anything to which J. Random Independent can possibly object. In this century, I’ve seen only two I thought were memorable: the simple blue square used on some George W. Bush stickers in ’04 that said simply “W” and across the bottom “The President,” and Barack Obama’s O device, which has now been beaten to death and beyond. State and local candidates don’t even get that much.

Connie Johnson for Senate emblemConnie Johnson — “Constance N.” Johnson just sounds too severe — is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn. All her campaign material contains this little emblem, which strikes me as having all sorts of subtleties to it.

For one, few as those dots are, they make for a plausible representation of the state of Oklahoma, which, well, kind of looks like that, though the Panhandle is of necessity exaggerated, inasmuch as it’s only 34 miles north to south.

For another, there are two blue dots and three red ones; this hints at the actual electorate, where the Republicans hold a plurality, albeit not close to 60 percent. And the blue occupies the leftmost portion of the grid, the red on the right, with both colors in the middle.

This is pretty impressive stuff for a Senate campaign, especially one for a two-year seat — although truth be told, what I really want to know is how the campaign managed to make a woman older than I am look younger than my daughter, a task which should require, I would think, more than mere Photoshop proficiency.

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Quote of the week

Tam’s thoughts on EbolaCorps:

I was going to get outraged and say “The military is not there to boost the president’s poll numbers!” but that would be disingenuous; of course they are, and presidents have been using them for that since George had to make a standing army to go shake down Pennsylvanian farmers. But they should at least be used for military-type missions.

The administration says that the troops in West Africa will be there for logistical support reasons, to build hospitals and refugee housing and whatnot. But haven’t I just spent a whole damned Iraq war hearing about how KBR and DynCorp and Spacely Sprockets can do that stuff cheaper and more effectively than the lumbering dinosaur of the DoD?

Are we sending 3,000 personnel into even theoretical danger so that congresscritters in tough races can go pose with carefully-selected-for-diversity photo-op platoons of ACU-clad troopies stacking rice bags and building hospitals among throngs of smiling wogs right before election time? It’s cynical of me to think so, but if true, then for shame! (As though the parties responsible would know shame if it bit them on the ass.)

At the very least, we should be sending congresscritters into theoretical danger. Or maybe not so theoretical; if they’re so damned important, let’s have their boots on the ground.

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States fairish

WalletHub, borrowing data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, has attempted to determine the most fair — and the least fair — state tax systems. Admittedly, mine eyes glazeth over at the presence of “fair” and “tax system” in the same sentence, but I figured I wouldn’t come down with glaucoma from reading their pitch, and if I did, well, I have friends in Colorado.

Oklahoma shows up at #29, about where I expected; the state, says the report, is not overly dependent on property or income taxes, but makes up the difference in sales tax and some of our state-specific Wacky Fees. By this reckoning, the fairest of them all is Montana; bottom of the list is Washington state, which lacks an income tax altogether but which will kill you, or at least maim you, with sales tax. Looking at quintiles, Washington is 7th in undertaxation of the top 20 percent, and first in overtaxation of the bottom 20. (How they rank for glaucoma, I have no idea.)

I was at least somewhat alarmed when I noticed that WalletHub also ran an opinion poll, mostly because I, like most Americans, tend to think other people’s opinions of taxes aren’t worth diddly. I was not surprised, though, to see fairly universal support for a progressive (in the numerical sense) income tax:

Although conservatives appear to support higher taxes on the poor and lower taxes on the rich, the general trend is the same: all Americans believe a fair state and local tax system taxes wealthy households at a higher rate than lower- and middle-income households.

The bottom of the “poor” scale, for this purpose, is an annual income of $5,000; “rich” tops out at $2.5 million. But even the economic liberals quail at more than a 20% impost on the wealthiest, and are willing to accept a percentage point or two at the low end. Somewhere between $30k and $50k, the curves cross.

And this is where it gets interesting. Presented with the hard ITEP data, both sides awarded Montana the top slot, both picked Washington for the bottom, and both left Oklahoma at #29. I conclude that my opinion of taxes is likely worth as little diddly as anyone else’s.

(Roger Green found this.)

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The bogeyman from Fort Meade

The Z Man suggests that NSA’s espionage prowess might be the stuff of fantasy and nothing more:

The government buys all of its technology from the private sector. There are things done for the government by private contractors that are not for anyone else, but the government does not have special magic. Further, the government is not getting the best and brightest. There’s way too much money to be made in the private sector for the government to get the best and brightest. The Snowden affair shows you how sloppy this stuff is, even at the highest level.

More important, the volume of data involved is so large there’s simply no way to sort through it in a meaningful way. There are 150 billion e-mails sent every day. That’s 55 trillion e-mails a year. Searching that volume of records for useful data is simply impractical. Throw in the 100 trillion or so phone calls and probably the same number of texts and the volume of data is well beyond what could be useful. That’s why they don’t try, but they’re fine letting people think it. The Feds are relying on the CSI effect to convince the world they can read your mind.

What is this CSI effect?

The CSI effect … is any of several ways in which the exaggerated portrayal of forensic science on crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation influences public perception. The term most often refers to the belief that jurors have come to demand more forensic evidence in criminal trials, thereby raising the effective standard of proof for prosecutors. While this belief is widely held among American legal professionals, some studies have suggested that crime shows are unlikely to cause such an effect, although frequent CSI viewers may place a lower value on circumstantial evidence. As technology improves and becomes more prevalent throughout society, people may also develop higher expectations for the capabilities of forensic technology.

Ever try to defuzz a fuzzy picture the way they do on TV? Not happening, folks. And even if it were, you wouldn’t get a 1000-pixel-wide pastel-colored box on screen that says “Completed.”

Then again, NSA could just be stockpiling all this crap in anticipation of the time when they can do something useful with it.

And, per the dreamiest security person on earth:

Obviously, the most immediate need is for more realistic TV procedurals.

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A ray of light in Sacramento

There exists an asinine little bit of legal smugfuckery known as the Non- Disparagement Clause, usually sneaked into the smallest available type way down the page(s) in the contract you don’t have time to read in the first place. Examples thereof:

First there was the lawsuit of KlearGear.com’s non-disparagement clause, which tried to slap customers with $3,500 penalties if they complain about a purchase in a public forum. The clause was buried two pages deep on the site’s Terms of Sale, where no reasonable person would be expected to find it. A customer sued the site after being hit with the fee and the retailer was ordered to pay $306,000 in damages.

More recently, a customer of a very sketchy site called Accessory Outlet sued because its Terms of Sale … include a non-disparagement clause that charges customers $250 for even threatening to complain online or to issue a credit card chargeback.

This sort of crap is now illegal in the Golden State:

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed off on a piece of legislation that will make it illegal to try to enforce one of these silly clauses against a California consumer starting in 2015.

Violating the California law will result in penalties of up to $2,500 for the first instance, and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation. If a customer can prove that it is [a] “willful, intentional, or reckless violation” they can be awarded a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.

The other 56 states should do likewise at their earliest convenience.

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Helping make an indifference

Jumping off from last week’s QOTW, mushroom observes:

If you look at most of what drives the discussions about political parties it often revolves around whether or not politicians care. Bill Clinton was elected because he could feel our pain, not to mention feeling up our interns. George Bush campaigned as a compassionate conservative and suffered because he was supposedly uncaring with regard to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Obama has taken a hit recently because he was yucking it up on the golf course with his celebrity partners moments after a press conference in which he expressed outrage and grief over the beheading of journalist James Foley.

Democrats and Republicans, all successful politicians are good at pretending to care about the concerns of their constituencies. The truth is that most of them really only care about themselves, their own financial and professional success, and the pursuit of power. Most are lawyers. Lawyers are people who make a living by pretending to be a friend speaking for whomever is paying them.

If we’re going to play Maximum Cynic here — and really, why shouldn’t we? — this could benefit Hillary Clinton in 2016, since nobody is likely to be emotionally invested in the idea that she cares.

On t’other hand, there’s such a thing as Constituent Service, when you have to ask a favor of a pol even though you’re not in a position to add to the contents of his wallet or the cash flow of his PAC. This state’s delegation is mostly pretty good at it, I am told, though it’s been many years since I had to call on a member. (How long ago? There were Democrats elected from this state.)

And I have to wonder if the mavericks in Congress — our own Tom Coburn is a prime example — are that way because they’re not lawyers. (Coburn, lest we forget, is an OB/GYN.)

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Meanwhile in Montgomery

A change in legislative compensation is coming for the Alabama legislature:

Starting after this year’s elections, Alabama lawmakers will be paid the median household income for the state.

The state has hired a law firm to help determine that amount.

In 2012, Alabamians approved a constitutional amendment making the change in lawmaker pay.

Well, okay. Did it take a law firm to determine this amount?

In 2012, the median household income in Alabama was about $42,000.

Not mentioned in the article: how much they’re getting now. Reid Wilson of WaPo ferreted that out last year:

Alabama legislators only make $10 a day in actual salary, but they get $4,308 a month in expense budgets and $50 a day when the legislature meets.

Says Wikipedia: “The length of the regular session is limited to 30 meeting days within a period of 105 calendar days. Session weeks consist of meetings of the full chamber and committee meetings.”

So this is, then, a raise? And state voters approved it? Then again, these hardy souls must deal with the Alabama Constitution of 1901, which runs over 340,000 words, or about half the size of Atlas Shrugged.

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Walking off from the runoff

I cast ballot #290, according to the machine, at 4:53 pm. With competitive races in both parties, I think I was expecting a few more than that. Still, there are lots of folks wedded to the concept of “Runoff, schmunoff.” Perhaps one of these years we can do the Instant Runoff thing.

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Yes, we have no [anything]

For those of you who thought things would improve in Venezuela once Hugo Chávez passed on, you might want to think again. Now there are food shortages, and the word from Caracas is that the government is going to Do Something. Unfortunately, it’s going to do what a Chavist government can’t help but do, and that’s muck things up worse:

Rather than understanding that the problem is due to a drop in production and a drought in foreign currency to buy the products required by the population, now the “queues” making the lives of consumers miserable every day get the blame. A few days ago, Andrés Eloy Méndez, the newly appointed Superintendent of Socio-Economic Rights, announced that the Government will start a “war against queues” at supermarkets, another fictitious conflagration that adds to the so-called “economic war” [Nicolás] Maduro frequently resorts to.

The first mistake, of course, is appointing a Superintendent of Socio-Economic Rights, which in terms of functionality is right up there with establishing a Ministry of Play-Doh.

Anyway, you may be sure that Méndez takes his phoney-baloney job seriously:

From this “battle” of audits arose the erroneous idea that one of the main causes of people spending up to three and four hours in a commercial establishment is that supermarkets have a significant number of checkout counters closed. And a couple of supermarkets were fined over this, including the Bicentenario Plaza Venezuela in Caracas, where only 26 checkout counters out of 60 were operational. Also, the Bicentenario branch was requested to outline a plan to cover and ensure the operation of all counters in the future.

Of course, opening more checkout counters will not add one single banana (probably imported from Colombia) to the stocks in Venezuelan food stores.

But wait! It gets worse:

[I]t has just been announced that the ministries of Science and Technology and Food are developing a biometric fingerprint recognition system that will allow to monitor “who buys and how he/she does it” and to control the so-called “bachaqueo” (a type of smuggling activity common in the Venezuelan border with Colombia), according to Méndez. This mechanism would be put into operation for both private and public network supermarkets by early 2015.

Number of additional bananas to be sold as a result: zero.

These ideas are so horrible and have such minimal potential positive impact that I expect Harry Reid to propose at least one of them before too long.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Quote of the week

Gagdad Bob explains the current composition of the Democratic Party:

[H]ere’s a timely aphorism by [Nicolás Gómez] Dávila: “The worst demagogues are not recruited from the envious poor, but from among the embarrassed wealthy.”

This fully explains the high-low composition of the Democratic party, with super-wealthy elites at one end and lofo and lower IQ hordes at the other. You could say that the difference between the two is that the elites are bankrupt in every way except financially.

This little formula explains why the wealthiest counties in the nation trend Democrat, just as do places like Ferguson. The two are locked in a deathly parasitic embrace, for liberals destroy and have destroyed the very people they most rely upon to support them at the polls, and the underclass can be relied upon to support the very people and polices that ensure its own continued ruin. The resultant civilizational collapse is what they call “progress.”

If these are the parasites, who then are the hosts? Answer: everyone else.

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You’re watching GOTV

Does the process of Getting Out The Vote require that you, you know, actually get out once in a while? I’m one of those weird people who thinks it does.

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A conspiracy of northpaws

This post by Robert Stacy McCain has drawn over five dozen comments so far, of which this one by TheOtherAndrewB is my favorite:

Since the annual Airing of Grievances has come early this year, why don’t we move on to the REALLY important stuff? Only 2% of Americans are gay, but fully 10% are left-handed. How DARE we assume that this constitutes a majority! Sure, 90% is bigger than 10% in your cis-handed world, but that is just oppressive dexteronormative thinking. We should allow (and by allow, I mean force) children to experience the rich diversity of left-handedness. Make all children wear an enormous iron mitten on their right hands until age 18. And, while we are at it, lets force every manufacturer of doorknobs, light bulbs, sporting equipment, cars, industrial machinery and computers to reverse everything they make. At no cost to the consumer and with no unintended consequences.

Ned Flanders was not availididdlyable for comment.

(Why, yes, I do seem to be mentioning light bulbs a lot these days.)

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No place to wear a star

Although I don’t believe that should disqualify him:

An 87-year old man is running for sheriff in Washington state because sometimes, as he says, letters seeking change are just not enough.

Dave Olinger of Oak Harbor, located about 90 miles northwest of Seattle, is a man of his word and convictions and, oh yeah, a nudist.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Heck, Joe Biden is alleged to be a skinnydipper.

Olinger’s problem with the incumbent?

Olinger, who has a political science degree from UC Berkeley, said the incumbent sheriff, Mark Brown, was running unopposed and as a Republican.

“It is a position that is not supposed to be associated with a political party,” Olinger said.

And so Sheriff Brown will be primaried. Washington State has an open primary, so Olinger’s political affiliation is not germane:

Olinger was first going to try and get on the ticket as a member of the nudist party, but later decided the Democratic Party worked just fine, he said.

“I would do a good job for the county,” he said. “I have a real chance of at least making the [general election] ticket.”

In other news, apparently there’s some sort of nudist party. I had no idea the Body Freedom Collaborative might actually hold political-party status.

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No countability

Article I, Section 2, of that document no one in Washington seems ever to have read:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers … The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years.

This is the Constitutional mandate of the Bureau of the Census. All the rest of this stuff is extraneous:

Received an envelope with frightening-looking shields and seals, urging “the person who resides at this address, not you personally” go and participate in Census questionnaire on their website. If I don’t, they said citing ## XX Article of YY US Law, I’ll be thrown in jail or charged a hefty penalty. It’s all for the greater good, they said — to let the government know where, in which community little children cry from hunger and which ethnic group in particular these crying children belong to.

This is the sort of thing that raised the ire of our old friend Nunya Bidness, who probably would have responded almost exactly this way:

I bet some govmint clerk will be a bit surprised to find West-African Chinese man of 85 and income of 250K, living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, badly in need of hearing aid, guide dog and a life-supply of Prozac.

The point is not so much to put one over on the Feds — though they richly deserve it — as it is to make their figures (more) unreliable, comparable with, for instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which over the past six years has been turned into a propaganda mill, and not a good propaganda mill at that.

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There’s no need for argument

Carl J. Domino, who’s running for the House from Florida’s District 18, has proposed something called “Fix Congress First.” Apparently it’s not “fixing” in the veterinary sense, more’s the pity. But this is the opening pitch:

If we want to put Washington back to work for the people, we need to reform the Congress itself. I propose we get back to being citizen legislators by establishing 8 year term limits for US Representatives and setting pay for Congress at the median pay in their district.

Half of that sounds plausible. The other half, not so much: I can think of no reason why Henry Waxman’s replacement in CA 33 should be paid more than Markwayne Mullin in OK 2.

Ohio’s Third Base Politics notes:

This would significantly reduce the income of many Congressmen, leaving the door to these elected offices available to only wealthy people, like Domino. In addition to that, Domino is proposing that some minority and female Representatives earn wages hovering near the poverty line, depending on their family size… The Democrats are already beating the drums of the “War on Women” and Domino is playing right into them. Even if it is unintentional, he is reinforcing the stereotype of Republicans being rich, out of touch old men who are trying to keep minorities and women down.

And come to think of it, why this interest in term limits? Domino is 70, fercrissake. Term limits are coming for him whether he likes them or not.

Oh:

Domino was a Representative in the House of Representatives of the U.S. state of Florida… Domino served from 2002-2010, where he had to stand down due to Florida term limits.

So apparently he’s used to that sort of thing. And Florida’s term-limit law doesn’t keep Domino from seeking another office after maxing one out.

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Spent thinking

Above the fold in this morning’s Oklahoman:

Oklahoma taxpayers could get a small cut in their state income taxes beginning in 2016, but nobody can say whether that’s even likely to happen.

It’s all based on a complicated revenue-based “trigger” built in to the measure.

So complicated, in fact, that even state Treasurer Ken Miller, who holds a doctorate in economics, said it’s about as “clear as mud.”

“I just don’t understand the logic of a trigger,” he said Thursday. “There’s no economic reason to pass a measure today predicated on a future event, when one can simply wait for that event to occur and then preserve the flexibility. It’s difficult to explain the mechanics of the trigger and it’s certainly difficult to communicate to the taxpayers what their taxes are going to be.”

(NewsOK link once the paywall lets this through.)

But it was deemed necessary to pass the bill, because tax cuts, doncha know. Enough members of the Legislature are emotionally wedded to the concept that they’ll even pass an imaginary tax cut, just to say that they passed a tax cut. This is the next step before you get to Nancy Pelosi’s immortal utterance “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” which, if it isn’t the dumbest goddamn thing ever said by a legislator, is way ahead of whatever’s in third place.

Ken Miller’s a pretty bright guy. If he can’t defend this measure, it can’t be defended. Now situations like this can be avoided by the simple expedient of not passing crappy bills; however, for some reason the electorate, perhaps persuaded by the legislature — or maybe it’s the other way around? — seems to think that passing a bill is almost always better than not passing a bill, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

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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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