Archive for Political Science Fiction

Does this sound crazy to you?

Because I’m afraid it might make sense:

Neither side actually WANTS to win, because neither side wants to be in the White House during the next four years. They do not want to be the ones tasked with the Sisyphean and possibly impossible task of dealing with the fire breathing hydra with rabies that is the deteriorating world situation. Their best case scenario is to lose, and in the unlikely event there are any survivors, come out of their bunkers and pick up the pieces, while blaming the other party for the catastrophe that they fortuitously dodged having to deal with.

Given both parties’ long history of Blame Avoidance as a top priority, this would seem to explain the nomination of wholly unacceptable candidates perfectly well.

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Now that’s enterprise

Just what you may have been looking for:

(Via @MrBabypants.)

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Checking one’s hindsight (2)

Note: The following originally appeared in Vent #14, from this week in 1996.

According to the packet of information dispatched to me by the Reform Party, about half the Democrats (about 15 percent of the electorate) and about half the Republicans (about 15 percent of the electorate) would prefer a third party if one existed. Of course, there have been third parties since the days of powdered Whigs; the Perot crowd believes that in 1996 a third party could actually elect a President.

Well, it could happen. Ross Perot himself, despite the swiftest descent into self-parody since Joe Piscopo, drew nearly one-fifth of the popular vote in 1992 against two fairly blah major-party candidates. This year, “fairly blah” is far too kind for either Bill Clinton or Bob Dole; you’d almost think the party faithful had decided that going through the motions wasn’t worth it anymore, and that we might as well replace Executive, Legislative and Judiciary with Time Warner, Philip Morris and Wal-Mart and get it over with.

From the vantage point of today, that might have been an improvement.

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Quote of the week

Twilight Sparkle, in “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, season five, episode 13):

This is your dream! Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now!

Now endorsed by the Republican National Committee, kinda sorta.

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Borrow happily

And if it’s political, do it shamelessly:

Melania Trump, wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, made headlines on the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention when she delivered a speech that included portions plagiarized from a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008.

But she might have also rickrolled everyone:

In which case, all is presumably forgiven.

Addendum: I think this says it well:

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Official, it says

Subtle, it’s not.

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Knowing what you’re worth

And remember, it’s always more than those Ordinary Folks:

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) said Friday that if the Department of Justice had been investigating the Orlando nightclub shooter instead of her, the 49 people killed in the massacre there last month would still be alive.
[…]

“These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of [shooter Omar Mateen], and we ended up with 50 people dead,” Brown said. Mateen was shot and killed by police at the scene of the Orlando nightclub attack, bringing the total death toll to 50.

Brown’s lawyer echoed those sentiments. “Perhaps had it chosen to devote its resources more thoughtfully, 50 innocent people would be alive today,” Elizabeth White said, according to First Coast News.

Brown was hit with a 24-count federal indictment. One for every other victim?

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Quote of the week

“Vote for a winner,” they say. Better yet, don’t:

Those two big parties notice election results; they listen to their own more-successful upstarts — don’t think Senator Sanders hasn’t sent a shiver down the spine of moneyed Democrat power-brokers — and they pay attention to “third parties” that finish well. If you only give them what they want, if you act as if R or D is your only choice, that’s all you will ever get — and the only change you’ll see from either one is liable to be for the worst.

“Vote for a winner?” If the candidate you’re voting for doesn’t share your values, what, exactly, will you win by voting for them? What’s in it for you, the vague hope of slightly-better Federal appointments? More efficient global police-actions? If either big-party wins, you can count on more drone assassination, and unlike a sniper, the collateral damage is considerable to both bystanders (guilty and innocent alike) and in public opinion. You can count on more addled meddling from On High, by regulators and legislators long out of touch [with] the everyday lives of the ordinary and the unusual citizen alike. As for world affairs, we’d probably do more good if foreign policy was decided by fifty people chosen at random from the Duluth, Minnesota telephone book.

We’ve got idiots in D.C. and few if any realize they’re idiots. With that dread caveat in mind,you should vote for the outcome you want. If you’d be happy with a President Trump or a President Clinton, vote for ’em; if you are only settling for one or the other, if you are going to have to hold your nose to vote, consider the alternatives.

And at least this year in Oklahoma, it’s possible to vote for someone neither D nor R.

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Primary concern

If I’m discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, well, it occurs to me that the polling place for my precinct is on my way home, and if I’m actually able to walk, something I haven’t been in the last few days, I ought to drop in and fill out a ballot. I haven’t missed an election since 1990 or so, and I’d hate to start now.

Before you ask: Early voting started last Thursday; I wasn’t in any condition to leave the house. And earlier on, it would not have occurred to me to ask for an absentee ballot, because I didn’t have any expectations of being absent.

Addendum: Obviously this is not happening.

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The most pressing issue of the day

Actual flyer received by a District 36 voter:

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

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Don’t leave Rome without her

Meet Virginia Raggi, newly elected Mayor of Rome:

Virginia Raggi

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

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

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

Virginia Raggi in d'Orsay pumps

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

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Too much continuity

A theoretical I’d just as soon avoid:

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

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

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

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

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There Armani here among us

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

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

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

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

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

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Counsel from Troi

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

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

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

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

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Some limit that was

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

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

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

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Checking one’s hindsight (1)

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

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

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

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Dole House cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ruining the brand

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

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Quote of the week

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

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

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

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

Mandatory footnote:

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

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

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We build nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dollars here, dollars there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Irrational for the moment

I could probably find some exceptions to this rule:

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

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You heard it here third

Possibly second, but definitely not first:

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

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

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Didn’t need this after all

From page A5 of yesterday’s Oklahoman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A consummation he will surely miss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Via Aaron M. Renn.)

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Redeeming social value

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

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

The paragraph, complete:

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

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

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Minor political content

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

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

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This doesn’t look like a primary

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

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

Of these thirteen, nine appeared on the 2014 list.

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It’s starting to look like a primary

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

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

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Greater Scott

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

Bogus biographical details about Scott Inman

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

Inman’s comment upon reading this:

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

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

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