Archive for Political Science Fiction

When the levies break

Reports Rasmussen:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 83% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that when most businessmen pay their taxes, they try to pay as little as possible. Only 12% feel they are more concerned with paying their fair share.

Bill Quick calls out what’s wrong with the way this survey is worded:

1. “Avoid paying taxes.” The implication is that taxes should never be “avoided,” even if the tax code specifically permits you to follow procedures that lessen your overall tax burden. A further implication is that taxpayers should not do this at all — because, really, it isn’t your money, is it? If the government lets you keep any of “your” money (which it actually regards as its money), well, isn’t that nice of the government?

2. “Try to pay as little as possible” versus “fair share.” I really hate this notion of “fair share,” because it loads the calculus in the direction that “fairness” requires you to hand over to the government as large an amount of your own wealth as possible, to be “fair.”

Wealthy people pay by far the largest amount of taxes in this country. If you want to talk about actually fair shares, what about the enormous number of people who don’t pay taxes at all.

More eloquently, Judge Learned Hand, then on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals:

Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.

Opinion in Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Newman, 159 F.2d 848, 1947. Then again, it was a dissenting opinion; the government, once it was awarded droit de seigneur with regard to your paycheck, has consistently argued that the award was deserved.

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Low levels of litter

Is there anything good to report about the 2016 election? Well, there’s a definite paucity of yard signs:

There aren’t many yard signs for Hillary, because even dead dog Democrats who will vote for her solely because of the D after her name (as they would also do if she were Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler or the Ayatollah Khomeini) don’t like her enough to do anything beyond casting that vote. Certainly not go to the trouble of putting up yard signs.

OTOH, Trump supporters, with good reason, are probably fearful of being singled out for punishment from progtards and other violent ethnic racists if they publicize their preference for Trump — especially in front of their own homes, where their families live.

If that’s all we get, I’ll take it.

Meanwhile, someone ripped up a sign from Bark M.’s yard.

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Quote of the week

Inasmuch as this election boils down to Your Lizard versus Their Lizard, Roberta X is here to address your reptilian brain:

[I]f you genuinely believe It’s All Over if the wrong lizard wins this go-round, why are you even on the computer instead of your rooftop — or an airplane bound for Elsewhere? Seriously, it’s been over; the knee of the curve from “republic” to “empire” was, in my opinion, around 1913. Empires generally last a long time; it’s a smooth, gradual slide and crossing the Rubicon is really barely a bobble. Short-term, things will waver between “kinda good” and “kinda bad”; long term, there are centuries before wolves and barbarians (but I repeat myself) go howling through the empty streets of the Capitol. Preachings of Imminent Doom are risible. Small-scale doom, especially if you happen to live in the wrong neighborhood? Count on it. But it’s been happening; you just didn’t notice as you drove past.

The thing is, you can’t always be sure if your neighborhood is one of the wrong ones, until something doom(ish) actually happens. Hence this prescription:

Put on your big-boy pants and go wave Hi to the neighbors. They vote for the wrong lizard, they have no idea of the right hues to paint a house and their groundskeeping is, frankly, inept; but they are indeed your neighbors, breathing the same air, and you’re going to have to get along or move out. Standing there on the sidewalk with your thumbs in your ears going “Nyah-nyah!” isn’t a useful move.

It is, however, a popular one.

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Terman limits

Even if Donald Trump actually has a yuge IQ, it’s mostly irrelevant in the long run:

Back in the George W. Bush era, I got a liberal colleague literally screaming mad by saying that I didn’t much care what the President’s IQ is. Note that I wasn’t defending W. in the slightest, as known conservatives are ruthlessly disemployed in my field. I simply said that I don’t think a high IQ is the main, or even a primary, qualification for president, and I quoted somebody to the effect that Benjamin Disraeli played cards while Czar Nicholas played chess, and who would you rather have running your country? Horse sense and the ability to shift gears rapidly — the top two things “intellectuals” obviously lack — are far more important. This sent my colleague into Hillary-level conniptions.

Said colleague, I’m willing to bet, might claim to have at one time scored a couple of standard deviations above average — and probably doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose. (With only minor changes, this description also applies to me.) Besides, pointy-headed intellectuals are just fine with the idea of czars, or their czars anyway.

(Should the title require explanation…)

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Cancel the coronation

Vanity Fair posed some questions to Ann Coulter, whom they describe as the “High Priestess of Trumpism,” and this one stood out:

Is there anything that you respect or admire about [Hillary] Clinton?

To be honest with you, no. I really hate this idea that women can feel like now they can … little girls can grow up to president. No, her entire career is based on the fact that she was married to a president. She has gotten ahead 100 percent on who her husband is. She’s not Claire McCaskill, she is not Dianne Feinstein, she is not Jeanne Shaheen — who, by the way, I am citing all liberal Democrats, but they are actually impressive women. They did it on their own. I defy any Vanity Fair reader to even know what their husbands do for a living.

I’m not so crazy about McCaskill, but I concede, I have no idea how her husband spends his day.

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Fobbed off

Kimberly Fobbs, you might infer from her yard signs, is running for Senate District 33:

Kimberly Fobbes yard sign, photo by Jameson Faught

“Republicans” being the third-largest word on the sign, you might think Fobbs is a member of the GOP. She isn’t; she’s the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Nathan Dahm.

Jamison Faught explains why this is happening:

In the 6th most Republican district (59.29% Republican to 27.82% Democrat), it’s not surprised that Democrats would try this.

In an era where a Democrat can actually win the Republican presidential nomination, I’m surprised we’ve seen so little of this sort of thing.

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No lesser evils here

You may not need this little cheat sheet, but just in case:

And thank you, Crawling Chaos.

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Your 2016 State Questions

I can stand two of them, maybe. The other five, I want nothing to do with.

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Pop, pop, pop music

New York, London, Paris, Munich … Pyongyang?

South Korea is set to blare pop music across its border with North Korea as part of its latest attempt to breed discontent in Kim Jong-un’s hermit kingdom.

The bizarre tactic has been proposed in response to yet another nuclear test by the aggressive maverick state, which has put the world on red alert.

Korea pop music, nicknamed K-Pop, will be played from huge speakers positioned near the border, with officials claiming the catchy tunes will be audible from a distance of 20 miles.

South Korean and international news reports will also be broadcast across the border.

Billboard abandoned its K-pop Hot 100 in 2014. This was the last Number One:

How would the DPRK deal with that?

(Via Fark.)

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Connecting Rodham

Let us, for the moment, entertain the idea that there is no Hillary Clinton:

I mean, we all know about Bill’s sexual proclivities. Why would he marry that? It’s much more likely that “Bill’s wife Hillary” has been played by a succession of B-list actresses. Actors, after all, must master the art of lying for money. Not to mention all the accents “Hillary” has tried to fake …

Of course, those actresses had to be carefully selected. Each one had to be a near-perfect fit to the prescribed pattern. Each one had to appear the right age under the klieg lights. Each one had to possess the ability to feign all the necessary emotions — and, of course, the erudition expected of a lawyer. And it was absolutely vital that none of these actresses become emotionally attached to “her husband.” That would have been disastrous.

It wouldn’t have taken much for the Governor of Arkansas, arguably the most inept, most corrupt government in the United States, to arrange for the required deceptions and concealments.

There is, of course, an alternative theory:

Why hasn’t anyone else deduced the implausibility of a real Hillary Rodham Clinton? Why is all the heavy lifting left to me? She’s an android, Gentle Reader. A certified golem! Body by Fisher, training by Stanislavski, scripts from whatever part of Hollywood produces B-movies and slasher flicks!

I suspect the Clinton machine, so to speak, has had difficulty obtaining replacement parts of late.

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All in one Accord

I’ve mentioned the Republican supermajorities in this state’s legislature before, but we’ve got nothing on Tennessee:

Everything flipped in 1994, the first mid-term election of Bill Clinton’s first term.

Tennessee elected a Republican governor, two Republican U.S. senators, a majority of the U.S. House delegation, and the process began by which Republicans rose to the point in the Tennessee state legislature at which they hold 73 seats in the 99-seat House of Representatives, and 28 seats in the Senate. Senate Democrats could hold a caucus meeting in a mid-sized sedan; there are only five in the 33-member body.

Current numbers in the Oklahoma Senate: 39 Republicans, 9 Democrats. Maybe the Democrats could hire a van.

(Via Instapundit.)

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The election in one sentence

Tam shoots and (as almost always) scores:

Both major parties are, ironically, in a place where the best thing that could happen to their electoral chances is for the headliner on their ticket to suffer a sudden heart attack.

One can only hope.

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When it all turned sour

Roberta X theorizes that “the battle for the soul of the Federal government was lost by 1913”:

What did we get in 1913? The odious Woodrow Wilson, who argued that government should not be deemed evil and advocated the use of government to allay social ills and advance society’s welfare in a textbook, The State, used in college courses through the 1920s. He believed that America’s system of checks and balances complicated American governance, and wrote that the Presidency “will be as big as and as influential as the man who occupies it.” There’s your modern imperial-style President and the all-encompassing FedGov, neatly wrapped up in one racist, eugenicist package.

Perhaps not entirely by coincidence, the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in, um, 1913.


A candidate one can be proud of

Even after being dead for six decades, he’s still better than most of the jerks taking up ballot space this year:

Campaign button for Harry Baals, mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana

Such a colossus! Contemporary nonentities like Anthony Weiner simply pale by comparison.

(Previous Harry Baals coverage here.)

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A small blast from the past

In 2004, this site endorsed independent Senate candidate Sheila Bilyeu in preference to either Brad Carson (Democrat) or Tom Coburn (Republican). At the time, Mike H.’s Okiedoke blog had conducted an interview with her, and the Wayback Machine has a copy.

She pulled about 70,000 votes, which is pretty impressive for an independent in a statewide race. I lost track of her after that, until last night:

She is running in Arizona. Perhaps more important, she’s running in Arizona against John McCain, a chap who’s at least eight years, maybe more, past his pull date.

Politically these days, she’s bona fide Berniefied, because the Clintons have apparently been trying to kill her or something. She also sent along a Nineties compendium of Bill Clinton’s low crimes and misdemeanors. And mostly, she wants a proper link to her new campaign site at, for which I’m happy to oblige.

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No alternative

This is why voting should never, ever be mandatory:

Obituary of Mary Anne Noland of Richmond, who died rather than vote for Clinton or Trump

(Via Peter Bromberg.)

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2A or not 2A

Jack Baruth on us regular folk who might wear tennis shoes or the occasional python boot and who take the Second Amendment seriously:

The US military has zero chance of holding any significant portion of this country against an armed citizenry. We couldn’t do it in Vietnam. Can’t do it in the Middle East. And that is WITHOUT the fact that probably one-third of the army would defect to the anti-Washington side in any civil war.

But it’s not the army we worry about. It’s the paramilitary jerkoff organizations from ATF to Fish and Game.

And the Department of Education, which has no purpose other than to harass and to eat out the substance of the citizenry.

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They feel your pain

And no, we don’t want them to do that:

I think the demand that presidents should show up to a disaster to “feel people’s pain” is emotional and stupid. It’s not part of a president’s job description, and like many terrible traditions, it was started by Bill Clinton, after the idiotic media outrage over the GHWB response to Andrew. But I just wish that the media would be consistent, and not hypocritical, in modulating their outrage depending on which political party is in the White House.

Actually, they’re always consistent: they defend Democrats.

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Not being particularly observant

This has been a particularly rough day, and I wasn’t in any mood to deal with someone handing out political flyers at the door. The mind was sufficiently fogged, I think, for me not to notice that I’d gotten to the door wearing nothing but my watch and a pair of sport sandals.

Of course, I was surrounded by my Horrible Walking Appliance, which might have blocked some of the view for the poor woman working the block, and she didn’t shriek in terror or anything.

I am not, you should know, in the habit of doing this: there is a tiny number of people who are aware that I normally don’t wear much of anything and who have let me know that they don’t mind, but the operative word is “tiny.” Fewer than six. I think only one actual current neighbor is clued in, but she’s never had a reason to visit here. (Used to be a woman around the corner who’d chat through the fence, and she was utterly indifferent to my lack of garb.) Still, I have to wonder if I somehow foreclosed a political discussion; and if I did, I have to wonder if it’s justification for doing it again.

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Russian into things

War with Vladimir Putin’s boys? Bad idea, says Fred Reed:

Such a war would be yet another example of the utter control of America by rich insiders. No normal American has anything at all to gain by such a war. And no normal American has the slightest influence over whether such a war takes place, except by voting for Trump. The military has become entirely the plaything of unaccountable elites.

A martial principle of great wisdom says that military stupidity comes in three grades: Ordinarily stupid; really, really, really stupid; and fighting Russia. Think Charles XII at Poltava, Napoleon after Borodino, Adolf and Kursk.

Letting dilettantes, grifters, con men, pasty Neocons, bottle-blonde ruins, and corporations decide on war is insane. We have pseudo-masculine dwarves playing with things they do not understand. So far as I am aware, none of these fern-bar Clausewitzes has worn boots, been in a war, seen a war, or faces any chance of being in a war started by themselves. They brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, and Isis, and can’t win wars against goatherds with AKs. They are going to fight … Russia?

“It is an honor,” said Capulet’s daughter, “that I dream not of.”

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There can be only two

Clay Shirky argues that there’s no such thing as a protest vote:

Throwing away your vote on a message no one will hear, and which will change no outcome, is sometimes presented as “voting your conscience”, but that’s got it exactly backwards; your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.

I could argue, I suppose, that voting for one of the two major-party psychopaths would “hurt other people,” because no matter which one wins, we lose, but that’s not really what Shirky wants, is it?

None of this creates an obligation to vote, or to vote for one of the two viable candidates. It is, famously, a free country, and you can vote for anyone you like, or for no one. But if you do, don’t kid yourself — and certainly don’t try to kid anyone else — that you are creating some kind of positive political change. Noisily opting out as a way of demonstrating your pique is an understandable human act. It’s just not a political act. It’s an elaborate way of making the rest of us do the work of deciding.

Some of us are persuaded that human acts need not be judged by their political impact. The doofus who came up with “The personal is political” has done more damage to our culture than either of our Officially Nominated Grifters.

(Via Sheila Scarborough.)

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Bern unfelt

And the Sanders phenomenon ends as quietly as it began:

Sarah Silverman all dressed up“You’re being ridiculous.” So said Sarah Silverman to her fellow Sanders delegates the other day and while I would probably agree with anything Sarah Silverman says — I will admit to a strong attraction to good-looking Jewish girls with potty mouths and big breasts (yes, I am that shallow) — in this case she is right: you are being ridiculous. I knew this months ago, when Bernie Sanders didn’t want to talk about Hillary’s damn emails. No serious candidate for any office throws away an important issue like that unless that candidate is not, in fact, serious. I hate to point this out to all of you Berniacs, but the only person in your crusade who wasn’t feeling the Bern was Bernie. He knew it was a con all along.

And we all know how this song ends:

I know it feels like a betrayal, largely because it is, and I must admit that I feel sorry for you guys, I really do. You are the poor misguided virgin who trusts her boyfriend to slip on a condom just before the cherryectomy, only to discover afterwards that the boyfriend lied about having one. So there you are without your pants on, with a cootch full of his baby batter and wondering, oh my God, what have I done? Now, you may or may not get pregnant from this great misadventure; chances are you probably won’t, but it does happen, which is why you should have made sure he was wearing the rubber before he got close to you; but what is also true is that from no matter what angle you choose to look at it, you’ve been screwed in more ways than one.

As have we all, as we will discover later this year.


Write in this guy

It’s hard to argue with a platform like this:

Man with a plan

Still, it’s a long, uphill slog he faces.

(Via Laura Ledford.)


Something less than Grand

Colonel Bunny on recent GOP initiatives, or the lack thereof:

With the mere election of GWB it seemed like the pendulum swung slight back in the direction of Republican “sense” but with Bush’s mad dash to the Islamic Center of Washington on the day after 9/11 to slobber over the resident Muslims, his “religion of peace” foolishness, and his hand-holding and kissy-face with Saudi royalty, whose hackles did not rise? What?!

Since then it’s been perpetual war, Republican fiscal idiocy, Keynesian/monetary lunacy, and servile Republicans stretching to the horizon. It’s a period that might in future histories be known as The Long American Demolition Derby, Mud Wrestling, and Foreigner-Worshiping Extravaganza. Immigration spiraled up into the clouds; Islam became as hard to understand as quantum mechanics; Muslims and ultra-leftists were inserted into federal agencies with abandon; rule by decree became the new normal; inexplicable, unconstitutional, and fatuous foreign military adventures multiplied; and Republicans cowered under their desks, immobilized by a Harry Reid raised eyebrow.

Anyone who still thought we might still be living in something remotely like a Jimmy Stewart/Bob Hope kind of normality finally had to hang it up.

Which is easily enough explained by self-preservation on the part of those GOP hacks: they’re just fine with going along to get along, so long as they don’t jeopardize their own personal perks.

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Gotta replace ’em all

There exists (thank you, Cameron Aubernon) a movement called Brand New Congress, and this is how it’s supposed to work:

Our plan is to recruit and run 400+ candidates as a single, unified, presidential-style campaign. This allows us to:

  • Actually turn out millions more to vote in their midterm elections, which usually have extremely low turnout. One big campaign for a Brand New Congress will attract enough media attention, volunteers and grassroots donations to overwhelm those no-name, sold-out, unpopular incumbents.
  • Focus the grassroots energy and funding into one, big goal. It is possible to defeat incumbents backed by a few wealthy individuals if we have millions of people working together, but only if those millions are concentrated.
  • Gain huge economies of scale in advertising, direct mail, and staffing.
  • Use one constantly-improving campaign infrastructure as we move from election to election.
  • Have candidates without a lot of wealth and with no campaign experience run a sophisticated campaign by simply plugging into our well-oiled campaign machine.

There is, of course, a formal organization, sort of:

Right now, a political action committee called Brand New Congress is accepting contributions to support travel costs and to pay stipends for a handful of organizers. Zack Exley, a former Bernie staffer, is the treasurer of the PAC and works on Brand New Congress as a volunteer. Once we have our candidates, formal decision making and fundraising will flow through them, with the PAC probably being dissolved. We are required to have a PAC to accept funds and spend money toward electing federal candidates.

Well, at least this will be interesting.

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The Russians love their ballots too

Should elections be run by the states, or by Washington? A case for the former:

My love of federalism blah blah blah says it should be done by the states, and until the last few years that was my position. However, the logjam on some election reforms I would like to see, as well as elections themselves becoming something of a partisan fight, have shifted me towards the middle. But this? This pushes me back towards the states. Indeed, it makes me a little more fond of the electoral college.

The idea of doing everything federally is that The Federal Government Can Do It Right. The thing is, though, that even if we grant the competence of the federal government as being more substantial than that of the state governments, it also creates a central port for hacking. All Putin or anyone else would need to do is get into one system. Meanwhile, under a state-run situation, they’d need to get into five or six at minimum. Even if it’s twice as difficult to get into the federal system, the odds are better with the state systems. This, to me, suggests that there should be more separation rather than less.

Further, fraud would be easier to detect if they could get through some but not all of the state systems. If they can get into Pennsylvania but not Ohio, the odd results would be more noticeable. If they can get into a central system, they can manipulate the results in such a way to make it difficult to tell, giving the appearance of a uniform swing.

Vladimir Putin is mentioned, as of course he should be, but truth be told, I’m more concerned about home-grown skulduggery, especially in an era where candidates are routinely expected to be untrustworthy.

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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.)


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.


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.