Archive for Political Science Fiction

Just don’t say the name

While various allegedly American institutions attempt to chip away at the First Amendment — you know who you are — here’s how things go in a place where such concepts never existed:

Prosecutors seek up to five years of imprisonment for Turkish journalist and anchorwoman Sedef Kabaş for her tweet in which she called on citizens not to forget the name of the judge who dropped the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption probe that involved high-profile names and former Cabinet members.

An indictment has been prepared by the prosecutors on charges of “targeting people involved in the fight against terrorism and making threats,” which is punishable with jail time from one-and-a-half years to five years.

What is it exactly that Kabaş said?

“Do not forget the name of the judge who decided not to pursue the proceedings in the Dec. 17 probe,” Kabaş tweeted. She was referring to a massive graft probe which was officially dropped on Dec. 16 when the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office rejected an objection to its decision to not pursue proceedings in the case.

Seditious, isn’t it? In the meantime, you might not want to tweet anything about Ekrem Aydıner.

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What the Huck

Well, isn’t this sweet?

Former Arkansas governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee, who recently hung up his microphone in order to explore running for president again, says his 2016 campaign (if it happens) will differ from his 2008 run at the GOP nomination. He will only run this time if he funds his campaign at a level necessary to duke it out at full speed for the long haul.

One thing Huckabee has going for him: he’s not named Bush or Romney. Still, I expect several candidates to surpass those fairly minimal standards. And I figure I may be able to trot out this 2008 quote once more:

“We started this effort with very little recognition and virtually no resources. We ended with slightly more recognition and very few resources.”

History, sometimes, is stuck on replay.

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We don’t care who’s your daddy

The Z Man suggests that the very idea of a Jeb Bush candidacy would have been anathema in the early days of the nation:

The Founders certainly had a dim view of political dynasties. They had that in mind when designing the national government. They wanted the best and brightest to be attracted to state and local government, not the national government. This was, in part, to make political dynasties difficult to establish. A look through the biographies of the Founders say they knew a thing or two about the children of powerful men turning out to be nitwits.

There is an expression that goes, “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” The first generation builds the family fortune, starting from the working class. The next generation does its best to maintain it, but mostly lives off the fruits of their fathers. The third generation blows through what’s left and ends up back in the same level as the founding generation. The Kennedy family is a good example.

No matter how it looks, this is not an argument for the estate tax. Then again, if we argue that there must be upward mobility for those at the bottom, we can’t really complain about downward mobility for those at the top.

I think the children of the king probably do, on average, possess more of the magic stuff that makes for a good king than most children. I also think they have precisely the wrong environment to cultivate that magic stuff. Poppy Bush served in WW2 and almost died in the Pacific. In other words, as a young man he had to cultivate his leadership assets under duress. His kids cultivated their assets getting drunk and chasing tail at elite preparatory schools. Seeds amongst the stones.

This does not sound hopeful for George P. Bush, son of Jeb. Let’s hope George P. has no political aspirations beyond Texas Land Commissioner.

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Replete with chiefs

An amusing (for once) Oklahoman editorial this morning:

[W]e couldn’t help but chuckle when Democratic Leader Randy Bass of Lawton announced [Senate] caucus leadership positions and committee appointments. The leadership positions included one Democratic leader (Bass), two assistant Democratic leaders, a Democratic caucus chair, a Democratic caucus vice-chair, two Democratic whips, and four assistant Democratic floor leaders.

Which is, admittedly, a lot of positions to be filled by only seven legislators. (There were actually eight at the beginning of the year, but Jabar Shumate resigned a few days ago.)

Still, the electorate should not feel bad for the badly outnumbered Democratic caucus:

The Democrats’ numerical challenges also were reflected in their committee assignments. Every Democrat will serve on eight committees or appropriation subcommittees. As a point of comparison, there were Republican senators who served on just five committees or subcommittees last year. If Democratic legislators make every one of their assigned meetings, no one can accuse them of not giving the voters their money’s worth.

And you have to figure that the GOP isn’t going to hold 40 out of 48 seats forever, just out of sheer fractiousness.

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Beyond small government

Behold nonexistent government:

Delaware’s smallest town has a big problem.

Hartly, with a population of 74, has no functioning government. There’s no one to pay the bills, collect taxes, enforce codes, or apply for state aid.

Taxes for Delaware’s tiniest incorporated town haven’t been collected in at least two years and the town is thousands of dollars in debt. How much, exactly, is anybody’s guess.

The situation has left it in a precarious position with only two clear options: reform the government, which may not even be possible, or dissolve the charter and get swallowed up by Kent County.

Part of that debt was incurred by extralegal means:

Much of the town’s debt could be repaid if former Hartly treasurer Richard Casson Jr. repaid his debts to the town. Casson was sentenced to one year in jail in 2004 for embezzling $89,000 over a three-year period. Part of the sentencing required him to repay the town. To date, he’s only reimbursed $5,390, according to the state prosecutor’s office.

I’m wondering if this statistic might mean something:

The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 81.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 59.4 males.

This is tantalizingly close to Jan Berry’s desired ratio. Unfortunately, Hartly is hard by the Maryland border, away from the ocean, so there’s no surfing.

(Via Fark.)

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The personal gets more political

We have thrown in the towel, says Francis W. Porretto:

Time was, the American mantra was “Mind your own BLEEP!ing business.” It’s been years since that was the case. These days, it’s “There oughta be a law.” The shift in attitudes could hardly be more dramatic.

The evidence is everywhere. Just one example: What’s the Republican slogan about ObamaCare? “Repeal and Replace.” Why “replace?” Why not simply repeal the monstrosity and let people make their own decisions about how to pay for medical products and services, as free people once did? Too simple? Too easy to measure against a standard for achievement? Not “compassionate” enough?

Actually, since government interference in the healthcare market is a major factor in the ridiculous pricing of healthcare services these days, rolling back the ACA would not accomplish the presumed desideratum of making this stuff affordable; they’d also have to scrap, or radically redesign, Medicare as well. This isn’t happening, and probably won’t be until Logan’s Run is mandated.

But there’s no arguing with this:

Stop kidding yourself. Politicians worship political power. They want politics involved in everything. If they could get away with it, they’d pass laws about how you should sit on the toilet — and a hefty schedule of fines for violations. Their party alignment makes no difference whatsoever.

They’ve already passed laws about how much you can flush, which has had one obvious effect: multiple flushings for the same load, there being, in this case anyway, a limit to how much crap Americans will put up with.

Inevitably, there have been system issues as well, which should remind you of something you learned in Algebra I: the moment you change an item on one side, the equation no longer balances.

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You serfs have no right to do that

And we’re going to sue you for voting against our revenue measure:

Three towns in Missouri joined together to sue the the residents of St. Charles [County] who voted to ban red light cameras. St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis and O’Fallon are asking a county circuit court judge to overturn the charter amendment banning automated enforcement adopted in November with the support of 73 percent of voters. City leaders argue that the 69,469 residents who voted for the measure had no business limiting the right of local politicians to use automated ticketing machines.

“The charter amendment invades the legislative jurisdiction of cities in contravention of state policy, and conflicts with the authority specifically delegated to cities by the state to address their specific needs including traffic and enforcement of traffic regulations,” attorney Matthew J. Fairless wrote in the cities’ complaint.

The suit alleges the charter amendment will result in “a loss of revenue” and, therefore, each of the cities has standing to sue. The cities also argue that the Missouri General Assembly gave each city government “exclusive control over all streets, alleys, avenues and public highways within the limits of such city” so that the people who live in the county have no say in the decisions made by political leaders.

Meanwhile, the state has never actually authorized these things, and a case is pending before the state Supreme Court to determine whether they can. Which clearly doesn’t bother at least one of these towns:

St. Peters was the first American city to see a red light camera corruption trial. Former Mayor Shawn Brown was convicted of soliciting a bribe from Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. He was released from prison in 2008.

Not that this counts as motivation or anything.

(Via Fark.)

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18 holes and quit digging

Some people must simply hate the idea that Barack Obama plays golf:

More people than I can count have taken to social media in the aftermath of the shooting to complain that once the president condemned the shooting, he went back to his vacation schedule, and specifically, that he had the temerity to play golf during that vacation.

This reaction is ridiculous beyond belief, spectacularly juvenile, and should stop at some point before the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Here is why:

First of all, if the world stopped for an American president every time a police officer is killed, the world would stop an awful lot and the president’s job would become nothing short of impossible to do. I do not write this to diminish the deaths of police officers; whenever a police officer loses his of her life at the hands of some hoodlum, the proper response should be outrage, not resignation. But after the shooting occurs, what is the president supposed to do? Call a meeting of the National Security Council? Go to DEFCON 2? Ask Congress for a declaration of war? What?

And it’s not like he takes that many vacation days, either.

Still, I’m not betting on the Cubs in ’15 or ’16, and in ’17 it won’t matter.

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Havana wild weekend

The argument in favor of normalizing relations with Cuba:

Some people say we shouldn’t be dealing with a police state like Cuba. I say that’s a little like the pot calling the kettle black. We have the biggest security organization in the world. OK, China’s is probably bigger in terms of manpower, but ours is no slouch. Future wars are going to be cyber-wars fought by secret security organizations. Terrorists just serve to keep people distracted while the king monkeys steal all the monkey biscuits.

Or, to borrow the words of a security expert:

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Quote of the week

The left of the Sixties and Seventies is not quite the left of today, speculates the Z Man:

Back then the radicals were building a coalition in order to take control of the Democratic Party and then the country. Today, they run the country. The reason Washington looks like a high school cafeteria is because it is an adult version of what these people experienced as kids. The cool kids were the ones smoking weed and freaking out the squares, while the dorks publicly resented the fact they couldn’t join them, but privately wish they could. Those kids grew up and became Democrats and Republicans, respectively.

It’s why liberal hectoring sounds suicidal. The people in charge are railing about the people in charge. The people in charge are raising a mob from the dispossessed to assault the people in charge. The radicals of forty years ago at least had a rational aim in mind. Today it is an aging street fighter looking for a fight when there’s no one left to fight. It is both irrational and ridiculous.

But is it dead, Jim? I still hear the screams:

It’s also why this may be the end of the Left and radical politics in America. It has burned itself out like we have seen with every Marxist-Leninist state. It’s ironic that Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba. Just as the American Radicals who were inspired by Castro are heading into an absurd decline, the end of the Castro brothers will be Walmart selling Che t-shirts in Havana.

Yeah, that ought to do it. The commodification of ideology. Another twenty years and it will be fashionable to own what North Korea thinks is a car.

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Faster, please

The opening sentence of John Phillips’ column in the January Car and Driver:

In 1991, I wrote about a Top Fuel dragster that was homing in on the NHRA’s first 300-mph quarter-mile pass, a velocity that many felt might teleport the driver so far into the future that he’d land in an era where Congress couldn’t pass bills.

Current NHRA Top Fuel quarter-mile record at this writing is held by Spencer Massey of Fort Worth, Texas, who has done the deed in a certified 332.18 mph.

Apparently that’s still not fast enough.

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Getting mighty crowded in here

So: 619 million Americans, then? No wonder I can’t find a parking place.

2014 Bureau of the Census estimate is 319,309,000. So no matter what kind of number-crunching Abramowitz thinks he’s doing, it’s wrong from the word Go. And this whole scene could have been avoided had we realized from the start that the Seventeenth Amendment was a crock and killed it off before it could do any more damage.

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Quote of the week

Theodore Dalrymple, in Taki’s, muses on a major deficiency of democracy:

Modern politicians, having been given the mandate of heaven (vox populi vox Dei), do not accept limitations of their authority or their moral competence, even if, in practice, only a third or even a quarter of the eligible voters have voted for them. Procedural correctness is all that is necessary for such a man to feel justified in pursuing his own moral enthusiasms at other people’s expense.

But the more firmly the politicians believe in their heavenly mandate, the more the political class is divided from the sacred people from whom that mandate allegedly derives. (I have noticed with astonishment recently how increasingly many of the potential candidates in the perpetual American presidential race are close relatives of previous candidates or at least of high-flying politicians.) Indeed, many a monarch and even dictator has been more physically accessible to the populace than modern democratic politicians, suggesting a deficiency of real rather than assumed or theoretical legitimacy. Democracy in the modern sense encourages monomania in the population, in which every citizen is viewed as, and many actually become, a potential assassin, from whom the democratic politician must be protected like gold in vaults. Where politics is the location of all virtue, politicians are the lightning conductors of all discontents.

They’ll make a monarchist of me yet.

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A thin recruiting pool

The conventional wisdom, accorded even more conventionality during this particular administration, is that governors make better Presidents than do members of Congress. This sounds questionable to me, and downright ridiculous to Bill Quick:

Who were the most successful presidents of the past 100 years? I’d nominate Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Ronald Reagan, and LBJ. Three former governors, but one — arguably the most effective legislator post Roosevelt — a lifelong creature of Congress.

How about the worst Presidents? I’d go with Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and … George W. Bush. Three governors, one from Congress.

Being a state governor is no guarantee that a president will understand or be able to effectively deal with the intricacies of governance at the federal level, where the issues are larger and more critical, the bureaucracies more embedded and sclerotic, and the egos larger and more tender.

This makes more sense if one imagines, say, a Mary Fallin presidential bid: a nice pair of legs does not offset a tin ear.

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So how come you didn’t vote?

There is exactly one proper response:

I take voting seriously — if I have skipped an election, it is because my former party has nominated someone as objectionable as the other party has and I want no blame for whichever loser wins and subsequently makes losers out of the rest of us.

I will presume to speak on behalf of many registered voters of several parties and say that if those who send out letters about our voting frequency would like us to vote more often, they should make more of an effort to nominate candidates who do not suck.

But that couldn’t happen, could it?

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Quote of the week

Jack Baruth, on the Wednesday following the first Tuesday in November:

I have to confess that I was entirely apathetic about the midterm election, insofar as I believe both parties are pawns of moneyed interests with plans to turn the nation into an economic facsimile of Brazil where drugged-out proles play Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy all day and mobility between the classes is murdered with extreme prejudice. Mr. Obama’s milquetoast pretensions to watered-down pseudo-populism have proven to be completely ephemeral and under his supposedly Democratic administrations the holders of capital in this country have experienced a new Gilded Age while the government openly fiddles the numbers in order to turn the tens of millions of healthy and competent but utterly unemployable men in this country into nonpersons.

Still, I was pleased to wake up this morning and see that American voters had delivered a hammer to the back of Mr. Obama’s head with a staggering repudiation of his administration and his nonexistent accomplishments. It cannot be helped that most of the politicians who benefited from this ballots-not-bullets revolution are scarcely any different from the ones they replaced. What is important is that the country reaffirmed its willingness to eject major percentages of sitting elected officials for low performance.

The metaphor that works for me here is the doofus who’s gone 120,000 miles on the same automatic transmission fluid: eventually, he has to do something about the stuff, which by now looks more like Nesquik than like Fanta Strawberry, but everybody screamed “DON’T FLUSH IT!” So he had someone drop the pan and refill the unit. This improved things a bit, but it eventually dawned on him that the fluid that was in the torque converter at the time he had it serviced is still sloshing around inside there, so he takes it back to the shop, parts with another $150, and repeats the process. Eventually the fluid looks like, and smells like, what it’s supposed to be. Of course, had he flushed it, it would have failed before he got it home from the shop the first time, or so everybody says. I’ve always suspected that this was confusing correlation with causation: the trans was already about to fail, and fail it did.

(Personal note: I once bought a car that pretty much demanded the flush: the pan was vertically oriented, and the filter was internal and couldn’t be reached for cleaning. It did not fail me. Then again, I didn’t leave the same ATF in it for 120,000 miles, either.)

Which is by way of saying that if things don’t look better in a couple of years — well, a third of the Senate will be replaced in 2016.

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Unsweet ’16

One can only hope:

[M]y hope is just for a stretch of peace before the presidential campaigning begins. We can already see how viciously contested that race will be. We can already estimate the density of the ads, the contribution drives, and the phone calls. And I don’t know about you, Bubba, but I’m putting out claymores to deal with the next batch of door-to-door pollsters and campaign workers. (Remember to put the side that says “Front Toward Enemy” facing the street.)

The posturing, I’m thinking, is already underway; we’ll be lucky if we get to the 26th of December before the Big Noise begins.

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Until it’s time for you to go

It’s too late now, but you might want to remember Tam’s advice a couple of years from now:

This may sound funny having just voted for a couple tepid incumbents over their likely worse challengers, but I voted “no” on all judicial retention questions. Because any time a ballot straight up asks you “Should we fire this incumbent?” without tacking on the qualifier “…and give his job to this other wrong lizard right here,” it should be a no-brainer. I don’t care how good a job he’s doing; I’m all for dragging Cincinnatus back to his plow kicking and screaming if he doesn’t have the grace to do it himself.

This is, you should know, a question with which I’ve wrestled before.

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Report from the polling place

In the 2012 election, I wandered in at the usual time — just before 5 pm, two hours before the polls close — and got out in half an hour with ballot #1211 for the precinct. For a mid-termer, I figured half the time and half the turnout would be more than acceptable.

And it was a little busier than that: I cast #783 at 5:07 pm. There was no line, really, but there was only one booth when I signed in, and fortunately, I’d already made up my mind on most of the races. (I admit, I totally forgot Lieutenant Governor.)

A few folks had address or identification issues, but so far as I could tell, no one at the time was being turned away: provisional ballots are not exactly routine, but everyone on site knew the procedure, which is always a good thing.

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No endorsements

Not this year, anyway; this year’s ballot is unrelievedly meh. (At least in the Second Congressional District, you have the option of voting for a dead guy.) The only local candidate I view with anything resembling enthusiasm is Forrest “Butch” Freeman, who’s done a heck of a job as the country treasurer. At least county-level offices aren’t an embarrassment these days; the three commissioners seem to be busting a nut to get things done without breaking us. (I will definitely be voting for incumbent Willa Johnson for District 1, who is not messing up; there have been years when this was too much to expect from a commissioner.)

Otherwise, I am motivated these days mostly by the possibility of disposing of incumbents. Most incumbents in this state being Republican, this means I’ll have to pull the virtual lever for some Democrats. Fortunately, in this state Democrats tend to be Democrats as I remember them from my younger days, instead of the neo-Stalinists that get all the national press coverage.

If you’re still contemplating the race for governor, Joe Dorman answered some questions from The Lost Ogle, and Mary Fallin didn’t. Hard to tell which of the two is less persuasive.

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You heard it here second

Bill Quick calls next Tuesday’s outcome:

I’m going to predict that the GOP takes all the close ones except for those the Dems are able to steal. So, call it a minimum of eight Senate flips, maybe nine.

Followed by a month of outraged leftists in media and government squawking that it didn’t mean anything.

I’d say he’s right on the money — and, given the GOP’s performance in recent years, so are the outraged leftists.

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Beside some unnamed road

Finally, someone I can endorse:

And assuming that’s his real name.

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Splitters!

Another case where you can’t tell the players without a scorecard:

The Australian Progressive Party and the Australian Progressives went public within days of each other. The parties have superficial similarities and they have nearly identical names and website colour themes. They both claim nation-wide interest in a spread of state and federal seats. They want to appeal to a wide voter base by producing policies on a range of issues rather than being a one-issue party of protest. And both rely on grassroots members and donations to stay afloat.

The People’s Front of Judea was not available for comment.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Negative thrust

James Lileks, who’s had to take a lot of trips in those horrid aluminum tubes of death, probably won’t be won over by incidents like this:

Speaking of Frontier: worst website in the history of aviation, and that includes YTMND sites that show the Hindenburg exploding. Once you’ve checked in, a pop-up window offers you seats with more legroom. I declined. Next page loads: you have no assigned seats. You can get one at the airport or restart the check-in process. What a load of steaming codswaddle. Who designs a website that requires people to restart the entire process to perform the basic function of the purpose of using the website?

I mean, does upper management of the airline use the site? Of course not. Their staff does it for them. And if it’s hard for staff, well, they’re staff, and that’s why they’re there. If some conscientious member of Staff tells the boss that the website is ugly, old, and barely functional — just like some bosses, come to think of it — then perhaps the boss makes a note to bring it up in a meeting, whereupon someone will be tasked to form an exploratory committee, which will bring in all the stakeholders, and move forwards the end goal of arranging a mission statement, after which they can start to look for vendors to build the website. By then people are ordering mobile molecular-transmission units from Uber via a patch they wear on the underside of their earlobe.

Then again, it’s not just the online experience:

It’s an awful airline. They don’t nickle-and-dime you, though, I’ll grant them that. They twenty-and-fifty you.

They can get you to Oklahoma City, though, if you don’t mind a side trip down the Kessel Run.

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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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