Archive for Political Science Fiction

This gets an #FFF

Some students at Dartmouth produced what they call a “Freedom Budget,” justified by the following:

This Freedom Budget focused on redistributing power and restoring justice for communities who suffered economic oppression at the hands of rich, white power structures. This budget was not a proposal for better interpersonal interactions, but a proposal to transform oppressive structures. Dartmouth epitomizes power being isolated to rich, white males. As such, there is no better place than this campus to campaign for a Freedom Budget that will address the consequences of white male patriarchy today.

Robert Stacy McCain questions that “no better place” bit:

Why are these kids so obsessed with white people? First, it’s “rich, white power structures,” then it’s “rich, white males” and “white male patriarchy” — white! white! white! The repetition conveys the intensity of their fixation, but why? Let’s see: Dartmouth College is in Hanover, N.H., and the census says New Hampshire is 94.4% white. So if you have a problem with white people, maybe Dartmouth isn’t the place you want to be, but since you decided to go to Dartmouth, whose problem is this? It’s as if you moved to Tijuana and then started complaining, “Hey, why are there so many Mexicans around here?”

Oh, but they love Mexicans. Well, except maybe these guys.

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The taxman stayeth

There’s something fundamentally wrong with a tax code that routinely costs ordinary people many hours and dollars every single year, and not just for taxes either.

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Don’t be afraid of the diarchs

In Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett is the Mayor and gives all the speeches; Jim Couch is the City Manager and does all the scutwork. (Couch is paid about eight times as much, too, which seems only fair.)

Constitutional considerations aside — and hey, isn’t that always the case today? — maybe this would work on the national scale:

Personally, I think a giant empire like modern America would be better off splitting the roles of ceremonial Head of State and utilitarian Head of Government, rather than in getting them all entwined. The Premier or whatever we’d call him would, in today’s culture, typically be some senior black entertainment or athletic figure: James Earl Jones in the past, Morgan Freeman today, Oprah tomorrow, maybe David Robinson after her.

Instead, out of that urge, we elected a part time college lecturer to fill both jobs in a mediocre fashion.

I’d say “We could do worse,” but I fear I might be correct.

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An aphorism for our times

You could wait for it to show up on the “It is written” widget in the sidebar, which eventually it will if the randomizer doesn’t go totally troppo, but you might just as well appreciate it right now. Says Roberta X, with the ring of truth resounding behind her:

[W]hatever a politician takes the loudest stand against, he or she is probably doing in private.

In an era where hypocrisy is deemed a Mortal Sin — well, when in history have we ever run short of sinners?

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Representing Bizarro Texas

Finally, a plausible explanation for Sheila Jackson-Lee:

In a speech this week, she offered praise of the Constitution of the United States, which had governed us for “400 years.” This has led some to conclude that Rep. Lee is actually from the 22nd century, a time in which said Constitution, adopted in 1787, might indeed have been around at least 400 years.

My own solution is that the Congresswoman is not from our future, but instead from a parallel universe. In this alternative Earth, the United States was indeed formed in the 17th century and the Constitution adopted in 1687. Also, the resolution of the Vietnam War was significantly different and there are still two Vietnams, as Rep. Lee suggested in 2010. And Neil Armstrong took an even bigger step for mankind than he did in our world, planting the flag of the United States on Mars instead of just the moon. Usually, Rep. Lee is able to conceal her allohistorical origins, but she occasionally slips up. I for one certainly hope that she is at some point able to return to her timeline and allow her counterpart to return to our universe, but I don’t know if anyone is researching the topic.

There is, I suspect, a back-burner project being conducted by Texas Republicans, but they dare not go public with it, lest they be accused of being parallel-species-ist.

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Quote of the week

And should Crimea fall into the Russian orbit once more? Swell, says Josh:

“Illegitimate”, huh? Illegitimate my arse. Do you even know the meaning of illegitimate, my dear European leaders? Something that is legitimate is something that is supported by the people. The referendum is supported by the people. Today, the people of Sevastopol, an autonomous town withing the autonomous republic of Crimea, have proposed a similar referendum. There are protests that BBC doesn’t show, of thousands of people waving Russian flags in Crimea, eager not to support, I’m quoting, “The Nazi Bandera government” reigning in Kiev. The referendum, my dear EU leaders, who have addled their minds with “liberal values” and oil, is legitimate. And guess what? Here’s a tenner saying the people of Crimea will vote for reuniting with Russia. Because it has always been Russian. Even after the 60s, up until 1992, it was pretty much Russian. So, after twenty years of being under Kiev’s yoke, Crimea wants back to Russia, to officially speak the Russian language, and pay Russian taxes. (Which are sweet, by the way. Hence my making business here.) The referendum is legitimate, and everyone who thinks otherwise, can unfollow me right now because I don’t have anything to say to you, even if I’ve known you for years. To you, I say, good-bye.

You must have meant, “illegal”, my dear European leaders. Of course, fighting for negro rights in France and gay marriage in the UK is far more important than actually learning how to speak. (No, it’s not.) Was the revolution in Ukraine legal? Nooo. Was the President’s impeachment legal, according to the Constitution? Noooo. Is there a President in the country to sign, or contr-assignate the laws the Parliament has passed? Noooo. Is the current “government” legal? No. But, here’s the thing, it’s only semi-legitimate. No part of Ukraine in the East supports them. The West does. Well, rule the West then. Good riddance. There’s nothing worth investing in there, anyway.

Now, I’m waiting eagerly for the referendum to pass and for Crimea to reunite with Russia once more. Then, I’ll celebrate not only St Paddy’s Day, but also a new open market. Which is very very good. And I swear, if the UK decides to deploy fucking troops in Crimea after its reunion with Russia, and I’m made to choose, I’m applying for Russian citizenship. My country, Scotland, is about to go downhill in September anyway. And Russia is one of the few countries that still holds the conservative values dear to my heart and is not fucking insane or high on liberal shit. After every high, there’s a cold turkey. Just reminding you.

I have every reason to believe he’s serious.

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Not a puff piece

Mr Truman, having experimented with e-cigarettes and found them to be an improvement over the burning-leaf variety, now wonders if maybe these, too, will be taken away in the name of safety:

[B]y god I have found something that works for me. Not just because I don’t smoke anymore, but because it allows me the ability to continue to do the things that drew me to smoking in the first place. I may quit the ecigarettes or I may not. But I have finally found myself not having to obsess over this question. Do you know how amazing that is? A world has been lifted from my shoulders. The monkey that has been on my back for years and years is gone. At worse, replaced by something by all measures benign by comparison. It makes me want to kiss the skies. And it makes me furious at those who see this as some nefarious new threat to the public health.

Right now I am just waiting to find out how bad it’s going to be. Whether the thing that right now costs me twenty-five cents a milliliter will shoot up to seventy-five cents (a very real possibility). Whether the people I get my supply from will be allowed to remain in business. Whether I am going to have to throw everything out and start all over with an FDA-approved device. I’m concerned about the number of people out there who could take the same path as I did to recovery, but as much as anything I just want to keep doing the thing that has put more distance between me and cigarettes than I have had in over ten years. Or whether it will be made more complicated and disrupted with right-now unthinkable consequences. In the name of public health. In the name of my own well-being.

In matters of government, all consequences are unthinkable: lawmakers — and people assuming the role of lawmakers in contravention of the Constitution — insist that their solutions are not only correct, but inevitable. To this day we have people defending Bolshevism; in 2100 we’ll still have people defending ObamaCare. It might be prudent to expect the worst.

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Harry, the feckless Senate runner

Smitty turns a Warren Zevon song into an ode to, or at least about, Harry Reid. And it’s not “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” either.

(Working title for this piece, for the minute and a half it had a working title, was “Werewolves of Searchlight.”)

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The non-nuclear option

Mitch McConnell is making noises about reinstating the filibuster should the GOP recapture the Senate, an idea which does not sit well with Bill Quick:

How about this: Remove the filibuster entirely. It is an artifact of political operators, not of the Constitution. And Congress doesn’t need “more restraint.” The Framers deliberately designed it to be the most powerful, by far, of the three branches of government.

The notion that Congress should to make rules to “restrain itself” is, at bottom, an argument that Congress should not exist — because if doing less is desirable, doing nothing at all is most desirable.

And there’s always the question of why anyone thinks the Republicans will somehow ride their imagined Senate results into some sort of Chuck Norris mode, given the presence of squishes like, well, Mitch McConnell.

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Not so much interest

Apparently there’s less interest in the mayoral race than the vast quantity of hype suggested: I showed up at 4:58 and cast ballot #358. This is not a sign of heavy turnout. (Second in line at check-in is similar.)

Of course, the polls opened at 7 am, and roads were generally impassable at that hour. (I know. I was already at work.) Maybe it will pick up when the usual morning crowd gets off work.

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Dear Senator

A New Yorker writes to her Senator:

As your constituent, I’d like to urge you to initiate an adequate response to the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, which guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine, was signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Russian Federation. The world now sees that Russia’s signature means nothing as Russia has violated the territorial integrity of the sovereign state of Ukraine. As an US citizen, I’d like to make sure that the signature of MY country does mean something.

This was sent to Kirsten Gillibrand, because — well, would you ask Chuck Schumer to do anything?

Meanwhile, if I’m in Kiev, I’m thinking “We gave up our nukes for this?”

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Staying the course

There are times, admittedly not often, when you might actually want to vote for an incumbent. This is one of those times.

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Quote of the week

Lisa Paul was outraged by that Arizona bill, and explains why:

Here’s why I’m so adamant about fighting any law or bill that would institutionalize discrimination — especially if it allows Conservative Christians to impose their religious mores on others. I’ve been down that road. When I first moved to California, I worked at a company that I later found out was run by an Evangelical Christian CEO. My boss was a devout Mormon. When I announced to my co-workers that I was engaged, my boss called me into his office and gave me what I later found out from other female employees (former) was “The Talk”. He asked me when I was getting married and said, “And, of course, your husband won’t want you working after that.” When I said, I certainly did plan to work after marriage. He began to question me about when I planned to have children and tell me that married women should be home. I really needed that job. It wasn’t just important to my career, we’d just bought our first house together and needed every cent for the mortgage. Remember, this was Liberal California — although thirty years ago it wasn’t as Liberal and Silicon Valley was very much more a Boys’ Club. Could I complain or sue? I didn’t think upper management would stand behind me given that the CEO didn’t seem like a truly Christ-like Christian. (He would lead us in prayer at the company party for a profitable quarter!) I certainly didn’t have the money for an attorney. Besides, if a boss wants you gone, even if you have great performance reviews, he can find a way to do it — especially if there is tacit approval at the top management levels for that sort of behavior.

There is always a way to fire someone. It may take legal guidance or worse, but there is always a way.

I went through some scary weeks wondering if I should pretend that I’d broken off the engagement, at least until I could get another job. I was sick to my stomach that we were going to lose our house. In a Deus Ex Machina development, that boss got another job a few weeks after that and so did I. But no one should have to reconfigure their lives or fear for their financial security or career longevity because someone else is trying to impose his religious views on you. (And by the way, THAT is religious discrimination, not laws that prevent you from oppressing others.) Now, in the scheme of things, I’m not in a group that encounters a lot of discrimination. I’m sure the LGBT community and African Americans are laughing at this — and it is just a fraction of the discrimination those groups face. But that one brush sure brought home the helplessness and fear that is unmitigated by any hope that the system might have your back. That’s why I believe we should fight against even the tiniest chipping away of any protections that stop such discrimination. If you’ve never been a victim of any kind of discrimination, you probably need to step back and listen more than you talk on this issue. Because you have NO idea. If I’d been working in an Arizona where SB 1062 was the law, it certainly would have allowed my firing on the grounds that the CEO and my boss’s religious beliefs stated that married women should not work outside the home!

Governor Brewer, for whatever reason — I assume by default that the “reasons” in such matters are at best dimly related to the real reasons — chose to veto that bill.

The doctrine in question, if I remember correctly, reads something like this: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” There’s no intermediate step that requires you to get up in that sinner’s face.

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Fingers faster than brain

Either that, or he meant to snub lesbians:

Tweet by Dan Patrick

Patrick, a Houston-area Republican who represents Texas Senate District 7 and who would like to be the next Lieutenant Governor, hurriedly pulled this tweet back and replaced it with one more to his liking.


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For those who need a patron

A saint for our times, perhaps?

Since February 2004 San Precario, patron saint of precarious, casualised, sessional, intermittent, temporary, flexible, project, freelance and fractional workers, has appeared in various Italian cities. The saint appears in public spaces on occasions of rallies, marches, interventions, demonstrations, film festivals, fashion parades, and, being a saint, processions. Often he performs miracles. Although the first appearances are recorded on 29 February 2004, San Precario has multiplied and materialised in different disguises. Equitable in his choices, San Precario does not privilege one category of precarious worker over another, and he can appear in supermarkets in urban peripheries, in bookstores or, glammed up, at the Venice Film Festival. San Precario is also transgender, and it has appeared also as a female saint. A “cult” has spread rapidly and has led to the development of a distinct and colorful iconography, hagiography and rituals. Appropriating the Italian Catholic tradition of carrying saint statues in processions in urban spaces, the cult of San Precario functions at the same time as étournement, as a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), as carnival. It is also a tactic to make visible issues arising from the increasing casualisation of the work force. At a different level it can be considered a site of mythopoetic production.

I do like that word “mythopoetic”: with twice the latitude of either myth or poem, it conceivably could pack four times the punch — a useful attribute for a saint whose feast day occurs only once every four years.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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For the spot in the middle

Doctor Taco, a former Oregon grinder now living out here on the Plains, has a very long and detailed analysis of the Mayor’s race — at least, of the top two candidates — and he’s come out for the incumbent:

The only additional power that a mayor has above the council is to nominate citizens to serve on various boards and committees, and even then these nominees must be voted in by the full council. Beyond this nominating power, the Mayor is not much more than an ordinary city councilor with additional powers as a figurehead or a cheerleader.

Mick Cornett’s time as Mayor is a case study in how to use the soft powers of the office to build coalitions and be a champion for Oklahoma City.

The suggestion here appears to be that Ed Shadid, more the activist type by nature, is perhaps less well suited to a more-ceremonial job. I’m not so sure.

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No picks

The Midland Reporter-Telegram, a Hearst-owned newspaper with about 15,000 daily circulation in West Texas, is officially out of the endorsement business:

The Reporter-Telegram Editorial Board will not be making endorsements for the March 4 primary elections. And that will be our policy moving forward.

This is, they say, a sign of the times:

The information out there in this day and age doesn’t necessarily require news organizations to do what we did five, 10, 20 or 50 years ago.

A reader shrugs:

I don’t care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I’ll support your Nobel prize nomination.

Nobel Prize? In what? Alchemy?

It could be worse. During the Gaylord years, the Oklahoman was fond of sticking certain of its editorial endorsements on the front page, thinking this sort of thing mattered to the readership. (One of the advantages of their afternoon paper, the Oklahoma City Times, was that its front-page design didn’t lend itself to that sort of thing.)

David Letterman, once upon a time, shied away from embracing candidates: he said he didn’t want people thinking “Well, hell, Letterman likes the son of a bitch, let’s vote for him.” (If I remember correctly, this was in his 1984 Playboy interview.) This is an attitude I can endorse.

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An unqualified success

Rep. Robert E. Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, is leaving Congress to go practice law again. The Washington Post decided to send him off with a bit of snark:

Only four of Andrews’ hundreds of bills have ever passed the House of Representatives. But none of them passed the Senate, so none made it to the president’s desk.

Even in Congress, where the vast majority of bills fail, that is an unusually awful batting average. By those numbers, Andrews would be America’s least successful lawmaker of the past two decades.

Au contraire, Posties. Andrews should be counted among America’s most successful lawmakers, simply because he managed to concoct no ill-advised regulations, no new entitlements, no additions whatsoever to the Federal Register, in his 23 years in the House. This record, I submit, is enviable, and I would love to see his fellow Democrats — and, yes, even the Republicans — follow his example in years to come.

(Via Bill Quick.)

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And the door revolves once more

Cliff Branan, who represents Senate District 40 and therefore me, will be term-limited out of the Senate after this year, and already he’s planning his next gig: he’s running for Corporation Commissioner.

And he has some heavy hitters on his side:

Branan said co-chairs of his campaign include Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy Corp.; Greg Love, president of Love’s development companies,; Brian Bingman, president pro tem of the state Senate; and Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources.

Any of these guys — well, maybe not Bingman — could finance Branan’s campaign out of pocket change.

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Quote of the week

I know, it’s only Wednesday, but we’re not going to top this description of a quadrennial revulsion:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

It’s the most nauseating display in American public life — and I write that as someone who has just returned from a pornographers’ convention.

A friend of mine, before the “event,” said that she didn’t subject herself to such things anymore:

I used to, believing “This is something grownups are supposed to do.” Now I look to see what’s on Cartoon Network instead.

Which makes perfect sense, since Cartoon Network, unlike the participants in SOTU, has effective adult supervision.

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Noses to be removed

And faces to be spited:

State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma.

The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it’s an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it’s what Oklahomans want.

“[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all,” Turner said.

If nothing else, this is consistent with Governor Fallin’s decision to deny spousal benefits to National Guard members, gay or straight.

And it’s a challenge to those who say that the states shouldn’t be in the marriage business in the first place. To some extent, I am sympathetic to that position; however, Turner is radiating that strange Soonerland vibe that says “Yeah, this is going to be swatted in the courts, but we don’t care.

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Roth waxing again

With Doctor No saying no to the last two years of his term, all of a sudden there’s some political news in the state that doesn’t involve gay couples, Satan, or Satanic gay couples.

Congressman James Lankford, never, ever short of ambition, has already announced for Tom Coburn’s Senate seat. And he has name recognition in one-fifth of the state, which surely will help. (Folks down in Little Dixie will go “Who?”)

A more interesting race, I surmise, will involve the selection of Lankford’s replacement. Tom Guild, the previous Democratic sacrificial lamb, has yet to say anything. Meanwhile, former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth has let it be known that he’s around:

“I have always said, that public service feeds my soul,” Roth said. “The citizens of Oklahoma have given me the honor of serving them in public office, and I look forward to discussing the possibility of serving the citizens of this great state, once again, with my friends and family over the coming days and weeks. I do believe our democracy is best when it includes all people.”

The one possibly worrisome aspect of Roth — when he was on the Corp Comm, he seemed awfully buddy-buddy with Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon — may or may not have evaporated with McClendon’s departure from CHK. Still, who among the Republicans can beat him? Maybe another Commissioner:

Edmond businesswoman and Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas said today she will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in the 5th District… “My roots here in Oklahoma’s Fifth District run deep, with connections in communities from Shawnee to Bethany,” said Douglas. “All across the district, conservatives like me believe in the same things: lower taxes, limited government, and protecting our Constitutional freedoms.”

The 5th is very Republican — R+13, last I looked — but a Roth/Douglas matchup might be pretty close, and maybe even entertaining.

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It does not say “Please re-Mitt”

So how, exactly, would things be different today if a few hundred thousand more people had pulled the lever, or the dysfunctional equivalent thereof, for Mitt Romney? Not a whole lot, says Bill Quick:

I’d be hard-pressed to figure out how our post-2012 governance would have differed under Romney versus what we did end up with.

I mean, do you honestly think that Romneycare — whoops, I mean Obamacare — would have been repealed by now? Or that the Senate would not have passed scamnesty for illegals, and the House wouldn’t desperately be trying to figure out how to do likewise? Or that the NSA wouldn’t still be scooping up every conceivable bit of data about every American it can get its hands on?

Jim Hightower, from the way-left side of the fence, called this one a long time ago: “Some people say we need a third party in this country. I think we could use a second one.”

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Burning down the House

One chamber of legislative ne’er-do-wells is apparently enough:

Senate Joint Resolution 43, filed by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, would allow voters to create a constitutional amendment creating a unicameral legislature consisting of 48 legislators, effectively dissolving the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Because, you know, he’s not going to jeopardize his job by asking for the Senate to be killed.

Anderson says he wants to save a few bucks, not the worst idea in the world, though it would have been nice if he’d said something about Reynolds v. Sims, in which the Supreme Court decided that legislative houses in the states had to be divided into equal population districts. (Before this 1964 decision, each county would have at least one House member, regardless of population.) In effect, this makes one chamber in each and every bicameral state legislature — all 49 of them — largely irrelevant. Then again, Reynolds was decided three years before Anderson was born, so it’s probably not uppermost in his mind.

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Quote of the week

We used to call them “grammar schools.” Grammar, of course, is no longer au courant as an area of study, inasmuch as it presumes that some people’s language might be superior to the language of others. But that’s not the greatest loss:

The problem is one of fundamentals. American schools — grammar schools — once taught the fundamentals of the American approach to government: individual freedom; constitutionally limited government; the sanctity of free enterprise and private property; the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Schoolchildren learned about the insights of John Locke and Adam Smith, and why they constituted important advances in human thought. Without those things, comprehending the American way of governance sufficiently well to articulate it is impossible — and a large majority of Americans lacks those things today.

He who lacks appreciation for the moral imperative and the practical case for freedom will fall back to other “values.” He’ll defend whatever crumbs he can beg from the Omnipotent State as his “by right,” even if they must be snatched from the mouths of persons just like him. He might never discover what he’s been denied. He might never learn the principles that built the country he inherited … and which he and so many others lack the wit, and possibly the will, to sustain.

I would add only that those who survive a secondary education these days are likely no wiser than those who learned nothing in the primary.

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Meanwhile on 23rd Street

In this state, at least, you can’t spell “gubernatorial” without “goober”:

Though I hold conservative positions on many issues, I am no fan of Gov. [Mary] Fallin, who is a small-scale version of the all-image, little-substance-and-even-less-ability politician dominating many levels of government today and writ largest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But has Mr. [Randy] Brogdon done anything since his 2010 bid for the nomination managed to scare up a whopping 39% of the vote to suggest he can defeat Gov. Fallin, who now wields the mighty mallet of incumbency? No, unless being appointed the Deputy Commissioner of the Fraud and Investigations Unit by Insurance Commissioner John Doak has mystical powers of which I am unaware.

At least you can figure Brogdon is, or has been, well-armed.

Still, Brogdon vs. Fallin is just the primary. (My guess: Brogdon prods her on income-tax relief; Fallin sits there, smiles really pretty and all, crosses her legs, and says that she never promised anyone a rose garden.) Whoever survives that circus gets to face Joe Dorman, whom we’ve already discussed:

[T]echnically, Rep. Dorman, you’re suggesting organs be harvested from living people. That sound you heard was Christian Szell saying, “Ew.”

This particular seat, unlike most in state government, is actually attainable by Democrats; let’s hope they find someone with less amusement potential than Dorman between now and the primary (which is the 24th of June; candidate filing is 9-11 April).

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Quote of the week

Josh, who writes pony stories under a pseudonym, also occasionally comes up with more generalized commentary:

Those Greenpeace ‘activists’. You can’t believe how much of a show they’re making of it over here. They are viewed as heroes of some sort or something. Jesus Christ. Those five people don’t have a right to be called Britons. They are a plight of my nation. Instead of working and providing for their families, and contributing to the society they live in, they decided to focus their attention on some meaningless global issues, and all while invading another country’s ship, no less! That’s like Yankees deciding they have the right to meddle in other nations’ affairs. Jeez, we’re Brits. We need to remain moderate. Moderation is what makes our nation. Now that I see Brits marching on parades, and taking part in ridiculous acts like invading some ship for the sake of some Arctic whatever, I have a sour feeling that this nation’s decadence is reaching its peak. Ironically enough, Scots are mobilising in terms of national identity, something that the English have failed to do for a while already.

I wonder when people will stop chiming in other people’s affairs and just live their lives and focus on the small things. I don’t see people from, say, Switzerland, giving a damn about the global affairs. Way to go! I’m honest here. They are the nation to be taken as an example. Good job, Switzerland. Good job.

One point Josh didn’t make, but could have: were Vladimir Putin just slightly less concerned with Russia’s public image — the Olympics are coming up, after all — the activists would still be languishing in St. Petersburg’s jails.

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The frognosticator

Vaguely amphibian political consultant Dick Morris is making predictions again:

Morris says Republicans will capture the Senate in 2014. “We need six seats to win the Senate,” he says. “Three of them, as I’ve said, are easy pickups: West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. All three of them have retiring Democratic incumbents, very strong Republican candidates and very weak Democrats running for the seat.” Morris said the real test will come in four crucial states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

You may remember Morris’ last bold prediction: Romney 325, Obama 213.

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Fueling concerns

If you think things here are being run into the ground, you might want to keep in mind that there is incompetence and venality beyond even the Washington standard. Look, for example, at Caracas. Leopoldo Martínez, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, wrote in the WSJ this week:

According to his government’s own figures, inflation currently stands at 54%, the highest in the Americas. Much as Chávez did, Mr. [Nicolás] Maduro has plundered Venezuela’s oil industry, which accounts for 95% of export earnings, by providing billions of dollars in oil subsidies to Cuba and other regime allies. Despite the regime’s much trumpeted commitment to wealth redistribution, the country is plagued by shortages of basic goods like cooking oil, milk and corn flour, while concerns over a government debt default have led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating to B-.

B-minus? Even Illinois is better than that.

(WSJ extract courtesy of Fausta’s blog.)

One of those oil subsidies is reserved for the Venezuelan public:

The idea of Venezuelans paying more for gasoline was first floated in early December, when Vice President Jorge Arreaza said it was time start discussing raising gas prices. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said that the country having the world’s cheapest gas wasn’t a point of pride. Finally, last week Maduro himself said he favored gradually raising prices over three years.

“As an oil nation, Venezuelans should have a special price advantage for hydrocarbons compared to the international market,” the former bus driver told newly elected mayors on Dec. 18. “But it has to be an advantage, not a disadvantage. What converts it into a disadvantage is when the tip you give is more than what it cost to fill the tank.”

There are “special price advantages,” and then there is this: a gallon of gas costs about 90 cents in Kuwait, about 50 cents in Saudi Arabia — and about five cents in Venezuela, a price which has remained relatively constant for a decade and a half. There is, of course, a reason for that:

In 1989 the price of gasoline was raised, prompting deadly rioting that went on for days and killed over 300 people.

“Well, yeah,” some will cry, “but they have free health care.” Not so fast, Chucky.

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More season’s greasings

One more 6×9 card in the mail. Collin Walke and his wife have no children, but they do have two dogs. Text on the address side: “Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings of love, joy and peace.” For a minute there, I almost thought he was a Republican, just by dint of mentioning the C-word.

But no: Walke’s a Democrat, running for House District 87, currently represented by Republican Jason Nelson. (See previous edition.) Still a couple of days to go.

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