Archive for Political Science Fiction

Thanks to our BFF Vlad

A reasonable stance on the Syria deal, courtesy of the Crimson Reach:

1. We don’t attack Syria, which would be pointless, wasteful, kill innocent people, possibly unconstitutional (given what I assume would be a “no” House vote), risky, and of course — by design — accomplish nothing tangible.

2. Lefties get to go around pretending that the “deal” is real and the [chemical weapons] ban it imposes is meaningful, that the Russians are a trustworthy partner, and that this is a victory — in short that this outcome is what the Obama administration planned all along.

Which, in the final analysis, is fine with him:

I’ll do that trade all day long. I literally do not care about the politics or political-point-scoring angle of this. I do care about the not-using-our-military-to-engage-in-pointless-wasteful-attacks aspect.

I guess we’ll have to live with that.

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They deliver

Miriam is happy to defend the Postal Service — they come to her house, after all — and suggests other targets for your anti-government wrath:

If you want to get rid of a government agency, here are a few suggestions: the IRS, the Education Department, the State Department — I could think of more if I had the time. How far would you carry a letter for 50 cents? Or even a dollar? Not bloody far, I’ll bet.

Perhaps we should ask the Canadians. Says Wikipedia:

In terms of area serviced, Canada Post delivers to a larger area than the postal service of any other nation, including Russia (where service in Siberia is limited largely to communities along the railway).

But they charge, for the moment, 63 cents for a letter up to 30g. And God only knows how much of an “emergency” increase the USPS wants.

Personally, I’d be fine with a buck: not only would it not raise my expenses too awfully much, but it would absolutely ruin AARP, which sends me crap just about every other week now. (Yes, I am that spiteful.)

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A succession of Boehners

The Republicans, noise level notwithstanding, aren’t anywhere close to affecting the national agenda:

The ability of the Dems to lead the American media (and the Republicans) by the nose from the swings to the tricky bars to the slides to the sandbox is formidable. Excellence is alive and well in the hollowed out America of Holder (my people; territory = nationhood), Jones (I’m a commie), Jarrett (we love Van), Glover (Chavez and Castro suck up), Bloomberg (eat your veggies), Goldberg (whoopee cushion; DDR suck up), Sharpton (depart white interlopers), the New York Times (Duranty who?), Cone (black liberation theology; kill whitey), Winfrey (sweet, sweet grievance, I thee embrace), Biden (Peter Principle), Roberts (it’s a righteous tax), Zinn (garbage America), Reid (send more Mexicans), Maher (The Finger), and The Man with No Past.

The really distressing aspect of this, if you ask me, is that so many of these nonentities are household words.

One could argue, perhaps, that a thousand years from now, not one of these individuals organisms will be remembered. But then one is forced to hope that there’s something left to remember, a thousand years from now.

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Ponce de Leon to the white courtesy phone

Running in Australia’s parliamentary elections under the Labor banner, suggests Tim Blair, induces a certain inscrutable form of rejuvenation. To the left, Di Smith, candidate for Wentworth; to the right, a Smith campaign poster:

Two faces of Di Smith

See also Alannah MacTiernan, candidate for Perth.

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Governmental overreach

If sometimes it seems as though Barack Obama will stop at nothing to increase governmental power — well, he still hasn’t come up with anything like this yet:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which [went into effect in 2007] and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” But beyond the irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

A statement by the current Dalai Lama (source):

When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.

Tenzin Gyatso, the current (14th) Dalai Lama, turned 78 this year.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, largely for his post title.)

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The screwing you’re getting

If we must tax things because of externalities, why aren’t we taxing sex?

If individual choices and behaviors should be taxed if they add to health care costs (a proposition [Kevin] Drum sees as so self-evident that Republicans are Neanderthals for opposing the idea), then why isn’t anyone suggesting a tax on sex? I can’t think of any discretionary behavior that has more implications for health care costs than sex. There’s contraception, abortion, STD’s, pre-natal care, birth, and at least 18 years of juvenile health care with no taxes being paid. Not to mention a new future Medicare recipient who, by current law, will pay in far less to the system than he or she will take out.

Then again, the most influential person of the second half of the 20th century might have been Hugh Hefner, since he (1) advised guys that casual sex was okay and (2) irritated enough women to help trigger a countermovement which demands that everything men get, women get, only more so. Copulation is the new national religion, and woe betide he (or, for that matter, she) who seeks to separate its churches from the State.

If we must have a new tax, let it be a tax on bullshit. The take from the 2014 mid-term campaign ads alone would pay off half the national debt.

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They were right the first time

A letter to the editor, published in the Oklahoman this morning, is headlined this way:

Clip from the Oklahoman 8-5-13

The writer, of course, was talking about the Republican party, but the proofreader, or the auto-correct gizmo, had it right. If the Democrats are the Me Party, clearly the Republicans are the Me Too Party.

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Both passive and aggressive

Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC), one of the more reliably loose cannons on the State House floor, has set up a Web site to snipe at Speaker T. W. Shannon (R-Lawton), under the sneaky URL shannonforcongress.com. Reynolds, using solid mid-1990s HTML skills, does his best to raise questions about just about everything Shannon has done, and hasn’t done, since election to the House in 2006, and also complains about his claims to ethnicity. (Gee, Mike, the guy looks black to me.)

Then there’s this:

Sixth generation Oklahoman? Few people know where there [sic] grandparents lived, much less their great,great,great grandparents.

Define “few.” I knew where my grandparents lived, all the time they were alive.

This might be Reynolds’ last bid for the limelight — he was first elected in 2002, so term limits will send him home after next session — which likely means we can expect something of a shenaniganza between now and then.

(Via this tweet from Michael Cross of the KOSU Capitol Bureau.)

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Ponzi takes one in the rib cage

Francis W. Porretto comes up with a scheme to put Social Security out of its misery once and for all:

  • Mandatory first step: Abolish the Social Security payroll tax, both on employee and employer. This “ends the contract” that makes Americans believe they have a stake in perpetuating the system.
  • Statutorily recompense anyone who has paid the payroll tax but has not yet collected benefits, on a constant-dollar calculation, over a period not to exceed five years. That compensation would free the federal government from any as-yet-uninvoked claims for Social Security benefits.
  • Now offer cash buyouts to current recipients of Social Security payments, based on actuarial figures and “present-value” calculations. Many will accept, believing they can do better with cash-in-hand than with time payments whose amount and regularity cannot be guaranteed.

Which ultimately is far kinder, especially to the erstwhile participants, than the oft-proposed double whammy of raising taxes and cutting benefits, or simply letting the whole operation drown in a sea of red ink.

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You may already be a Weiner

Vox Day, noting that all previous Fed chairmen have been male elite Jews, proposes an appropriate successor to Ben Bernanke:

Carlos Danger would be the perfect Fed Chairman. Set him up with a webcam, and internet connection and a Twitter account called @bigphatmoneymaker and he’ll happily spend his time at the office sending inflationary pictures to starstruck land whales instead of sending trillions of inflationary credit dollars to undercapitalized European banks. The global economy will be saved, the Lizard Queen’s reputation will no longer be sullied by association, and the women’s magazines will devote cover after cover to “The Glamorous Woman Behind the Fed”.

The bi-factional ruling party is happy. The media is happy. Hoi polloi is happy. Everybody wins.

In fact, I’m thinking this could justify using Weiner in any of a hundred different positions.

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Would you buy a used car from this woman?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been tapped to deliver the keynote speech at the North American Dealers Association convention in January 2014, and not all the membership is pleased with the selection:

Automotive News spoke to one dealer that not only cancelled his trip to the NADA conference, but revoked his dealership’s membership outright over the association with Clinton.

The objections may be political, or they might be financial:

Some of the angry messages relate to the former secretary of state’s politics, no doubt, but some might just be upset about the expense of such a big-name speaker — AN cited media reports that Clinton commands about $200,000 per speech.

NADA’s Peter Welch, for now, is not backing down:

“Our job is to provide our members with exposure to all facets of business and government that can affect their dealerships. Like her or not, Senator Clinton is perhaps the most prominent woman of modern times.”

And hey, at least it’s not in January 2016, right?

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Waiting at the gate

“Zombie fop” Terry McAuliffe is running for Governor of Virginia, and since his main talents are fund-raising and fund-shrinking, not necessarily in that order, Smitty doesn’t think he has much of a chance against Ken Cuccinelli.

Of course, I had this bozo’s number back in ought-four, and in a dream sequence no less:

Sunrise on the prairie. I’m awake for once, and I have time to kill, and as the fellow spins around with my breakfast, the little bell in the back of my head emits the faintest hint of a tinkle, reminding me that I shouldn’t have had the large orange juice.

And then it hits me: “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

“I’m sure you don’t,” he says, and turns away.

The girl from the checkout counter catches him in mid-turn. “Terry, I can’t read this. Is this the short stack or the full stack? You didn’t write down the price.”

I looked at him again. “Aren’t you Terry McAuliffe?”

No response.

“I know I’ve seen you on the news. Terry McAuliffe. Head of the Democratic National Committee all those years. What in the world are you doing slinging hash in Snake’s Navel, Kansas, fercrissake?”

His voice dropped to a whisper. “Not so loud.”

“It is you, isn’t it?”

“That goddamn John Kerry,” he said. “I worked my ass off to keep him within reach for the whole year, and in the last week he pissed it all away. Didn’t get the electoral vote, didn’t get the popular vote, didn’t get squat. We damn near lost Connecticut. Somebody had to take the blame.”

He didn’t say anything more, and I wasn’t about to ask. Besides, the eggs were runny.

And no, I’m not expecting any invitations to breakfast in Richmond.

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A fitting legacy

How will we remember the Obama administration? What single act encapsulates the entire experience?

If you ask me, it’s this one:

Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they’ve been driven out of over the past half-century.

The two other non-owl players in this scenario are not at all pleased:

“Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn’t going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery,” said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group.

Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, said saving the spotted owl is of paramount importance, but the focus must remain on protecting habitat. “To move forward with killing barred owls without addressing the fundamental cause of spotted owl declines, from our perspective, is not acceptable,” he said.

This is not the first time the Feds have come up with a plan like this:

Between 2000 and 2006, wildlife officials captured and removed more than 40 golden eagles from the Channel Islands off Southern California to protect the island fox. They also hired a company to kill 5,000 feral pigs on Santa Cruz in a controversial program to restore the island’s ecosystem.

For some reason, they couldn’t persuade the eagles to dine on the pigs rather than on the foxes; large signs containing mandatory nutritional information, I suspect, might not have worked.

Still, they’re overlooking the most obvious solution: relocate the spotted owls to Detroit. One more predator there will scarcely be noticed.

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Quote of the week

Step right up, ladies and gents, and see this week’s winners in the Victimhood Sweepstakes! You know you want to:

The blame-shifting, guilt-tripping, grievance-mongering Victimhood Sweepstakes mentality, which paralyzes individual initiative and invites us to rationalize our problems as resulting from indomitable historic trends over which we have no control — that’s the problem.

Pointing the finger at demonized scapegoats — “Corporate America” or whatever — as the all-powerful villains in a horror story, where we are like teenagers fleeing the bloody slasher, is neither accurate nor helpful. Honest hard-working people succeed every day in America, yet the liberal gloom-and-doom vision rewards failure with the consolation of self-pity: “It’s not your fault. You’re a victim.”

Pity is a poor substitute for success.

Honest and resourceful people who encounter disadvantage or misfortune do not surrender to feelings of helplessness, nor do they let their resentment of others’ advantages fester into an excuse. Where there is life, there is hope, and with hope there should be a determination to work harder, to ignore the advantage denied and seek the opportunity offered. Excuses are for losers, and self-pity is a trap.

Been there, whined about that. About a quarter-century ago, I was about as washed up as it’s possible to get without actually getting clean. It did not occur to me at the time that if all you can see is your duodenum, it’s no wonder the whole world looks like crap. Extricating my head from that position was a task both tedious and painful, but it had to be done.

It helped that in those days, there were far fewer Professional Victims, gamers of the system, their ambition adulterated with avarice, their industriousness supplanted by indolence, their self-respect the spiritual equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup. I saw them coming:

[W]e live in an era where nothing is more important than How People Feel, where victims are routinely assigned the maximum level of moral authority, and it’s justified because, well, they feel bad.

And nothing makes a TV audience feel good quite so effectively as people on TV saying that they feel bad. TV itself, of course, doesn’t care, so long as they buy this laundry detergent or that auto insurance.

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Contemporary futilitarianism

Feel “used” lately? There are apparently those who think you should:

It’s a commonly expressed sentiment that “we’re all users;” alternately, that “we’re all prostitutes.” The idea, of course, is that with the exception of whatever pure-subsistence farmers remain in the world, each of us sells something — his labor, his skills, or his brainpower — to earn his living. We “use” the desire of others for what we can do to produce income for ourselves, “just like a prostitute.”

This quasi-condemnation of Mankind is among the foulest propositions ever to gain currency among us. It relegates the one and only way in which men could advance from the bloody savagery of the jungle — the division of labor and subsequent specialization of men into our many distinct trades — to the plane of venality. For what does it mean to say that Smith is “using” Jones? Doesn’t that imply that Jones’s desires are of no moment? That Smith is trying to get Jones to do something that is in no way in his interests, and indeed might be against them? How does that match up against the requirement, in a free and open market, that both participants in any transaction must regard it as beneficial to them on net balance?

The “free and open market” is the problem, according to proponents of this foul proposition: in any such market, there is competition, and therefore there will be unequal outcomes, which are deemed unacceptable in this day and age. “Fairness,” doncha know.

Of course, if life were actually fair, then your below-average outcome is, by definition, your fault. So there’s a definite disconnect between fairness and “fairness,” which governmental mutts are more than happy to exploit, knowing that Smith and Jones have day jobs and therefore aren’t able to spend forty hours a week inventing grievances for the government to redress.

Inevitably, this traces back to Marx and “to each according to his needs” — except, of course, for those who have oh-so-willingly tasked themselves with deciding what those needs are supposed to be. “Eight point five,” says Dante, checking their itinerary.

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Clothed all in Green

Now that Ed Shadid, who represents Ward 2 on City Council, has announced that he’d like the spot in the middle of the horseshoe, Mike McCarville is asking: “Will Dr. Ed Shadid’s involvement in the Green Party come back to bite him as he runs for mayor of Oklahoma City?”

It obviously didn’t hurt him when he ran for Council, and you may be certain that it was brought up. Now Ward 2, which is where I live, is perhaps a hair more, um, progressive than some other parts of town, but the ballot for mayor is officially nonpartisan. That said, if Mick Cornett — who, just incidentally, is a Republican — decides to go for a fourth term, he’ll be hard to beat, even if someone is unkind enough to mention that no previous mayor has served more than three terms. (Oops.)

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We put the “suc” in “sucrose”

Sugar prices are “historically low” this year, and the USDA simply will not stand for that:

The federal government will intervene in the sugar market for the first time in more than a decade, spending up to $38 million in an effort to forestall a later bailout of sugar producers in Minnesota and elsewhere that could cost more than $300 million.

Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest beet sugar industry, which is protected by import tariffs and supported by loan guarantees.

This intervention smacks (but not Sugar Smacks) of Rube Goldberg:

The USDA market intervention involves buying sugar from domestic producers, then swapping it for import credits allotted to coastal U.S. sugar refineries under a “re-export” program. The coastal refineries get a credit for the imports, but must then export the finished product so as not to compete with domestic sugar suppliers.

This is consistent with other current government programs intended to save everyone’s job but yours.

(Via Amy Alkon.)

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Grid lark

I refuse to take this measure seriously:

Amid growing fears of a massive electromagnetic pulse hit from either a solar flare or a terrorist nuclear bomb, House Republicans … unveiled a plan to save the nation’s electric grid from an attack that could mean lights out for 300 million Americans.

The reason is right there in the title:

Dubbed the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, the legislation would push the federal government to install grid-saving devices such as surge protectors to protect against an attack.

SHIELD Act? What would Nick Fury say?

Has there ever been a worthwhile law with a cutesy acronym?

(Via Bill Quick, who expects that nothing good will come of it.)

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Plead now, avoid the rush

Nothing to hide, you think? Perhaps you should rethink that:

Every April, I try to wade through mounds of paperwork to file my taxes. Like most Americans, I’m trying to follow the law and pay all of the taxes that I owe without getting screwed in the process. I try and make sure that every donation I made is backed by proof, every deduction is backed by logic and documentation that I’ll be able to make sense of three to seven years later. Because, like many Americans, I completely and utterly dread the idea of being audited. Not because I’ve done anything wrong, but the exact opposite. I know that I’m filing my taxes to the best of my ability and yet, I also know that if I became a target of interest from the IRS, they’d inevitably find some checkbox I forgot to check or some subtle miscalculation that I didn’t see. And so what makes an audit intimidating and scary is not because I have something to hide but because proving oneself to be innocent takes time, money, effort, and emotional grit.

IRS, of course, is utterly oblivious to that “innocent until proved guilty” shtick: as far as they’re concerned, you’re Al Capone in yoga pants. It’s like NSA with withholding.

And speaking of NSA, it’s not like they are interested in customer service, except to the extent that the shadowy goons of enforcement can be considered their “customers”: if some grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil-necked caller-ID spoofer pesters me on an extended basis, I can’t very well call up NSA and ask them “Who the hell is this, and can you arrange for a blast furnace with their name on it?”

This, unfortunately, is the case even if you’re not as grudge-ridden as I:

Sadly, I’m getting to experience this right now as Massachusetts refuses to believe that I moved to New York mid-last-year. It’s mindblowing how hard it is to summon up the paperwork that “proves” to them that I’m telling the truth. When it was discovered that Verizon (and presumably other carriers) was giving metadata to government officials, my first thought was: wouldn’t it be nice if the government would use that metadata to actually confirm that I was in NYC not Massachusetts. But that’s the funny thing about how data is used by our current government. It’s used to create suspicion, not to confirm innocence.

After all, each and every one of us commits, it is said, three felonies a day. “Innocence,” as a concept, is deader than the daguerreotype, or even the daguerreotype’s replacement.

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Turkey going to pieces

The front page of today’s edition of Taraf, a left-of-center (according to Wikipedia, anyway) newspaper published in Turkey, circulation around 80,000, is full of penguins. Now you should know that Taraf has locked horns with the Turkish military before, and is not exactly beloved of the Erdoğan government either.

But what you want to know is “What’s with the penguins?” This is what’s with the penguins:

Data surveillance? Where have I heard that?

If you haven’t been keeping up, here’s the BBC timeline so far:

31 May: Protests begin in Gezi Park over plans to redevelop one of Istanbul’s few green spaces

3 June: Protesters establish camps with makeshift facilities from libraries to food centres

4-10 June: Protests widen into show of anti-government dissent in towns and cities across Turkey; clashes between police and demonstrators

11/12 June: Night of clashes see riot police disperse anti-government demonstrators in Taksim Square, which adjoins Gezi Park; camps in the park remain

13 June: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issues a “final warning” to protesters to leave Gezi Park

14 June: Government agrees to suspend Gezi Park redevelopment plans until a court rules on the issue, PM holds talks with members of a key protest group

15 June: Police move in, clearing protesters from Gezi Park

But that’s not the whole story either. Again, the Beeb reports:

What began as a demonstration by environmentalists has mushroomed into something far bigger: a fight by disparate groups for greater freedom in Turkey and a preservation of the country’s secular order.

They see a government with an authoritarian, neo-Islamist agenda: the highest number of journalists in the world in prison, restrictions on alcohol sales, massive construction projects prioritised over human rights.

“This is not an Arab spring”, one protester, Melis Behlil, told me.

“We have free elections here. But the problem is that the person elected doesn’t listen to us.”

“The person elected doesn’t listen to us”? Where have I heard that?

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Lest the flood subside

Who wants open borders? Why, the rich who want to get richer, says the Crimson Reach, but not for the obvious reasons like cheap labor:

Notice that the places with the highest and (to the rest of the country) nominally-shocking house prices tend to all be places in which wealthy people live but with lots of lower-class people, including immigrants, in close proximity. Manhattan. The SF Bay Area. The Washington DC area. In all those places one finds huge disparity and stratification by class and (yes) race, geographically close but distinctly separate. Accordingly, in all those places one sees bidding wars to pay 2-3x to live in Good Location X (with “good schools”, wink) rather than 5-miles-away Bad Location Y.

Who does this help, most of all? The people who already own the “good locations”. Such people have a direct financial stake in making the “bad location” all the more badder so that the “good location” they own, automatically scarce as it is, gets only more valuable and in demand by people fleeing and scared of the “bad locations”.

This is probably less of a factor in Manhattan — all five boroughs are served by the New York City Department of Education, though there will be variations even then — but the same thing happens on a smaller scale in mid-sized metro areas too: if you duplicated a $250k Deer Creek house at, say, 36th and Post, you’d be hard-pressed to get anyone to pay more than $150k for it.

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It’s past, but is it prologue?

The dextrosphere seems interested in stirring up a tempest about this revelation:

The former host of “Erotica Night” at a Baltimore bookstore will be the first-ever female No. 2 official at the CIA… 20 years ago, [Avril Danica] Haines opened and co-owned Adrian’s Book Café in the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point. She opened Adrian’s after dropping out of a graduate program in physics at Johns Hopkins University. The store featured regular “Erotica Nights.” including dinner and a series of readings by guests of published work or their own prose, according to a 1995 report in the Baltimore Sun; couples could attend for $30, while singles paid $17.

Color me unimpressed, though not so much as Kathy Shaidle is:

Shouldn’t we be thrilled that at least this broad ran a business of some kind once, unlike 90% of Obama staffers and appointees?

Based on that consideration, Haines, rather than John Kerry’s brother, should be running Commerce.

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To those emerging from darkness

Smitty has advice. He who has ears, let him hear:

[T]o all of the new Tea Party folks, let me pass on a warning: the two ears, one mouth rule applies. There is much to learn about the sordid realities of our government, as it’s deviated well off course. Relax. Focus the passion on sober, positive deeds that advance the Constitutional ball. Screaming about Barack Obama’s Martian birth certificate and obvious status as a High Priest of Cthulhu is ONLY ABETTING HIM.

I have no idea if mentioning Doug Mataconis, who is cited in Smitty’s post title, will cause him to suddenly materialize, in the manner of Kibo or Dave Sifry or even Conor Friedersdorf, but we shall see.

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Circular firing squad

There are several reasons why a Democratic candidate might lose an election, ranging from failure to secure the correct endorsements to insufficient bribery. However, there’s only one way for a Republican candidate to lose. Robert Stacy McCain reports from the sideline:

This never changes — the Articulate Elite point the finger of blame at the yammering mob of right-wingers as scapegoats for the defeat, while the yammering mob claim they were betrayed by fainthearts and establishment insiders who rigged the game to nominate a weak-kneed RINO who proves that there’s Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

A lot of this is really just the Dougherty Doctrine: “At the end of the day, the arguments all seem to boil down to something similar: If it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It’s failing because it’s like you.”

Bottom line: The Democrats have enforcers who can actually enforce. The GOP? If they had an actual machine, it would spend most of the time in the repair shop.

As for the proverbial Dime, it takes at least a quarter to impress the likes of me.

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And now, the good news

An interesting statistic from Dave Schuler:

In 1950 there were fewer than 100 sovereign countries in the world. Today there are well over 200 and I think that trend is more likely to continue than to reverse itself. I don’t see any prospects for world government in my lifetime.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Schuler. Please.

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Sliding into the sunset

The last time we checked in with Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, the state was moving heaven and earth to prevent disclosure of the black-box data created when Murray crashed his state car on a cold night.

Now Murray’s returning to the private sector, and he swears it has nothing to do with this:

Murray said his plan to resign has nothing to do with an investigation into whether his campaign committee improperly accepted donations raised by former Chelsea Housing Authority Director Michael McLaughlin.

Although his new gig at the Worcester Chamber of Commerce apparently pays better than working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We’ll see if the C of C actually gives him a car to drive.

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A story of Doomed Love

The Associated Press, of course, couldn’t believe that they were being subjected to Official Scrutiny, and inevitably they flailed about in confusion:

I think it is singularly awesome that the administration wiretapped the press. It was absolutely wrong, and I believe it is unconstitutional. What makes it so delicious is that the press is finally a victim of the administration. They are like the mistress that marries the guy after he finally leaves his wife and is shocked to find out he’s unfaithful to her too. Bu…bu…you promised to protect our rights! You said you loved us! We fawned over you! We covered for you, and now you’ve betrayed us!

Frog, meet scorpion.

So they drown together. How utterly romantic.

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Cabinet repairs

Penny Pritzker has been nominated to head the Department of Commerce, presumably on the basis of her cash-bundling abilities. She would replace Rebecca Blank, interim Secretary since John Bryson took ill last year. (That’s “Blank.” With an N.)

Is this worth three hundred words? Perhaps not:

It’s clear that presidents need the Department of Commerce, so they have a place to stash their friends who’ve brought in the cash. But it’s not clear that the rest of us need a Department of Commerce. A bit of research shows Americans were engaged in commerce even before we became a country. Colonists farmed, fished and traded like crazy. And that was more than a century before the Department of Commerce was formed in 1903. Amazing!

Everyone’s supposedly looking for places to cut wasteful government spending. Instead of laying off air traffic controllers, we could turn the knife toward Commerce. Don’t just leave it without a leader, go ahead and shut down the while thing and let’s see what happens. Probably nobody’ll even notice, as is the case with most of the sequester cuts.

Both Rick Perry and Ron Paul, during their 2012 Presidential campaigns, proposed the abolition of Commerce. And so did Barack Obama, kinda sorta:

Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote. If granted the authority, he said, he would begin pruning by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.

The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.

Now $3 billion is to the Feds what the change under your sofa cushions is to you; still, the idea of anything in Washington being shrunk has a certain visceral appeal.

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Unkerncerned

You all remember Sally Kern: mid-60s, drives a minivan, represents House District 84 on the west side of Oklahoma County, agonizes constantly over LGBT matters but has presumably learned a modicum of discretion in such matters. Husband Steve has decided to take a few days away from his pulpit to run for Senate District 40 next year, what with Cliff Branan being term-limited out of the office.

Truth be told, I don’t think Reverend Steve ought to give up his day job: District 40 is decidedly bluer than Sally’s turf, extending as it does into old-money Democrat territories south of Nichols Hills. (I’ve lived here ten years; I keep track.) And there are two other Republicans in the race: deputy County Commissioner Michael Taylor and property-management magnate Brian Winslow. Both these guys come from the fiscal-conservative side of the aisle, and surely one of them could force Kern into a runoff. If there are any Democrats in the race, they haven’t filed campaign reports yet.

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Harvey Fiersteins at Foggy Bottom

In the post-Reagan era, says Robert Stacy McCain, foreign policy is guided by narcissism. How it got to that point:

Encountering people who hate us, liberals think, “It’s about us.”

This error was what crippled liberalism during the Cold War. If the Soviet Union wanted to destroy America, liberals imagined, this must be because of something wrong with America, rather than something wrong with the Soviet Union. So liberals wanted to change American foreign policy — détente! — in a more pro-Soviet direction, accepting the Leninist critique of “Western imperialism” as essentially accurate, so that you had Jimmy Carter claiming (and evidently believing) that a U.S. commitment to “human rights” would somehow repair the damage to American international prestige.

If you would see what the “world community” thinks of human rights, you need only look at the people the United Nations puts in charge of it. (George W. Bush, in one of his sentient moments, refused to have anything to do with that particular scam; the Obama administration happily rushed back into it.)

Except it wasn’t about us. It was about them.

Ronald Reagan understood instinctively that the Cold War wasn’t America’s fault, and that it couldn’t be ended by making American policy less “imperialist” (mainly because imperialism was a propaganda accusation conjured up in Vladimir Lenin’s imagination). The Cold War could only end with the destruction of the Soviet Union, and so Reagan made that the object of his foreign policy.

And then Reagan rode off into the sunset, and State began filling up with whiners who just want to be loved, and is that so wrong? (Short answer: yes; you guys are being paid to represent the interests of the United States, rather than the interests of every jackwagon from Central Casting who yells “Oppression!” in front of a microphone.)

So the foreign policy of the United States became twofold: (1) pay the Danegeld, and (2) try not to piss off the Dane too much. This latter was doomed to fail, because the Dane is always pissed off:

Ask yourself this: Why should Muslims from Pakistan and other places far away from the Middle East espouse the same anti-American and anti-Israel grievances as Palestinian radicals in Gaza and the West Bank? Why was the Soviet Union — fanatically devoted to an atheistic and internationalist ideology — nevertheless favorable to Arafat’s nationalist cause and to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution in Iran?

The answer seems clear enough: the Soviet Union may be gone, but there are still people who long for its unbridled, unabashed anti-Americanism. Your kid probably has one of them for History 2102 (first semester).

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