Archive for Political Science Fiction

Fill those holes with money

A survey conducted by the American Automobile Association says that drivers would be willing to pay more in fuel tax:

Two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now on roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new AAA omnibus survey of 2,013 adults. Only five percent of respondents believe the federal government should spend less on transportation. These results come as AAA urges members of Congress to increase the fuel tax, which will address significant transportation safety and congestion issues nationwide.

Survey Highlights:

  • About half of Americans (52 percent) are willing to pay higher fuel taxes per month on average for better roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
  • Nearly three times as many people (51 percent) are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased federal spending on transportation than would be less likely (19 percent).
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree that taxes on gasoline and diesel consumption are appropriate for transportation funding.
  • More people believe that roads, bridges and transit systems have declined in quality over the previous three years (43 percent) than those who believe the quality has improved (32 percent).

Not mentioned here, but not hard to find, are those who believe that any increase in the fuel tax will go, not to improving the state of transportation, but into general governmental slush funds: they’d support the tax if they thought it would actually do some good.

I suggested a plan about three years ago:

[I]ncrease domestic production enough to cause a noticeable decrease in the price at the pump, increase the tax enough to take up the slack, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. It would never fly, of course.

Certainly not. In Glenn Reynolds’ immortal phrase, “insufficient opportunity for graft.”

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I wasn’t ready for this

The “Ready for Hillary” campaign — “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee,” as the fine print says — sent me a packet this week, and instead of sacrificing it to Weber, God of Charcoal, I actually opened the darn thing. As such things go, it was fairly innocuous, with a cover letter by Senior Adviser (huh?) Craig T. Smith, informal enough to open with the phrase “So here’s the deal.” The recommended donation is $35, and I suppose I’d feel better if the credit-card information included the CVV, but the trend in political campaigns — and not just Democratic political campaigns, either — is toward Minimum Security Possible.

Also included is a print of a 2009 photo of her taking the oath of office as Secretary of State, which looks something like this:

Hillary Clinton being sworn in as Secretary of State, January 2009

Of course, she was five years younger back then, but what perplexes me is that shadow in the shape of a chin strap. At least, I think it’s a shadow.

I did look for the obligatory Koch Brothers reference, and found only a hint in Smith’s letter, which refers to “billionaires with personal agendas.” As a thousandaire with a personal agenda, I automatically tune out this kind of class-warfare stuff.

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Quote of the week

David Warren’s conspectus — as distinguished from “prospectus” — for Canada’s Conservative Party:

If elected, we promise to do nothing. There will be no new initiative in any area of government. Should some foreign power threaten us, we shall smoosh them promptly. Should some other unforeseen event positively demand our attention, we shall respond in like spirit to make it go away. Such contingencies aside, we shall avoid enterprise of any sort. Instead, we shall devote our entire attention, not to doing, but to undoing things. And not just little things but big things; and not just a few notoriously rotten apples in the eyes of vested interests known to be unloved, but the whole apple pie, the whole bakery. We shall make the Tea Party in the United States look like a bunch of socialist whiners. We shall make the UKIP in Britain look like Europhiles. Our ambition, as we cling to power, shall be to undo every gratuitous Act of Parliament, or other superannuated government measure, going back to Confederation, if not to Champlain. We shall repeal legislation, erase regulations, close government departments, demolish the buildings, salt the earth on which they stood, fire and retire civil servants by the refugee shipload. We shall sack them on the beaches, we shall sack them on the landing grounds, we shall sack them in the fields and in the streets, we shall start with the CBC. Our motto shall be that of the Machine Gun Corps of the British Army in the Great War. (“Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.”) We shall do this deliberately and persistently and remorselessly with no more attention to public opinion than will be necessary to lure our opponents into traps.

Inexplicably — or maybe not so inexplicably — the Conservatives chose not to adopt this as a platform.

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Decades of disservice

The current Conventional Wisdom is that the Veterans Administration is about a news item and a half away from complete and utter chaos. Wombat-socho would like you to know that this has been brewing for a long, long time:

CNN points out in this excellent article (apparently they do still have good reporters, they just don’t let them on the air) the VA has been a disastrous pile of fail ever since 1921, when Congress formed the Veterans Bureau only to see it collapse into a slough of corruption so bad that it had to be abolished in 1930 and replaced with the Veterans Administration, which also took over pensions from the Interior Department and the National Home For Disabled Veterans, this last actually comprising a number of Federally operated homes for destitute and disabled veterans.

More recent woes, of course, have more recent causes:

Part of the problem is that while theoretically the VA is supposed to provide care for all veterans, in practice, it triages veterans based on whether their injuries/illnesses are combat-related (this was at the root of the Agent Orange brouhaha) and whether they can afford to pay for their own care. Another part of the problem is that the VA has arguably never had the assets to properly do its job, and while the VA budget has increased since 2008, it hasn’t kept up with the surge of elderly veterans from the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom who now comprise most of the patient load. This is also the reason why you’re seeing most of the “dying in line” cases coming out of the VA medical centers in Arizona and Florida — those states are very attractive to retirees, and so retired vets tend to flock there. You don’t hear about problems like this in Minneapolis, Washington DC and Boston, for example, because most retired vets either aren’t interested in living in climatic hellholes or simply can’t afford to live in the latter two areas due to their high costs of living. The number of Iraq/Afghanistan vets trying to fight their way through the paperwork to get their benefits is relatively small by comparison.

My youngest brother was complaining on Facebook earlier this week that the VA had put him on hold for more than half an hour. Someone (not me) explained to him that the ideal time to call is, well, there’s no ideal time, but right after a three-day weekend is about the worst. Still, being kept on the phone for 30 minutes isn’t much compared to what some of these guys have had to endure.

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Quote of the week

This dates back almost a hundred years, and in so doing has dated not a whit:

The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto “In God we trust” were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, “verboten,” substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.

(From The American Credo: A Contribution toward the Interpretation of the National Mind, by H. L. Mencken, 1920.)

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Grand Old Pillpopper

More than once I have wondered just how much the state of this state can be explained by political operatives who were totally out of their gourds. This doesn’t help:

Chad Alexander, a prominent lobbyist and former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, was arrested on drug complaints after a traffic stop in Oklahoma City in which police officers said they found cocaine and pills.

Cocaine and pills? Holy flurking schnitt, it’s a double dipper!

A police report indicates Alexander was arrested on complaints of possession of 3.35 grams of cocaine and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, which consisted of nine pills. His 2014 Mercedes-Benz was searched after he was pulled over at 7:20 p.m. at NW 36 and Western Ave. because his vehicle was “straddling lane lines,” according to a court affidavit. The affidavit stated the controlled substance was the pain-killer oxycodone.

Let’s hope he was actually on 36th, because the lanes on Western — both of them — are seriously narrow.

And, as is de rigueur these days, he’s on his way to rehab:

“I regret to inform you that I will be taking a leave of absence from my personal and professional obligations for approximately the next 28 days,” he said in [a] statement. “I am leaving immediately for inpatient care at the Santé Center for Healing.”

Some Democrat ought to make hay with this, inasmuch as the Santé Center is out of state, specifically in Argyle, Texas. “Don’t we have enough rehab facilities?” My guess: he’s had them on speed-dial for some time, though I suspect not for himself.

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And it must follow, as the night the day

Marcel on yet another dubious DOJ initiative:

So the government is getting banks to suspend the accounts of pornographers, and that might be okay with me, though probably it would be simpler for the government to just make pornography illegal, or at least stop subsidizing its production with tax breaks for Hollywood. But anyway, today the Department of Justice is going after some pornographers. Who will these laws and precedents be used against in twenty years? Or after the next election?

Which is precisely the question that should be asked about every new governmental scheme, but never, ever is. Inevitably, this is the result:

If the government is given power to do good, it will first use that power to get more power, then use it to do some good, and then use it to do a lot of evil. What it will not do, ever, is willingly give up any power.

And it’s damned hard to get it to give up any power unwillingly, given the clamor one can expect from the hordes of (un)individuals who benefit by the wielding of that power.

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Coming in January 2017

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that the GOP has recaptured the White House. What happens next? This, says Miriam:

[T]he homeless, who you never read about during the Obama administration, will start flooding the streets of American cities.

Among them will be decorated veterans, many with limbs missing, and small children. This great mass of homeless will take to the streets the day after inauguration, January 2017.

Assuming the machine is willing to wait that long. Finding a TV screen full of people who look pathetic is child’s play for the Democrats.

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As the ruling classes fail to tremble

“Drug-war conservatives are better than Marxists,” but not that much better:

While conservative drug warriors want to punish people for (in their view) hurting themselves, Marxists want to punish people for bettering themselves and creating jobs (because making money is evil and hiring people is exploitative). So, while both want to criminalize private consensual activities, the Marxists’ goal is to kill the economy entirely, while the conservatives’ goal is to make the people’s lives more miserable for wanting relief from misery, while creating economic opportunities for lawbreakers.

Rock. Hard place. Choose one.

But why do I have to keep having to choose between the two?

Because they have a common enemy, and that common enemy is Everybody Else.

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No Rice for you

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will apparently not be giving the commencement speech at Rutgers after all, leaving the New Jersey school with a time slot to fill. What to do?

The university will now tap someone as its commencement speaker who is probably lower profile, less controversial, and OK with the idea that the only reason he or she is speaking is because the original selection bowed out. My suggestion is that commencement ceremony organizers do not select a substitute, ask Rice about how long her speech would have been and simply have everyone in attendance sit there for that length of time.

Did I mention that Rutgers is in New Jersey?

Oh, and there’s this:

Rutgers, of course, is also the university that paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi $32,000 to tell its students to “study hard, but party harder” in the same year that it paid commencement speaker (and Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author) Toni Morrison $30,000. This suggests to me that the Rutgers community is ignorant not only of the value of free speech, but of worthless speech as well.

Let’s not be unkind here. Snooki has written four books.

Update: Rutgers went with paralyzed football player Eric LeGrand — then disinvited him in favor of ex-Governor Thomas Kean.

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105 percent grey

Jack Baruth considers the Cliven Bundy dust-up:

[I]f you read most of what’s been written about Bundy, the primary problem seems to be that he used the word “Negro.” You know, like United Negro College Fund. Like MLK, who said “But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. All I get from Bundy’s use of the word “Negro” is that he doesn’t consume enough mainstream media to know that we don’t say that anymore. That, in and of itself, shouldn’t be a sin. I sure as hell don’t say “Negro,” but I grew up on the East Coast where “Black” was the preferred phrase. The day will come, mind you, when I’m seventy-something years old and I say “Black” or “African-American” and my kid’s going to visibly blanch. “Dad, we say Chromosome-18-flipped now.” Hell, you can’t even say “Afro-American” in polite conversation and the use of that phrase was once a gold-plated demonstration of progressive credentials.

Based on this display, I suggest that Baruth picked a chromosome at random.

But the slope is slippery enough that this outcome seems unavoidable:

In the future, the accusation of racism will be used, wholesale, to level opposition to any position or figure that doesn’t have the favor of our corpo-govern-media machine. Future generations might see it as the equivalent to the “Red Scare” or the Puritan witch hunts. But note this: it does you no good to be exonerated by posterity if you’re dead, or homeless, or beaten, in the present life. This is what’s going to happen. Mr. Bundy is going to be told to give up his claim to the land, and eventually he’s going to do it. Mr. [Donald] Sterling will have it suggested to him that he sell his team at favorable rates to someone whom the media and the NBA like better, the same way Anheuser-Busch moved a Hispanic manager aside to make room for Jesse Jackson’s sweetheart deal. Business will go on as usual. Bundy and Sterling will be swept aside. And it will, as the French said, encourage the others. To comply, to play nice, to do what they’re told.

The race card is about the only one the machine has left. And the machine has a long history of using whatever was at hand to enforce its will; you’ll recall that they finally got Al Capone, who treated the 18th Amendment with the respect it deserved, on tax-evasion charges.

Addendum: Francis W. Porretto defends Bundy’s statement, though not on the basis of word choice.

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Suits her

Suzette finds a smidgen of redeeming social value in the inevitable Clinton presidency:

I can think of a blazing bright side right off: I am almost positive that we’ll never see her exposing her 70something bare legs.

The key word, though, is “almost”:

She is a Democrat after all and their prime directive does seem to be the degradation of standards wherever possible.

The YouTube channel known as ShePolitico has a couple of dozen videos (if “videos” describes a series of still photos with occasional zoom) of women in politics, concentrating on their legs (is anyone surprised at this?), and yes, they have a 90-second overview of the Hillarygams, though I must note that, atypically for ShePolitico, there are no drooling close-ups.

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Unbalance sheet

Not all income inequality is created, um, equal. Dave Schuler explains:

[M]y greatest concern on this subject is how rent-seeking drives income inequality rather than on income inequality per se. Michael Jordan’s or Tiger Woods’s wealth do not concern me. The Kennedy family trust does. In a society as complex as ours with a government as pervasive as ours these rents take a vast number of forms — they encompass everything from royalty income to physicians’ wages to the subsidies received by bankers or GM executives and workers in the late recession. When you use the wealth you’ve gained through these rents to promote increases in your rents, as the late Sonny Bono manifestly did, it presents an assault on liberal democracy.

Not surprisingly, tax rates — effective tax rates, anyway — won’t be going up any time soon:

[W]hen the highest marginal tax rate was over 90%, effective tax rates were little higher than they are now, i.e. marginal tax rates are virtually irrelevant to income inequality. Also, consider how many millionaires are sitting in the U. S. Congress. Does it actually seem likely to you that Congress will enact a tax on wealth? IMO a significant number of them are there to ensure that such a tax is never enacted into law.

And the rest, I’d be willing to bet, are willing to prevaricate about it in order to shore up their own positions.

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Under the bus with you

It seems so strange, at least to Crimsonic, that Kathleen Sebelius would resign:

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortish whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Okay, that’s the important stuff. What else?

Kathleen SebeliusWiki says she has a master’s degree in “Public Administration”. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

To sum up:

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

These are not the criteria we claim to espouse, mind you: these are the criteria we actually use.

And as you may have noticed, I am utterly indifferent to pantsuits.

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Incumbency ho!

When people say they can’t stand the Legislature, what they really mean, often as not, is that they can’t stand your legislator; their legislator is just wonderful.

Which may explain why so many members of the Oklahoma legislature drew no opponents this fall. Half the Senate (24 of 48) and all of the House (101) must be picked, and these incumbents will be automagically returned to office:

  • S2: Morty L. Quinn (R) Claremore
  • S10: Eddie Fields (R) Wynona
  • S16: John Sparks (D) Norman
  • S24: Anthony Sykes (R) Moore
  • S30: David Holt (R) Oklahoma City
  • S34: Rick Brinkley (R) Owasso
  • S38: Mike Schulz (R) Altus
  • H2: John Bennett (R) Sallisaw
  • H4: Mike Brown (D) Fort Gibson
  • H8: Ben Sherrer (D) Chouteau
  • H11: Earl Sears (R) Bartlesville
  • H13: Jerry McPeak (D) Warner
  • H15: Ed Cannaday (D) Porum
  • H18: Donnie Condit (D) McAlester
  • H19: R. C. Pruett (D) Antlers
  • H21: Dustin Roberts (R) Durant
  • H22: Charles A. McCall (R) Atoka
  • H23: Terry O’Donnell (R) Catoosa
  • H24: Steve Koupien (D) Beggs
  • H25: Todd Thomsen (R) Ada
  • H30: Mark McCullough (R) Sapulpa
  • H33: Lee Denney (R) Cushing
  • H34: Cory T. Williams (D) Stillwater
  • H37: Steven E. Vaughan (R) Ponca City
  • H39: Marion Cooksey (R) Edmond
  • H42: Lisa J. Billy (R) Lindsay
  • H44: Emily Virgin (D) Norman
  • H47: Leslie Osborn (R) Mustang
  • H48: Pat Ownby (R) Ardmore
  • H50: Dennis Johnson (R) Duncan
  • H51: Scott R. Briggs (R) Chickasha
  • H52: Charles Ortega (R) Altus
  • H55: Todd Rush (R) Cordell
  • H57: Harold Wright (R) Weatherford
  • H58: Jeff Hickman (R) Fairview
  • H59: Mike Sanders (R) Kingfisher
  • H60: Dan Fisher (R) El Reno
  • H64: Ann Coudy (R) Lawton
  • H66: Jadine Nollan (R) Sand Springs
  • H67: Pam Peterson (R) Tulsa
  • H68: Glen Mulready (R) Tulsa
  • H70: Ken Walker (R) Tulsa
  • H71: Katie Henke (R) Tulsa
  • H72: Seneca Scott (D) Tulsa
  • H73: Kevin L. Matthews (D) Tulsa
  • H74: David Derby (R) Owasso
  • H75: Dan Kirby (R) Tulsa
  • H77: Eric Proctor (D) Tulsa
  • H78: Jeannie McDaniel (D) Tulsa
  • H80: Mike Ritze (R) Broken Arrow
  • H81: Randy Grau (R) Edmond
  • H84: Sally Kern (R) Oklahoma City
  • H90: Jon Echols (R) Oklahoma City
  • H92: Richard D. Morrissette (D) Oklahoma City
  • H94: Scott Inman (D) Oklahoma City

That’s 55 seats with no race, out of 125. For an angry electorate, we sure are complacent.

(A similar list from 2012.)

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Up is not given

From this very site, November 2012:

Last time we heard from former County Commissioner, occasional money-grubber and comic-book publisher Brent Rinehart, he was trying to ease his way back into public office.

Truly, the man is nothing if not persistent:

Former Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign contribution violation in October 2009, filed Friday to run for the Oklahoma House.

Rinehart, a Republican, is seeking to replace Rep. Charlie Joyner, R-Midwest City.

I don’t live out that way, and I don’t have a problem with Joyner being primaried, particularly, but drawing Rinehart for an opponent — well, if Joyner has the normal complement of brain cells, he should be able to dispatch Rinehart with little difficulty.

(And yes, Rinehart can run despite his record: it’s a misdemeanor that did not involve embezzlement.)

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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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