Archive for Political Science Fiction

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I mean, do you honestly think that Romneycare — whoops, I mean Obamacare — would have been repealed by now?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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Quote of the week

Ace riffs on l’affaire Phil Robertson, and points out where we’re going wrong:

Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robertson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression.

Why does no one speak of that right? Sure, they have the right to act hostilely towards the spirit of the First Amendment and use coercive power to hammer people into only speaking the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

They also have the right to stick up for people’s right to dissent, to be “weird,” to have unpopular thoughts and heterodox beliefs. And as a media company, they really ought to have an interest in doing so.

Why does no one ever mention this? Why does no one ever push companies to recognize that right, rather than the other one?

It is well-conceded that an employer has the right to fire you for some heterodox belief or some oddball sexual habit, but an employer similarly has the right to foster an environment of self-expression and freedom, and yet no one seems to talk about a company’s capacity to be a Good Actor in the realm of free expression.

Of course not. The people who do support free expression would never dream of screaming at the top of their lungs about boycotts and such. But maybe it’s time they should:

[T]his War on Individuality hurts everyone who considers himself an individual.

It is time to tell these people, with no politeness whatsoever, to Shut the Fuck Up and stop making life awful for everyone else.

They are enemies of freedom — of freedom of conscience, of freedom of thought, of freedom of expression; of freedom, generally — and should be hectored, harassed, and humiliated as such.

They are retrograde simpleton bullies, and bullies requiring the bracing lesson of a punch to the face.

In the meantime, I’ll wait for someone to show me the specific clause in the Constitution that says he has the right to go through life without ever hearing anything that conflicts with his views.

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Turmoil in Turkey continues

Istanbul chief of police Huseyin Capkin has been fired:

Istanbul’s police chief has been sacked in the aftermath of mass arrests on Tuesday by officers investigating corruption claims, reports say.

Huseyin Capkin’s dismissal comes a day after several senior officers, including his deputies, were removed.

Some 52 people, including three sons of ministers, were arrested in the dawn raids which prompted the dismissals.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has denounced the inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government.

In the absence of obvious explanations, there are speculations:

Many believe the arrests and firings reflect a feud within Turkey’s ruling AK Party between those who back Mr Erdoğan, and supporters of Fethullah Gülen, an influential Islamic scholar living in self-imposed exile in the US.

Members of Mr Gülen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the AK Party itself.

“Hizmet” — “service to the common good” — would seem at least slightly incompatible with Islam as we know it, but I admit to having read very little of Gülen’s work.

Meanwhile, where there is turmoil, there are jokes:

“How Turkey has regressed,” says Jerry at Commonsense & Wonder.

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Season’s greasings

In the mail yesterday: cards of a sort from local politicians, complete with obligatory Family Pictures.

Jason Nelson, who currently represents House District 87, sent a 6×9 card with “Merry Christmas” on one side and a Bible verse (Isaiah 9:6) on the other.

John Handy Edwards, who hopes to replace the term-limited Cliff Branan in Senate District 40 in 2015, sent a 6.875×10 card, folded once, with “Happy Holidays” on the outside and “Sending warm wishes from our family to yours this season” within.

More as they arrive, if more arrive.

Why, no, I didn’t mention their party affiliations. Did I need to?

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Demote the general welfare

Should we declare victory in the War on Poverty and bring the boys home from Washington? It has a certain visceral appeal, but it might not work the way we think it would:

The money isn’t being spent on the poor, but it is being spent to prevent poverty; some people’s poverty, anyway. The bureaucrats who administer the anti-poverty programs are themselves the objects. Their jobs coordinating one of the hundreds of jobs programs is itself a jobs program. That’s not sarcasm or hyperbole. Really, there isn’t any other place for them, and they won’t be allowed to live in the condition they would end up in if not for that government job.

They have no marketable skill, and at 45 they can’t now learn anything that will earn them a middle class living. If that seems unkind or offensive, express it this way: the private economy has no place for them. Firing them en masse won’t unleash a bounty of entrepreneurship, as the former grant administration compliance auditor pushes his own weenie cart, selling dogs to the former diversity coordination outreach specialist who now builds houses. Though maybe tearing down empty houses would be a better business model today.

Short of hiring them to dig holes, and then reassigning the Department of Education to fill them back up, it’s difficult to come up with a way to dispose of these folks humanely.

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Quote of the week

That whole “separation of church and state” business, if you ask me, has it exactly sideways. Christ spoke of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; today’s Caesars are keen to have the population rendered, once their ability to mulct us fails for lack of further mulctables.

Francis W. Porretto, having noted this sort of thing before, has pretty much had it up to here with professions of [some sort of] faith as part of political campaigns:

The various Christian denominations differ on a number of things, most notably abortion, divorce, and sexual conduct. However, they are united around the Noachite Commandments:

Then someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and your mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 19:16-19]

Government’s penchants for theft and false witness should make any sincere Christian extremely uneasy about contact with it, approaching absolutely unwilling to be involved with it at any level. Make no mistake: to confiscate from unwilling Peter is theft no matter whether or not any of the proceeds reach Paul. The insertion of government, the supposedly disinterested servant of the “general welfare,” as the confiscator makes no difference whatsoever.

There’s a Catholic doctrine about “occasions of sin,” circumstances which are likely to lure the faithful into transgressions. Getting oneself parked in one of the seats of power, whether for graft or simply grasp, does not augur well for the future of one’s soul.

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The Turn the Other Cheek Act

Attending to your own defense — “taking the law into your own hands!” shriek the fearful — is a process some people are simply not prepared to comprehend. Jennifer offers an explanation:

When did we become a society that regards morally justifiable violence as something repugnant? Something from which we should shield our children? We can celebrate athletes with rap sheets a mile long just as long as they put the ball in the right place again and again. We buy the shoes they tell us to buy. Why does the media vilify a neighborhood watch volunteer while venerating the thugs in jerseys?

I think I know part of the answer. As a society, we’ve separated ourselves from personal responsibility and community. Our reality comes from TV and not from interpersonal relationships. We’ve insulated ourselves from the consequences of our actions. It’s no longer our own fault if we get fat. It’s the fast food, here take a pill. Unplanned pregnancy? Just terminate it. Fail at business? Someone else is there to bail you out. And so on. It’s gotten to the point that it causes cognitive dissonance when someone takes matters into their own hands. The police are supposed to protect us, right? Sure. And our meat comes from the grocer too.

It doesn’t help that the highest form of existence acknowledged these days is victimhood: it’s much more socially acceptable to claim that everything and everybody is against you, even — maybe especially — if it’s your own damn fault.

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Press Escape to continue

A lone Republican, noticing the absence of the horse, calls for more security measures affecting the stable door:

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would prevent the federal government from deploying new websites that don’t adequately protect personal data.

His Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act, H.R. 3635 [pdf], would also require existing websites to show they [are] safe and secure. If a website fails to meet that standard, the government would have to take it offline until it is repaired.

This is, of course, a shot across the bow of healthcare.gov, which was introduced with no discernible security and the functionality of GeoCities.

“In its haste to implement ObamaCare, the White House has acted with reckless disregard when it comes to protecting the public from hackers,” Bentivolio said Tuesday. “With this website, they have jeopardized not only the personal information of users attempting to obtain health insurance, but also potentially compromised dozens of other federal agencies and their systems.”

What “haste”? They had three whole years to develop this thing. And you have to figure that by now anyone’s private information, yours, mine or the government’s — which latter is therefore yours and mine — has already been picked up by NSA, awaiting bids from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.

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You owe us stormage

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, has called for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to give up the hurricane-forecasting business, on the basis that, well, NOAA’s not been very good at it of late:

In May, the agency predicted an “active or extremely active” hurricane season, forecasting that there would be 7-11 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes, and 13-20 named storms.

The year’s final tally: 2 hurricanes, no major hurricanes, and 13 named storms… not even “close enough for government work.”

This marked the 7th time in the past ten years that NOAA’s hurricane forecast has been wrong and its epic failure this year rivals even its disastrous forecast in 2005, when it predicted there would be 7-9 hurricanes and there ended up being 15.

There is, of course, a “climate change” angle:

NOAA isn’t alone in undermining [its] credibility by suggesting a greater level of certainty than it possesses.

For years now, we’ve been told that there is a scientific consensus that our burning of fossil fuels is creating dangerous warming of the planet.

Now the public has learned that we’re in the midst of a 17-year “pause” in global warming that not one of the 73 climate models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Climate on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report predicted.

Now I see this as more of a hierarchical problem: the higher up you go, the more likely your results are going to be somewhat politicized. The National Weather Service, down a level from NOAA, works hard not to become emotionally involved with its models.

Still, if the National Center is so upset with dubious government-approved numbers, they should be going after the major Washington dissemblers like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose books have been cooked for so long they’re downright mushy.

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The sharp stick of politics

Dave Schuler quotes Megan McArdle:

[I]f you want to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act viable for the long term, you’re going to need the support of folks like Hobby Lobby as much as you need low premiums. There are many religious people in America, and if you want to keep stirring up active opposition to the law, one good way is to suggest that this law forces them to pay for something they are convinced is morally wrong. (Hobby Lobby’s objection is not to contraception in general, but specifically to products that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.) If you want to still be fighting Obamacare in the trenches 40 years from now, the best way I can think of is appending it to the argument over abortion.

But McArdle, says Schuler, is missing a very pointed point:

… which is that part of the problem with our political system today is that accomplishing something material doesn’t necessarily produce political gain but poking a stick in your opponent’s eye does. And it feels so good.

There is a hierarchy of values at work here. Having an issue is better than solving a problem. Hurting your political opponent is better than reaching a mutually agreeable solution. Holding tough is better than compromise.

With that hierarchy in mind, it’s clear that appending Obamacare to the argument over abortion is a feature rather than a bug.

Of course, with sticks flying in every direction, we should not be surprised to find incidence of blindness.

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The first rule of the ruling class

A reminder from Bill Quick:

Conservatives in government are in government first, and conservatives second. Their power comes from being in government, rather than in being conservative.

And, according to the vast majority of consensus opinion, right, left, and middle, in government, the task is to use government to do things. That’s what they all mean when they say they want to make government work. Because they sure as hell don’t mean that they want to make themselves work.

I’d just bet the smallish sum I sent to a local shelter this week will do more immediate good than the decidedly larger sum that various levels of government vacuumed out of my paycheck this week, if only for reasons of lower overhead.

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We like your plan just fine

Our Insurance Commissioner weighs in:

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Technically, this does not extend their existing coverage, but does permit renewals at some figure resembling the previous premium.

Doak, of course, is not impressed by the administration’s shenaniganza:

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

This is consistent with the NAIC statement earlier yesterday. Very consistent.

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Click here for Communism

To you, it’s a $20 ticket for not buckling your seat belt. To Mark French, it’s much, much more:

He says it’s about government overreach, and he says that leads to such things as Obamacare, gun control and government deciding how large a soda pop you can purchase.

“Where does it end?” French asks. “It doesn’t, there’s no end to it.”

Americans have to draw a line in the sand at some point, French says, and the seat belt ticket gave him his line.

“Why is a seat belt required to be worn to keep us safe in a car, but not on a bus?” French wrote in an email encouraging local residents to show up in the courtroom to support his cause. “Why are we allowed to rock climb, snow ski, water ski, hang glide, hunt and eat candy bars? Why is it not unlawful to refuse medical advice? Are we ready to be told by government that we cannot drink an extra large pop?”

I was more or less sympathetic toward the guy until I read this:

Traveling in the opposite direction from the east, Montana Highway Patrolman Steve Spurr testified he observed a white car with no front license plate pass him. The rear plate, Spurr said, had a protective cover that made it difficult to see the plate number. Both are traffic violations.

There’s a lot to be said in favor of subverting the system — but being clumsily obvious about it will not help.

(Via Fark.)

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Suck will be embraced

Michael Bates has made his official disendorsement for Mayor of Tulsa:

Both the Taylor and Bartlett campaigns have spent piles of money pushing their preferred memes — positive memes about their own candidates and negative memes about the opposition. Because I wish they could both lose on Tuesday, I’ve spent my limited blogging time during this campaign trying to debunk the nonsense from each side. No, Kathy Taylor did not bring us to the brink of bankruptcy, and Dewey Bartlett Jr didn’t rescue us from bankruptcy. Dewey has been as big a spender as Kathy. You can’t push all the blame for the trash mess onto Bartlett Jr; Taylor deserves a big share of the blame, too. Neither candidate is visionary or competent or bold. Both backed the Great Plains Airlines bailout. Both have had problems working respectfully with those who disagree with them, particularly their fellow elected officials.

Tulsa voters have made a mess. Maybe if their noses are rubbed in it they won’t do it again.

I hear it’s really nice in Bixby these days.

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Surprisingly often, covered in tree sap

This is where it started:

After a little more contemplation, he added:

An oak tree is considered an epitome of mightiness and dignity. It stands on its own terms, casting shade and acorns as nature intended.

It may be unfair of me to put it this way, but a maple tree is … a sap donor.

Maybe “donor” in the sense of “having a hole drilled into your trunk and then having your vital fluids removed.” Synonym: “taxpayer.” No wonder Washington is always telling us to get bent.

(Title source.)

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Quote of the week

Gabrielle Francesca East — her friends call her Dolly — on the bill we had to pass to know what was in it:

The regime has tried to persuade Americans that Obamacare is a market-based solution. It’s not. What it is, actually, is a cargo cult attempt at making from scratch an institution which is not instituted, but grows organically. So all the hagiographic wanking in the commentariat is all better to spill your seed on the ground than in the belly of a whore kinda stuff.

But that doesn’t matter. The key, dispositive point of principle is that the government has no business in the medicine business and needs to be told to butt out — which command may need to be reinforced with a smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.

Which are easier to roll these days, owing to extreme thinness caused by reduced advertising volume.

And on that “we have to pass it” business:

Yep. In every sense of the word.

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But no smaller

How minimal can a minimal government be? Not very, suggests Roberta X:

Here’s a thought: you’d think if “that government which governs least, governs best” is correct and the closer it gets to zero the better, then a snarled-up mess of a government that can’t do much of anything — a negative value — might be better still; but the reality is that it’s as least as bad as a big, caring Nanny-state, if not worse. (This explains places like Somalia, where there’s actually too many “governments” — warlord fiefdoms, etc. — than too much government.) “Zero” is still a thing approached but never reached; too many people want to make sure their neighbors color inside the lines all the time (and never make the giraffes green or the grass purple), and that’s before you address the irreducible minimum of criminally-inclined individuals.

Combine both those horrible populations — pickers of nits and seekers of graft — and you have, well, the current occupants of Mordor-on-the-Potomac. (I wish I could remember where I swiped that; it’s such an apt phrase.)

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Introducing Minihappy

Not-quite-post-Chávist Venezuela apparently viewed George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four as an instruction manual:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of the “Supreme Happiness Under Secretary” to address social debt shortcomings and which was in honor of the late Commandant and president Hugo Chávez and the country’s liberator, Simón Bolívar.

“Comrade Rafael Rios will be responsible for implementing and coordinating the famous missions created by our ‘perpetual Commandant’ with the purpose of ensuring ‘supreme social happiness’,” said Maduro on a national address from the Miraflores Palace. Rios is a former lawmaker and military.

The Ministry’s first task, you ask?

The Orwellian and Kim Il Sung style announcements coincide with the creation of the “Loyalty and Love to Hugo Chávez Day” and come a few weeks ahead of the 8 December municipal elections which could bring surprises to the Bolívarian revolution ravaged by the most serious economic shortcomings in a decade particularly the lack of sufficient food and basics in the country’s stores.

The Venezuelan military, however, did demonstrate its capacity to almost smuggle a ton of cocaine.

And before we get around to promoting the idea of “Bolívarian revolution” — there is apparently no revolution Washington won’t promote, other than the American, which was more than 100 years ago — it might be well to remember that, as Kinky Friedman once said, “Simón Bolívar is the only person in history to be exiled from a country named after him.”

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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They couldn’t get Juan Tsuris?

I missed this episode, and in retrospect, I think it was an exercise of good hindsight-based judgment:

[O]n Wednesday’s Law & Order: SVU, a politician, who “wants to be mayor of New York,” is accused of sending lewd pictures to a young woman online. The man’s pseudonym isn’t Carlos Danger, but it’s pretty close: He goes by Enrique Trouble.

Enrique Trouble? RUFKMe? This is as improbable as that story about Johnny Depp booking hotel rooms as “Mr. Donkey Penis.” (Depp says he hasn’t, but that he has been “Emma Roid.”)

And Emily Zanotti notes that enough liberties were taken with Anthony Weiner’s story to suggest that “he probably won’t be asking for royalties.” On the other hand, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he did?

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Yo soy WaPo

Who knew? The Washington Post is actually getting a handle on how to deal with Twitter snark:

Washington Post Twitter screenshot

Here’s the full thread. (Via this Nu Wexler tweet.)

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Somewhere below “hall monitor”

In view of events like this and this, one might reasonably ask:

Does the employment application for the National Park Service actually include a place where prospective rangers can indicate they were the little power-tripping suck-up who always got picked to watch the class when the teacher stepped out into the hall, and if so, is it a trigger for automatic hiring?

Even given the priorities of government generally and this government in particular, there are far more of those, um, people than can possibly be absorbed, unless some kind soul unleashes the Blob.

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They didn’t open with a prayer

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos tells of a campaign event he perhaps didn’t expect:

Dr. Ed Shadid, a current Oklahoma City councilman, is running for mayor and has a bit of an uphill climb ahead of him since he’s running against the incumbent, popular Mayor Mick Cornett‎.

It’s worth noting, though, that Shadid is courting the atheist vote. According to a now-deleted Tweet, Chas Stewart of the Oklahoma Atheists Godcast mentioned that Shadid attended one of his group’s events.

Outreach, y’know. And if this race turns out to be close … well, you can see where this is going. Oklahoma Atheists claims about 1500 members, which is not an inconsiderable number by any means.

It doesn’t mean Shadid is an atheist himself, but so far, his visit doesn’t seem to have hurt him. Progress!

Now if only Shadid would stop talking about how he wants to raise property taxes and taking pictures with children wearing shirts with the words “Penis” and “Vagina” on them, he might have a better chance of winning this thing.

Yeah. At the very least, those words belong on pants.

(Via The McCarville Report.)

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Less than one percent

News Item: A 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO racer has become the world’s most expensive car, selling for $52 million. The red competition car … was acquired by an unidentified buyer in a private transaction.

This is a Very Bad Thing, says Jack Baruth, for several reasons, one of which is aggravation of existing class warfare:

It’s hard to argue that there’s no “one percent” in this country or elsewhere when you consider that a) the real-world unemployment rate in America is at near-Great Depression levels and b) somebody just paid fifty-two million bucks for a car. We’ve entered a mirrored funhouse where returning Afghanistan veterans can’t find work and children are going hungry and real-world wages have been worse than stagnant for a decade and above us the Gilded Age party just keeps roaring louder. This sort of thing causes Black Bloc protestors to spring out of the ground and it lends potent ammunition to those who advocate for a forceful redistribution of wealth. It promotes class-warfare rhetoric and excuses extreme behavior and in the end it’s the small businessman with a used F355 who winds up taking the brunt of that resentment when some yahoo boots his store windows in during an “Occupy” protest.

Not that I’m particularly sympathetic to yahoos of any description, but I do have a certain instinct for self-preservation. The other day, I was doing some speculative calculations for the time when, barring catastrophe, I emerge from my current financial travails, and figured that I could, theoretically anyway, belt myself into a Mercedes. Not a big Benz, mind you — nothing over an E-Class, and possibly not even that — but still, there’d be a three-pointed star on its nose, another on its backside, and it suddenly occurred to me: do I want to spend forty-odd hours a week just off Treadmill Avenue, a thoroughfare not known for high levels of social amity, worrying if some drive-by dastard is going to suddenly vent a lifetime’s worth of resentfulness on my daily driver?

No way.

Unless, of course, I can find, or rig up, an anti-intrusion system that is guaranteed to waste the mofo while somehow not damaging the MB-Tex.

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