Archive for Political Science Fiction

Quote of the week

Let’s imagine, just for a moment, that the Democrats have actual strategists. What should they be doing right about now?

If any of Mike Dukakis’s people are still around, the Democrats absolutely should give them a call. Dukakis was a pretty terrible candidate, but at least he knew how to run a bread-and-butter, talk-about-the-issues type campaign. The fact that the Dems would have to go back that far, though, tells you just how deep the rot goes. Orange Man thrives on driving NPCs nuts. He wasn’t a New York tabloid fixture because of his antics — any one of the zillion guys making a phone number on Wall Street back in the 80s had similar stories — but because of his personality. Orange Man drives a certain type of limpwristed freak absolutely bonkers, and he takes great, sadistic pleasure in that. Running a point-and-shriek campaign against a guy who lives to be pointed-and-shrieked at is the dumbest thing they could possibly do …

… but it’s the only thing they know how to do. I’m sure there’s a pithy Sun Tzu quote for this situation, but you don’t have to be Napoleon to realize that charging straight up the chute at the enemy’s strongest point is a bad idea. But since everyone involved is one of the aforesaid limpwristed freaks, they can do no other.

Maybe Huawei or somebody will come up with a properly stylish wrist exerciser. I’m not holding my breath.

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And now, introduce yourselves

Eric S. Raymond comes up with a proper introduction for all the Democratic presidential candidates who remain. The last one might be the scariest:

Hi, I’m Marianne Williamson. If elected, I will redecorate the White House so it has proper feng shui. I am the sanest and least pretentious person on this stage.

She’s right, you know.

(Via American Digest.)

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Beto shuffle

The Friar looks at recent statements by Robert Francis O’Rourke:

His latest tack has been to activate the Racial Animus Mode of campaigning, first declaring in a speech in Nashville that the United States was founded on white supremacy. He then doubled down on that opinion in a Sunday tweet and claimed that our nation was founded on racism and is still racist today.

Let the record show that there exists a metric buttload of racism these days, and it’s not overly hard to find.

But:

Now, one of two things must be true about Mr. O’Rourke’s claims: 1) They are true, in which case why would someone as upstanding and perceptive as he wish to lead such an irredeemably racist people? Or, 2) They are false, in which case why should anyone have any confidence that his judgment and understanding in office will be any better than his judgment and understanding while seeking office?

In an age where people will say anything to get elected, we have here something like Schrödinger’s Poll: until the final set of talking points is released, there’s no telling what he really meant.

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Devil with a blue dress on

For some reason, I can’t bring myself to get exercised over this little, um, exercise:

Bill Clinton in a blue dress and heels

But this, we are told, is the scoop:

Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait of Bill Clinton in a dress hanging in his Manhattan mansion, DailyMailTV can reveal.

The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse.

The dress is also strikingly similar to one worn by Hillary Clinton at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors.

The original painting is called Parsing Bill and is by Australian-American artist Petrina Ryan-Kleid, although it is unclear if Epstein had bought the canvas or had a print mounted. Ryan-Kleid exhibited for her degree show when she graduated with an MFA in 2012 from the New York Academy of Art.

The following observations apply:

  • Of the people who’ve seen me in a dress — the last time was circa 1994 — all but one, so far as I know, are still alive.
  • That really isn’t enough cleavage.
  • Hillary never looked that good in blue.

I have to admit, it takes guts to wear red heels with that shade of blue. And had it been a name-brand Republican who posed for such a thing, he’d be hanging from a light fixture right about now.

(Via Ed Driscoll.)

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Are we having funds yet?

Don’t worry, we’ll find the money somehow:

Former health commissioner questions decision to use pregnancy prevention funds for fireworks

Google didn’t recognize this clip (from Bad Newspaper), so I decided to try to figure out which of the dozen or so Carroll Counties this might be. The reference to the Brown Township/Malvern Sewer District gives it away: this is Carroll County, Ohio.

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Hit ’em where they live

I’m not entirely sure how or why, but given my particular interests, whatever algorithm governs the advertising at Fark does by far the best job of catching my eye. This one showed up Thursday night:

Political ad for Tulsi Gabbard

At some point, I remember saying something to the effect that were I judging primarily on appearance, I’d have to cast my primary ballot for either Harris or Gabbard. Not that I’m that shallow.

Or maybe I am that shallow, and Fark damn well knows it.

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One of those minor details

Top of the page in the Sunday paper:

U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern has paid only $30,000 toward a $650,000 campaign loan made last year by a bank that Hern helped create and govern.

The loan was made by Firstar Bank in June 2018 and did not require Hern to pledge any collateral.

Federal election law allows candidates to take out bank loans to finance campaigns if the terms are no more favorable than loans to other borrowers of comparable creditworthiness and repayment is assured.

Hern, a Tulsa Republican, is serving his first term in Congress.

In other news, it takes $650,000 to win a House seat in Tulsa.

Under the original terms, full payment on the campaign loan was due by June 26, according to the bank document submitted to the Federal Election Commission.

Hern’s campaign made more than $26,000 in interest payments but did not pay toward the principal until May, when it made two payments of $10,000 each; another payment of $10,000 was made in June. All interest and principal payments were made using campaign contributions, which is a legal and typical means of repaying campaign loans.

According to a document provided to The Oklahoman, the terms of the Firstar loan were changed on June 25 to make the principal due in June 2020. The new loan terms raised the interest rate from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Maybe another freshman rep, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will support a pay raise for Hern.

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Putting the “cess” in “recess”

There is such a thing as “constituent service,” but it’s hardly a priority these days:

[W]hen you go home from work for six weeks — although the assorted members of Congress will doubtless engage in some campaigning and constituent service, so they’ll sort of work — you only do so if there’s nothing coming up in those six weeks that you think will require your immediate attention. So either President Trump is the greatest threat to the Republic since Jefferson Davis and must be stopped — in which case you stick around and maybe heft a bale or two in the cause of stopping him — or you’re just making noises with your mouth in order to get you and people like you elected to office again by providing sound bites to stir up the people to pull the lever for you like the government-goodie-activated robots that they are.

You may say I’m a cynic, but I’m not the only one. Today’s Friary cynicism may be born of middle-aged grumpiness, but it was learned early on in one of the humblest of settings: newspaper coverage of small-town city and county government. It was there the belief in the idea of public officials as public servants ran smack into the idea of public officials as manipulative meatballs who would say whatever they needed to say and do whatever they needed to do in order to preserve these tiny little ponds in which they could pretend they were larger-than-average fish. And if those two “whatevers” were to oppose one another? So what.

What do we do about this?

We could say that we’d be better off if we threw them all out and started over. But the problem then would be that we’d be left with the people who want those jobs and already tried to get them. And failed.

Mark Twain concluded that “There is no distinctly American criminal class — except Congress.” Another argument for this approach, I’d say.

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Flesh unpressed

Roberta X calls it “Antisocialism,” but it’s not what it sounds like it ought to be:

I’m thinking about proposing a form of government in which direct interpersonal contact is kept the the bare minimum. Automate the DMV! No more press conferences: Top government officials will receive a printed list of questions to answer weekly, by letter or e-mail. Congressthings will be required to remain seated, eyes front, when the House or Senate is in session — wireless microphones will let them address their fellows. And, of course, lobbyists will be required to use the mail.

Let us have a government of laws, not of men. And let the men (and women, and you over there with your very own pronoun) we do have keep to themselves. There’s no need to get chummy; just do your job and clock out at the end of the day. No autographs, no press-the-flesh meetings, none of that. Baby-kissing will be prohibited by law.

If you’re thinking this takes all the excitement out of politics, well, duh:

Dull? Darned right it would be dull. There’s no reason politics should be a three-ring circus.

I wonder: if we had this, would fewer clowns run for office?

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Bataan twirling

No, we don’t need two dozen Presidential candidates a year and a half before the actual election. But we really have no choice in the matter:

The problem with trying to limit the length of presidential (or any) electoral campaigns is that we have that pesky Constitution, in the form of the First Amendment.

If it’s (say) a week before Thanksgiving and someone says, “When I’m president, I will …”, telling someone that “You’re not allowed to say that yet” would result in you getting your pee-pee severely whacked by the courts, and deservedly so.

The Brits get away with their 60-day election campaigns by simply banning election speeches and so on before the start date. Try doing that in the U.S. of A., and a shit-storm will ensue.

It might even be a bigger storm than the actual campaign, which for 2020 promises to leave no fan untouched by fecal matter,

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Autocorrect run wild

A history lesson from Robert Stacy McCain, somewhat undone by typos, or whatever:

The situation in Honduras took at bad turn about 10 years ago. Manuel Zelaya was elected president in 2006 as a liberal reformer, but in office began forming alliances with the Castro regime in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. When he proposed a referendum to change the Constitution in Honduras, the military resisted. Zelaya was overthrown and sent into exile, and the Obama administration shrugged.

Thereafter, it goes troppo:

There is no magic formula that can cure the problems of Honduras. A rhetoric of “democracy” and “human rights” serves only to foster the delusion that there is something we, as Americans, can do to solve problems we did not actually cause, but for which we are unfairly blamed. Describing the ouster of Zendaya as a “U.S.-backed coup,” for example, is misleading, making it seem as if Obama did this through a CIA plot. As much as I hate to give any credit to Obama or Hillary Clinton, they were confronted with a difficult situation in Honduras and accepting the post-coup government as legitimate was probably the best thing to do.

Huh? How was Zendaya, a fearsomely beautiful singer/actress, ousted in a U.S.-backed coup?

The misprint goes on and on:

If it is true that Hillary opposed Zendaya’s restoration because of concerns that he might follow the path of Chavez in Venezuela, she deserves either credit for her wisdom or blame for her folly, but you can’t have it both ways. Personally, as a conservative, I’m inclined to say she did the right thing, and however bad things are in Honduras now, they would be much worse if Zendaya had gone in the direction of Chavez.

A couple of the commenters fell victim to the same syndrome.

Zendaya at a Vivienne Westwood show in 2016

Does this look like an ousted Central American dictator to you?

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Free me

I generally don’t think of Iran as being an inhospitable place, but this doesn’t help:

British singer Joss Stone says she was denied entry to Iran – the last country she had to visit as part of a five-year, 200-stop “total world tour”.

The 32-year-old posted a video from Kish Island in which she said: “We got detained and then we got deported.”

She said that she knew Iran did not allow women to perform solo concerts.

“However, it seems the authorities don’t believe we wouldn’t be playing a public show, so they have popped us on what they call the ‘blacklist’.”

“After long discussions with the most friendly, charming and welcoming immigration people, the decision was made to detain us for the night and to deport us in the morning,” she added. “Of course I was gutted. So close yet so far.”

Of course, this song immediately bounced into my brain:

(With thanks to Fillyjonk.)

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An order to go

China blocking Web sites? Not new. China seizing phones to install Apps from Hell? That’s new:

Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found.

The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.

Should we assume that this doesn’t work on iOS?

As usual with Communist regimes, the locals get it worse:

In no way is the downloading of tourists’ text messages and other mobile phone data comparable to the treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang, who live under the constant gaze of facial recognition systems, CCTV, and physical searches. Last week, VICE News published an undercover documentary detailing some of the human rights abuses and surveillance against the Uighur population. But the malware news shows that the Chinese government’s aggressive style of policing and surveillance in the Xinjiang region has extended to foreigners, too.

Google Play, your usual source for Android apps, has nothing to do with this one:

Once installed on an Android phone, by “side-loading” its installation and requesting certain permissions rather than downloading it from the Google Play Store, BXAQ collects all of the phone’s calendar entries, phone contacts, call logs, and text messages and uploads them to a server, according to expert analysis. The malware also scans the phone to see which apps are installed, and extracts the subject’s usernames for some installed apps. (Update: after the publication of this piece, multiple antivirus firms updated their products to flag the app as malware.)

Like the Chinese care if you flag their app.

(Via Joseph Cox.)

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C’mon Marianne

Political sadist satirist Jim Treacher predicts that our 46th President will be, um, Marianne Williamson, and here are some reasons why:

1. She can dance. Remember who the Dems nominated in 2016? Remember her dancing?

Which would be a good argument for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as #47. Juat saying.

2. She says lots of things that connect with the American people.

And this is where we came in:

3. She’s hot. Marianne Williamson isn’t just hot for a 66-year-old woman, she’s just plain hot-hot. Have we ever really had a hot president? I know a lot of people said this guy, but I never saw it. No offense to President Trump, but Marianne is way hotter. Time for an upgrade!

Marianne Williamson on a, um, love seat

Marianne Williamson putting in a day's work

Marianne Williamson seems happy

Said she in Healing the Soul of America (1997):

It is a task of our generation to recreate the American politeia, to awaken from our culture of distraction and re-engage the process of democracy with soulfulness and hope. Yes, we see there are problems in the world. But we believe in a universal force that, when activated by the human heart, has the power to make all things right. Such is the divine authority of love: to renew the heart, renew the nations, and ultimately, renew the world.

Number 4, Jim: she can use words like “politeia” and not sound ridiculous.

A brief meditation (not quite 4:30):

(Title courtesy of the 4 Seasons.)

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Beautiful bodhisattva

We open, as we often do, with a Wikipedia passage:

The Dalai Lama figure is important for many reasons. Since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century, his personage has always been a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet, where he has represented Buddhist values and traditions. The Dalai Lama was an important figure of the Geluk tradition, which was politically and numerically dominant in Central Tibet, but his religious authority went beyond sectarian boundaries. While he had no formal or institutional role in any of the religious traditions, which were headed by their own high lamas, he was a unifying symbol of the Tibetan state, representing Buddhist values and traditions above any specific school. The traditional function of the Dalai Lama as an ecumenical figure, holding together disparate religious and regional groups, has been taken up by the present fourteenth Dalai Lama. He has worked to overcome sectarian and other divisions in the exiled community and has become a symbol of Tibetan nationhood for Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile.

He knows from exile; he fled Tibet during the 1959 uprisings, and settled in India. As his 84th birthday approaches (next month), he has no doubt given some thought to his successor, the fifteenth Dalai Lama, who presumably would carry on his work. And there’s this:

“If female Dalai Lama comes, then [she] should be more attractive,” he said with a laugh.

I think I’ve just been handed a reason to vote for Marianne Williamson.

(Via Ed Driscoll, who quipped: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of ‘Free Tibet’ bumper stickers suddenly cried out in terror as they were scraped off of Subaru Outbacks.”)

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Nine at a time

And, well, you can’t tell me that cutting the field to 18 wouldn’t have been a good idea:

And no, I can’t explain “Popcorn Buddha,” which really does exist but which I don’t remember ever seeing in any of the Squares.

(Via American Digest.)

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Operation Sourpuss

Glenn Reynolds quotes a Facebook friend:

My biggest takeaway from the candidates in the Dem debates is there doesn’t seem to be any joy in any of them. They all seem to live in a perpetual state of anger, resentment and envy that absolutely poisons their lives. Those aren’t attractive qualities in political candidates. Say what you want about Trump but he rarely looks like he’s not having a good time. Optimism can be both attractive and contagious.

Which means, basically, that they’re toeing the party line, which is largely based on anger, resentment and envy; it’s fascinating how so much of the hatred of the “1 percent” emanates from 2 through 10. Trump’s semi-idiot grin is not all that wonderful to behold, but at least he’s not afraid to crack a smile.

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Mass debatings

You already knew this, I surmise, but it won’t hurt to see it in plain ASCII:

Public debate is not a search for truth, but a search for a way to convince a majority of the public. Similarly, the market is not a search for the true value of a good or service. It is the search for the bigger share of a financial transaction. Inevitably such systems reward the people who are good at gaining the trust of their fellow citizens in order to deceive them.

It’s not by design, necessarily; but human nature being what it is, you will almost always end up with something like that.

In the present age, this institutional dishonesty is most obvious in politics, where the parties are now completely dominated by sociopaths. A system that is supposedly built on respect for the public will is now run by people who hold the people in contempt. They take pleasure in lying to their most important voters. It’s not just the Right, the Left does the same thing, only with more skill. Elizabeth Warren will run as an opponent of big business, but in office she will be entirely beholden to global corporate interests.

What compounds this problem in democracy is the people are conditioned to think it is normal and healthy to be ruled by sociopaths. Politics becomes the inverse of what people expect in their daily lives. Among your friends and acquaintances, you expect a high degree of trust and honestly. In politics, you have been trained to demand the most extreme forms of lying. If a politician makes the mistake of uttering the truth, he is hooted off the stage. Democracy makes the people an enemy of themselves.

“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” So declared commentator Michael Kinsley; such sayings are now almost universally known as “Kinsley gaffes.” Politicians go out of their way to avoid saying such things. Sometimes they even succeed.

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Fark blurb of the week

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From the “Hey, it could happen” files

I mean, it seems unlikely, but I don’t think there’s much of an upper bound to her ambitions:

Those of us who have been thinking “Who will rid us of this meddlesome Schumer?” can’t help but smile a little.

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Water log

You have to wonder if he’s ever seen this much water:

Following President Trump’s declared state of emergency for Tulsa, Wagoner, and Muskogee Counties, Vice President Mike Pence will be coming to Tulsa on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) and Vice President Mike Pence will be touring flood damage.

There’s lots to see in Tulsa, but it’s even more fun when it’s dry.

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Scum alert

Out of the Quora queue, and I really hope this is a troll:

My wife somehow knows about my affair and has threatened to tarnish my reputation especially when I plan to run for political office next year. How do I buy her silence and save my future?

You can’t afford it.

No political party is specified here, but I’m guessing this guy is a Republican, simply because Democrats in this day and age expect, not entirely without reason, that everyone will cover for them.

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Never do as I do

News Item: A new plan from Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) to eliminate the gender pay gap would fine companies if they are unable to prove they’re paying men and women equally, something Harris isn’t currently achieving in either her official office or on her campaign, a Washington Free Beacon analysis found.

Quelle surprise. And I suspect this is a very common response to such tomfoolery:

There’s no way I’ll be voting for President Trump in November of 2020. Although I’m not unhappy with some of his results, he remains a man of unfit character for the office. I’m currently registered as an independent, but in my state my former party allows independents to vote in its primaries. If for some reason Sen. Harris looks strong by the time our primary elections roll around, I’ll definitely take advantage of that opportunity and vote for someone else. If I want a president who overlooks the most basic facts about his or her own policy proposals and isn’t smart enough to game out the most obvious responses to them, then I’ll just stay home because I’m already watching that show.

The primaries and such are still a long way off, but for now, the three Democratic front-runners, all ahead of Senator Harris, are white and seventy-ish. Make of that what you will.

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Weirder things have happened

From that news story:

The law accords citizens the right to self-identify as male, female or a blend of both genders, and to have that identity registered on all official documents, including National Identification Cards, passports, driver’s licenses and education certificates.

The law guarantees citizens the right to express their gender as they wish, and to a gender identity that is defined as “a person’s innermost and individual sense of self as male, female or a blend of both, or neither; that can correspond or not to the sex assigned at birth.”

Oger, herself trans, stood for election to the British Columbia Assembly from a riding in Vancouver in 2017, carrying the banner of the NDP; she lost by a narrow margin to the Liberal incumbent, Sam Sullivan, an advocate for the disabled. (A skiing accident left Sullivan paralyzed at the age of 19.) A religious activist from outside the riding campaigned hard against her; she filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, which this spring ruled in her favor.

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Just Biden his time

Joe Biden has a reputation for being both touchy and feely:

Joe Biden with an unidentified anime girl, via Brickmuppet

Will this be a problem for his Presidential aspirations? Probably not:

Biden is a formidable opponent, being a rather more folksy creep than the President. His base is very much the same as the President’s, indeed many of Trump’s supporters switched parties because the Dems abandoned the middle class. They are Biden’s natural constituency.

In a battle of the creeps, Biden’s above referenced lack of respect for personal space is being touted by many on the right as disqualifying. This analysis, to be charitable, represents a Brobdingnagian level of stupidity. Witness the fact that so many of us held our noses and voted for Pussygrabber McPottymouth over the Evita Peron von Pantsuit in the last election. Much is being made of the notion that today’s inter-sectional Dems won’t put up with him, but given the choice between placating their snowflakes and gaining power over the rest of us, one can be reasonably certain that the super-delegates will be as loyal to the Democrat activists as they were in 2016.

Indeed. A non-binary person of color may score three Intersectionality Pikachu Points, but so far, has only one vote.

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Gramsci, shmamci

Everyone on the Right knows whom to blame, and perhaps not surprisingly, they got much of it wrong:

The best conspiracy theories are the ones that are actually true, and this one is. You want a grand conspiracy to destroy Western Civ? Here it is, laid out as openly as Marxist prose can express it, in excruciating detail. If anything, I’m being unfair to Antonio Gramsci. He put it all together in true kommissar style, but these ideas were everywhere on the Left in the early 20th century. In America, for instance, Progressives like John Dewey had been maneuvering to get control of elementary schools since the late 19th century. Progressives just looooove putting their hands on children. Have you noticed?

Every single insane, culture-destroying, gulag-enabling idea the Left has had in the last 200 years, starting with Karl Marx’s sub-Hegelian flatulence itself, can be traced directly back to some fucking egghead. I’ll repeat that: DIRECTLY. You can find their works, and quote them, because this stuff is in every syllabus of every Humanities class of every college in the Western world. The prose is opaque as only PoMo prose can be, but the main ideas are easy enough to decipher …

… I wrote “ideas,” but there’s really only one “idea.” Since The Revolution obviously ain’t gonna happen — it seems even Leftists can acknowledge one tiny aspect of reality, if you give ’em twelve decades and 100 million bodies — the Left’s entire program, top to bottom, stem to stern, is shit-flinging nihilism. Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go — not because it’s Western, but because it’s Civilization.

How do you fight people like that? Give them something they will understand:

If you want to get really, really nasty, of course, you should get out there with the Bernouts and Trustafarians and agitate for the cancellation of student loan debt. Sure, sure, it’ll crash the economy so hard that the Great Depression will feel like a happy ending at an Oriental massage parlor, but that’s going to happen anyway. At least the blue-haired nose-ringers will starve first.

Not that Senator Little White Dove would ever admit the existence, let alone the universality, of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

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Quote of the week

Who threatens liberty? Looking at the label won’t tell you:

Neither communism, nor socialism, nor fascism, nor progressivism, nor liberalism, nor conservatism, nor any of a thousand different “isms” are the real threat to liberty. The people who adhere to one or more of those are threats to liberty, and yet, the communist is not a threat to liberty because he is a communist. The fascist is not a threat because she is a fascist. Certainly, those and other systems can give power to the ones who adhere to those political and/or economic philosophies. But they are not where the real threat, the most basic and fundamental threat, lies.

The threat to liberty is not determined by where a person or philosophy falls upon some modern version of a left-to-right political spectrum. The fundamental threat to liberty comes from neither the modern leftist nor the modern rightist. Instead, the threat to liberty comes from where it has always come. It comes from the authoritarian and the busybody. It comes from those with a fundamental need to tell others what to do. It comes from those with an unhealthy interest in the lives and activities of others. These are the people who threaten liberty. Regardless of party, regardless of political philosophy, regardless of ideology, these folks have always been and always will be threats to liberty.

Just make sure one of those folks isn’t staring back at you from the mirror.

(Via Pergelator.)

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On the regicide of the street

“If you try to kill the King, you better not miss,” said James Woods, and people who should have known better but weren’t allowed to — you know the type — ganged up on Woods for ripping off a character, and a black character at that, from The Wire. Which is all you can expect from people who think the world began five minutes before they were born:

“It’s a line that stands out because it sounds badass. But it’s also a reference to something less than totally badass, a response Ralph Waldo Emerson sent future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes over a collegiate attempt to refute the supremacy of Plato’s classification of ideas. ‘When you strike at a king,’ Emerson, then a 60-year-old Unitarian minister, famously wrote, ‘you must kill him.'”

I’m fairly certain Emerson is not the original source for this thought, however. We see it in Shakespeare and in Greek tragedy. It is dangerous to challenge power and to fail in the attempt; ask anyone who observed the Year Of The Four Emperors. With that said, I object to the idea that ol’ Ralph Waldo was “less than totally badass”. He possessed a clarity of thought and expression long gone from the modern conversation. I enjoyed reading him for the same reason I enjoy reading Samuel Johnson — the sense of arguments mustered, marshaled, and marched into battle. Emerson had what we used to call a masculine mind, before that became a slur. He was Thoreau’s superior because he rarely allowed himself to argue from emotion. That’s why we still hear about Walden long after most schools have banished Emerson from the rolls; Henry David’s loosely-constructed, frequently hypocritical, hugely self-centric mode of thinking suits our current cadre of pseudo-intellectuals far better.

I wasn’t around for the Year of the Four Emperors, a mere 1,850 years ago, but considering its beginning — Nero, tried as a “public enemy,” in absentia no less, took his own life — you have to figure that times had to be seriously rough between the ascent of Galba and the arrival of Vespasian, and the two guys who attempted to play the part of the Emperor in between.

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Coming soon to a ballot near you

The Secretary of State has accepted for filing a ballot initiative which would expand Medicaid coverage in this state:

Attorneys with Crowe & Dunlevy today filed a Medicaid expansion ballot initiative Friday on behalf of two Oklahomans, one from Tulsa and one from Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers’ office posted the seven-page filing online [pdf] and distinguished it as State Question 802. The ballot initiative would make a change to the Oklahoma Constitution, thus requiring 177,958 signatures for it to make the ballot. Signature collection would extend for 90 days after any challenges have been resolved or addressed.

The money quote:

This measure adds a new Article to the Oklahoma Constitution. The new Article would expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program to include certain low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 65 whose income does not exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as permitted under the federal Medicaid laws.

Several states have already done this in response to the ACA; Oklahoma balked because the potential costs seemed daunting. Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, in an email received here:

Rather than spend Good Friday contemplating one of the most consequential events in history, as most Oklahomans did, expansion supporters engaged in a political stunt. The petition is meant to bluff state lawmakers into passing an expansion program they know is a bad idea. Lawmakers should stick with their gut and continue opposing this plan. The Obamacare Medicaid proposal is a massive expansion of welfare that will add 628,000 able-bodied adults to Oklahoma’s welfare rolls and could put working families on the hook for a state share of $374 million annually.

Make no mistake, expanding Obamacare in Oklahoma will result in the state seeing the same problems as every other state that has gone down this path. Enrollment levels will be far higher than what expansion supporters predict, at significantly higher costs, to achieve significantly lower outcomes than promised. If you doubt it, just look at states comparable to Oklahoma that expanded Medicaid. Cost overruns in Arkansas have topped $1.4 billion, and Kentucky’s ranking on health outcomes remains low, despite Kentucky spending far more taxpayer money on Medicaid.

Expensive stuff, health care. Still, I’ll probably sign the petition when it’s presented to me, simply because if we’re going to do something like this, it would be nice to have the electorate sign off on it.

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Hold your dung, knave

We got your penumbra right here, pal:

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors rejected a permit for an apartment building that would have included 15 below-market units, because on the longest day of the year, it would have cast a shadow over about 18 percent of a nearby park — for just about 100 minutes.

“Below-market” units? In San Francisco? Why, the townsfolk will never stand for it.

They will, however, contort themselves silly for this:

And if you look at this special map of San Francisco, printed in Forbes, you can see all of the more than 100,000 instances of reported findings of human feces in public since 2001, most likely by some of the city’s 7,500 or [so] homeless residents. Because of the concentration of incidents in certain areas, you can see the phenomenon casting some shadows of its own.

They’d rather you take a dump on any random street than take one upstairs on Folsom Street.

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