Archive for Political Science Fiction

Stormy no more

From his perch in the Vampire State, Akaky figures that Donald Trump’s dalliance with Stormy Daniels is about played out as a news story:

Well, I may think it’s time to move on, but it seems that I am the only one who thinks so. I went forth to battle the new Puritans who seek to oppress us all with their retrograde religious morality and found that they agreed with me, for the most part, and that the sexual revolutionaries were the ones foaming at the mouth about what two consenting adults chose to do with their genitalia. I found this more than a little confusing, to say the least, and so I had to sit down and eat Chinese food (the roast pork with broccoli and wonton soup were very good, thank you for asking) in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance and sort out just what in the blue blazes happened here in this our Great Republic while I was not looking. Someone changed the rule book somewhere along the line and no one bothered to tell me that Comstockery was back in fashion. Well, everything old is new again, as the saying goes, and there is no new thing under the sun, but I cannot help but notice that the new version of Comstockery is remarkably like the old libertinism complete with extra servings of wanton soup, with the singular difference that the new Puritans didn’t mind when a President they liked and supported did this sort of thing while he was actually President and they do mind a great deal when a President they loathe and despise did the exact same thing when he wasn’t President. Nearly a quarter of a century separate the initial inaugurations of these two men and much can change in a quarter of a century: the Internet barely existed in 1993, film photography was photography, I was forty pounds lighter — really, I am not making that up — and so I am sure that this sudden concern for the private morality of public people is the product of a generation’s coming of age and rejecting the immature ideas and commitments of their salad days. Or the new Puritans could be just a bunch of sleazy hypocrites. That’s always a possibility, you know, especially if you are cynically inclined, as I tend to be.

All politicians in the last quarter of a century, it seems to me, are required to take the Hypocritic Oath: “When we do it, it’s okay.” Were it not for double standards, we’d have no standards at all.

I was, I think, forty pounds heavier in 1993. Maybe more.

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Quote of the week

The phrase “America First” comes with a whole lot of historical baggage, not all of it inspiring:

Gerald L. K. Smith, a former associate of “Kingfish” Huey P. Long and one-time director of Long’s “Share The Wealth” program, decided to use the name for a political party in 1943 — and Mr. Smith was a former Silver Shirt who’d been rejected by the old America First Committee for anti-semitism. The America First Party ran its own slate of candidates and barely made a dent in the national consciousness; in 1947s, perhaps a bit wary of their own past, they changed their name to the Christian Nationalist Party; in 1952, both that party and a remnant or reorganized America First Party tagged General Douglas MacArthur to be their Presidential nominee, though neither bothered to ask his permission. The America First Party name has resurfaced periodically since, generally by candidates on the far-Right to over-the-right-edge side of the spectrum.

So when I get a message on my phone from Mike Pence, telling me he’ll be speaking at an America First rally this weekend, my awareness of history makes me flinch; at best, using the tag is appallingly tone-deaf. At worst? I think we can rely on the Press to find plenty of “at worst.”

Of course, that’s the deal: she has an actual awareness of history, which in political discourse these days seems to be a decided disadvantage.

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Get back to where you once belonged

Or forget about keeping a seat in the Oklahoma House, I guess. This came in email:

A contest of candidacy has been filed by Nick Mahoney against Rep. Kevin McDugle, claiming Kevin has not met his residency requirements to file as a candidate for State House District 12.

Nick Mahoney, who is running against McDugle for the GOP nomination for House District 12, explained the basis for the challenge, “We have been made aware of evidence that strongly suggests Kevin McDugle has not lived in District 12 for at least the last six months. In fact, court documents show that McDugle vacated his residency that he claims in his filing for election in April 2017.”

The Oklahoma State Election Board requires candidates filing for State Representative to have lived in their district for the previous six months before filing. “From what the court documents show, Kevin has not fulfilled the requirements for residency set forth by Oklahoma law,” said Mahoney.

Nick Mahoney is a Republican running for House District 12. To learn more about Nick Mahoney, visit MahoneyforStateHouse.com.

Obligingly, Mr Mahoney sent along some pertinent links, one of which is a petition [pdf] by Mrs McDugle to cease being Mrs McDugle, which contains a statement to the effect that he moved out of the family home on the east side of Broken Arrow last April.

Amusingly, the Mahoney campaign doesn’t seem to be all that familiar with the ubiquitous mailing-list manager MailChimp. This was found near the bottom of the missive:

Generic MailChimp footer

I mention this because I can, being a member of the media and all.

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They fear me so

“Why, they don’t even dare to oppose me on the ballot!” — rather a lot of incumbents

The following Senators drew no opposition during last week’s filing period:

  1. Darcy A. Kech, 60, Kingfisher (R)
  2. J. J. Dossett, 34, Sperry (D)

Only two out of 24 seats unchallenged? Better than usual.

Meanwhile, of all 101 House seats:

  1. Johnny Tadlock, 54, Idabel (D)
  2. Emily Virgin, 31, Norman (D)
  3. Marcus McEntire, 44, Duncan (R)
  4. Brad Boles, 34, Marlow (R)
  5. Charles L. Ortega, 62, Altus (R)
  6. Carl Newton, 62, Cherokee (R)
  7. Mike Sander, 42, Kingfisher (R)
  8. Regina Goodwin, 55, Tulsa (D)
  9. Collin Walke, 35, Oklahoma City (D)
  10. Jason Dunnington, 40, Oklahoma City (D)
  11. Shane Stone, 25, Oklahoma City (D)
  12. Forrest Bennett, 28, Oklahoma City (D)
  13. Mickey Dollens, 30, Oklahoma City (D)
  14. Jason Lowe, 44, Oklahoma City (D)

Fourteen out of 101. It could be worse.

Perhaps the most sought-after seat is House District 82 in Edmond, being vacated by Kevin Calvey (R) due to term limits. (Calvey, resisting the idea of getting a Real Job after twelve years, is going after the soon-to-be-vacant County Commissioner District 3 seat, held for now by Ray Vaughn.) A dozen Republcans — and one lone Democrat — have filed for 82. Says that lone Democrat:

So there.

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Distance worth keeping

Remember Colonel Gadhafi? Saddam Hussein? You can be sure Bashar al-Assad does:

Assad won’t make any sort of deal with Trump or the US. He’ll go down fighting, and if things do look hopeless, you may get to see what his WMD arsenal can actually do — possibly for the first time.

Bring the troops home. Let the Muslims slaughter each other to their hearts’ content, or let the Arab states figure out what to do with it. Israel is in no real danger. They could wipe most of the military players in the field off the map in a few days of concentrated IDF strikes. And if that isn’t enough, the last time Syria and Israel went f2f for real, Israel was on the verge of occupying Damascus before the Soviets stepped in.

Anyway, no rush to judgment here, please. I don’t really know what’s going on, but I suspect none of it means well for America.

Neither did Afghanistan, if I remember correctly.

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Before the primaries

The official filing period for the mid-term elections runs from Wednesday through Friday, and candidates must fork over the appropriate filing fee (no cash, no personal checks) when filing. For the state Senate, it’s $800. (Or it’s $750, depending on which page at the State Election Board you happen to hit.)

There is an alternative:

In lieu of a filing fee, a petition supporting the candidacy signed by not fewer than two percent (2%) of the number of registered voters in the appropriate district or in the state, as applicable for the office sought, may be submitted with the Declaration of Candidacy.

And with that in mind, two young ladies showed up at my door Sunday — well, it was fricking cold on Saturday — to collect signatures for just such a petition for Danielle Ezell, seeking the District 40 Senate seat currently held by Erwin Yen. Ezell, I was told, was trying to avoid the need to find donors before the filing period. She’ll need 840 signatures (two percent of 42,019) to pull this off. (District population, as of the 2010 Census, was 71,882.)

“Have you seen what’s going on at the Capitol?”

I allowed that I had.

“What do you think?”

“A lot of incumbents are going to be sent packing,” I said.

They seemed pleased with that response. I signed their petition, and they went on their way. Later, I checked Ezell’s Web site, and for some reason it was down, though it turned out that her Web host was reporting an outage at the time. As of this writing, it’s up and running.

The candidate herself weighed in:

Seems legit.

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It’s so EZ

Sunday afternoon, I did my taxes, not so much because it was Easter, but because it was April Fools’ Day. (And why hasn’t that been moved to the 15th?) Last year, I tried out one of the FreeFile providers listed on the IRS Web site, and it went well enough for me to use them again, especially since I made about $6000 less this year; I’d been trimming my work hours a bit, but the major factor here is that I withdrew nothing from my 401(k) plan in 2017.

For the first time in 15 years or so, I had no reason to itemize deductions: property tax was about the same as 2016, mortgage interest went down several percentage points, and the standard deduction was widened a whole fifty bucks. I am, for the foreseeable future, a short-former.

As was the case last year, I got a small sum back from the Feds, and had to send a somewhat larger sum to the state. Remarkably, that small sum arrived yesterday afternoon, one day faster than last year’s. Being the petty person I am, I’d set two different direct-deposit destinations, the faster of the two being the one that actually received a deposit.

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Never swallow COLA

Peter Grant supplies a data point:

[E]ven five years ago we could eat out as a couple in a “normal” restaurant (pizzeria, meat-and-three, burger joint, the local Thai eatery, whatever) for about $20-$30 for the two of us. Today, we’re lucky to get away with less than $40 for the same meal, and it’s frequently close to (or even over) $50. Auto tires? The last tires I bought for my pickup truck cost me less than $130 each, which I thought was expensive, even though they were a premium brand and I bought them from a vendor known for low prices. Today, just four years after I bought them, you can make that $200 per tire from the same vendor. That’s an increase of about $70 per tire in four years, or an average of $17.50 per year.

The Consumer Price Index? Don’t make me laugh:

In 2016 I did a detailed two-part study of inflation, which highlighted the problem, looked at the alternate inflation figures provided by Chapwood and Shadowstats, and described the reality of our current position. If you didn’t read them then, or don’t recall them, I strongly urge you to do so. They’re brutally factual. I defy anyone to contradict the points I made there, because they’re all based on reality and on actual evidence — not government meddling. I pointed out, in the second article:

“Our incomes are being reduced in purchasing power by approximately 10% per year (the real rate of inflation, as discussed yesterday). If I earn $50,000 per year, and receive a 1% increase this year to compensate me for the official rate of inflation, this is worse than meaningless. In reality I will suffer a 9% decrease in my purchasing power. Next year, my income of $50,500 (including the previous year’s 1% increase) will be worth only $45,450 in terms of this year’s purchasing power. That decline will continue, year in, year out. I have to plan accordingly, and expect that my money will buy less and less as time passes. Unless I can somehow find extra money from somewhere, I’m going to be in serious financial difficulties in due course. (Many people already are.)”

The Chapwood index is based on the actual selling price of a basket of 500 products in Americs’s largest cities. According to Chapwood, here in OKC, prices have been going up about 9 percent a year for the last five years. The CPI, ostensibly a nationwide index, reflects the actual rate of inflation in no nation on the planet.

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The scourge of the Maryland ‘burbs

There are no municipalities of any size in Baltimore County, Maryland; it’s not obvious where one census-designated place ends and the next one begins. (Baltimore city is not located in Baltimore County.) One day I was wandering around Cockeysville, mostly to acquire familiarity with the place in a foolish attempt to impress New Jersey residents who weren’t aware of its existence, and then suddenly I wasn’t: I’d stepped over some hazy line and into Hunt Valley, which doesn’t even enjoy the luxury of being a census-designated place. Which may explain the vast number of corporate campuses in the Valley, one of the vastest being that of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest single television group operator, and a target of this week’s left-wing talking points for having had the temerity to have all its news operations reading off the same editorial. Anyone who had been paying attention knew that Sinclair tended to lean toward the right; there was, for instance, an episode of ABC’s Nightline in 2004 in which Ted Koppel read off the names of Americans killed in the Iraq war, and none of Sinclair’s seven ABC affiliates at the time carried the episode, by order of Hunt Valley.

Will Truman has some insights on how the Sinclair broadcast model could actually work in these days of consolidation:

There is a reason that there is a vacuum here for Sinclair to enter. Consolidation is occurring in good part due to an iffy financial picture. Local news organizations are expensive, and if people aren’t watching, there are a lot of cheaper things they can run in their stead. There is also a strong possibility that they will do it wrong. If they go full Fox Jr, people who aren’t in the choir will just change the channel. And the temptation to go that route will be strong. And lastly, there is a lot of competition, so for conservatives in general to succeed there, they would want Cox and others to join Sinclair the way that a lot of AM stations joined the bandwagon once that model was discovered. If they don’t, then despite the concerns Sinclair’s influence will be limited.

From what I gather, though, Sinclair stations are considered dangerous by some precisely because going full Fox Jr is not what they are doing. If they pepper their point-of-view in between reports on the cat show at the convention center and the carjackings on the southeast side of town, people will come for those stories, and also get a good dose of sermon about the Deep State. That’s how you do it, both commercially and politically. Further, although the market may be tough going forward, if they are committed to this, Sinclair will keep going while others fold. It’s not clear that several competing news organizations can thrive, but there is a strong likelihood at least one or two might with limited competition.

If nothing else, Sinclair management is known for its innovative methods of adhering to the letter of FCC rules. The company bought into the Oklahoma City market in 1996 by acquiring KOCB, then a UPN affiliate, and then signed a local marketing agreement with the then-owner of Fox affiliate KOKH-TV. (Not long after, Sinclair signed a deal with The WB to switch its UPN stations to the Frog.) Local marketing agreements had existed in radio before that, and still do — Champlin Broadcasting is the licensee of KQOB-FM, aka “Fun 96.9,” though the station is run by the local Cumulus group — but they were largely unheard of in television, which the FCC allegedly ran more strictly. (Champlin also owns KNAH-FM, which they operate themselves.) By 1999, the FCC had decided to allow TV duopolies, and Sinclair bought KOKH-TV outright.

The proposed acquisition of Tribune Media stations by Sinclair has caused some alarm, about which Truman says:

In response to this story, a lot of Sinclair’s critics keep pointing ominously to the fact that Sinclair stations reach 40% of homes, and if the FCC goes forward with some deregulation, that number could jump to 70%. Whether the deregulation is a good idea or not, that’s less scary than one might think. How many homes does CBS News have access to? Far more than 70%. Sinclair could have access to 100% and it still wouldn’t bother me. That’s the wrong thing to be thinking about. The right thing to be concerned about is how much of the various markets they control where they exist. It’s better that they be one of eight options in six cities than six of eight options in one city.

Speculation in OKC is that Sinclair will give up KOKH-TV and KOCB in favor of keeping Tribune’s KFOR-TV, a major NBC affiliate, and its independent sister KAUT-TV. We shall see.

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Useless variables

Swiped from Morgan Freeberg, Ten Things That Have Zero Effect on What the Truth Is:

  1. Whether people find out about it.
  2. Whether people agree with it.
  3. Whether a majority are willing to vote for it.
  4. How people feel about it.
  5. How people behave after someone says it out loud.
  6. Whether someone with public visibility is compelled to apologize for saying it.
  7. Whether advertisers bail in the wake of a boycott after it gets said.
  8. Whether or not it’s polite to say it around children.
  9. Whether or not it would make a good movie.
  10. How it will or will not play out, with “the [insert name here] community.”

These would seem to be obvious; but if they were, there’d be no sense in making a list of them.

Mr Freeberg put out two other lists that same day; at least they’re shorter.

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The value of a free market

There aren’t a lot of truly free markets anymore — government at various levels likes to meddle, and occasionally someone in the private sector attempts to tilt the playing field — but sometimes we get true price transparency:

When Hillary Clinton spoke at Rutgers University Thursday night, she was paid $25,000, which is $7,000 less than MTV reality star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi received from an appearance at the university in 2011, according to NJ.com.

Clinton appeared at Rutgers to discuss “politics, American democracy and her role in shaping women’s political history.” Polizzi, on the other hand, was paid $32,000 in 2011 to speak to students about studying hard, but partying harder.

One might argue that Snooki, as a resident, is of greater interest to the Garden State, and Rutgers is the state university, but it may simply be that the school is calling them the way it sees them:

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison made $30,000 in 2011, and former White House press secretary Bill Moyers received $35,000 to speak in 2015.

We will not discuss the $110,000 check the University of Oklahoma wrote to Katie Couric back in ought-six.

And this seems awfully tone-deaf of HRC:

“I was really struck by how people said that to me — go away, go away,” Clinton told the audience at Rutgers. “They never said that to any man who was not elected.”

Poor old Al Gore, already forgotten, and deservedly so.

(Via @Liberal Heretic.)

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So that’s what it looks like

Michael Z. Williamson checks his privilege:

Nature blessed me with an outrageously high IQ, perfect vision and hearing, aristocratically handsome looks, good health and fitness, and a larger than average penis. I enjoy the company of amazing women of intellect, presence and appearance. I have good friends. I have an upper class income and lifestyle now, though that was not true for most of my life.

However, that came from two sources: Genetics, and hard work. The former I have no control over, and hating me for it IS racist. Well, eugenicist. Some sort of -ist. I’m not sure the virtue-signalers even know how to categorize that one, because they’re all concerned with how pathetic a piece of shit someone can be, rather than how awesome they can be. As to the hard work, I’m in a field where no one can see my skin color, and such a claim is based on the assumption that everyone is racist. What’s at work here is confirmation bias.

Some of this, though by no means all of it, also describes me, though I may have an ever-so-slight edge in self-effacement. (“I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art.” — “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Amish Paradise”) Maybe. It’s hard to be sure about such things.

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It’s Olcay for now

Zuhal Olcay is close to being a household word in her native Turkey. In the middle 1970s, she was a highly regarded stage actress; starting in 1983, she appeared in about three dozen films; she released her first record album (Küçük Bir Öykü Bu — “A Little Story”) in 1989. The singing has gotten her in trouble, as we shall see.

Zuhal Olcay in her younger days

Zuhal Olcay's greatest hits, volume 2

Zuhal Olcay lets it shine

Now about that trouble:

Turkish singer and actress Zuhal Olcay has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for “insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” finalizing an indictment approved by the 46th Criminal Court of Peace.

A lawsuit was filed against Olcay for “insulting” Erdoğan during a concert last year, with the prosecutor seeking a four-year prison sentence for the singer.

The indictment prepared by the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office said a citizen told the police that Olcay had made an insulting hand gesture about Erdoğan during a concert in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul on Aug. 5, 2016. An investigation was subsequently launched and footage from the concert was examined, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 12, 2017.

Olcay was also accused of revising lyrics to the song “Boş Vermişim Dünyayı” (I Let Go of the World) to criticize Erdoğan, devising a hand-gesture to accompany the melody. According to the footage, the revised lyrics say: “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.”

The maximum sentence for insulting the President is, um, four years.

Nor is this the first time she’s run afoul of the Turkish authorities; six years ago she was fined TL10,620 ($2708) for “insulting a public servant.”

Said Turkish authorities have apparently sent all existing footage of “Boş Vermişim Dünyayı” down the memory hole. But we have to hear her sing, so here’s an “unplugged” version of “Eksik Bir Şey” (“One thing missing”):

Still got the pipes at sixty, I’d say.

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Quote of the week

“Omnibus, schmomnibus.” Bill Quick doesn’t think much of this spending bill:

[T]he GOP talks a great game about spending and deficits, but when the rubber meets the road, they roll right over, because they need that juicy grease with which to buy their own votes. And Congress is, at bottom, nothing more than a grease creation and processing factory, in which special interests must be greased at the expense of Americans and their future.

I don’t know why I even bother to mention this any more. The power of the purse is what keeps the entire foul machinery humming along. Same as it always was.

Which is the whole idea of an omnibus bill in the first place: every one of those prevaricating pricks gets to sneak in a pet paragraph, the quo of gratitude for a proffered quid, and no one will ever know since Evelyn Wood is long dead and nobody else can read that fast.

Proposed fix, preferably as the 28th Amendment: “Congress shall make no law which exceeds in length the original Constitution.” Four thousand five hundred forty-three words.

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You were expecting maybe consistency?

Well, forget that:

In other news, the Flat Earth Society has members all around the globe.

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Of bucks and dough

To some of us, anyway, this is startling:

Wait, what?

A candidate in the race for a South Texas state House seat has reportedly received $87,500 in campaign donations — more than half of which is made up of deer semen.

The Dallas News reported Thursday that Ana Lisa Garza, a district court judge running a primary challenge against eight-term Democrat Ryan Guillen, has received $51,000 in in-kind donations to her campaign, listed as individual donations of frozen deer semen straws.

The containers are reportedly a common way for deer breeders in the state to donate to political campaigns. Garza’s campaign has valued the straws at $1,000 each.

Well, maybe they weren’t precisely “in-kind”:

Buck Wood, a campaign finance and ethics attorney, told the Dallas News that the donations technically were not “in-kind” since the money, not the semen, was given to the campaign, but that it does not raise any ethical or legal concerns.

Anything you say, um, Buck.

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Instead of some dumb old wall

Jack Baruth offers an immigration proposal of sorts:

We start by closing the border and deporting everybody. I mean everybody, whether they are tatted-up gangsters or Nobel Prize winners. No sanctuary cities, no exceptions. And we let the country settle for five years.

At the end of that five year “pause” we announce a system by which everybody in the world can apply to be an American. No favoritism given to anyone. You sign up online and you get a number. Then we hold a computerized drawing and come up with, let’s say, three million numbers. Each one of the “winners” gets a free ticket to the United States. They are citizens the minute they hit the ground.

We do that every year. Bring in three million, five million, something like that. Put a process in place for chain migration/family reunification/whatever. But the key thing is that it’s 100% random, meaning 100% fair. There’s no under-the-table work. Everybody has a social security number, everybody pays taxes. Everybody shares in the American dream the same way.

When basic income comes, we stop the music and turn off the program.

Note that it’s “when,” not “if,” basic income comes; he thinks it’s inevitable at some point, and I can think of no counterargument.

Anyway:

It’s simple, and it would work. I don’t think most people would accept it.

Certainly not until we get rid of our two idiot political parties. Fortunately, both of them are observably suicidal.

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No great loss

McG reviewed the list of companies who bought the silence of the mob by cutting their tenuous financial ties to the National Rifle Association, and found it mostly, but not entirely, meh:

Other companies on the list include a discount pharmaceutics chain that I’ve never heard of, a home security company whose decision on this matter would leave me feeling insecure about their services, a “hearing technologies” business that seems not to have considered that gun enthusiasts ought to be a prime market for what they’re selling, a car buying service that, not being Carmax, has no relevance to me … and Symantec.

Whenever I encounter a Symantec product on a computer, I tear it out by the roots. If it were malware in its own right, I cannot conceive of how it would affect a computer differently. This is one case of a parting of ways with the NRA that I can only applaud.

Symantec, at least during the early 1990s — the company dates to 1982 — was perhaps best known for its acquisition of the Norton Utilities; it wasn’t long afterward that we learned they’d replaced Peter Norton with Ed.

The Ed Norton Utilities, starring Art Carney

I note for my own records that many of the affiliate discounts no longer available through NRA can be had through the American Automobile Association, and at least one also through the American Association for Nude Recreation.

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What am I, chopped libertarian?

If Severian had a choice in the matter — but never mind, let him tell it:

As Libertarianism attracts mainly college kids, who don’t know what they don’t know, I present the following as a public service:

This “non-aggression principle” you keep going on about … that’s been covered. As always, a Dead White Male got there first.

Thomas Hobbes said the first Law of Nature — the very first one, and please note the capitals — is: “seek peace.” Problem is, no individual man is powerful enough to guarantee peace for himself against all the other people he’s forced to interact with. So we form covenants — what comes to be known as the famous “social contract” — in order to secure peace for ourselves and our posterity. Hobbes spends the rest of a fairly long book exploring the consequences of this social contract.

That book is Leviathan, and it ends with the most absolute monarch that ever could be. Hobbes’s reasoning is irrefutable if you grant his premises. It’s worth reading. Our forefathers thought so, at least, since all that “by the people, for the people” stuff — Locke, Montesquieu, the whole schmear — is an attempt to wrestle with Hobbes’s premises without arriving at his conclusion. They used to teach this stuff in Humanities 101, I swear.

Yeah, but that was before navel-gazing became the Prime Directive. Hobbes saw that coming too:

“For such is the nature of man, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men’s at a distance.”

The contemporary social-media equivalent is the liking, even the retweeting, of one’s own posts.

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A mayor to be named later

“It’s been pretty steady,” said an official at the precinct when I arrived to cast my ballot for Mayor of Oklahoma City. The place was empty at the time, so it must have been steadily slow. Ballot #169 went into the box at almost precisely 5 pm. I’ve seen worse, but not much worse.

(For those keeping score: we use paper ballots, optically scanned. I don’t think anyone in this town would prefer that fancy computerized stuff.)

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You call this conservative?

“Right,” if you include the political sense of the word, has two meanings. Leaders, and I use the term loosely, on the political right, recognize only the one:

The right simply instinctively says and does the binary, polar opposite of the left. The right does not operate from principle or position but from its own mob’s instincts and from dumb cultural inertia. The right has no idea what conservatism is and by now actually actively rejects much of the founding structural architecture, preferring a list of statism a mile long.

May we see that list?

Federal “social security” and MediCare/Aid medicine plus prescription drug plans; the nearly $1T welfare state as some permanent, arbitrary, political, “safety net” percentage of all expenditures; central schooling, the two-income household, and the resultant progressive national morality as a component of the former; a NASA fetish — which is socialism for scientists; personal income tax as “skin in the game”; untaxed corporatism and the central corporate oligarchy that studies show has nullified the individual’s voice in Congress in favor of laws actually written by its lobbyists; overt congressional graft and campaign recklessness — calling it “free speech”; central banking and the casino bank — the “investment bank” is its sanctified, pro-“capitalism” title; the holy primacy of the stock market, which really is stock buybacks and incredible Fed subsidies, along with algo trading, HTFs, and elite market access; the utter, cross-linked abyss of financial derivatives built thereon; progressive monetary policy, fractional reserve — because “there’s not enough money” — fiat reserve currency, and monetizing everything; the petro-dollar; endless foreign entanglements; militarism and military expansionism; the industrial war complex; military and war culture fetishism; veterans culture and its socialized expenses; militarized police, the surveillance state and sacrificing 4A for “safety”; and instinctively identifying about half of tax-funded public servants as HEE-roes because they wear a uniform.

And with the Right now occupying the Left’s territory, where is the Left going?

Exactly.

Walter Duranty! thou shouldst be living at this hour.

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Upright citizen

News Item: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi staged a record-breaking, eight-hour speech Wednesday in hopes of pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on protecting “Dreamer” immigrants — and to demonstrate to increasingly angry progressives and Democratic activists that she has done all she could.

When I heard about this, the first thing that crossed my mind — well, besides “Since when does the House have a filibuster?” — was “Does Nancy Pelosi even own a pair of flats?” I mean, she’s not going out there in really high heels at the age of 77, but I can’t imagine her in Birks either.

Found on photographer Erin Schaff’s Instagram, taken for The New York Times, a shot of the Minority Leader’s shoes:

The shoes Nancy Pelosi wore to give her 8-hour Dreamers speech

Four inches, right? I mean, seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in flats.

(Via Heather Barmore.)

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Is this a trend?

Received so far, stuck to the front door: two candidate pitches, presumably left by the candidates themselves or their surrogates. They’re for different offices: one for Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1, one for Senate Distict 40, and they’re both four inches by nine inches. Both candidates are fairly young women: the older of the two might be 45, maybe. Both have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and Web sites. What they don’t have, apparently, is party affiliation, which is kept sprucely out of sight in all these places.

I’m assuming they’re Democrats, for two reasons:

  1. The Republican majority is so large at the moment that it’s practically the default, suggesting that they’d be fine if someone thought they were Republicans;
  2. After a decade in a half in this precinct, I have learned that GOP candidates seldom come calling, while Democrats always do.

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Effacing the Prince

Severian’s notes on stability, or the absence thereof:

The Founding Fathers knew their Machiavelli. By making the “nobles” nothing more than members of “the people” temporarily elevated to power, they hoped to prevent the kind of political instability that has always led to anarchy, then tyranny.

Here again, this works in a rough frontier society, with power jealously guarded at the lowest practical level by men who have skin in the game. Once the government centralizes past a certain point, however, most of its functions aren’t handled by elected officials, but by career bureaucrats (as Machiavelli himself was). You can stave off the inevitable consequences of this for a little while with good old fashioned machine politics, where most civil service jobs are handed out as rewards for party loyalty and thus turn over every election cycle, but the Pendleton Act squashed that. The result is all around you: Rule by unelected, unaccountable career bureaucrats.

Which leads to a crisis of legitimacy. As Hobbes said back in Part I, “the power of the mighty hath no other foundation, but in the opinion and belief of the people.” Princes have the trappings of aristocracy to firm up the people’s belief; elected officials have the “dignity of office.” Career bureaucrats have neither. Neither ancient ritual nor political philosophy will ever convince the majority of people to obey them.

Which is how allegedly peaceful organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency wound up with their very own SWAT Teams.

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Pocket now better lined

Anyone who listened to the yammering — “debate” just doesn’t describe it — over the Trump administration’s insistence on a tax cut of some sort would be eminently justified in asking “Yeah? How much?”

I clearly don’t know how you did, but here’s how I came out. Despite my allegedly lofty position on the org chart, I am paid on an hourly basis. Over the past two years, I’ve cut those hours back somewhat, from 94 or so every other week to more like 84. The first order of business, therefore, was to find a pay period pre-Trump that, in terms of hours and bennies, matches my first post-Trump check. Only had to go back to October ’17. The difference in take-home: $32.05. Over a year’s time, this comes to $833. One could legitimately say that this is not a huge sum. On t’other hand, it’s more than my house payment. (Keep in mind that I have yet to see a proper Form 1040 or its instructions.)

The (at one time) Loyal Opposition has pointed out that these cuts, as enacted, will expire in ten years. Then again, I can reasonably expect to expire in ten years, if not sooner.

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We’ll be Dahmed

District 33 Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) seeks to replace Jim Bridenstine, nominated by President Trump to be the next administrator of NASA, as 1st District Congressman. The most likely result, I’m thinking, is that rather a lot of Dahm’s proposed legislation will be dug out of the archives, including the Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act, which, if nothing else, got him an invitation to appear on Morgan’s CNN TV series, canceled shortly thereafter, presumably for non-Dahm-related reasons.

Then there’s this year’s SB 1457, which reads as follows:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:

SECTION 1. AMENDATORY 29 O.S. 2011, Section 7-204, is amended to read as follows:

Section 7-204. All wildlife found in this state is the property of the state Almighty God. The people of the State of Oklahoma place the authority to manage all wildlife pursuant to the Oklahoma
Legislature.

SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2018.

Almighty God has not yet commented on this measure, but if I were Nathan Dahm, I might want to stay away from thunderstorms, especially if they’re packing lots of lightning.

(Via Bridget Trowbridge.)

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Lest we miss one single voter

The state came up with a decent idea a few years back: tag agents would ask each license customer “Are you registered to vote?” Upon receipt of a negative response, they would then offer to register the customer on the spot.

That deal wasn’t quite good enough for Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC), who hopes to turn it into a negative-option scheme: we will register you unless you tell us not to.

Pertinent passage:

F. The Secretary of the State Election Board shall develop a system by which the Department of Public Safety and motor license agents shall provide to the Secretary electronic records containing the legal name, age, residence, citizenship information and the electronic signature of each person who is a qualified elector or will be a qualified elector within the next two (2) years.

G. Upon receiving the electronic record for and electronic signature of a qualified elector or a person who will become a qualified elector within the next two (2) years, the Secretary shall provide the information to the county election board of the county in which the person may be registered or preregistered as a qualified elector. The Secretary or county election board shall notify each person of the process to:

    1. Decline being registered as a qualified elector; or

    2. Adopt a political party affiliation.

H. If a person notified under subsection G of this section does not decline to be registered as an elector within twenty-one (21) calendar days after the Secretary of State or county clerk issues the notification, the person’s electronic record and electronic signature submitted under subsection F of this section shall constitute a completed registration card for the person for purposes of this section. The person shall be registered to vote if the county election board determines that the person is a qualified elector and the person is not already registered to vote.

I. A county election board shall not send a ballot to, or add to an elector registration list, a person who meets eligibility requirements until at least twenty-one (21) calendar days after the Secretary or county election board provided notification to the person as described in subsection G of this section.

I’m not so sure I like this plan. Negative-option schemes bring back memories of Columbia House and remembering (or, more often, not remembering) to decline the current month’s selection.

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The man who would be Governor

BatesLine heard Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett on the radio in Tulsa, to the extent that one can actually hear an empty suit:

Jamison Faught at Muskogee Politico has posted about the pro-Cornett super-PAC, whose major donor was Sue Ann Arnall, oilman Harold Hamm’s ex-wife. Arnall was a major donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has been a generous contributor to other Democrats. Campbell asked Cornett to explain why a Clinton backer would be such an enthusiastic advocate for him; Cornett gave a rambling non-answer.

Asked about what he specifically did as mayor of Oklahoma City, Cornett described himself as a “chief spokesperson,” for Oklahoma City, “traveling the world” to talk about the city. Cornett cited no policies or initiatives for which he was responsible. He sounded like a Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson, which is probably the job he should be seeking.

One could argue — I certainly would — that this is what OKC actually wanted from him during his four terms as Mayor. (No one else has served more than three.) Then again, OKC is relatively prosperous these days, and the level of scandal at City Hall is fairly low; no one, excepting possibly Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, is sounding much of an alarm. By comparison, state government, by almost anyone’s reckoning, is buried in deep doo-doo, and Cornett’s shovel is mostly ceremonial.

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The view from 87

House District 87, where I’ve lived since 2003, has been getting bluer all the time; after a long line of Republicans, the district elected Democrat Collin Walke in 2016.

Walke didn’t raise a great deal of fuss during last year’s session. This year he has bigger plans:

State Rep. Collin Walke was among the first representatives out of the gate with new legislation. This session he will push to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage to $11 per hour. The current state minimum wage is tied to the federal wage of $7.25.

Pretty much de rigueur for Democrats nationally. But this other measure is distinctly different:

Walke, D-Oklahoma City, also wants to alter the process for introducing bills. House Bill 2535 would require legislators to disclose the source for legislative language, whether it be a state official, agency or organization. Lawmakers commonly use language borrowed from other state statutes or build their own proposals from model legislation endorsed by national policy groups.

Would this law also reveal non-governmental sources? If Larry Nichols of Devon Energy dictated a bill to a House staffer, would we know?

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Can you dig them?

Holes are in the news these days for some inscrutable reason:

How about the countries maligned by Trump — El Salvador, Haiti, and countries in Africa? In El Salvador, La Prensa Gráfica renders it as agujeros de mierda, “holes of shit” (or “shit holes”), but in the headline made it agujeros de mier.., which is like putting shi…holes. I’m sure their consideration for the delicate eyes of their readers was appreciated; they could all pretend he said Wednesday holes (agujeros de miércoles) and imagine the accent on the e. (There’s really no other Spanish word that mier… could stand for.)

In Haiti, of course, the description would be in French:

In Haiti, if you look in Le Nouvelliste, you will find it rendered as trou de merde, which is literal. But the French word trou is a more all-purpose word than Spanish agujero; it can also mean “pit”, “grave”, “mouth”, and — yes — “insignificant town”. (As it happens, though, trou de merde can be found in French literature — all the way back in Rabelais — meaning “asshole”.)

Curiously, the niftiest variation on this theme comes from a non-maligned country:

[N]o one can quite top the Croatians for this. It’s not that their best word translates exactly to shithole or Bumfuck nowhere. It almost does it better (although Google Translate does render it as “shithole”). It’s vukojebina, and it means “the place wolves fuck” — or, if we were to make a real equivalent English place name, something like Wolffuckington or Wolf-fuck-ville. (Birds may not lay eggs there and dogs may not shit there, but the wolves? They get busy.)

Which should insure a steady supply of wolves for the next millennium or so. And if nothing else, this is a dandy illustration of how Donald Trump, whether he wants to be or not, is a source of inspiration to us all.

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