Archive for Political Science Fiction

Quote of the week

Severian, on a day when he “got nothin'”:

Fox News informs me that ‘Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying.” Heh. Of all the lies we’re required to believe these days, perhaps the most galling is that Democrats are ever held accountable for anything. One of three things is going to happen to Greg Craig: 1) nothing, or 2) so much nothing that he’ll immediately be hired as an “expert analyst” by CNN. The only other possibility, 3), is that he already let something slip that Herself might consider damaging, in which case he’ll mysteriously commit suicide by shooting himself six times in the head, then jumping off a gorge for good measure.

I’m betting on 2), though, because the banana republicification of America is substantially complete. Coonman is still Virginia’s governor, Fairfax is still the Lt. Gov., Chiquita Khrushchev is still in Congress (even though it’s clearly in the Party’s best interests to kangaroo-court her ass into outer darkness asap), and so on.

Heh. “Chiquita Khrushchev.” This is even funnier than the cattle of Devin Nunes.

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Fault where fault is due

The only person I’ve ever blocked on Y!A is a tedious little crybaby who every two or three days horks up something like this:

Why do people give in easy and allow the powers that be to win?

for instance like all the recent changes that have happened on youtube, which are bad, which i hate … big corporate powers have taken over youtube and turned it into a politically correct corporate site.

yet, people are just accepting it and hiding away, they are not fighting back hard against the corporate tech companies but hiding away like rabbits … too many people online just going with the flow instead of kicking up an outrage like they should.

this, the way people are acting online is really angering me … why won’t people do something to save sites like youtube?

As is often the case with tedious little crybabies, he’s fixed the blame somewhere other than where it ought to be:

At first, I got angry that Youtube is imposing viewpoint discrimination on its users — but then I remembered, Youtube’s parent corporation, Google, does business all over the world, and has to try to satisfy the delicate sensibilities of everyone from effete European Union bureaucrats to vicious Iranian theocrats.

And it’s occurred to me that much of the free-wheeling dynamism of the internet we used to know and love has vanished precisely because of this globalization of authority. Unfortunately it has meant a trend toward forcing content generators in the world’s freest societies to be accountable to repressive police states despite never having come under their jurisdiction, nor ever planning to.

I suspect that our TLC here isn’t at all concerned with the suppression of ideas: what’s got his panties wadded is the possibility that he might have to start paying for music and movies. YouTube’s handling of copyright matters is fumbling at best, but its squashing of discussion is horribly efficient. Google is fine with this, of course; it’s consistent with their current corporate motto, “Don’t be even-handed.”

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Forward to December

So saith Severian:

Ace of Spades’ morning report links to a piece on Taylor Swift’s “political awakening.” Y’all know how much I hate tooting my own horn, but I covered this way back when. Ok, ok, so I mostly just linked that for the picture — never let it be said that I don’t give the people what they want — but seriously, how hard is this to grasp? Swift is now 30, which, since pop tarts age in dog years, means she’s got two generations of younger-hotter-tighter competition coming up behind her. She’s going to hit the wall at Mach 3 no matter what, so since she’s nothing if not a very savvy operator, she’s getting out in front of her inevitable transformation into a “serious artist” (read: BMI above 15). Give it another two years, and she’ll be openly embracing those bisexuality rumors, and by the time she’s 40 she’ll be touring with the Indigo Girls. Sic transit gloria mundi. At least she can keep herself in the spotlight a bit longer by being an obnoxious Leftist (BIRM, I know).

And technically, she’s not 30 until the 13th of December, but that seems like an awfully small nit to pick.

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Poles swapped

The public square is now more of a trapezoid, and the edges are barely edgy anymore:

In 1985, a bookstore refusing to sell a book was no big deal, because there were plenty of bookstores that would sell it. The FCC regulated television and radio, but only for smut. The notion of corporations controlling the public space and un-personing dissidents was beyond fantasy in 1985.

Just think about that for a second. The people in charge will go to the mat to defend pornography freely available on-line, but scream bloody murder if Facebook lets someone talk about biology on their platform. Scientists are losing their careers, while pornographers are celebrated. It’s close to a 180 degree change from thirty years ago. In 1985, retailers were still keeping smut in the back room, away from the general public. Video rental places had a secret room for porn. Today, porn is so ubiquitous no one notices.

That’s the truly bizarre thing about this time, relative to not so long ago. The man in 1985 worried about the IRS and maybe the FBI abusing their power. The only worry about corporations abusing their power was the environmental stuff or maybe screwing their employees in some way. Today, you have much more to fear from the banks and tech giants than the government. If the state becomes aware of you, so what? If Google suddenly takes an interest in you, it might be time to go into hiding.

What makes this age even stranger is that it just sort of happened. In fact, it happened so quickly, most people have yet to upgrade their thinking. Conservatives think they are fighting for liberty and opportunity by defending global corporations. Libertarians are literally writing love letters to global business. Progressives continue to think of themselves as the defenders of the middle-class, despite making war on it. Antifa, an anarchist operation, is entirely funded by billionaires and corporate donors.

I look upon this as further corroboration of the notion that we’re all living in a giant simulation, and that up to this point, the actual players, however many dimensions away, have managed to persuade us that they don’t really exist.

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I’ll just get a Uber

Sure you will:

What about avoiding or getting away from a disaster? If a major hurricane were to threaten your neighborhood, or flooding, or an earthquake or volcanic eruption or other natural disaster, how will you get away from the danger zone without transport under your control? What’s that? You’ll trust City Hall to take care of you? That’s a good one! Tell that to the New Orleans residents who waited to be evacuated before Hurricane Katrina … in vain. In a disaster, Big Brother will do what’s easiest for Big Brother — and that is to control your movements, and force you to stay where you are, or go to where he can control your movements and your destiny. Independence is the last thing on Big Brother’s mind. If he finds it more convenient to restrict or even eliminate voluntary travel at any time, he can and will do so — whether you like it or not. You’ll be treated as a subject, rather than a citizen.

Now imagine this: storm-surge pricing.

Where it’s going to get ugly, though, is when they start calibrating the optics: so far as the politicians are concerned, if 50 survive and 950 perish, those fifty who were able to save themselves will get their Pariah Badge, and will be denounced for not being poor and helpless. It will be at that exact point when you can pronounce the end of the Republic.

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Ending up somewhere

Early 1980s. We’re carpooling to downtown for the night shift, and the freezing white stuff on the road made traction mostly theoretical. On the far side of a shortish bridge, I began to slide. In a second or two, I was facing away from the destination. Not much later, I’d turned that 180 into a 360. But there was more to come, and finally I ground to a halt after 540 degrees of spin.

My passenger clapped. “Do that again!”

How about “no”? Does “no” work for you? These days, nobody ever embraces “no”:

Combine primitive fetish-psychology with the learned helplessness of intersectional prosperity, and you get the fascinating, terrifying spectacle of people with all the time, money, and power in the world doing stuff that wouldn’t make sense to a child 100 years ago. Just as the African who doesn’t crash his car taking a turn at 70 miles an hour figures he’d better take the next turn at 80 just to be safe, morons like Jussie Smollett, Hillary Clinton, Coonman the Babykiller, Incitatus Ocasio-Cortez, and all the rest figure that, since they didn’t face any consequences from their last caper, they’d better double the ante for the next one.

One of the few Africans I know wouldn’t drive like that; perhaps she’s been here too long.

For instance, Smollett wasn’t setting up some White guys to take the rap. It wasn’t a frame up. It’s so terrifyingly stupid that you almost can’t get your head around it, but the truth is, he never bothered thinking that far ahead. He really, truly seems to have assumed that the Chicago PD would, you know, kinda … just … give up once they couldn’t find the mythical MAGA guys. It never occurred to him that every Media outlet on God’s green earth would be hounding CPD 24/7, 365, for not bringing the perpetrators of an outrageous hate crime to justice.

So, too, with Hillary Clinton. It’s not that she thinks she’s invincible. She knows she’s not, because she keeps getting caught. But since she doesn’t face any consequences for getting caught, she figures, fetish-style, that the only way to appease the gods is to pull an even bigger, dumber caper. It’s the only explanation, just like it’s the only explanation for Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test — this woman is 100% metaphysically certain that she’s not an Indian. She cannot possibly have believed it, not for one single second. Moreover, she knows she’s been running her Fauxcahontas scam since at least the mid-1980s, and that it’s a matter of public record — all someone has to do is wander down to the courthouse and pull the paper.

The Greener New Deal, available online before you know it, will include a Federally-guaranteed mortgage on the Moon and a redefinition of “infanticide” to exclude anyone under the age of 36 months. HRC, from someplace that isn’t a jail cell, will endorse it gladly. Enthusiastically, even.

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With whom do I side?

There are things about which Roger and I agree, and some other things about which we don’t. This is to be expected. What I wouldn’t have expected is the similarity between my results on this political quiz and his:

Results to Who Do I Side With? political quiz

The most notable difference, apparently, is in strength of support: Roger’s top nine all finished at 80 percent or above, whereas none of mine broke 60 percent. In the absence of another explanation, I’m just going to assume that he cares about his issues more than I do about mine.

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Upstate, downstate, all around the state

I rate this [warning: autostart video] just slightly less likely than granting statehood to Guam:

New York state Sen. Daphne Jordan is dividing the Empire State into two sides — literally.

Jordan introduced a bill last week that would study the feasibility of breaking New York into two separate states: Upstate and Downstate. The two regions have long been at odds with each other on many things — politically, economically and even football teams (Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets or Giants).

The study would be conducted by a 15-person working group led by the state comptroller, currently Thomas DiNapoli, and it would look into “the process and ramifications of separating upstate and downstate New York into two separate states.”

Jordan, a Republican, represents Senate District 43, in the southern section of “North New York.”

(Via Fark.)

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Tell it like it never was

“The course our city runs is the same towards men and money.
She has true and worthy sons.
She has fine new gold and ancient silver,
Coins untouched with alloys, gold or silver,
Each well minted, tested each and ringing clear.
Yet we never use them!
Others pass from hand to hand,
Sorry brass just struck last week and branded with a wretched brand.
So with men we know for upright, blameless lives and noble names.
These we spurn for men of brass.”

It was true in the days of Aristophanes, and it’s true today: you don’t waste the good stuff if you can do nearly as well with the wretched crap. This explains the contemporary demand, and demand it is, for Fake News:

The fire hose of fake news, conspiracy tales, and selective reporting is also an economical way of solving the propaganda issue. Instead of spending time and money coming up with credible narratives and high production values, the ideological state can simply reduce the verity of all social information to zero. If everyone comes to believe everything they hear is false, the critics of the regime have no way to convince the public.

Think of it this way. Imagine JFK was actually assassinated by a secret cabal within the government. In order to avoid detection they could find a sucker to set up for the crime, but there’s the risk someone could notice defects in the narrative. What if the sap they selected has an alibi or some physical evidence contradicts the story? The other choice is to try and erase all evidence pointing to the conspiracy, but this is hard to do. There’s always a few bread crumbs that point investigators in the right direction.

A third option is to create and promote a wide range of conspiracy theories that are plausible, but lack proof. This not only muddies the waters, it attracts the sorts of people who seek attention. Before long all of the Mike Cernovich types are promoting their favorite theory of the crime. Not only does this obscure the facts of the crime, it makes the real theory seem just as nutty as the fake conspiracies. The very act of trying to identify who killed Kennedy disqualifies the person doing it.

And this works at all levels, from the not quite sublime (“Trump is a Russian asset!”) to the utterly ridiculous (“Michelle Obama is a man!”) The end result is always the same: Who cares? And life goes on the way it does.

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Stat!

In 1976, Congress passed something dubbed the National Emergencies Act, granting extra-Constitutional powers to the President in times of, um, emergency. The story since then:

31 of the 59 national emergencies declared since the act’s passage are still in effect. The other 28 were declared taken care of by the president himself — not one was revoked by an act of Congress. It’s entirely possible that this particular emergency should be revoked, based on any number of reasons that sound good to me. But the idea that the current congressional leadership has suddenly developed an appetite for its congressional duty of crafting, debating and passing legislation for which senators and representatives may be held accountable by their constituents is, as the column notes, ridiculous.

This isn’t a new problem, as James Q. Wilson’s 1987 article from The Public Interest describes. Even without a Lexis-Nexis search, I can bet I’d find exactly zero complaints from these new stalwart defenders of congressional prerogatives about the 13 emergency declarations during then-President Obama’s two terms. There are days when I wonder which is worse — that these twerps expect people to believe what they say or that they don’t.

It doesn’t matter if you believe, so long as you comply. Besides, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

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The inversion climate

Donald Trump takes your alleged values, and spins them around 180 degrees:

Let’s say some Worcestershire sauce gets into the embalming fluid down at the local morgue and we’ve suddenly got a zombie outbreak on our hands. Supposedly the Army has a plan for this, but the psychological impact alone would, I think, render this situation exceptional by Carl Schmitt’s standards. Who decides then? President Trump?

We’ve already got LGTBQ+ groups yelling that it’s homophobic to want to stop the Iranian mullahs from throwing gays off skyscrapers, because Donald Trump says that throwing people off skyscrapers because of their sexuality is bad. The “give peace a chance” crowd wants to nuke Damascus, because Trump wants to get our troops out of Syria. You know as well as I do that if Donald Trump cured cancer, the entire American politico-cultural establishment would call it “lymphoma genocide” and give themselves Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on all the poor oncologists Trump has put out of work.

Do you really want to stake your family’s lives on the notion that all levels of government will obey the President’s orders?

Not a chance. They’ll happily let you die if it means Trump somehow loses. What they won’t do, of course, is sacrifice their own lives.

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More dumb Klux

This guy wields a mighty lynch pen:

The editor and publisher of a local paper in Alabama is under fire for penning an editorial calling for mass lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

The opinion piece ran in his print-only newspaper, the Democrat-Reporter, last Thursday, Goodloe Sutton confirmed on Tuesday.

He said Democrats were going to raise taxes and that the KKK should hang them and raid Washington DC.

Alabama lawmakers have called for Sutton to resign.

Since Sutton owns the paper, resigning would be a bit more problematic than it would be for politicians who make similarly dumb statements.

And it’s not like he’s always been the villain:

The newspaper won national acclaim in the 1990s for its investigation of [Marengo] county sheriff Roger Davis for political corruption, despite his widespread popularity and death threats to editor Goodloe Sutton and his family. Davis and two deputies from the office were sentenced for misuse of public funds and other crimes, including intimidation tactics used against the Suttons.

Still, calling for the Klan to save the day is an amazingly tone-deaf and, yes, dumb idea, even if the Democrats are going to raise taxes, which they most certainly are.

Maybe this is just a reflection of growing up in Linden, Alabama, which before 1818 was known as Screamersville.

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Up where you belong

Politicians are horrible, says Roberta X, but there’s a reason for their existence:

I can think of no group of persons who would more deserve to be saddled with the dull, boring, messy and imperfect process of running government. I don’t much trust them to do it well, or to stay inside the limits they are supposed to observe — but better them than some finer group of men and women, who would be taken away from doing useful and productive work in other fields of endeavor.

Think of a Congressbeing of whom you disapprove — would you want that person driving an 18-wheeler on the same highways you take? Designing a skyscraper or passenger aircraft? Doing brain surgery?

Hey, Alexandria Whatzername-Hyphenate was a pretty decent barista, or so I’ve heard.

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Stars from 45

And this is why you got no mail today:

Monday marks “Presidents Day,” which we in modern times have adjusted to be the date of many silly sales and honoring all of the men who have held the office whether they merit it or not. Of course, no one who hasn’t had to try to do the job really knows what it’s like. But if you try to tell me that one-monther William Henry Harrison, acme of incompetence James Buchanan or the vile Woodrow Wilson deserve the same recognition as the effective manager Eisenhower, let alone the greatness of Lincoln or Washington, I will say you’ve probably taken United States history sometime in the last 20 years.

I remember when American history books could be filed under “Nonfiction.” Hasn’t been the case in, oh, twenty years or so.

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A shot to the exhaust port

It’s probably not a good idea to assume that Donald Trump will save the world:

Trump is old enough and patriotic enough that he still strongly, strongly believes in the American system of government. He believes not that it has been intentionally destroyed and rebuilt as a grotesque perversion of its former self, but that it has merely gone astray and can still be repaired. Worse yet, he believes that most of the elected officials in charge of the monstrosity share his ambition to put it back on the right track, needing only proper leadership to help steer things out of the ditch and back on the highway again.

None of that is true. The people he’s relying on to either be persuaded or respond positively to the will of the people they misrule are the ones who wrecked things in the first place — and, as I said, they did it on purpose. Even his own damned party is actively working to thwart his attempt to drain the Swamp; it couldn’t be more obvious by now that the Vichy GOPers don’t want the damned thing drained, despite years of promising to do exactly that. They’re all good with the dysfunctional and nonviable status quo, thanks, and are quite willing to fight vigorously to sustain it.

Yep. The G in GOP now stands for “Generals,” as in the Washington Generals, as in the designated loser to the Globetrotters. How often do the Generals actually win? Maybe three times out of every seventeen thousand.

Donald Trump isn’t exactly a quick study. But we really can’t wait for him to catch on.

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Doesn’t love a wall

There was a time when walls were almost sacred:

In any case, everyone in this our Great Republic is talking about walls these days. I am not kidding; walls are all the rage now, the way Pet Rocks and gluten-free peanut butter waffles used to be. You can hardly turn on the television anymore without hearing some hoary old pol screeching that walls are ineffective, unpopular, and worst of all, immoral. This last is somewhat odd, or at least I think so; I went to parochial school for eight years and no one, not one priest, not one Christian Brother, not one nun ever said anything about walls being immoral. How could they? Monsignor O’Malley could hardly denounce a wall as being the equivalent of Communism or masturbation as threats to a good Catholic boy’s soul when the nuns charged with teaching us how to be good Catholics lived in a convent with a fifteen-foot wall topped with broken glass around it. The only walls that were even vaguely immoral, so far as I can remember, were the Berlin Wall (built by godless Red Communists, as if there were any other kind) and the walls around the city of Jericho, which fell because the people inside were ungodly (but not godless) heathens who did disgusting things with their neighbors and their neighbors’ cocker spaniels, things the nuns could not discuss in religion class, but that were definitely evil in the sight of the Lord, things so evil that the Canaanites deserved to have Robert Moses knock down their walls and push a six-lane freeway right through the heart of Jericho’s business district in order to connect Jericho to the Staten Island Expressway. In short, they had it coming. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

There were plenty of Catholic boys who were closer to “good” than I was. On the other hand, no one had to lecture me on Not Messing With Nuns; I knew better than that, if not from Day One, certainly by Day Twelve.

Since it appears that no amount of biblical exegesis will support the contention that walls are by definition malum in se, the amateur theologian must needs look to the motives of the people saying such a thing. Here we come across an interesting point: the most visible person making this contention is the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. The Speaker is, by her own admission, a devout Roman Catholic. However, the Speaker is also a well-known advocate of abortion rights, which puts her in conflict with the teaching of the very church whose doctrine she professes to believe. Since there seems to be no way to reconcile these two belief systems logically, the amateur theologian must therefore come to the conclusion that logic is not involved, that the only way the Speaker can reconcile the inherent contradiction between one set of beliefs and the other is to conclude that she is one of those politicians who would gut her own mother with a dull fish knife to get re-elected and whose political position and power is more important to her than any church dogma or political belief. In that context, then, we can understand her statement that walls are immoral. That which diminishes or threatens to diminish her political position is immoral, that which enhances her political power is moral; it’s not exactly Kant’s categorical imperative, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it works for her and what more can you ask of a philosophical system?

Note to self: Take the funds from the account that just matured, and buy stock in manufacturers of fish knives.

I have a folder on the home box named “walls”; it contains some three hundred images, of invisible girls, of girls with nice legs, and even of invisible girls with nice legs. I don’t see anything immoral about that either.

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Gallop poll

Okay, not everyone is fawning over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

I could say a million things about this woman, starting with “I knew this day would come.” The day, that is, when the smugly ignorant, gravity-distortingly solipsistic Millennials would finally take the reins. AOC is every stupid, lazy, narcissistic college girl I’ve ever met, which is to say, every single American girl I’ve met under the age of 50. And remember, I have met a LOT of college girls. In many cases, I met them when they were in college, and ran into them again years or decades later. They were exactly the same. The real world just bounces off them. That bitch armor’s too strong for blasters.

I could say all that (for about the zillionth time), but what’s the point? By now you either believe me or you don’t, that she’s the Left’s Donald Trump — a clown show that no one could possibly take seriously, a goofy vanity candidate that doesn’t have a chance in hell … until she’s sitting in the White House. Instead, I’ll just lament our lack of Classical education. She’s a goof with donkey chompers whose presence in the legislative chamber is an insult to the very concept of responsible government … and nobody has busted out an Incitatus allusion? It even rolls off the tongue: Incitatus Ocasio-Cortez. For shame.

Then again, “IOC” suggests the International Olympic Committee, an organization so venal, so corrupt, so unrepentant about its corrupt venality, that it makes Congress look like the Salvation Army.

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Warded off

Half of the eight seats for City Council were up for grabs today, and since the Ward 2 incumbent chose not to run again, there were two questions yet unresolved. (The other one: how does a city of 650,000 get by with only eight wards?)

The polling place, as usual for elections at this level, had about three poll-watchers per voter. At 5:03 pm I cast ballot number 195 in precinct number, um, 195. This is perhaps disappointing when you consider that at least 1251 voters — the number voting in the gubernatorial race — turned out for the 2018 fall extravaganza.

But so be it. Good luck to the winner, whoever that might be.

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Quote of the week

It’s all Caesarism, says Severian:

The mandarins have to maintain at least a sham of “democracy” to keep the plebs from burning things. They’re pretty bad at it now, but that’s because they’re stupid, out-of-touch, and old. Kids these days are better at working the Google machine than they are, so embarrassments like this, or supposed paragon-of-principled-conservatism Bill Kristol donating to Coonman the Babykiller over Gillespie (he of the $13 million in “single-issue” money), keep coming out. Eventually it will dawn on the mandarins that they have to be a bit smarter about covering their tracks, airbrushing away old photos and the like. Zuckerberg has already gotten a good start; they just have to capitalize.

In fact, Caesarism might well be the best case scenario, in that it’s always possible that the plebs will see through the sham and riot. The other possibility — the one I consider likeliest, natch — is that some of these seemingly ham-fisted ops are actually designed to get us into a state of learned helplessness. Does anyone, anywhere, think Ed Gillespie would ever have been allowed to run for anything if the situation had been reversed? These days, Twitter mobs form up over things college athletes tweeted when they were 14 years old; I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid ends up going undrafted — costing him millions of dollars — because teams don’t want to deal with the PR disaster of something he did when he was a freshman in high school. If there were photos of Ed Gillespie in blackface out there, they would’ve been found within 24 hours of him declaring his candidacy.

In other words, the message is: No one could possibly be squeaky-clean enough to escape punishment, if We decide you must be punished. Similarly, if We decide We like you, you can rise to a life of affluence beyond your wildest dreams, no matter what you did in the past.

Hey, it worked for Stalin, and he didn’t even have Facebook.

Or Twitter, where the following Stalinesque conditions prevail: the people who tweet the hashtag don’t decide what’s trending, the people who count the tweets do.

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Flavor of the month

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Everyone has a scheme which will not work

(Title adapted from Howe’s Law.)

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Caracas noises

Roberta X on the current state of affairs, or affairs of state, in Venezuela:

[T]he socialist government ran out of people to loot and shiny lies awhile back; now they have dueling Executives (with the incumbent warning of civil war and the challenging interim President scoffing at the notion, perhaps because he know anyone with the price of a brickbat has already left the country or forted up as much as possible). Yes, here it is running in real-time, an example of why top-down economic planning is a wretched idea, even in a country that started out with what certainly looked like legitimate beefs about exploitation by foreign enterprises and had plenty of natural resources. I hope they can sort things out with a minimum of bloodshed and hunger; they’ve had an excess of both already. Attempting any deep analysis in advance of the outcome of developing events is worse than futile; first-world countries are sending food and medicine and historians can pick over the meaning of it later.

Stand by for Dueling Historians; there are some people with academic credentials, whatever those may be worth in real life, who will never, ever say an unkind word about Hugo Chávez.

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As distinguished from those American jokers

Life continues to imitate television:

Polls suggest Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no previous political experience, has become one of the frontrunners in Ukraine’s presidential election.

His campaign is blurring the line between fact and fiction, as he stars in a hit TV series in which he plays a teacher who unexpectedly becomes president.

Some recent polls even put Mr Zelensky ahead of current President Petro Poroshenko, as well as opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, for the vote scheduled to begin with a first round on 31 March.

Zelensky’s party is named for his TV series: Servant of the People. And Zelensky apparently knows how to give the People what they want:

He has advertised for team members, setting out one condition only: Candidates must have no political experience. He makes a point of never wearing a jacket. On his Facebook page, he has posted endearing videos of himself talking about his campaign and Ukraine’s future; in a calculated show of ineptitude, the videos are filmed with a vertically-oriented smartphone, so Facebook shows them with blurry margins.

In [a] recent video, Zelensky explains he won’t write a manifesto like old-time politicians do — because they all sound the same and the promises are never kept. Instead, he has asked Ukrainians to tell him what five problems they believe to be the biggest for the country; then, he proposes to crowdsource the solutions, too.

One wonders what Vladimir Putin thinks of all this.

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Read the whole thing

Sometimes this is good advice. This is one of the times when it isn’t:

Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved? YES __ NO __

That’s it; that’s the entire question on the ballot.

There are, of course, reasons for that:

Ballot measures in Georgia and across the country have a history of being curiously composed or outright misleading and, considered in that context, Gwinnett’s question is pretty straightforward. But it makes no direct mention that the pending contract is with MARTA, the transit agency with a history of rejection by suburban residents. Or that it involves residents paying an additional sales tax until 2057. Or what those tax revenues will go toward, exactly.

All right, guys, give it to me straight:

A yes vote would be a vote in support of ratifying Gwinnett’s pending transit service contract with MARTA, allowing it to take over Gwinnett’s current transit services and greatly expand them — including a possible rail extension into the Norcross area.

A yes vote would also trigger a new 1 percent sales tax to pay for such projects. Purchases in Gwinnett are currently subject to 6 percent sales tax.

The new countywide sales tax would remain in effect until 2057 and garner billions of dollars. Collected funds would be remitted to Gwinnett County, which would then write checks to MARTA for projects and operations.

Three other counties — Fulton, Clayton and DeKalb — pay a 1-percent sales tax to support MARTA. (In the City of Atlanta, mostly in Fulton County, it’s 1.5 percent.)

(Via Fark.)

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State of the State of the Union

A sad state indeed:

All that is ever accomplished by having 99% of the top leaders of federal government (except for randomly chosen Designated Survivors) gathered together in one place every January so that the President can give a speech, is that statecraft gives way yet again to stagecraft. Put a stop to it.

Then again, if you can assemble much of the Deep State operation for a couple of hours, you’ve got your excuse to nuke the place from orbit.

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Chirpy chirpy cheap cheap

Dystopic flinches at the cost of his upcoming vacation/delayed honeymoon, but only a little:

I think in the end, this vacation will cost me on the order of $8,000. On the other hand, I can afford it. I have the cash, it can be done.

It got me thinking, though. On social media, I constantly see friends and acquaintances flying off to exotic vacations, buying new cars, and eating at fancy restaurants. And I know they make far less money than I do. And, paradoxically, they often complain about living paycheck-to-paycheck, apparently not seeing the obvious connection between their lifestyles and lack of savings. Some of them even purport to be Socialists.

Bernie Sanders tweeted that “80% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck” as if this was somehow unavoidable; that they were forced to live this way. It’s a blatant denial of Free Will. You were fated to be a spendthrift. It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t have to fix it.

One word trips them up every time: deserve. “Well, we deserve this,” they say, even before they hide the bank statement from themselves. Merchants are happy to play along with the politics of envy, because they get paid up front. And who’s going to tell these unbudgetable souls that no, you really don’t deserve this? (Hint: Not Bernie Sanders.)

I’ve lived from paycheck to paycheck before. In fact, there were times when I was living paycheck to four days before paycheck. But if there’s too much month left at the end of the money, whom can I blame? A random member of the One Percent? Walmart? Pope Gregory XIII?

No, no, and no, in that order.

(Title source.)

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Shutdown 2: Electric Boogaloo

Columnist Cal Thomas ponders the possibilities:

In a Rose Garden announcement of his decision to re-open government, the president held out the possibility of declaring a national emergency if Democrats continue to refuse funding for his barrier wall. We know where that will lead, don’t we? Democrats will likely go to a liberal federal judge, probably named by President Obama, and get a stay on the order. Any appeal process could take months, adding more fuel to the chaos stoking anger among many on the left and the right.

Let’s not just blame Obama for the leftward tilt of the judiciary: if we’ve learned anything in the years Before Trump, it’s that liberal judges have been nominated by every recent President — though some of them didn’t get that way until after they’d been on the bench for a while.

I’m greatly amused by this proposal, though:

One way to get Democrats to focus might be to steer those entering illegally with criminal backgrounds to the states and districts where members of Congress who oppose the wall reside. Cynical, I know, but in Washington, since the 2016 election, cynicism reigns supreme.

Heck, why not just send them straight to California?

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2020 vision

Our man in Indiana offers an estimate for November of next year:

The Repubs will run Trump, because why rock the boat? Since they have the worst PR apparatus in the free world and have no idea how to tout the good stuff Trump has done, The People will be pissed because Trump couldn’t pass legislation (not his job) and stay home.

Those who think they are owed something, you know, anyone under 35 and most people who are not fair-skinned, will vote the Lefty into office because he/she will promise something for nothing. We will one again be back to the Alvin Lee/Ten Years After political platform.

Don’t worry, the new lefty will not deliver on his/her promises and the voters will put the other guys back in charge of the purse strings two years later. The Levelers always overreach. The Invisible Hand always trumps Marxism, even in Mao’s China and Stalin’s USSR or Fidel’s Worker’s Paradise.

Nothing will change. The Swamp Monsters will tax a little more, spend a lot more and the corruption train will chug chug chug right on.

Not everyone votes in accordance with melanin levels. Age, though, might be a more reliable marker. And as an old white guy with no particular allegiance to the GOP, I might have more to say about such matters than the conventional wisdom contends.

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Barely distinguishable

Well, in some respects, anyway:

Venn diagram featuring Donald J. Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

No apparent reference to glove size.

(Via Jackie Mason.)

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Havana your way

Warren Meyer sums up everything accomplished by the US embargo of Cuba:

  • Increased the socialist-created poverty and distress for ordinary people while Castro and other leaders partied it up on private islands and in total luxury
  • Given Marxist apologists like Bernie Sanders cover to claim that Cuba’s obvious economic failure is not due to socialism, but due to American sanctions
  • Cut off business, economic, tourist, and cultural exchanges that might have brought liberal and enlightened thinking to the country.

Hey, why not impose sanctions on Venezuela?

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