Archive for Political Science Fiction

Damn water is wet again

Um, no shit, Sherlock:

I can only conclude that Ezra Klein thinks his readers are even dumber than he is.

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Engagement unlocked

Despite one fairly obvious anachronism — Digital Video Recorders were nowhere near being ubiquitous in 1996 — this was my most successful tweet in a while:

Very rare I get 13 likes, let alone 130.

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Polish up that Golden Gate

Somehow “mandate” doesn’t seem to fit:

Elected by the slimmest margin in modern history, London Breed takes the helm of a city Wednesday where, despite a booming economy and rocketing job growth, the majority of voters feel San Francisco is on the wrong track.

And where, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on various programs to house the homeless, clean up the city’s streets and clear up the clogged traffic, only 2 out of 10 voters feel City Hall is doing a good job managing its resources.

“You would think with 2.5 percent unemployment and an $11 billion budget, the public would be more upbeat,” said Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jim Lazarus. “But the encampments, dirty streets, congestion and construction have the public upset.”

We don’t wish Mayor Breed any ill will, but she’s facing a big job.

And an eleven-billion-dollar budget?

Since when is a huge municipal budget supposed to be viewed as a Great Thing by “the public?” After all, who is paying for this bloated budget if not the public?

I’m trying to figure how the 900,000 San Franciscans are putting up with a municipal budget of $11 billion while 660,000 Oklahoma Cityans get by with spending only $1.56 billion. The cost of living is lower here, but not that much lower.

Now San Francisco is legally both a city and a county, so they have presumably greater needs than would a mere city. Oklahoma County (population 800,000) is spending a hair under $200 million for 2018-19.

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As the smoke clears

State Question 788, authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, passed by about a 5 to 4 margin, much to the surprise of national pundits, who don’t realize we have running water here, and of local officials, who were hoping to push the whole thing under the rug.

Precinct-level vote counts are now being circulated, and here’s how we did: 804 Yes, 250 No. A solid 76 percent.

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Guard your staplers

My favorite comment on the departure of embattled EPA head Scott Pruitt, called that so often you’d think “Embattled Head” was his actual job title:

It’s almost as though he knew he wouldn’t last long at EPA, and vowed to build the usual Washington nest egg in one-twelfth the usual time.

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Genocide Lite

Horrible forms of oppression that exist todaytoday! — in the USA:

He, or that corporation over there, made such-and-such much money and didn’t pay any taxes.

Congress is spending money on the wrong things.

He watered his lawn on a Wednesday when his street address is odd and not even.

This customer just presumed my gender!

Your Moana Halloween costume is cultural appropriation.

Two-stroke jet-ski engines are horrible for the environment.

Today is the such-and-such anniversary of whatever, or this is something-something month.

Wonder Woman’s costume shows her legs, and the actress who plays her is out-of-this-world gorgeous.

Not enough blacks on Seinfeld and Friends reruns.

Mansplaining and Manspreading.

Microaggressions.

Heteronormative.

Cisgender.

Patriarchy!

To sum up:

You know what I find to be flawed with the US of A? The Number One fly in the soup.

We have an unfortunate tendency to direct very high levels of energy into making people happy who are never going to be happy.

That “pursuit of happiness” business? If happiness somehow eludes your pursuit, it’s someone else’s fault.

At the present rate, by the year 2030 some 62 percent of the American population will be engaged in finding out just whose fault it is.

Expect mirrors to be outlawed by then.

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You will be required to care

It’s been coming for a long time, and now it’s starting to accelerate:

Constitutional government worked because the culture that birthed it believed in personal responsibility. Your life was your own, and so long as you realized that your liberty to swing your fist ended where the other guy’s nose began (as the old saying was), you could live your life pretty much how you wanted (and if civilized life got to be too much of a drag, you could always move to the frontier).

Obviously, we don’t have that anymore. Thanks to social media and half a century of Leftist badgering, our entire lives, cradle to grave, take place in public. “Rights” have been completely unmoored from “duties,” such that public piety to the Current Year’s catechism is now the only measure of a man. It’s a never-ending purity spiral. It won’t stop, because it can’t stop, and when naked force finally shows itself — accept the charges, it’s Tommy Robinson calling — well, weren’t we all supposed to be in FEMA camps already?

To restate things only slightly:

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

And if there’s one thing we have in preposterous excess these days, it’s unwarrantable jurisdiction.

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She’d never leave Canterlot

“What would happen,” asks a Quora user, “if Princess Celestia from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ran for US president?”

Well, we’re pretty sure she’s at least thirty-five, but beyond that? I like this answer from Kristopher Pohlman:

Princess Celestia isn’t a natural born American citizen, and so is ineligible. Also, she’s a magical talking horse. That’s novel, but not leadership-worthy.

Ignoring that, I don’t think she’d fare well. Her experience as Equestrian royalty wouldn’t prepare her for the complexities of American politics. Also, coming from an autocratic (albeit benevolent) monarchy would do her no favors in a democratic republic.

Her opponents could easily spin the decisions she made as a princess. For example, her inconsistent stance on crime. Pardoning enemy insurgents while imposing lengthy jail time for what was essentially large-scale disturbing the peace sends a mixed message.

If she was elected, I imagine her administration wouldn’t be very noteworthy. She’d be like a liberal George W. Bush.

And then I got lost in contemplation of which American miscreants would be most worthy of a thousand years’ exile to the Moon. The list proved to be quite long.

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Meanwhile in Damascus

Set the clock back to the turn of the century, and you’ll find this:

Upon Hafez al-Assad’s death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad was elected as President of Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma, a Sunni Muslim born and educated in Britain, initially inspired hopes for democratic reforms. The Damascus Spring, a period of social and political debate, took place between July 2000 and August 2001. The Damascus Spring largely ended in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of ten leading activists who had called for democratic elections and a campaign of civil disobedience.

Nobody has any kind words for Bashar these days. Asma, who studied computer science and French literature at King’s College in London, and who dropped her plans for a Harvard MBA when she married Bashar, is not a whole lot more popular.

Asma al-Assad finds a smile

Asma al-Assad on tour

Asma al-Assad says it's this big

The Syrian First Lady is forty-two, a decade younger than her husband. She’s not allowed in most of the European Union, though she’s retained her British citizenship all these years. And she will stand by her man:

And four years ago, those madcap cutups from She Politico put together two minutes of cheesecake from a series of stills:

Why, yes, I do have rather a lot of Syrians on my family tree. Why do you ask?

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The saga continueth

This story began with what we may assume was a certain amount of animosity:

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.”

Now turn the knob just a trifle higher:

Nick Mahoney, a Republican candidate for House District 12 and a seven-year Wagoner County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated abruptly Monday morning by the Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott. His termination was preceded by statements made by Elliott to fire Mahoney if he did not exit the race for House District 12 along with statements made by Judy Elliott, Wagoner County 911 coordinator and Elliott’s wife that “(Mahoney) running for State House District 12 will have consequences.”

What does District 12 think? We’re not exactly sure:

At the very least, Mahoney is writing a check:

The cost charged to a candidate initiating a recount depends on the counting method that they request: The cost for retabulation conducted by machine is $600 per county. [Section 26-8-111(A)(2).] The cost for a recount conducted by hand is $600 for the first 3,000 ballots to be counted, and $600 for each additional 6,000 ballots, or fraction thereof, per county. [Section 26-8-111(A)(4).] Requests for both retabulations and hand recounts for statewide offices (all those filed with the State Election Board) must include an additional $300 beyond the amounts listed above. [Section 26-8-111(A)(5).]

It shouldn’t take long to recount 4,671 (more or less) ballots.

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Each other’s shadow

Roberta X isn’t swallowing either of these:

One of Indiana’s Senatorial seats is up for election this year. Democrat incumbent Joe “Almost a Blue Dog” Donnelly and Republican challenger Mike “The Working Man’s Pal” Braun (and their various Committees To Support…) are continuing to wage negative campaigns, focused on the alleged venality and duplicity of their opponent far more than their own qualifications to serve. Both men are sons of the wealthy families, working hard to seem like “plain old guys” and entirely blind to the source (or even the existence) of the crease in their slacks and the shine on their shoes.

So she’s going for a different beverage entirely:

The Libertarian Party of Indiana is running someone: Lucy M. Brenton. She’s good on the issues, a right-down-the-middle Libertarian. She’s raised a passel of children, which I figure is probably better preparation for serving in the Senate than being the boss’s son.

I dialed over to Brenton’s site, and it appears she’s paid the expected dues along the way. And I noticed this down in the corner:

Tag for Libertarian WordPress theme

For real. Or rather, it was for real:

It’s been a wonderful honor to have been chosen by so many candidates over the last four years that this theme has been part of our collection. We know that other foundries will step into the void created by this themes depreciation. Please take a look at our roundup of great political WordPress themes.

Deprecation, maybe.

Then again, my theme goes back to 2006, so it’s not like I’m looking down my nose at the Libertarians.

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And they did turn out

Right about 5:20 — I can’t possibly arrive at five anymore, and besides, I needed a fresh fill of 91 octane — I got to shove ballots #1729 and #1730 into the scanner. (The second one, containing State Question 788, the medicinal-marijuana initiative, got bent on the way in, and tell me that isn’t karmic.) If everyone got two ballots, I was voter #865; #900 reached the door before I left.

The Democrats, as before, were allowing independents and such into their primary. (The Republicans, as before, weren’t.) But some of those second ballots might not have been handed out:

Once at the polling station, you should always insist on getting everything you’re allowed to get.

There were lots of kids at the precinct, presumably just picked up from day care. One lad’s eyes got really, really big as I passed, and Mom said “Yes, you used to have one of those.” It then dawned on her what she’d said, and she gave me a look that was, I guessed, two parts contrite, one part embarrassed. Not to worry, Mom. I may have had something like that myself, back in the middle 1950s.

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Blame those other guys

The wisdom of the Founders continues to manifest itself:

Writing at American Consequences, P. J. O’Rourke defends the Electoral College system by which U.S. voters cast ballots for electors, rather than for candidates. The electors then meet and cast ballots for a presidential candidate based on whichever system operates in their home state. Maine and Nebraska allow splits along the line of the percentage each candidate on; the other 48 are winner-take-all. O’Rourke, who is smarter than I am, ably defends the system as a way of keeping the densely-populated coasts from dominating national races. He omits one key benefit, though. Since there are only 538 electors, that means that only 538 people were required to vote for either of the awful hairballs our system coughed up in the summer of 2016. The rest of us were off the hook — we didn’t vote for candidates. We voted for the candidates’ slate of electors from our state. Whew.

“Awful hairballs.” Remember that the next time someone tries to tell you that the election was, um, hacked.

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Where security costs less

The Scott Pruitt stories just keep getting weirder:

Even before his Senate confirmation, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt mulled running the EPA at least part-time from his hometown of Tulsa, seeking office space there, emails show.

Pruitt ultimately dropped that plan, the EPA told members of Congress in a letter dated June 19.

“Although the EPA staff did explore whether office space was available in Tulsa, this possibility was ultimately abandoned,” Troy Lyons, associate EPA administrator, said in a letter to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

House Democrats were unsurprisingly not keen on this idea:

“Establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa may be personally convenient for you, but it seems ethically questionable, professionally unnecessary, and financially unjustified,” House Democrats wrote in a letter to Pruitt in May.

And the agency itself, it appears, had some qualms:

“‘gifted’ or ‘donated’ space could be an optics issue. We can investigate other Federal agencies with office space in Tulsa, or even Congressional space in Tulsa, such as Sen. Inhofe’s district office, but I didn’t want to wave that flag yet. Again, optics. But let me know,” [an] EPA staffer wrote.

Another issue was that the EPA did not want the cost of the new office space to show up as a line item in a congressional bill.

Now there’s the bureaucracy we know and love.

Actually, I like the idea of decentralizing the government generally, but I concede that it would complicate Congressional oversight, in the event that Congress actually wants to oversee anything.

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The dreaded Campaign Ad

The main reason it’s dreaded is because, ninety-odd times out of a hundred, it’s dreadful. The percentage may be even higher in Soonerland, where relatively few races are particularly competitive and most TV spots seem to be limited to thirty seconds and/or one sound bite. I’ve been a registered voter for 46 years, and I don’t remember even a dozen memorable campaign ads. I do, however, recall one memorable fake:

If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen

From those wonderful days when National Lampoon was a cultural force, and don’t you miss that? No? Okay, fine.

That said, it is still possible to make a political ad that’s worth remembering. This 3½-minute spot for a Democratic challenger to a relatively colorless Texas GOP Congressman actually seems to be going viral:

TX31 is R+10, so Hegar has her work cut out for her. Still, she’s received around 300,000 views for this spot — per day.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Certainly not strategic

Then again, you never know with this guy:

Scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has now spent more than $4.6 million from public coffers on security, according to documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented under the Freedom of Information Act. The amount represents a $1.1 million increase from Pruitt’s total security costs as released in another disclosure just a month ago.

Pruitt’s high spending on security has become the subject of mounting criticism and a host of official investigations: Several EPA inspector general investigations have been opened, as well as an ongoing investigation by the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee.

Now there’s security, and there’s security:

Since last year, shortly after his Senate confirmation, Pruitt’s office began purchasing security-related items, including multiple vehicle leases, over $80,000 worth of radios, $700 in shoulder holsters for the radios, and a kit to break down doors, among other purchases.

Records released under the Freedom of Information Act list expenditures totaling $288,610 on a range of security-related items. The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos.”

I’d bet anything he has a SWAT team or two on speed dial.

Neither of Barack Obama’s EPA heads, Lisa Jackson or Gina McCarthy, seem to have spent anywhere near this kind of money. Then again, Scott Pruitt came to EPA from the state of Oklahoma, where you always talk about fiscal responsibility while never actually displaying any.

(Via Charles P. Pierce.)

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Woman’s got Seoul

Sgt. Mom, who spent no small amount of time south of the 38th parallel, speculates as to what’s going on to the north:

The Korean nationals that I worked with, on my various voice and broadcasting jobs were a relatively cosmopolitan lot, and we talked now and again about the North, and the threat intermittently posed, most notably to Seoul, well within artillery range of North Korean big guns. Indeed, about every six months or so, the Norks indulged in what another blogger termed the Korean Motherland Unity Game of Repeated Chicken — a regularly-scheduled theatrical bit of sabre-rattling, to which the old Korea hands (and possibly most ordinary Koreans) eventually became pretty blasé. [More here from The Daily Brief] Is there now a possible end in sight to a situation which has existed slightly longer than I have been alive, through Donald Trump’s surprisingly cordial summit with Little Fat Kim? Speculation on the imminent collapse of the North floats around at about the same frequency as the Korean Motherland Unity Game of Repeated Chicken. But this time, I do wonder if the Reign of Kim really is on very shaky ground — and Little Fat Kim knows it and is nervous about survival — his personal survival and that of his circle. Bits and dribbles of dismaying information keep trickling out of the hermetically-sealed kingdom; that the soldiers forage for food in the cultivated fields, that the Nork soldier who defected across the DMZ was riddled with intestinal parasites, that the underground nuclear test site collapsed the whole side of the mountain where it was located, that whole districts are stripped bare of vegetation … and perhaps at long last, the Chinese are not quite so blindly supportive of their favorite client state. Is North Korea circling the drain of history, and the Kim regime is trying one last desperate throw of the dice while North Korea still has the appearance of a viable state?

Brinksmanship is not rocket science: if you have exactly one card to play, that’s the card you lay on the table. Still, Little Fat Kim is no less adept at four-dimensional checkers — chess, it ain’t — than The Donald, and he got that way in much the same fashion: regular deployment of actualities and balderdash more or less simultaneously. Obviously Trump and Kim are never going to be BFFs, but then neither are Trump and Justin Trudeau, or Trump and Angela Merkel, or Trump and [pick a name at random]. If you ask me, it’s just as well.

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Greece is the way we are feeling

At least, if we fancy ourselves small-d democrats on the Athenian model. Severian would like to remind you that it wasn’t all that democratic:

Whatever Cleisthenes and the gang actually practiced, it wasn’t based on a social contract as we’d understand it. As you probably remember from your high school Social Studies class, the Greeks were world-class chauvinists. Aristotle famously ranked women just below slaves on the rationality scale, and the word “barbarian” simply meant “not-Greek.” You probably couldn’t play a pickup softball game with the total number of Athenian “voters.” But it didn’t matter, because Athens was so small that Demosthenes himself could come over to your house and personally demagogue you. Socrates, too, for that matter (he fought at Potidaea). Athens’s organizing myth, then, was “democracy” in the football hooligan sense — you voluntarily joined up, but mostly just to have a row with the wankers. Needless to say, this doesn’t work in anyplace bigger than a Greek polis. (The early Roman Republic worked the same way, and yes, I’m aware that I just called Romulus and Remus the original soccer yobs).

Do they even teach Social Studies anymore? The last Civics class I remember hearing about was apparently abandoned about the time the Republicans came up with something they teasingly called the Contract with America; however contractual it might have been, it was seriously lacking in enforcement mechanisms.

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Rapid feedback

Remember this, from not so long ago?

Nick Mahoney, a Republican candidate for House District 12 and a seven-year Wagoner County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated abruptly Monday morning by the Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott. His termination was preceded by statements made by Elliott to fire Mahoney if he did not exit the race for House District 12 along with statements made by Judy Elliott, Wagoner County 911 coordinator and Elliott’s wife that “(Mahoney) running for State House District 12 will have consequences.”

Imagine the consequences in South Dakota:

Vengeful little shits in minor offices eventually become vengeful little shits in major offices.

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Heigh-ho

Severian picks up on a theme suggested by the Z Man:

Ernst Fränkel, a lawyer in pre-Hitler Germany, called the Nazi regime a “dual state.” There were actually two sets of laws operating simultaneously, he said: The normative, which is your standard black-letter law, and the prerogative, which is the law of the Party apparatus. The second, of course, always outranks the first. It was possible to get real, objective justice in the 3rd Reich — the legendarily efficient German civil service carried on after the Nazi seizure of power just as it did before (this is one of the key supports in the “they all condoned the Holocaust” school of historiography — if principled bureaucrats didn’t resign after Hitler took power, then there were no principled bureaucrats). But if your “justice” crossed any of the Party’s political or cultural imperatives, you’d find yourself on the business end of a visit from the men in the leather trench coats.

The major difference between Berlin 1938 and Washington 2018 is that the District of Columbia has fewer speakers of German.

But if we’re in the same U-boat, what do we do about it?

What happens when the majority of us wake up to the fact that we’re ruled by midgets? As Hobbes said, “The power of the mighty hath no foundation but in the opinion and belief of the people.” What happens when the “opinion and belief” of the people is that we’re really ruled by a few dreadlocked blue-haired nose-ringers and their black-robed peg boys? A king whose knights refuse to ride to battle on his behalf is just a weirdo in fancy clothes. There’s even less majesty to a GS-7 down at the courthouse.

It’s really not going to end well … and Our Betters are doing everything they can to hasten the end.

Of course. They expect to be the only survivors.

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Throwing a Rod

This is hilarious mostly because of its source:

The rule of law is under assault in America. It is being perverted and abused by the people sworn to enforce and uphold it. Some in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government.

So whines former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, serving time for 17 of those, um, “routine practices.”

To which Dave Schuler replies:

Like his Republican predecessor, also-convicted George Ryan, Gov. Blagojevich did not realize that politics had changed and politics as he knew, always illegal, might actually get you thrown into jail today. Offering a quid pro quo was, is, and has always been illegal. Nonetheless Gov. Blagojevich was captured on tape where any Tom, Dick, or juror could hear it doing just that. The problem is not some imagined threat to the rule of law but the enforcement of the law and that politics as he practiced it was illegal. When everyone carries a video camera and a microphone, assuming secrecy when you make those shady back office deals just isn’t as good an assumption as it used to be.

So what are we to make of Rod the Clod?

I don’t know whether to attribute Blagojevich’s views to stupidity or arrogance or some combination of both. I do feel safe in saying that, if stupidity were a capital offense, he would have been hanged from a yardarm years ago.

So that’s what’s wrong with American politics of late: not enough yardarms.

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Vienna strikes back

Austria’s government plans to slice benefits in the hope of discouraging migrants:

Austria’s coalition government has unveiled plans to cut benefit payments for immigrants, including refugees, in a move aimed at deterring new arrivals.

The main benefit payment will be capped at €563 ($655; £492) a month, rising to match the amount Austrians receive — €863 — if they pass a German test.

Immigrants will also be barred from claiming such benefits for five years.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, head of Austria’s conservative People’s Party, which won a plurality of seats in the 2017 election, is here attempting to deliver on a campaign promise. Possibly standing in his way:

Monday’s announcement brings Austria into conflict with the rest of the European Union, because EU rules on freedom of establishment require all member states’ citizens to be treated equally.

Somehow, I don’t think Mr Kurz is particularly worried about migration from other EU nations.

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Trump’s America

Wait a minute. He doesn’t own the place, not in the slightest:

I’ll push back against this “Trump’s America” thing, like I would against “Obama’s America” or “Bush’s America.”

Because it’s not. It’s my America. It’s all of those the article writers’ America. It’s our America, and all of the touch me not unclean spirit down-your-nosery they can summon from their righteous keyboards changes not a bit of that. England’s government, technically, belongs to the Queen. She reigns there, which is why British warships are called Her Majesty’s Ship So-and-So.

But in our government, we don’t have a ruler. We have an employee. Sure, sometimes we make stupid hiring decisions, but that happens mostly because the two firms to which we outsourced the job search come back with some really awful candidates. Still, he doesn’t own the country and it’s silly to put his name on it.

We really do need a better candidate pool, and it would be nice if we could wrestle it into place before 2024.

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Or you can write your own

Are all the news programs making your head spin? (Please note that there’s a difference between the news and “the news.”) Try this handy headline generator:

PROPER NAME: Trump Comey Mueller Stormy Pompeo Clinton Obama McCabe Pelosi DOJ FBI ABC NBC CBS NPR BBC Zuckerberg Putin Russia Cohen Florida Man
VERB PAST: redacted Googled investigated leaked named
OR
VERB FUTURE: to leak to investigate to pardon to indict to appeal to prosecute to appoint to name to fire
PROPER NAME
‘S
NOUN: dossier report investigation appointment prosecution indictment
BOILERPLATE: says claims
SOURCE: report source insider memo dossier

As Mad Libs go, these are probably madder than usual.

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Highly non-consecutive

Grover Cleveland was the 22nd President of the United States. But he was also the 24th; Benjamin Harrison foiled Cleveland’s first bid for a second term, but Cleveland regained the Presidency four years later. And if that 22nd/24th business seems a bit awkward, imagine 4th/7th:

Mahathir Mohamad is set to become the world’s oldest elected leader, after a shock victory in Malaysia’s election.

Mr Mahathir, a former prime minister, came out of retirement and switched to the opposition to challenge his former protege, Najib Razak who has been beset by corruption allegations.

His historic win has ousted the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has been in power since independence in 1957.

Mahathir served as PM from 1981 to 2003; in 2016, he joined the Pakatan Harapan (“Alliance of Hope”) coalition, and ran under its banner in 2018. He says he will serve a maximum of two years, and will then step down in favor of his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, a maneuver which will also require he pardon Anwar. (Don’t ask.) If Mahathir makes it through those two years, he will be 94 years old.

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That was a shoe you heard

Presumably, the second such shoe. This was the first one, last month:

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.”

Apparently McDugle still has friends in that neck of the woods. From last night’s email:

Nick Mahoney, a Republican candidate for House District 12 and a seven-year Wagoner County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated abruptly Monday morning by the Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott. His termination was preceded by statements made by Elliott to fire Mahoney if he did not exit the race for House District 12 along with statements made by Judy Elliott, Wagoner County 911 coordinator and Elliott’s wife that “(Mahoney) running for State House District 12 will have consequences.”

“When I shared my intentions to run for State House District 12 to Sheriff Elliott last January, he initially indicated that he wished me the best luck, but that he was supporting Kevin McDugle, my opponent in the State House District 12 race,” said Mahoney. “I assured him that I would continue to perform my duties as expected and not let the campaign interfere with my job as a deputy sheriff and he in-kind wished me luck in my race.”

What next? Just what you think:

Mahoney has retained legal counsel and is considering all legal options, including a wrongful termination lawsuit. They are looking into the possible ethics violations for the Sheriff’s inappropriate actions to influence an election. “I am determined now more than ever in my campaign for State House District 12,” said Mahoney. “It just goes to show how far Sheriff Elliott will go to help my opponent retain power.”

And McDugle? One of the Democratic candidates has already drawn a bead on him:

After state Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said Tuesday [10 April] that he didn’t think protesting teachers were setting a good example for students, a northeast Oklahoma teacher announced plans to run against him.

Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said in a since-deleted Facebook Live post that he would not vote “for another stinking (education) measure when they’re acting the way they’re acting.”

Cyndi Ralston, a Haskell Public Schools teacher who has been an educator for 30 years, announced on her social media accounts Tuesday afternoon that she is running as a Democrat to represent the people of District 12.

I can’t remember there ever being this much interest in District 12, out in the eastern Tulsa exurbs.

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The revolving door will not be slowed

From what you know about these guys, could you possibly have anticipated anything else?

Oklahoma legislators have declared that what they do once they leave state service is none of a watchdog agency’s business.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission in February voted unanimously to bar legislators and other elected state officials from becoming lobbyists during their first two years out of office. It also voted to put the restriction on departing state agency heads.

On Wednesday, both the House and the Senate rejected those ethics rules on grounds the Ethics Commission had overstepped its bounds.

And Governor Fallin, about to run up against term limits, of course agreed.

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Some dissembly required

If you ask me, the single worst thing done by Donald Trump was the popularization of the phrase “fake news,” with the implication that his opponents were, well, telling lies. And indisputably they were, because that’s what politicians, and media yoked to politicians, inevitably do. In current American political discourse, one may safely assume that a grain of truth, no more, is the maximum to be found in any press release, any speech, any 280-character Twitter upchuck. Fake news is ubiquitous, has been for some time, and will remain so for however long it takes for our current political class to be swept away and be replaced by honest folk. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

In the meantime, now that “fake news” is A Thing, “control” of it will be weaponized. An early example from Malaysia:

A foreign visitor became the first person convicted and sentenced to jail under a new law to punish those deemed to have published “fake news” after he criticized the police response to the slaying of a Palestinian engineer in Kuala Lumpur.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46 years old, a Danish national of Yemeni origins, pleaded guilty Monday at a court hearing. He was sentenced to a week in jail but opted to serve a month behind bars in lieu of paying a fine of about $2,600. He wasn’t represented by a lawyer.

The case marked unexpected circumstances for the first use of the law since Parliament passed it April 3 amid criticism by rights groups that it would be wielded to inhibit criticism of the government ahead of elections on May 9. The government has denied that that is its intent, and Mr. Salah is the only person to have been charged under it…

And that very denial, of course, is fake. But you figured that one out, right?

Mr. Salah appeared in a video posted to YouTube — and since removed — from the scene of the assassination of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an electrical engineer and university lecturer who had lived in Malaysia for a decade. He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he walked to dawn prayers at a mosque. No one has been arrested.

Mr. Salah accused medical services and police of being slow to respond to the shooting. Authorities vehemently rejected the allegations and arrested him. On Monday, he apologized and said he had recently arrived in Malaysia to visit friends and didn’t know the law existed.

Meanwhile in Gaza, the slain engineer’s family blamed the Mossad, because of course they did.

Ken Layne once warned the media and their enablers that “we can fact-check your ass.” It’s no surprise that politicians would like to return the favor — or at least appear to.

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Actual qualifications

Roberta X, impressed neither with the incumbent nor with the guys vying to challenge him in the general election, announces a write-in preference:

I am considering writing in for one of the orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo. Azy looks like a good bet — he has fair computer skills, is considered the “peacemaker” of the group, enjoying meeting new people and it appears he wouldn’t be easily intimidated. That’s already greater qualifications for the job than the incumbent and his challengers have demonstrated. Or perhaps Katy, another computer-literate problem-solver, and she gets along well with men, a prime asset in Congress. But would six years in the U. S. Senate be fair to either one?

All species of orangutan are considered Critically Endangered these days. By comparison, politicians are a dime a dozen, and most of the citizenry is unwilling to supply dimes.

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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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