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On politics:

Here's a simple history lesson on why, if you like Barack Obama so far, you ought not reelect him, and if you like Mitt Romney so far, you ought not elect him at all. There's a simple, almost mathematical, principle running through presidential terms of office. A president in his first term is concerned with his reelection. A president in his second term is concerned with his legacy. Because, you see, a second term President, unlike every other political office in the USA (except, if you count it as political the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), has reached the ultimate end of his political career. He need never run in an election again, he need never really worry about his poll ratings or his popularity in office, his pull with his base, or the donations of the interest groups. Oh, he might like to have his party stay in power and pick up seats in Congress, but it's no longer a personal thing. Stick a fork in him, he's validated.

So, look at Obama in his first term. He did Obamacare -- big government program, a new bureaucratically managed benefit essentially for the poor and uninsured (which will tax the wealthier uninsureds and do little of anything to or for anybody else); but at the same time he cut taxes. It probably hurt him like he was chewing a cactus to have to cut taxes on everybody including the wealthy, but Obama had to do it to show that he was "in the middle," able to bend, a moderate. After all, sitting presidents don't need to worry so much about primary challengers as those simply trying to get their first nomination. And gays in the military and backing gay marriage shored things up for an interest group, probably a popular enough victory to stave off any real challenge from the left. But at the same time, Obama loosened a few gun laws, again to try and garner "in the middle" credentials, though it turns out to no effect. All of this has been reelection strategy, and quite ham-handedly so.

But in a second term, what would Obama's aim be? Legacy. Yes, he'll try to solidify Obamacare and the gay rights advances as a legacy piece, and certainly he'll raise taxes (or, to be more precise, "let the tax cuts expire" and blame the sure-to-be-divided Congress) but he'll probably spend his energy globetrotting for world peace instead of paying attention to no-longer useful interest groups on the home front. And in the interim he'll let Congress bicker and sign pretty much whatever crosses his desk so long as it won't be frowned upon by future surveyors of space on Mount Rushmore -- which will probably reflect the conservative Congress likely to be elected in response to Obama's continued White House residency.

Now, Romney. What will he do if he gets elected? Both candidates talk big about their taxing and spending and regulating plans, but that's not much up to the President; it's up to Congress. So, naturally, Romney will do the same sorts of things he did while governing Massachusetts, he'll "let the tax cuts expire" (and blame the sure-to-be-divided Congress), but take the credit for the deficit reduction which comes with it. He'll keep Obamacare more or less in place, making some useless cosmetic changes around the edges which he'll claim as an eviscerative victory, and again blame the sure-to-be-divided Congress for being unable to repeal the whole thing before it gets as solidified in the public landscape as Social Security, while taking credit for the benefits it provides to those who do benefit from it. He'll reject some spending here and there, which is about the strongest power a President has domestically, but his election will probably result in an electoral backlash handing Congress back to the liberals, with whom he'll wish to show his trademarked ability to cave in. And he'll still manage to come up with some moderately pricey new social program to show that he cares, and start a pricier war to show that he's tough. Probably with Iran, for which his "security advisers" are undoubtedly already whispering to him things like "cakewalk" and "greeted as liberators."

So the bottom line of this is that the two party system usually offers a choice between a first-term president making compromises to capture "the middle" and empty promises to garner a second term which will be ideologically unsatisfying to his constituents; and an upstart nominee who will spend his first term making those compromises and promises. Well it's no secret that my dog in this hunt is Gary Johnson, who has pledged to not give a damn about getting reelected, since he reflects a level of ideological purity generally lacking from our usual choice of spineless politicos-- and yet, this was a formula which actually led him to govern successfully and be reelected in his governorship. It might not work that way at the national level, but four years of somebody governing for America today instead of for a future election or world acclaim will surely suit this country better. And, this is not rhetoric or bluster, but common-sense political fact. If you like first-term Obama or nominee Romney, you ought not vote for either, because you won't like what you end up getting.

On pornography:

One of the longstanding drumbeats put forward by antipornography crusaders is that pornography, taken as a sort of monolithic concept, is "degrading to women."

It is beyond understatement to observe that a great deal of pornography exists, and a wide variety of acts and relationships are presented pornographically. And indeed a great deal of the volume which exists is the sort which portrays men and women engaged in sexual activities with one another. There is, unquestionably, some of that which focuses on the woman giving pleasure to the man, but as much, if not a majority of it, which shows the woman as at least a co-pleasure receiver, the recipient of oral sex, or at the absolute least an experiencer of orgasms brought about by sexual penetration. Naturally, it might be objected that the orgasms of women are fake while those of the men are real, demonstrable by the act of ejaculation. But whether women in porn fake this orgasm or that one is situational and debatable, and to a degree a thing over which the woman is in control. If interviews are to be believed, some women in pornography choose to have them, and some choose to fake them, as they wish. And let us be fair, yes, the man ejaculates. As he must; for unlike the woman he has got no choice, no option to fake either his arousal or the culmination of his pleasure.

And what of women-women porn? Obviously there is no argument that woman are depicted as being only servile givers, and not receivers of pleasure, where there are no men in the picture to be the recipients. The argument remains, naturally, that the material only exists for male consumption, but this contention ignores the small but present genre of pornography made by lesbian women for the consumption of other lesbian women? And what of male-male porn? There's not even a woman there to be degraded, so is that that not objectionable to those who argue that degradation of women is the reason pornography ought to be banned? Do they mean to suggest that only pornography depicting male masturbation or male homosexual sex ought to be allowed?

At the end of the day, the notion which really ought to be discarded is that of pornography being a monolithic matter to be taken and treated as uniformly 'good' or 'bad,' degrading or not so. This does not stray far from the supposition that violent sports such as boxing are degrading somehow to their participants, and so that sports are degrading to men. And this is a free country, one where all are now free to be our own pornographers, one where women can and do make pornography for their own pleasure, some of which indeed shows women sexually pleasing men. So if the concern of pornography is treatment of women as pieces of meat, then Monique Alexander can simply gear up her production company to hire James Deen and make him spend a few hours getting ogled like a piece of meat while bestowing pleasure-giving on women.


Question of the day:
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if wood cost $4.75 a cord plus a six percent sales tax, there were three cords to a pile, and the woodchuck had $75 and a coupon for 20% off the final nontax price?

In auditing news:

artman2003 is still done, despite his best efforts to be not done. As for the rest:

Jet-Poop -- on page 6 of (slightly smaller gasp!!) 27!!
Dannye -- on page 7 of 20 as well.

etouffee is in the queueueue. I have some thoughts on who to audit down the road as well....

Blessings, all!!

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