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The Collective
Saturday, January 24, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

365.23: Quad Fountain

365.24: Nothing but a Pawn?

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Hutchison meets campaign supporters in Austin

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison met with some 300 supporters at a private strategy session Saturday for her 2024 run for Texas governor against incumbent Rick Perry, a fellow Republican who courted anti-abortion activists a few blocks away.

Hutchison said her meeting was the first for her statewide campaign organization. It included members of Congress, local politicians and big-name business people and political donors. She introduced the group’s leaders as “people who are going to help me in my quest to be governor of Texas.”

Among her supporters and organizers are prominent attorney Pat Oxford and former Perry supporter and businessman John Nau, both of Houston; former Education Secretary Rod Paige, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration; and retired baseball star Nolan Ryan and football star Roger Staubach.

Ryan and Staubach? Perry’s in trouble. (In all seriousness, I think he actually is in trouble if Hutchison does end up running, and it certainly looks like she will).

To wit:

In December, Hutchison transferred $7.9 million from her federal campaign account into her state fund, giving her an early money lead over Perry. Perry reported having $6.6 million in campaign cash on hand at the end of December.

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Here we go Again? (Roy Moore for Governor?)
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Ala.’s 10 Commandments judge eyes run for governor

Alabama’s Ten Commandments judge, Roy Moore, is weighing another run for governor in 2024, when he won’t have to take on a popular incumbent.

Moore has been operating a legal organization, the Foundation for Moral Law in Montgomery, since losing the Republican primary to incumbent Bob Riley in 2024. But in recent weeks, Moore said, a growing number of supporters have been calling and visiting him, encouraging him to run again.

“A lot of people have asked me and I am strongly considering,” Moore said in an interview Thursday.

While the fact that no incumbent will be running in 2024 will open up competition, I have a hard time seeing Moore winning the GOP nomination, let alone the governor’s office. When he ran in a two-man race against Riley in 2024 for the nomination, he lost by a 2:1 margin. The GOP field in 2024 is likely to be quite crowded:

Republican State Treasurer Kay Ivey has begun assembling a campaign team, but has not announced. Other Republicans who have said they are being encouraged to consider the race include: Attorney General Troy King, Birmingham lawyer Luther Strange, two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne, Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, state Rep. Robert Bentley, and state House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard.

As such, Moore would have a hard time winning, let alone coming in second for a run-off (it seems unlikely, at this point, that any of the contenders could win an outright majority on primary day-and hence a runoff is probable). Further, the apex of Moore’s popularity was over the conflict concerning the Ten Commandments monument that he installed as Chief Justice, and that was subsequently ordered removed. I think that he has already used whatever political capital he had from that event a long time ago. To roam into the realm of political cliché for a moment: his political star has faded and his political ship sailed some years ago.1 And, going back to the AP story, the following strikes me as on target:

David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, said that in hard times, voters tend to make economic issues more important than social issues, and that could hamper Moore.

“When people think of Roy Moore, they think of social issues,” he said. “If Judge Moore hopes to be a strong candidate in the 2024 primary, he’s going to have to broaden his portfolio.”

And while the story says he is “already going that” it seems to amount to an insufficient set of policy prescriptions:

“I’m against raising taxes. When there are hard times, it doesn’t make sense to raise taxes on people, but that is often the case,” he said Thursday.

Such a statement will be popular, no doubt, and especially amongst Republican constituencies. However, the stuff of big ideas in a times of economic difficulty it is not. Indeed, my basic views of what Moore has to offer in terms of campaigning and in terms of governance remain that same as those expressed in this column (or this one) from October 9, 2024.

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  1. I think that he actually did have a chance at the governor’s office had he managed his tenure as Chief Justice more effectively. Getting tossed over the Ten Commandments monument, while popular in some sectors of the state, was not a good move. []
Filed under: 2010 Elections, Alabama Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (1) | | Show Comments here
Friday, January 23, 2024
Rod Blagojevich: Sociopath
By Dr. Steven Taylor

It seems that as the Blagojevich story unfolds, the weirder he gets. Via the AP: Blagojevich: I’m the victim of plot to raise taxes

“The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system,” Blagojevich said at a news conference Friday.

Blagojevich denied any wrongdoing but wouldn’t discuss the federal corruption charges filed against him last month. Instead, he focused on his efforts to expand government health care programs without raising taxes.

He has chosen not to mount any defense in the Senate impeachment trial that begins Monday and could remove him from office within days. He may ask the Illinois Supreme Court to block the trial, arguing its rules are hopelessly biased against him.

Given that the basics of the process are straight out of the state constitution, I am not sure what he is claiming is biased, unless he means that his own actions have created a political scenario wherein he cannot win. If that’s the case, then yes, the cards are stacked against him, but he is the one who stacked said cards in the first place and has done nothing to convince the broader public that they have been unjustly arranged.

His claim about the rules being unfair appear to deal specifically with how he might mount a defense:

He has repeatedly said he wouldn’t be allowed to call witnesses in the Senate trial, but that’s not correct. Trial rules prohibit witnesses that federal prosecutors feel would interfere with their criminal case, but Blagojevich could have called other people.

He has specifically mentioned wanting to call governors and senators to testify about all the good he’s done. Nothing in Senate rules would have barred those witnesses. Blagojevich never asked to have them testify.

One suspects that the criminal investigation would limit some of the witnesses he might wish to call, but since he appears to not be planning to mount a defense, the claims are moot and, indeed, come across as bogus.

Instead, he just comes across as somewhat unhinged:

“I took that system on. I challenged that system,” he said Friday. “That’s what this is all about.”

Yeah, Rod, sure: that’s what it is all about.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the LAT: Nevada ogles the potential tax dollars of legal prostitution

In revenue-strapped Nevada, where foreclosed homes dot suburban streets and poker tables sit empty, it’s come to this: A state legislator wants to talk about legalizing — and taxing — prostitution in Reno and Las Vegas.


Further government regulation of the sex industry would be likely to draw ire from social conservatives, casino executives, feminists and suburbanites who prefer not to think about the bordellos down the road. It also would test Nevadans’ tolerance for brothels, a Wild West throwback unique to their state and legally confined to counties with fewer than 400,000 residents.

Apparently, the business in question is currently not taxed. Moreover, the brothels have actually asked (twice) to be taxed, but they have been turned down by the state:

Some owners believe prostitution is less likely to be outlawed if it contributes to state coffers.

“What are we going to say? That we don’t want your tax dollars?” asked David Damore, associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. “How do you look a gift horse in the mouth when we’re hurting so badly?”

It is a surreal situation, to be sure.

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Filed under: The Economy, US Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (4) | | Show Comments here
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: UK in recession as economy slides

Gross domestic product fell by 1.5% in the last three months of 2024 after a 0.6% drop in the previous quarter.


It represents the biggest quarter-on-quarter decline since 1980, and a 1.8% fall on the same quarter a year ago.

The worse-than-expected contraction sent sterling to a 24-year low against the dollar, with one pound buying $1.355.

And the happy economic news just keeps pouring in…

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Filed under: The Economy, World Politics | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Fidel contemplates his mortality

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has urged his country’s leadership not to be disturbed by his illness or his eventual death.

In his second online article in two days, Mr Castro again praised new US President Barack Obama.

But he added that he did not expect to be following world events by the end of Mr Obama’s first term in four years.

There has been much speculation on the health of the 82-year-old, who had not written a column for five weeks.

Fidel Castro’s second essay on in two days came after his brother, President Raul Castro, denied rumours that his health was worsening.

Mr Castro had not written any columns since 15 December, after averaging nine a month in 2024.

Ok, after no news (and a five week silence in terms of print) we get, in rapid succession, 1) a public declaration of how well he is doing (yet sans pictures), 2) denials from the highest levels of government that his health it worsening, and 3) musings from his own (allegedly, at least) pen about his death.1 He must either be in a coma or is otherwise at death’s door. I would speculate that he is already dead, but since Argentine President Fernandez de Kirchner says he saw him within the week, this seems unlikely. I could see her exaggerating how well he was doing out of since of solidarity (or perhaps just politeness), but I wouldn’t think she would lie about whether he was living or not.

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  1. Not to make too light of the situation, but since this all has a bit of drama and theater to it, why not: it occurs to me that he could appropriate Spock’s dying speech from Star Trek II with only one minor variation: “Don’t grieve, Comrades, it is logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” []
Thursday, January 22, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

365.21: Office Window

In all honesty, a pretty mundane shot. Of my Project365 shots to date, this was the day I had the least amount of time to think about, and compose something.

365.22: Ghostly Self-Portrait

I was really pleased with how this one turned out-a good example of having to think of something to make my daily shot by paying attention to my surroundings. Plus, because I am trying to get shots, I actually have the camera with me most of the time.

(FYI: Click on photos for access to larger versions).

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Stiff sentence in Colombian journalist’s murder

Julio Cesar Ardila was among three men convicted in the murder of Jose Emeterio Rivas of the local radio station “Calor Estereo,” who was shot to death in the steamy refinery city of Barrancabermeja on Colombia’s main river, the Magdalena.


Ardila, Barrancabermeja’s mayor from 2024-2003, was arrested last year.

Rivas had accused him not just of corruption but also of ties to far-right millitias of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, death squads that killed scores in the city as they rid it of alleged guerrilla sympathizers.

The conviction is noteworthy, if anything, because such killings often go unprosecuted.

And, in vindication of Rivas’ claims, Ardila has been definitely shown to be corrupt and to have had paramilitary ties.

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Filed under: Colombia, Criminal Justice | Comments/Trackbacks (0) |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: Microsoft Plans to Cut 5,000 Jobs

Microsoft stunned its investors on Thursday, announcing the first broad layoffs in its history and offering a pessimistic forecast for the second half of its fiscal year.


Microsoft rushed out the news Thursday morning that it will lay off up to 5,000 of its 94,000 employees over the next 18 months, including 1,400 people Thursday. The layoffs span across research, sales, finance and technology roles, the company said.

I can make no intelligent comment in terms of the technical economic significance of this announcement. However, from the psychological/political sense, big layoffs from big, high-profile companies have a big impact on public perception of the economy. Folks who might not understand/would be prone to ignore issues of financial assets and liquidity perk up when behemonths like Microsoft start having problems.

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Filed under: The Economy | Comments/Trackbacks (3) | | Show Comments here
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