How a “Wacky Candidate” Governed in Iceland

When I was a sophomore in college at the University of Florida
in the 1988, for obnoxious-kid fun a roommate and I ran for the
presidency of a couple of college councils with a campaign
consisting entirely of flyers with absurdo-zen rants and grotesque
images taken from a book that my roommate doted on, called as I
recall
Medico-Legal Investigations of Death
.

 That book, and our campaign flyers, boasted
bourgeoisie epetar-ing images of violent death the likes of
which decadent punk intellectuals in that era of Nick Zedd and
Amok Books doted on
.  (I cannot now recall
exactly the verbal content. It may have had some
explicitly libertarian stuff against the idea of “student
government” or government in general, but none of it was intended
seriously, nor intended to actually win votes.)

To my great surprise—I didn’t even pay attention the day of the
election or vote myself, I was informed via phone call days later—I
won. Also to my surprise, when I showed up to the next meeting
(drinking wine from a bottle and on my 36th hour of being
awake—college can be stressful) to take up the gavel, the old
guard just insisted that, no, no matter what the results of the
vote…no.

An obnoxious asshole like me with the sort of campaign I ran was
not actually president of the Journalism College Council (JCC).
They had a procedural excuse—claiming that because I had not
previously been a member of the JCC nor attended any of its
meetings, I was not eligible.

A mole I had in upper level Greek system with some sympathy for
libertarianoid shenanigans assured me this was not technically a
disqualification. I showed up to a second meeting, was greeted with
the same stonewalling and refusal to admit I had legitimate claim
to the office, and then I decided I had better things to do with my
time and let them win.

Last week, the German-language Swiss newspaper
Tages-Anzeiger told
a story
of an absurdist political campaign with a happier
ending, out of Iceland. Details with commentary:

[In May 2010] With 34.7% of the vote, the city had voted a new
party into power: the anarcho-surrealists.

The leading candidate, Jón Gnarr, a comedian by profession,
entered the riotous hall full of drunken anarchists looking rather
circumspect. Almost shyly, he raised his fist and said: «Welcome to
the revolution!» And: «Hurray for all kinds of things!»

Gnarr was now the mayor of Reykjavik. After the Prime Minister,
he held the second-most important office in the land. A third of
all Icelanders live in the capital and another third commute to
work there. The city is the country’s largest employer and its
mayor the boss of some 8,000 civil servants….

the anarcho-surrealist party – the self-appointed Best
Party – was composed largely of rock stars, mainly former punks.
Not one of them had ever been part of any political body. Their
slogan for overcoming the crisis was simple: «More punk, less
hell!»

What were the conservative voters of Reykjavik thinking? On May
27, 2010, they did something that people usually only talk about:
they took power out of the hands of politicians and gave it to
amateurs.

How did they do it? They started with some of the typical
attributes of jokey campaigns: wild promises for free stuff, while
adding “the caveat: «We can promise more than any other party
because we will break every campaign promise.»


The idea arose from a sleazy politician character that Gnarr
created for a show, then he whimsically decided to really run,
based on:

1) the idea that it would be fun, 2) that fun was what the
beleaguered residents of Reykjavik needed most, 3) the thought:
«Until now, politicians have imposed themselves unbidden on our
lives. Why shouldn’t we turn the tables?» and 4) the ambition to
create a perfect work of art….

In its first polls, the Best Party garnered 0.7% – a
success that Gnarr celebrated on TV as a «landslide». And it was
indeed the beginning of one….

«Our strategy for the campaign was to present an
alternative world,» explains campaign manager Heiða Helgadóttir.
«Politics is dominated by old men passing around poisoned chalices.
We, on the other hand, emphasize life experience, decency, humor.
And we had the perfect candidate. Jón is a stand-up comedian: he
has great timing and is good at reading the room. He mastered what
good politics is about: perceiving what’s going on around
you.»

Indeed, the Best Party did everything differently compared with
the other parties on the campaign trail: no donations, no money, no
posters. On stage, Gnarr told anecdotes rather than arguing with
the other politicians. The career politicians smiled.

But they stopped grinning when the Best Party rose to 10% in the
polls. The tone changed abruptly. Gnarr was accused of not taking
the situation or the populace seriously. The press, too, stopped
finding the whole thing humorous. In a TV interview, Gnarr faced
withering scrutiny. When asked for his opinion on the airport, he
replied: «I have no idea.» He left the studio humiliated and
feeling like an idiot. To his astonishment, the people
congratulated him. «Finally, someone who admits it!» In the next
poll, the Best Party had risen to 20%.

Gnarr and his party actually won.

And to the surprise of most, as governing goes, he seemed to
govern OK. This is not a libertarian story—part of how he got the
government’s financed back in order involved tax hikes. The zany
newcomers cleaned house at a municipal energy company that had
gotten too deeply in debt by acting essentially as a bank, and
raised energy rates. Gnarr said, “When we shrank the company
and raised prices, we took a lot of flak. They told us that we’d be
in trouble at the next election. But as people who never wanted to
be in office in the first place, we had an advantage. I could just
say: ‹What election?›»

The party also strove, so the story says, to restore more
collegial decency to political culture, while keeping the “wacky”
edge:

The city’s coffers were empty, so the mayor took to
symbolic actions – such as the tattoo of the city coat of arms, or
his demand to a Chinese trade delegation to free dissidents (they
departed in a huff), his appearance in women’s clothing at the Gay
Parade, the competition to find the fattest cat in Reykjavik to be
the official Christmas cat, attending the ballot box dressed as a
Jedi, the ‘Good Day’ day, announced in a cheesy video in which
residents were asked to greet each other politely (it worked). And
after the death of his mother, Gnarr wrote that he appeared to work
in her dresses as a sign of mourning…

The Tages Anzieger reporter concludes:

An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather
surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in
order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a
few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school
organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed,
booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that
is the new bubble). …Real estate prices are again on the rise and
the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best
Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr
announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason:
«I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver
for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as
well.»

«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn.
«And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as
well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach,
that’s truly fucking the system!»

I am not an expert in Icelandic politics by any means, and this
is just one version of the story. And it’s not a “libertarian”
story per se, but it is an interesting case study in how not taking
politics or the system seriously can make interesting end runs
around political sclerosis. It should be an inspiration to other
zany outsiders of any sort who think it would be fun to play with
the institutions of politics, unless they are scared of the
potential consequences of actually taking the joke too far, that
is, winning office.

A
profile from the

Toronto Star
gives a similar perspective on Gnarr’s
success, with some fresh details:

Gnarr has been lionized as “the world’s coolest mayor” by his
fans, who include Noam Chomsky and Lady Gaga (“I love the mayor of
Iceland,” she once tweeted)…..

For many Icelanders, the fact that Gnarr was still standing
after four years was a significant change for Reykjavik — he is
only the third mayor in 32 years to finish an entire term.

“Despite this being a party of comedians — or a comedian — they
took their job pretty seriously,” says Gunnar Kristinsson, a
professor of political science at the University of Iceland. “They
were successful in a number of ways that lent stability to the
running of the municipality.”……

Through a mutual friend, Gnarr was introduced to Heida
Helgadottir
, a Washington-born single mother of two with a big
smile and friendly wink. He asked her to run his campaign.

“He wanted to infiltrate the system — he said the system was
always infiltrating his life,” Helgadottir, 31, recalls. “And he
just wanted to bring some joy to it all.”

Helgadottir’s experience consisted of a political science degree
and a marketing job at an artificial intelligence lab. Even still,
she was far more politically savvy than Gnarr, who literally had no
clue what he was running for.

“One of the things that I needed to explain to him upfront was
that he was actually running for municipal office,” Helgadottir
chuckles. “He got the municipal and (parliamentary) elections mixed
up . . . I needed to clear that up. He was just like, “OK, what
does the mayor do then?”…..

But if anyone who voted for the Best Party expected four years
of nothing but giggles, they would have been quickly disappointed.
Once in power, Gnarr had to do what every mayor before him has done
— try to balance the budget. Under his administration, taxes have
been raised, schools have been controversially merged, and people
have been laid off. Some of Reykjavik’s artists, who assumed they
now had strings to pull at city hall, were let down.

“A big problem in Icelandic politics has been nepotism,” Gnarr
says. “So when we got elected, many people within the creative
industry assumed their time had come now for nepotism. Many were
quite disappointed.”


Lucy Steigerwald
and Jesse
Walker
for Reason on joke candidates.

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Dick Cheney Fearmongers “A Terrorist Attack Bigger Than 9/11 Will Happen Before End Of Decade”

Hot on the heels of Eric Holder’s domestic terrorism task force creation, Lindsay Graham’s recent diatribe of the “inevitability” of another terror attack (on the US) by Syria or Iraq, adding that “according to our own Director of National Intelligence, FBI Director, the next 9/11 is coming from here,” it seems the ultimate scaremonger has decided it is his turn to stir the pot. Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Dick Cheney explained that he “doubted” whether the US would “get through this decade” without another “massive attack on the homeland.” But it’s what he said after that makes Obama’s NYC nukes concerns pale in comparison…

I think there will be another attack. And the next time, I think it’s going to be far deadlier than the last one.

 

Imagine what would happen if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the beltway outside Washington, D.C.

Via ORA TV,


As Kimberly Paxton at The Daily Sheeple concluded,

Thanks, Dick.  You really couldn’t make it any more obvious that a major false flag event is in the works.

 

Whatever is coming, it’s going to be huge. A lot of people are going to die in horrific ways. Ghastly pictures will be plastered all over the news to reinforce the awful event and make certain it is foremost in the minds of America.  The Ministry of Propaganda mainstream media will diligently traumatize people like it’s their job. (Because, you know, it is.) Someone will be painted as the boogeyman and we’ll have a new enemy to hate.

 

And while everyone is afraid, wars of vengeance  (that are actually to line the pockets of those who are already wealthy) will be declared, legislation will be written and hastily passed, and rights are going to be lost.  What’s coming will make the unPatriot Act look like a wholehearted endorsement of our unalienable rights in comparison.

 

It’s coming… and we have to look at every event with skepticism if we wish to know the real culprit. The real terrorists are probably spending about half of their time in our nation’s capital. It doesn’t get more “homegrown” than that.




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The Great American Economic Growth Myth

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

 




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Dance Music and MDMA: The Drug Panic That Will Not Die

Grab your glowsticks and
pacifier necklaces, kids: It’s time to freak out about Ecstasy and
raves again. Except this time, we’re calling the drug
Molly and the dance parties EDM shows.

The Christian Science Monitor has a nice,
breathless
summary of the new MDMA panic
, which looks pretty much exactly
like the
old MDMA panic(s)
. When it started rearing its head again last
year, it was triggered
by Miley Cyrus
. This time the music at the center of the
controversy comes from Swedish DJ Avicii, whom the Monitor
article paints as some sort of electronica-playing Pied Piper for
pillheads.

“More than a hundred people have been hospitalized at concerts
by Swedish DJ Avicii in recent weeks, refocusing the public eye on
the electronic dance music culture,” reads the Monitor
article subhead. Apparently, 36 people were hospitalized after an
Avicii concert in Boston on Wednesday. In May, 400 people were
hospitalized and two died at a music festival in Las Vegas at which
Avicii played.

The hype machine is using this to warn about the dangers of
“Molly,” aka ecstasy, aka MDMA. While Molly generally refers to a
less adulterated form of MDMA than ecstasy, they’re conceptually
similar. Molly is certainly nothing
new
, though you would be hard-pressed to glean this from many
media accounts.  

“Signs of illicit drugs, including the popular club drug ‘Molly’
… were apparent, with concertgoers strapped to stretchers, some
still screaming and flailing their arms,” reported a
Boston ABC station. And from CBS Boston

“There was one kid, it took four cops to take him down,” one
witness told WBZ-TV. “He was on something, I have no
idea.” 

Yet despite all this Avicii/Molly fear-mongering, there’s
actually little evidence Molly was involved. Authorities in Boston
say many of the concert hospitalizations Wednesday were actually
due to alcohol or some combination of alcohol and other drugs. Some
were simply overheated and dehydrated after dancing for hours in
the packed venue. 

“There may have been some illicit drug involved, but none have
been identified,” said Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Michael
Bosse. He also noted that those taken to the hospital suffered no
more than minor symptoms. 

Furthermore, not all of those transported to the hospital were
even inside the Avicii concert. “Based on early reports from the
venue it appears the majority of the transports were people outside
the venue who were too impaired to be allowed inside the venue and
access to the concert,” said Jacqueline Peterson, a spokeswoman for
Live Nation, in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution they
were transported for medical evaluation and assistance.”

Out of an abundance of caution, some drunks teens
hanging outside a concert venue were taken to the hospital and
treated for minor symptoms. Not much of a Molly indictment if you
ask me. But this is one moral panic that just keeps on
giving. 

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Licensing and Regulation For Costumed Characters in Times Square?

If you’ve spent any time in New
York’s Times Square recently, you’ve probably noticed the profusion
of costumed characters—people dressed as Superman, Batman,
Spider-Man and more. 

There are a lot of these spandex-clad, not-so-super folks in
midtown these days, and with so many around, it’s unfortunately the
case that a few have caused a bit of trouble. And that, inevitably,
has led local leaders to push for, you guessed it,
costumed-character regulation. 

After a string of incidents involving people in costume (not
always as superheroes), the head of the Times Square Alliance has
called for a licensing and regulatory scheme to be put in place,

according to CBS New York
:

Now, the president of the Times Square Alliance is calling for
regulations on costumed
characters
, saying they’ve gotten out of control.

“In the last 10 days alone, we’ve seen two Statues of Liberty
arrested, a Spider-Man convicted of harassing a tourist, and now a
third character arrested for groping a woman in Times
Square,” Tim Tompkins said in a statement on Saturday. “The
situation is out of control and a licensing and regulatory scheme
must be put in place.”

Tompkins isn’t the first New Yorker to call for costuming rules.
Last year, an NYPD officer and head of the Sergeant Benevolent
Association
said
he thought they should all be licensed and
fingerprinted. 

We know what happened when the (fictional) federal government
tried to license costumed heroes in the Marvel Comics universe:
The heroes split into two camps,
one, led by Captain America, opposed to working under the banner of
the government, and one, led by Iron Man, eager to turn the hero
business into a government-licensed cartel. We ended up with a
super civil war! 

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Brazil Screws Up World Cup Prep, Airbnb Saves Their Butts

a listing on AirbnbInnovative peer-to-peer companies like
Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have faced many challenges by taxi unions,
hotels, and bureaucrats over the past couple years. Occasionally
though, business communities and governments welcome the sharing
economy to help make up for their shortcomings. This is exactly
what is happening in Brazil right now, as the government is happy
to have Airbnb relieve some of the pressure from its inadequate
preparation leading up to the World Cup.

Christian Gessner, general director for Airbnb Brazil, said that
the number of listings in Latin America’s biggest country grew from
3,000 to 35,000 over the last two years, and listings in Rio alone
increased by 11,000 in just the last year. The quality of housing
varies greatly, with some places being offered for less than

$10 a night
, and some, such as the home of Brazilian soccer
star Ronaldinho, going for $15,000 a
night

Brazil is a lucrative market for the transactional service, and
it will likely continue to grow as Rio prepares to host the summer
Olympics in 2016. As the market expands for the sharing economy
though, traditional, well-established businesses will amp up their
attacks.

Airbnb is looking abroad even as it experiences pushback at
home. In San Francisco, it is illegal to rent out your home for
less than 30 days, and new legislation
would make it so that you can only rent out your home if you live
there three-quarters of the year. Airbnb finally settled a
nearly year long dispute
with New York law enforcement
officials that ended with the company agreeing to turn over large
amounts of data about their users.

Empirical studies haven’t reported too much disruption of
entrenched business by Airbnb, however. Georgios Zervas, a
professor at the University of Boston, completed a
study
that showed every 1 percent increase in Airbnb’s listings
results in a .05 percent decrease in quarterly hotel
revenues. 

Excessive regulations created a static transportation industry
and a sluggish market for housing and accommodations—it was only a
matter of time before entrepreneurial spirits seized the
opportunity to innovate and offer a better service. With
Airbnb’s valuation
at $10 billion, and
Uber’s valuation
at $18.2 billion, it looks like the market
agrees that it’s time to disrupt the status quo.

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Former Governor Warsh Slams Fed’s “Reverse Robin Hood” Policies

Isn’t it odd that when ‘officials’ are no longer part of the status-quo-sustainers, how the truthiness flows… As former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh explained this morning, “on the fairness point – if you have access to credit, if you’ve got a big balance sheet, the Fed has made you richer,” concluding rather too honestly for some people’s liking, “I would say [Fed policy] has been in some sense Reverse Robin Hood.” The bottom line, he chides, “this is a way to make the well to do more well to do because that’s all the Federal Reserve can do.”

 





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DuPont Cuts Outlook, Blames Weather

Presented without commentary:

Today DuPont announced that the company is revising its outlook for operating earnings per share for the second quarter and full year 2014, due primarily to lower than expected quarterly performance of its Agriculture and, to a lesser extent, Performance Chemicals segments. The company expects operating earnings in the second quarter to be moderately below the $1.28 per share recorded in the same period last year [EST. $1.46].  As a result, the company is lowering its full-year outlook for operating earnings to $4.00 to $4.10 per share [EST.$4.29].

 

The revised outlook in Agriculture reflects lower than expected corn seed sales and higher than expected seed inventory write-downs. Given favorable soybean economics, soybean sales volumes in North America are higher than expected. However, the higher soybean volume will not fully offset the decline in corn volume, especially given the transition under way in the company’s soybean lineup to newer, higher performing products.  The company believes this is a short-term negative trend, and there will be strong demand for its next generation soybean products. The revised outlook also reflects lower than expected crop protection herbicide sales, largely due to weather.




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Ed Krayewski on Who’s to Blame for Iraq

these guysFor Iraq, June has been the cruelest month. The
jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made
incredible gains in Iraq.  On June 5, ISIS fighters
briefly seized Samarra before being pushed back by Iraqi
government forces. On June 10, ISIS seized Iraq’s “second
city,” Mosul, on the crossroads between Iraq and Syria, another
area of operations for ISIS. On June 15, ISIS claimed have captured
and killed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in Tal Afar. A few days later they
attacked a major oil refinery north of Baghdad, one that was
responsible for about 25 percent of the country’s domestic oil
consumption. As Iraq verges on the brink of civil war, writes Ed
Krayewski, there’s a cornucopia of Iraqi and foreign figures who
could be blamed for the unfolding disaster.

View this article.

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