The Missoula city council voted 10-1 last night to pass an ordinance prohibiting new homeless shelters and soup kitchens for the next six months, or until such time as the city can draft new conditional-use zoning. The ban will be retroactive, with an effective date of August 12. Council members worried that unusual aspect of the ordinance might provoke a lawsuit, but it was necessary to address the real purpose of the ban: preventing the Union Gospel Mission from moving to the former Sweetheart Bakery outlet, which the mission leased and permitted last month. Council heard from approximately three dozen westside residents who opposed the move, in testimony that would have made me think the people of this town were pretty heartless if I didn’t know them already.
The New York Times issued a compelling argument that web pages are better than newspapers yesterday, when they published this interactive graphic of the most popular Netflix movies in major US cities. Fascinating trends abound, from the predictable—the distribution of Obsessed turns out to be a handy map of where black people live—to the predictable-in-retrospect: the Reneé Zellweger vehicle New In Town, about a big-city girl who moves to Minnesota for some reason, is fantastically popular in Minneapolis and nowhere else. (For those of you who find the slider irritating, as I do, New In Town is just to the right of the second hash mark. Things that are not related by quantitative induction, where each element n cannot be said to have an n+1, should not be arranged on a slider. Leviticus 14:5.) At right, you will see the map for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a movie that I did not see but which I am going to assume, based on the preview, was not exactly Citizen Kane. Those of you wondering where the line is between upper Manhattan and the South Bronx need look no further than the sharp red-white delineation between highways 9 and 1. Also, if you’re wondering which parts of Brooklyn are nice now, there you go. Hint: not Gravesend.
Okay, this is weird. Rasmussen Reports announced yesterday that their most recent poll shows the Tea Party beating the Republican Party by a five-point margin on a three-way generic ballot. A generic ballot pits nameless candidates against one another in a theoretical election; in this case, Rasmussen asked “If congressional elections were held tomorrow, would you vote for the Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party candidate from your district?” Democrats led the pack with 36% of the vote, the Tea Party got 23%, and Republicans finished third with 18%. Astute observers will notice that leaves 22% of those polled undecided, and also that the Tea Party does not, uh, exist. I assume the same poll found that Americans overwhelmingly reject cap-and-trade in favor of having Bigfoot drink carbon out of clouds, and want the government to stay out of health insurance so that costs can be determined by the invisible hand of David Bowie in Labyrinth.
There is a storm brewing across our great nation. From Spokane to Schenectady, decent, hardworking Americans who watch television at 4pm are joining together to question their federal government. “Why do you continue to exist?” they ask. “Why can’t we get back to the government we had in 1789, which apparently included Medicaid and Social Security? Have you heard that a black guy is President now?” They are the Tea Party, and they object to taxation and spending. They may also be entirely the creation of the country’s second-biggest cable news network, owned by the world’s 132nd-richest man, but that doesn’t stop them from being a legitimate political party. Sort of. And nowhere is the newly-consecrated Tea Party so influential as in Colorado, where the GOP has chosen as its candidate for governor Scott McInnis, largely because he has the Tea Party’s backing. Kinda. The important thing is, he’s winning. I guess. To hear Fox News tell it, at least, the awesome power of the Tea Party has swept Bill McInnis to certain victory in Colorado. Except maybe they made it all up.
We here in the Combat! offices read Andrew Sullivan a lot, but we don’t get to link to him as often as we’d like to, probably because he doesn’t spend enough time saying things that are completely insane. A Tory transplant from the UK, Sullivan has identified as a conservative for most of his career, despite his sexual preference (dudes) and his tendency to support centrist Democrats in second-term Presidential elections (Bush-to-Clinton, Bush II-to-Kerry.) Basically, Sullivan’s conservative principles guide his political affiliations, not the other way around. Until Tuesday, he’d managed to lean left and right while remaining publicly aligned with the Republican side of the American political spectrum. All that changed with this blog post, in which Sullivan announces that he can no longer support “the movement that goes by the name ‘conservative’ in America.” His public repudiation of the American right—and, by implication, the GOP—is seismic coming from a man who prides himself on being “of no party or clique.” It’s also an indicator of how far the Republican Party has drifted from anything that an informed, reasonable American who is not himself a politician would want to endorse.