URLs du Jour

2018-07-22

[Amazon Link]

  • Solomon brings the truth in Proverbs 10:4:

    4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
        but diligent hands bring wealth.

    Point taken.

    Everything is relative, however. An Ancient Israeli "wealthy" person would be considered in abject poverty today.


  • Jonah Goldberg's most recent G-File is (roughly) on President Trump's recent loose-cannon comments on NATO. Excerpt:

    I’m worried that we are entering a very dangerous chapter in world history. The idea that international institutions, built on the blood-stained rubble of two world wars, must give way to some glorious new era of nationalism is inflaming the minds of people across the West. It’s a very weird epidemic of Year Zero thinking on a global level. As a Burkean, I’m open to reform: gradual, thoughtful, incremental reform that improves on what we have already built. But the recent blunderbuss rhetoric isn’t about that. It’s a nearest-weapon-to-hand defense of a president who doesn’t understand how NATO even works.

    It's rough when you have a President that, every so often, can't be bothered to appear sane, knowledgable, and honest.


  • Trump's bad enough. His opponents are aguably worse. At Reason, David Harsanyi has a suggestion for us: Get a Grip, America.

    This week, The Washington Post published an op-ed headlined "It's not wrong to compare Trump's America to the Holocaust." As with similar examples of this genre, it's a sickening display of moral relativism that belittles the suffering and murder of millions in the service of some shortsighted and crass partisan fearmongering.

    Elsewhere, Politico published an opinion piece headlined "Putin's Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor," which demeaned the sacrifice of American service members by likening a military attack on American soil that brought us into the bloodiest war mankind has ever experienced to phishing.

    On MSNBC, where illiterate histrionic analogies litter coverage every day, a contributor compared Donald Trump's meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht, just to be safe.

    It's a little weird when, by all objective measures, the sanest political party in America is the Libertarian Party.


  • At PJ Media, John Ellis has news you can use. Specifically, 5 Modern Myths People Need to Stop Believing. Example:

    4. After Eating, You Have to Wait to Go Swimming

    People need to let go of this myth because there's no reason to continue torturing kids. And mothers have been torturing kids for generations because of the belief that after eating we have to wait at least 30 minutes before jumping back into the pool. However, as Duke Health says, "Apparently, mother does not know best when it comes to swimming after eating."

    The myth persists, though, because it is true that swimmers can suffer from a mild cramp after eating. Please note the emphasis on "mild." Because, as Medicine Net points out, "the fact is that an episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been documented."

    Ellis's myths are apolitical. For example, he doesn't tackle the myth of Scandinavian socialism.


  • American Consequences has its "Summer Reading" issue online. Editor P. J. O'Rourke essays on Knowing Write From Left. His contrarian take on a musty play:

    Literature hates capitalism. And the hating started while capitalism was still being invented – before “capitalist” was even a word – in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice with its nasty portrayal of Shylock, the only worthwhile person in the play.

    All the other main characters are rich lay-abouts, except for the titular merchant, Antonio, and he’s a fool. He’s going to loan his profligate friend Bassanio 3,000 ducats (something like half-a-million dollars) so that Bassanio can afford to date Portia. Meanwhile, Antonio’s business affairs are a mess. He’s cash poor because all his capital is tied up in high-risk ventures. He’s counting on huge returns from emerging market trading ventures.

    Shylock, a keen-eyed financial analyst, sums up Antonio’s investment portfolio: “He hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies… a third at Mexico, a fourth for England.”

    Libya, Southeast Asia, Mexico, and… England? What, exactly, is this Merchant of Venice merchandizing? Looks to me like he’s trading in boat people, smuggled ivory, drugs, and… kippered herring?

    Peej has some alternate reading suggestions, a couple may surprise you! Eek!


  • A student, Ian Smith (but not that Ian Smith), writes sensibly in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: University of Minnesota pronoun policy should not be enacted. It's the (by now) standard: even though a student's birth certificate may say "Stephen", he has the right to be referred to as "Stephanie", use the girl's bathroom, and … oops, I'm probably in trouble for saying "he" back there, because "hir" preferred pronoun is "ze".

    Among the problems Ian perceives:

    • Administrators have full power to expel someone for not using pronouns.

    There is something wrong with a policy that kicks a student out of its school and essentially ruins their lives over their not uttering a one-syllable word. There is something morally in me that can’t quite support a policy that advocates for this. One may make the argument that “the university will only resort to that punishment in extreme cases.” But that’s not how policies work out in effect. When you give administrators wide breadth in disciplinary action, you must assume that they will use it. So be prepared for a student to be expelled for not speaking the exact words the university wants him or her to say.

    Aaaand … cue the lawsuits. Universities need to ask themselves: Is this really a hill they want to die on?

    So anyway, if you know any college students, you might want to invest in our Amazon Product du Jour. Which, outrageously, you can get in either "Men" or "Women" fit types. To the barricades, comrades!

URLs du Jour

2018-07-21

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 10:3:

    3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
        but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

    How do you know if you're not righteous? If you're hungry.


  • I've been watching—sort of—the Margaret Hoover version of "Firing Line" off the TiVo when I get the chance. Dasaun McClinton @ the Federalist notes a problem: PBS’s ‘Firing Line’ Revival Wets Bill Buckley’s Gunpowder. It's a longish article, but Dasaun eventually gets to the widely-noted claim from interviewee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: "unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs."

    It would not have taken much for Hoover to interject and point out that the number of jobs a person has or number of hours a person works has no effect whatsoever on the unemployment rate. But she didn’t. This is just the beginning of what quickly develops into a cycle: Ocasio-Cortez says something false or historically ignorant, like that the United States was not a capitalist country when it was founded. Hoover sits, nods, then moves on.

    To her credit, Hoover retorts that capitalism has generated the most wealth and eliminated the most poverty of any other system, but undercuts her own efforts by allowing Cortez to explain away those facts as being a part of the natural evolution of economic systems. This is not true.

    I suspect that Ms. Hoover doesn't push back on outlandish claims because she's an intellectual lightweight who's unable to think on her feet. (I know, she's sitting down. You know what I mean.)


  • How Margaret Hoover could have pushed back on Ocasio-Cortez's capitalism-slagging is expressed in our Tweet du Jour:

    The other "Firing Line" interviews I've watched: Gretchen Carlson, Paul Ryan, both pretty blah. I have the Jeff Merkley episode on disk, so… one more chance?


  • Coleman Hughes @ Quillette writes on Black American Culture and the Racial Wealth Gap.

    There is arguably no racial disparity more striking than the wealth gap. While the median white household earns just 65 percent more income than its black counterpart, its net worth is fully ten times as high. And, unlike income, which individuals earn in their own lifetimes, wealth accrues over generations, and whites are more than three times as likely as blacks to inherit money from their families. In the public debate on racial inequality, the wealth gap is among the sharpest arrows in the progressive quiver. When conservative commentators argue that America is a meritocracy, or that blacks lag due to cultural factors, progressives can retaliate with a single statistic that seems to prove the reality of white privilege beyond the possibility of doubt.

    But does it? No, it doesn't. Read the whole thing. One commenter writes that "Coleman Hughes appears to be … Thomas Sowell pre-emptively reincarnated." Big, if true.


  • David Harsanyi gives us the sad news: The ACLU Has Basically Quit Defending The Constitution.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that once so rigidly adhered to the neutral principles in the Constitution that it famously defended the right of a neo-Nazi group to march through the Jewish-laden Chicago suburb of Skokie, has been increasingly rejiggering its positions to correspond with the Left’s hard lurch towards cafeteria constitutionalism.

    This week, for example, one of its senior policy analysts came up with an imaginative rationalization for limiting gun rights. “The wide availability of guns and their misuse is leading to restrictions on Americans’ freedom,” the organization tweeted this week, “and that needs to be part of the firearms debate.” The piece the tweet links to makes a, “A Pro-Liberty Case for Gun Restrictions,” which, though it’s become a tediously misused cliché over the years, can only be described as Orwellian.

    It's sad to see the ACLU self-immolate in progressivism.


  • Faint praise from Jonah Goldberg @ NRO: Obama’s Identity-Politics Warning Is Better Late than Never.

    ‘Democracy demands that we’re able to also get inside the reality of people who are different than us, so we can understand their point of view. Maybe we can change their minds, maybe they’ll change ours.”

    That was Barack Obama speaking in South Africa on the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

    The former president went on to say that you can’t change people’s minds “if you just out of hand disregard what your opponent has to say from the start. And you can’t do it if you insist that those who aren’t like you, because they are white or they are male, somehow there is no way they can understand what I’m feeling, that somehow they lack standing to speak on certain matters.”

    "Welcome to the party, pal." Hypocritical? Sure, you bet. But as Jonah notes: "there’s a reason we say hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue."

URLs du Jour

2018-07-20

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 10 is labeled as being direct from Solomon, so Proverbs 10:2 should be extremely wise, right?

    2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
        but righteousness delivers from death.

    Proverbs flits between "being good pays off in life" and "well, maybe not in life, but…." This seems to be one of the latter.


  • But speaking of ill-gotten treasures, think of all those folks at the receiving end of the spending detailed in the 2018 Congressional Pig Book, the yearly compendium of wasteful spending. Summary:

    Citizens Against Government Waste’s (CAGW) 2018 Congressional Pig Book exposes 232 earmarks in FY 2018, an increase of 42.3 percent from the 163 in FY 2017. The cost of earmarks in FY 2018 is $14.7 billion, an increase of 116.2 percent from the $6.8 billion in FY 2017, or nearly nine times greater than the increase in discretionary spending. The only other time the cost has at least doubled was FYs 1992-1993. Since FY 1991, CAGW has identified 110,861 earmarks costing $344.5 billion.

    Back in May, we in Seacoast NH had a visit from the USS Manchester, which had its commissioning ceremony in Portsmouth. Local pols (notably Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the ship's "sponsor") swooned, thanks to the Navy naming it after Manchester, NH. I attest: it was might impressive looking. But the Pig Book notes the waste involved:

    $544,075,000 for three earmarks funding the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the largest amount ever earmarked for the vessel. Known to some inside (and outside) the Navy as the “Little Crappy Ship,” the LCS has been a disaster since its inception, with problems that include a vaguely defined mission, a lack of firepower and survivability, and design flaws leading to cracks in the hull and corrosion. The number of ships the Navy intends to purchase has been cut in half, from 55 to 28, while the cost per ship has increased by 117.3 percent, from $220 million to $478 million.

    I don't recommend reading the Pig Book to anyone prone to hypertension unless they are well-medicated ahead of time.


  • Stephen Roberts @ the Federalist makes a point to which I've alluded in the past: Everybody Has Religious Beliefs, Some People Just Deny It. In this case, his musings are triggered by SC nominee Brett Kavanaugh's devout Catholicism, and the opposition that's likely to trigger among Senate Democrats.

    Increasingly, progressives will not tolerate deeply religious people in positions of authority. They have written them off as bigots and extremists with dangerous views, which is why Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation hearings will face charges of bigotry and extremism from Democrats who feel free to flout the Constitution and impose their version of a religious test for public office.

    The only way to pass such a test is to not let on that you have any deeply held religious beliefs whatsoever—unless of course you subscribe to the religion of progressivism, and confess a firm belief in nothing so much as the almighty power of the state.

    Anti-Catholic bigotry, accusations of pro-Russian treason, … man, it really is the Sixties again. Far out!


  • Mark Liberman @ Language Log discusses something that's bugged me for years: when did Incredible stop meaning "not credible" and start meaning "exceedingly great"?

    Well, it's not quite that simple. After analysis of OED entries, and various corpora, Mark concludes:

    […] there has apparently been a proportional shift in the direction of the "exceedingly great" meaning — this is unsurprising, since such semantic "bleaching" (with the residue simply some sort of intensification) is a common process. Examples in the history of English include very, really, terribly, awfully,  etc. etc.

    But the "not credible" meaning is still deployed in legal contexts, for example in a recent Supreme Court decision from the Notorious RBG, which refers to a convicted murderer's "incredible and uncorroborated defense".


  • Bryan Caplan sees rampant dysfunction everywhere, except: Firm Functionalism.

    I have little sympathy for the Panglossian view that the status quo is socially optimal – or even socially satisfactory.  When I look at the world, I see vicious government policies, awful wars, and grotesque waste.  You could chalk this up to my libertarian priors, and not without just cause.  But in my defense, individual behavior often strikes me as sadly dysfunctional, too.  People would be markedly happier if they second-guessed their impulses, built a Beautiful Bubble, and walked away from their own misanthropy.  They don’t, but they should.

    Still, one major form of social organization strikes me as highly functional – not merely from the point of view of the organizers themselves, but for society as a whole.  Ironically, it is arguably the most-maligned form of social organization: for-profit business.  Though I freely acknowledge the many shortcomings of the business community, it is far more sinned against than sinning.

    A balanced and reasonable argument follows.


  • Michael Munger discusses an important schism within libertarianism: Directionalism vs. Destinationism.

    I’m a “directional” libertarian. That means that if a proposed new policy or reform of an existing policy cuts spending or increases liberty, I’m for it, even if it isn’t a “real” libertarian policy.

    Directionalism infuriates the “destinationists.” Destinationists have a notion of the ideal outcome, the perfect solution. Any policy that is not acceptable in the imaginary destinationist world is not acceptable in the present world of realized institutions.

    Good point. I think I'm a Directionalist too. There's also a funny story about shopping carts in Germany and a wise local cop.

URLs du Jour

2018-07-19

[Amazon Link]

  • We move (backward, don't ask) into a new Proverbial chapter today with Proverbs 10:1:

    1 A wise son brings joy to his father,
        but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

    Presumably it works the other way for daughters, so things even out between parents.

    (This is NIV, our default. A few PC translations substitute "child" for "son". I don't see any that substitute "parent" for "father" and "mother".)


  • Did slavery make America rich? If you've been wondering about that, wonder no further. Deirdre Nansen McCloskey answers at Reason: Slavery Did Not Make America Rich.

    In his second inaugural, Abraham Lincoln declared that "if God wills that [the Civil War] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk…as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

    It is a noble sentiment. Yet the economic idea implied—that exploitation made us rich—is mistaken. Slavery made a few Southerners rich; a few Northerners, too. But it was ingenuity and innovation that enriched Americans generally, including at last the descendants of the slaves.

    Read on for Professor McCloskey's detailed refutation.


  • We seem to be on a transgender kick today. Jeff Jacoby reports on … what might make a pretty good movie: The transgender posse vs. Scarlett Johansson.

    Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to left-wing pressure. In 2014, protesters demanded that she sever her ties to an Israeli company, SodaStream. Last year a racial interest group condemned her for playing the character Motoko in "Ghost in the Shell," a Hollywood remake of a Japanese classic.

    The posse came after Johansson yet again last week. Her supposed sin this time: agreeing to star in the upcoming movie "Rub & Tug," which tells the story of Dante "Tex" Gill, a brothel owner in 1970s Pittsburgh who was born female but lived as a man. The casting of Johansson triggered a backlash from transgender actors, who not only argued that the role should go to someone who personally identifies as transgender, but claimed it would be unethical and hostile to do otherwise.

    Bottom line, Jacoby notes: ScarJo has pulled out, the movie may not be made now.


  • Bias is the water in which the mainstream media swim, and it often takes an outsider to notice. At NRO, Charles C. W. Cooke observes that, according to the MSM, Apparently, Only Conservatives Spend Money on Politics. Example NYT headline:

    I.R.S. Will No Longer Force Kochs and Other Groups to Disclose Donors

    The "other groups" include every group operating under the IRS's 501(c)(4) rules. But…

    The Times notes that “varied” groups will benefit from this change, which is true. But the “varied” groups given as examples are “arms of the AARP, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association and Americans for Prosperity, which is funded partly by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.” Gosh, what a range! They must have been plucked from the air . . .

    Just for the record, Ballotpedia lists the "ten most viewed 501(c)(4) organizations" on their site:

    You'll recognize some of them, of course. It's far from the one-sided lists ominously peddled by the Times and their ilk.


  • At the Weekly Standard, Kevin D. Williamson has a non-negotiable demand: Stop Calling It 'Treason'.

    President Trump, who has a little something of the later Roman emperors in him, is not engaged in making war on the United States, though it is galling to defend him from such charges given his own propensity for talking treason lightly.

    He is not engaged in treason or anything like treason. He is engaged in hypocrisy and moral illiteracy. He is a frank admirer of caudillos such as Vladimir Putin, because in his mind ruthlessness, grasping, and amorality are associated with effective leadership. Hence the praise for Kim Jong-un.

    Trump is a boob of a familiar sort: The guy sitting on the barstool (though Trump does not drink) saying, “I’m not saying I approve of Hitler, but he got things done.” The president finds much to admire in autocracies and police states, and in foreign affairs he makes that plain enough. The insistence that Putin must have kompromat or financial leverage over Trump is, in the absence of evidence, only a conspiracy theory, and no responsible person in public life should be trafficking in those—not even late-night comedians. Civilization went awry when we stopped socially classifying actors and related entertainers with prostitutes and tinkers, but even Stephen Colbert owes some public duty.

    The list of folks against whom treason charges were (legally) brought in the US is surprisingly short.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is a fondly-remembered text from the previous outbreak of treason accusations.


  • I take Mental Floss quizzes every so often, and I got 96% on Is It in the USA? Not bad for a stay-at-home guy. How about you?


Last Modified 2018-07-19 11:11 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2018-07-18

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:31 looks as if it should have a question mark at the end instead of an exclamation point. (Some translations go with the question mark.)

    31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
        how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

    I question the premise. To put it mildly.

    As is not uncommon, "The Message" translation of 11:31 seems to be a botch:

    If good people barely make it, what’s in store for the bad!

    Well, just look around you, Proverbialist.

    But this made me look up "How many exclamation points are in the NIV Bible?".

    Spoiler alert: 313. As opposed to a hefty 1492 in the KJV. I guess the KJV translators were an excitable bunch.


  • J.D. Tuccille notes, for the rest of us, how Proverbs 11:31 has been overridden in Arizona, where Laws Are for the Little People. ("You mean the leprechauns?" "No.")

    For aww-shucks acknowledgment of abuse of power, it's hard to beat Arizona-style honesty. When informed by a sheriff's deputy that doing 97 miles per hour in a 55 zone was a tad excessive, state Rep. Paul Mosley (R-District 5) answered, "Well, I was doing 120 earlier...This goes 140. That's what I like about it."

    Under fire from the public and the press, Rep. Mosley apologized both for speeding and for his "jokes about frequently driving over 100 miles per hour." But he drove away from that incident free as a bird, and likely faces no consequences more perilous than what the voters can muster up at the ballot box. As he explained to the deputy, he enjoys "legislative immunity."

    Arizona, it turns out, has a pretty broad legislative immunity written into its constitution.

    For those of us wondering "what about the Live Free or Die state?", the NH Constitution Part 2, Article 21:

    No member of the House of Representatives, or Senate shall be arrested, or held to bail, on mesne process, during his going to, returning from, or attendance upon, the Court.

    That's from 1784. Interestingly, I can't find any such protection in place for NH Senators. In any case, I'd like to see a rep trying to do 120 on NH Route 4 to Concord.


  • Jibran Khan notes victims of Trumpian protectionism: Lobstermen Are Caught in the Net.

    Arguments over tariffs invariably cast the protagonists as large, impersonal units: the U.S., China, the EU, corporations such as Toyota and Harley-Davidson. We are asked to take a side between actors too big to comprehend, perhaps in the hope that we will slip into a team mentality and assume that any costs incurred are simply coming out of the pockets of the rich or abstract, with little real effect on the rest of us. This is a grave mistake. Tariffs, both those enacted by the U.S. and those they provoke in retaliation, impose limitations on the behavior and livelihood of individuals. This has been made vividly clear recently by the plight of Maine’s fishermen, who are caught right in the middle of the White House’s trade war.

    China is one of the largest markets for Maine shellfish, but because the Chinese have reacted to the U.S. tariffs by imposing some of their own, that is beginning to change. With tariffs now set at 40 percent for live lobster and 35 percent for processed lobster, Maine’s seafood producers are taking a hit. Rather than pay a considerably higher amount in taxes by importing from Maine, Chinese businesses are shifting to Canadian suppliers, whose lobster exports have not been subject to the new tariffs. Canadian waters are home to the same species of lobster, so the trade war makes their product a direct, cheaper substitute.

    The only bit of good news: this should make lobster cheaper for the rest of us, right? Sucks if you're a lobsterman, though.


  • Ma Belle Michelle Malkin takes on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic Party congressional twit: Boston University's Fake-O-Nomics Darling.

    The upstart New York congressional candidate has been hailed by pundits, newspapers and pols as "sharp," "smart" and "extraordinary." BU's Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore gushed that Ocasio-Cortez is "brilliant -- she is boldly curious and always present. She makes me think and could always see multiple sides of any issue. ... I can't wait to see what happens when her time truly comes."

    But when the time came to put her BU economics education to work, Ocasio-Cortez flunked. On PBS last week, she asserted that "unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs." Moreover, the erudite B.A. holder in economics posited, "unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids."

    No, as Michelle points out, that's not how unemployment statistics work. And the fraction of people with multiple jobs is "less than 5 percent and has been declining for nearly 30 years."

    Maybe Alexandria could get some tuition money back from BU?


  • And our Tweet du Jour from the reliable Iowahawk:

    I believe the Hawk might be referring to…

URLs du Jour

2018-07-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:30 is one of those where the Proverbialist doesn't seem to be trying that hard:

    30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
        and the one who is wise saves lives.

    A fruit is a tree? C'mon.


  • Jeezum Crow. Did you know that the Secret Service codename for the President is "Loose Cannon"?

    Well, it's probably not.

    But by nearly all accounts… for example, Ben Shapiro at NRO: Trump’s Disgraceful Press Conference in Helsinki.

    On Monday, President Trump gave a deeply disgraceful press conference with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The presser began with Trump announcing that although the Russia–U.S. relationship has “never been worse than it is now,” all of that “changed as of about four hours ago.” It was downhill from there. Trump proceeded to state that he held “both countries responsible” for the deterioration of the relationship, then supported Putin’s argument that Russia hadn’t interfered in the American election in any way: “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. . . . I have confidence in both parties.”

    Both parties. One party being a murderous dictator, and the other the intelligence community that works for him.

    Many rabid anti-Trumpers think that Trump's performance means that "Putin has something on Trump". Probably pee-related. But Ben has an alternate (and more credible) explanation: "Far more likely, it means that Trump’s ego is one giant gaping wound, constantly draining rage over the suggestion that his 2016 election victory was somehow ill-won."


  • And Reason's Nick Gillespie is also credible when he points out: Trump's Putin Summit Is Another Reminder He Prefers Dictators to Democratic Leaders.

    Among the most consistent characteristics of Donald Trump's worldview is his admiration for dictators, authoritarians, and political strongmen—not in spite of their most thuggish tactics, but because of them.

    Trump often appears more comfortable in their company, and with their style of politics, than with the leaders of liberal democracies. This aspect of his personality was on display again today in his joint press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

    We've been seeing recently a spate of triumphalism by the Trump cheerleaders. This might make them go silent for a while.


  • But I did find one positive comment for Trump, from Roger L. Simon: Putin Summit May Prove to Be Trump's Finest Hour. Wha? That's contrarian, but see if you're convinced:

    Okay, time for that familiar cliche -- the thought experiment. Suppose Trump had done the opposite, exactly what these people demanded -- verbally and viciously assaulted Putin for all his totalitarian tropes from annexing the Crimea to humiliating John Podesta for being so dumb as to fall for a phishing attack (all right -- I'll be fair. For invading the computers of Democratic Party operatives, allegedly to elect Trump) and so forth?

    What would that have accomplished? The obvious answer is zilch. Again the opposite would most likely have occurred. Things, already bad, would have been set back further. It's human nature. You don't have to be a personal acquaintance of Vladimir Putin to know that. You only have to be breathing.

    I'll just point out this looks an awful lot like a False Dilemma fallacy.


  • And it is in these days of troubled times that we turn to Iowahawk for insightful wisdom. Alas, as shown in his Tweet du Jour,…

    … he's as mystified as the rest of us.

URLs du Jour

2018-07-16

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:29 is a pretty famous one. Evocative imagery:

    29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
        and the fool will be servant to the wise.

    Famous mostly because of our Amazon Product du Jour. Apparently, that's the original movie poster over there on your right. I don't remember the monkey being in the movie, but it's been a real long time since I watched.

    I also don't know the relevance of the title Inherit the Wind to the subject matter of the play/movie, the Scopes monkey trial.


  • Experiment in multitasking: I've taken up podcast-listening while dog-walking. One of my subscriptions is to Russ Roberts' EconTalk, which I much recommend. The latest episode is based on Russ's Medium essay: The Outrage Epidemic. Couple of paragraphs to whet your appetite:

    The political atmosphere in America seem to have deteriorated a lot in the last few years. A lot of yelling. A lot of arrogance and overconfidence. A lot of trusting of stories that confirm what we already believe as opposed to stories that challenge what we only think we know. And a lot of trusting of stories that are literally not true.

    People don’t just disagree with each other. They can’t imagine how a decent human being could disagree with their view of immigration or the minimum wage or President Trump.

    Russ's podcast is interesting and he's relentlessly fair even when his guests are promoting ludicrous ideas.


  • I'm way too old to develop a new bad/stupid habit, so I'm uninterested in vaping myself. I'm pretty disgusted at the moral panic that's sprung up around it, though. So's John Tierney, writing at City Journal: Juul Madness.

    Tobacco-company stocks have plunged this year—along with cigarette sales—because of a wonderful trend: the percentage of people smoking has fallen to a historic low. For the first time, the smoking rate in America has dropped below 15 percent for adults and 8 percent for high school students. But instead of celebrating this trend, public-health activists are working hard to reverse it.

    They’ve renewed their campaign against the vaping industry and singled out Juul Labs, the maker of an e-cigarette so effective at weaning smokers from their habit that Wall Street analysts are calling it an existential threat to tobacco companies. In just a few years, Juul has taken over more than half the e-cigarette market thanks to its innovative device, which uses replaceable snap-on pods containing a novel liquid called nicotine salt. Because the Juul’s aerosol vapor delivers nicotine more quickly than other vaping devices, it feels more like a tobacco cigarette, so it appeals to smokers who want nicotine’s benefits (of which there are many) without the toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

    So "public health advocates" are actually working against … public health. Ironic? I'm never sure.


  • Baylen Linnekin brings (more) bad news at Reason: Trump's Tariffs Are Going To Make Your Food More Expensive.

    Food prices are rising. And they're soon likely to soar even more.

    The coming spike, which will hurt millions of Americans, didn't have to be. It's due on the one hand to the Trump administration's plans to impose mind-numbingly stupid tariffs on China and other U.S. trade partners and, on the other hand, by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and others in return.

    Hey, let them eat lobster.


  • Kevin D. Williamson has deep thoughts (at NRO) about a recent sorta-comedy. Specifically, what sort of men become monsters? Stalin at the Movies.

    One possible answer: Those who get the chance.

    For the thoroughgoing materialist (“dialectical and historical materialism,” Stalin called it), none of that should be surprising. If you believe that H. sap. is only time’s favorite monkey — that man is meat — then there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the kind of behavior we’re talking about, and no need to justify it, since there is nobody to justify it to. If you believe that man ought to be better, it implies that he can be better, and that “better” means something. And here materialism fails us, which is why Marxism became an ersatz religion. Christianity is a fortunate religion in the sense that the endless moral failings of its leaders (and followers) keeps illustrating, generation after generation, the fundamental facts of the creed. The creeds based on human perfectibility, which is the romantic notion at the heart of all utopian thinking, have as their main problem the countervailing example of everybody you’ve ever met and ever will.

    As noted yesterday, there's an excellent chance that cheerleaders for secular "enlightenment", like Steven Pinker, will be unhappy with the harvest they're sowing.


  • And a brief, but super-insightful Tweet du Jour from @baseballcrank, aka Dan McLaughlin:

    Exactly.

URLs du Jour

2018-07-15

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:28 is yet another promise/threat aimed at good/bad people:

    28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
        but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

    On a vaguely related matter: my currency says "In God We Trust", but doesn't that sneakily imply that you're relatively foolish to trust that the currency you have on hand will hold its value?

    Also vaguely related: today's Amazon Product du Jour, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by the late Jean Shepherd.


  • Haven't read Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now yet? Let NRO's Christian Alejandro Gonzalez nudge you over the edge: Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now Is Mostly Right.

    Steven Pinker is a rare type of public intellectual, capable of writing prolifically without sacrificing an iota of scholarly rigor. Meticulously researched, closely argued, and elegantly written, his books are always exemplary pieces of scholarship. Most recently he committed his pen to making the case for Enlightenment values in his boldly titled Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

    Against the Marxist revulsion to the free-enterprise system, for instance, Pinker unabashedly embraces capitalist globalization — and his empirical arguments in favor of it are devastating. With a deluge of charts he shows that 200 years of property protections and international trade have helped create a world that is healthier, wealthier, happier, smarter, safer, more peaceful, and more democratic. Far from bequeathing to us a hellishly unequal dystopia, capitalism over the centuries has diminished life’s brutalities and broadened access to its contentments.

    Christian [appropriately] notes one of Pinker's fudges: his effort to discover/explicate a "secular path to meaning". But to Pinker's credit, his comments on this are right up front: pages 3-4.


  • George F. Will on the National Pastime, arguably fading in popularity among the important demographics: Don’t fix baseball, even if it’s broken.

    It is a prudential axiom: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This reflects the awareness that things can always be made worse, and it reflects the law of unintended consequences, which is that they often are larger than and contrary to intended ones. As baseball reaches the all-star break amid lamentations about several semi-broken aspects of it, it is time to amend the axiom: Don’t fix it, even if it is broken.

    The itch to fix complex systems often underestimates the ability of markets, broadly understood, to respond and adapt to incentives. So, even if you are an unsatisfactory American — i.e., uninterested in baseball — read on, because the debate about some of the game’s current defects contains lessons about lesser things than baseball, meaning everything else.

    I'm mildly in favor of a pitch clock, which almost happened this year.

    Also: hit batsmen get to fling the ball back at the pitcher. "See how you like it."


  • The Google LFOD Alert rang a lot over the past couple days. For example, a Matt Welch article at Reason: How Elected Libertarians Are Making the World More Free. Specifically, Rochester's Brandon Phinney, Republican turned Officially Libertarian:

    For instance, the Live Free or Die State had on its books for more than a century a prohibition against reusing glass milk-delivery bottles for any other substance besides milk. This bit of dairy industry protectionism wasn't exactly high on inspectors' things-to-fine list, but as Phinney explains, "Anything in a statute that has a financial penalty or a chance to get charged for a crime, it's something that I care about."

    Also: performers drinking alcohol on stage is now legal in NH. Baby steps.


  • Which reminds me: Rep. Phinney gets a solid A on the Americans for Prosperity 2017 Legislative Scorecard. I'm envious. My town's three reps, Roger Berube, Matthew Spencer, and Dale Sprague, got (respectively) F (17%), A (92%), and F (33%). Our senator, David Watters, got an F (0%).

  • The Concord Monitor editoriaized on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination, pontificating: A republic’s fate is in the hands of voters. Of course, it all comes down to one thing:

    We won’t hazard a guess as to the odds of a Roe v. Wade reversal but if it happens, barring the nuclear option of a federal ban on abortions, the issue will become a matter for states to decide. If it does, we know this: People who cannot make choices for themselves cannot be governed by New Hampshire’s vaunted “Live Free or Die” motto. Rarely can personal freedom be more at stake than when a woman faces the decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy or bear, against her wishes or at risk to her health, a child.

    In Monitor-Land, the baby doesn't get get a choice about "Live Free or Die". The "terminate a pregnancy" euphemism is typically dishonest.


  • Something I didn't notice local newshounds reporting is covered at the Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch:

    The New Hampshire Democrats released a July Fourth tweet quoting the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed ... with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Notice anything missing there, Declaration fans? Sure you do. And so did the GOP:

    The state’s GOP jumped on the edited quote, noting that “by their Creator” was removed from the original, even though the Dems had enough Twitter characters left to include it. “God is NOT an ellipsis,” the Republican news release was titled.

    And rightly so. Thought experiment: what was going through the mind of the Genius Democrat who creatively edited this text? Be as charitable as possible.

URLs du Jour

2018-07-14

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:27 is pretty straightforward:

    27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
        but evil comes to one who searches for it.

    The only problem is the ambiguous pronoun reference for "it", which confused me on first reading: "Seeking good works; but searching for good will get you nothing but trouble."

    I was looking for profundity that wasn't there.


  • I don't usually link to articles like this: Dangerous Pseudo-Science in Cyber Security.

    CrowdStrike is the network security company, that was called by the DNC when it suspected a breach in its network in early May of 2016. CrowdStrike announced that there were at least two breaches by “two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries” — Fancy Bear (APT28) and Cozy Bear (APT29). CrowdStrike even suggested that Fancy Bear belongs to GRU (Russian military intelligence) and Cozy Bear belongs to FSB (Federal Security Service, replacement of KGB). The DNC was satisfied with CrowdStrike service and refused to let the FBI examine its servers, surprising even James Comey.  All data and alleged malware samples that were given to the FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, other security companies, and the public came from CrowdStrike. There is something fishy in this, isn’t it? Especially when we learn that

     In my opinion: CrowdStrike is a fraud

    Red centered text in original.

    I have no idea whether CrowdStrike is a fraud or not. Nor whether it's true that they're the sole source for evidence that the Russkies were behind the DNC server hacks. But I'd like to see some further skeptical investigation of that; people seem pretty credulous on the Russia connection.


  • At Reason, Brian Doherty has an article of local interest: Candidate Kicked Out of New Hampshire Libertarian Party Nonetheless on House Primary Ballot as a Libertarian

    Tom Alciere is a former Republican state legislator in New Hampshire who resigned under public pressure in 2001 after he made some public comments supporting the killing of police officers. He ran unsuccessfully for office two more times as a Republican (one time losing to a write-in). This year he appears on a primary ballot for the 2nd District's federal House seat, pursuing the Libertarian Party's nomination.

    The party did its best to prevent that. In 1993, the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire (LPNH) booted Alciere. The party's executive committee renewed its stance against the candidate last month, noting in a resolution that "Alciere has a history of advocating violence" and "refused to take a pledge against violence as a means of obtaining political objectives." (Alciere was also arrested in 2009 for a misdemeanor assault on a 12-year-old female neighbor.)

    I remember Alciere from my Usenet days; then, as now, he was a widely despised loon.

    But (note to self) it's really easy to get on a party's primary ballot: as near as I can tell, all Alciere had to do was fill out a form and write a check for $50.


  • At NRO, Jim "Indispensable" Geraghty is Ending the Week with Hard Truths. Specifically, that for politicians "the reward for telling the truth is insufficient in many cases."

    Will the voters reward you if you say that our annual deficits and the debt are too high, and that addressing the problem will require cutting spending, raising taxes, or both? No. If you tell them that changing demographics make the entitlement programs unsustainable, and that the only way to avoid a collapse is to reduce benefits, raise taxes, or shift workers to a riskier form of personal investing for retirement, how do they respond?

    Do they sit down, look at the numbers, do the math for themselves, and carefully contemplate which path is least painful for themselves and the country as a whole? Or do they vote for the guy who promises to “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts” and who contends he can solve the entire problem just by eliminating “waste and abuse”?

    Ooh, teacher, I know! Pick me!

    We (rightly) criticize Trump for his serial dishonesty. But he's only a very bad example of a very bad trend.


  • You might want to send this article to the next person who's confused on the matter: The [Babylon] Bee Explains: Democratic Socialism.

    How does Democratic Socialism differ from just “Socialism”?

    It has the word “Democratic” in front of it, you see, which means it is achieved by promoting identity politics, stoking class warfare, and cranking that entitlement mentality up to 11, instead of literal violent overthrow of the government. Besides, voting for the government to seize people’s wealth is totally different from the government deciding to do so on their own, right? Err… uh… DID WE MENTION YOU GET FREE STUFF?? Say it with us: Socialism good, Democratic Socialism better!

    I can't argue with that!

URLs du Jour

2018-07-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:26 demonstrates that the Proverbialist was far from a laissez-faire capitalist:

    26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
        but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

    A "hoarder" is someone who is guessing about the economic future differently than you.


  • Wired magazine is part of the Condé Nast family, and often makes me grit my teeth at its dogged leftism. But every so often an article comes along…

    Daniel Duane has an article in the current issue: How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco. That's not entirely accurate; you can read the article yourself to find out what the actual "mentaility" involved was.

    Duane is one of the classic examples of a "liberal mugged by reality" when it came time for his own daughter to enroll in middle school, and one of her options was:

    Willie Brown Middle School was the most expensive new public school in San Francisco history. It cost $54 million to build and equip, and opened less than two years earlier. It was located less than a mile from my house, in the city’s Bayview district, where a lot of the city’s public housing sits and 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level. This new school was to be focused on science, technology, engineering, and math—STEM, for short. There were laboratories for robotics and digital media, Apple TVs for every classroom, and Google Chromebooks for students. A “cafetorium” offered sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, flatscreen menu displays, and free breakfast and lunch. An on-campus wellness center was to provide free dentistry, optometry, and medical care to all students. Publicity materials promised that “every student will begin the sixth grade enrolled in a STEM lab that will teach him or her coding, robotics, graphic/website design, and foundations of mechanical engineering.” The district had created a rigorous new curriculum around what it called “design thinking” and a “one-to-one tech model,” with 80-minute class periods that would allow for immersion in complex subjects.

    And then… it all fell apart. Nearly from Day One.


  • At Cato, Colin Grabow rebuts a recent opinion piece from Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro: Navarro Misses the Boat on the Jones Act.

    In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece White House economic advisor Peter Navarro hailed the christening of a new transport ship in the nearby Philly Shipyard as evidence of the “United States commercial shipbuilding industry’s rebirth.” As is typical of Navarro’s pronouncements, the reality is almost the exact opposite. In fact, a closer examination of the ship’s construction reveals it to be symptomatic not of a rebirth, but of the industry’s long downward slide.

    Named after the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Navarro describes the 850-foot Aloha-class vessel as “massive” and notes that it is “the largest container ship ever built in the United States.” This, however, is somewhat akin to the tallest Liliputian. Although perhaps remarkble in a domestic context, by international standards the ship is a relative pipsqueak. Triple-E class ships produced by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for Maersk Line, for example, are over 1,300 feet in length. While the Inouye’s cargo capacity is listed at 3,600 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, roughly equivalent to a standardized shipping container), the Triple-E class can handle 18,000.

    "Misses the boat", heh! See what he did there? Also at Cato: The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear, by Grabow and two co-authors.


  • Matt Welch is dissatisfied with the behavior of a member of the House Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan: 'Constitutional Conservatives' Lose Interest in Holding Trump Accountable. While Jordan has had a record of calling out executive misbehavior pre-January 2017…

    So how did Jordan react to the May 2017 appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the FBI's ongoing investigation into the Russia-related activities of President Donald Trump? "Well, I'm—you know, look, I guess I'll keep an open mind," were the congressman's first recorded public words. That mind has been closing ever since.

    Five weeks later, Jordan and Meadows were already co-authoring op-eds saying it was "time to investigate the investigators" because Mueller's team leaned too Democratic. One month after that, Jordan signed onto an official request for a second special counsel, this one focusing on potential crimes by Hillary Clinton. The congressman is a permanent fixture on cable news, hyping the latest soon-to-be-forgotten Mueller-probe controversy and issuing grave condemnations against any official seemingly caught in a lie.

    Except Donald Trump.

    For the recond, I think it's pretty clear that the recent allegations about Jordan about his decades-ago Ohio State wrestling coach era are politically-motivated slime-throwing. But Matt's correct that the real scandal is hypocrisy.


  • Jonah Goldberg writes at NRO: Business Insider Surrenders to the Social-Justice Warriors

    Business Insider ran a column defending actress Scarlett Johansson from fierce criticism for her decision to play a transgender man in a forthcoming film called Rub and Tug. The writer, Daniella Greenbaum, took the apparently outrageous position that actors can pretend to be people they are not. Or, as Greenbaum put it, “Scarlett Johansson is the latest target of the social-justice warrior mob. The actress is being chastised for, well, acting.”

    Ironically, Greenbaum’s column rendered this claim outdated, because by writing that, Greenbaum herself became an even more recent victim of the social-justice-warrior mob. In response to complaints, internal and external, Business Insider pulled the column from its website and invented some new editorial standards to justify the decision.

    Ms. Greenbaum has since quit the publication. Readers should be on notice that anything they read from Business Insider has been sent through the SJW filter. Ironically, as CNN reports, the term "social justice warrior" is now also banned at Business Insider.


  • But that's not the only trouble brewing for Miss Scarlett, as the Babylon Bee reports: Scarlett Johansson Under Fire For Agreeing To Play Giant Sandworm In Upcoming ‘Dune’ Adaptation

    Scarlett Johansson has come under withering criticism after agreeing to play the giant sandworm, Shai-hulud, in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

    Johansson is signed on to provide the motion-capture footage and guttural roars for artists to generate CGI of the legendary desert worm. Critics claim that by agreeing to portray a character other than a white, cisgendered female, Johansson is ignoring the life experiences and struggles of other genders, races, and species of colossal desert-dwelling worm creatures living on the planet Arrakis.

    Not that it matters, but how come they remake Dune over and over, but not The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, ever?

    Amazon Product du Jour is Sandworms of Dune which Amazon claims is Book Number—whoa!—Nineteen in the "Dune Universe". I gave up decades ago, partway into number three.