URLs du Jour


Bailey Puggins Putting On Her Best Poker

Proverbs 22:8 strikes an optimistic note:

8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

To quote Hemingway: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

■ At NRO, Kyle Smith chronicles The Democrats’ Anthropological Field Trip to Study Americans.

The Democrats have sensed weakness, and chosen this moment to pounce. To capitalize on Donald Trump’s low approval ratings they are rolling out Elizabeth Warren (38 percent approval), Nancy Pelosi (29 percent), and Chuck Schumer (26 percent). Delivering the message that the party has fresh ideas are three emissaries who are a combined 211 years of age, deploying a phrase — “a better deal” — that harks back to the hottest policy proposals of 1933. To prove they’re in tune with the concerns of middle America the Democrats are dispatching emissaries from Harvard, San Francisco, and Brooklyn. Oh, and the Democrats’ chief problem, according to the Democrats? Americans just aren’t mentally supple enough to understand how great our program is for them.

Let me be the 637th person to point out that the new Dem slogan, while undoubtedly focus-grouped out the wazoo, sounds like a Papa John's ripoff.

■ A. Barton Hinkle, writing at Reason, pens a short history: Good Intentions, Bad Outcomes: The Story of Government. One example:

[…] Consider a Kentucky program aimed at reviving poor rural areas by retraining workers to become computer programmers. The effort to breathe new life into the coalfields was part of President Obama's TechHire Initiative, and was conducted in concert with the Appalachian Regional Commission.

According to report from The Daily Signal, the job-training program was intended to turn out 200 skilled workers who could write code for smartphone apps and similar high-tech ventures. But the effort has fallen short: After $1.6 million, only 17 program participants have landed tech jobs. Some are quite happy with where they landed, but others who went through the program are not: "I am now in a job that has absolutely nothing to do with programming," says one.

A worthwhile Constitutional amendment would be to require every new Federal program to state its objective, measurable goals; if those goals are unmet, the program is automatically killed.

■ I noticed some brouhaha over a new HBO series in the works: Confederate, a Civil War dystopia from the Game of Thrones creators, is already controversial

Per HBO’s July 19 press release, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s Confederate “chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”

Some people went bonkers about this.

Gasp, sputter. It's a dystopia, right? Two recent examples are The Handmaid's Tale (male chauvinists won) and The Man in the High Castle (Nazis won). So here, Confederates won. It's not as if they'll be shown as the good guys. Why the outrage?

Well, the article resides at the young adult website, Vox, and this seems to be at the heart of the matter:

The one aspect of Confederate that has early critics breathing a tentative sigh of relief, however, is that Benioff and Weiss are being joined by the Spellmans as executive producers, so the creatives involved won’t be all white men. In fact, their partnership was heavily emphasized throughout that Vulture interview, with Malcolm insisting that he and Nichelle are “not props being used to protect someone else." Furthermore, he continued, Confederate will be “deeply personal” for them, “because we are the offspring of this history. We deal with it directly, and have for our entire lives.”

Ah, a sigh of relief that the people involved won't all be white men.

Coming up on 54 years since MLK had a dream that his four little children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. People (like ReBecca Theodore) are doing everything they can to put that day off.

It's possible to imagine shows and movies constructed according to intersectional activist demands won't be tedious and lousy. It's just not the way to bet.

■ If you've been wondering about what all that public pubic shouting you've been hearing lately is for, here's an explainer from PJMedia's Megan Fox: Feminists Shout 'VAGINA' in Public for Planned Parenthood. WTF..

If I were paid to disrupt the left and make them look stupid, I would have invented Vagisil's #VaginaChallenge. Modeled after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of a few years ago, this one asks women to go into a public place and take a video of themselves shouting "VAGINA!" at the top of their lungs for "women's health" or something. (I don't know if wearing a vagina costume gets you extra credit or not.)

This must be a false flag GOP operation. Has to be. Right?

Last Modified 2017-07-27 9:34 AM EDT

URLs du Jour


The Prisoner  KAR 120C

■ As we've noticed previously, some Proverbs are really just Observations. Proverbs 22:7 is like that; it also sounds like it could have been written by the Bernie Sanders of the day:

7 The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Man, that's rough. Don't be poor, don't go into debt.

But the Bible doesn't say "neither a borrower nor a lender be". That was a different guy.

■ President Trump is down on Jeff Sessions, I've heard. But not for the right reasons. Reason's Jacob Sullum has one of the right reasons: Jeff Sessions Lets Cops Be Robbers.

Donald Trump made two things abundantly clear during a meeting with county sheriffs last February: He did not know what civil asset forfeiture was, and he wanted to see more of it. The president will get his wish thanks to a directive issued last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a clearer idea of what civil forfeiture entails but is only slightly more sensitive to its potential for abuse.

No libertarians like civil asset forfeiture, and I haven't seen a lot of conservatives defending it. (Actually: I haven't seen any conservatives defending it, but I must be missing something.)

But it did show up as a plot driver in a few Justified episodes, so: not all bad.

@kevinNR bemoans the A National State of Non-Emergency. (The URL suggests the original headline was something like "Republicans' Ridiculous Health Care Process Shows Everything Wrong With US Politics".) It's a historical tour of how we got to this sorry state. Basically, we can blame Joe Biden, Robert Byrd, and Ted Kennedy; it's a side effect of giving us the term "Borking". And today we have…

The recently proffered Republican health-care bill instantiates much of what is wrong with our politics: The bill was constructed through an extraordinary process in which there were no hearings, no review from the Congressional Budget Office, and no final text of the legislation until shortly before the vote. The process is erratic and covert rather than regular and transparent. It was put together in a purposeful way to avoid substantive debate and meaningful public discourse, making the most of the majority’s procedural advantages for purely political ends. The Republicans are perfectly within their legal authority to proceed that way. But that’s no way to govern. We all know this. As Rod Dreher recently put it, Republicans will have to choose whether they love the rule of law more than they hate the Left. Democrats faced the same choice, once, and they chose poorly, having set upon a course of political totalism that has seen the weaponization of everything from the IRS to the state attorneys general. Republican populists who argue that the GOP must play by the same rules in the name of “winning” have very little understanding of what already has been lost and of what we as a nation stand to lose. The United States will not thrive, economically or otherwise, in a state of permanent emergency.

Nobody seems willing to back down from the barricades.

■ Tired of all the Trump-bashing here at Pun Salad? Me too, at times. So let's cheer some good news from the Daily Signal: Trump’s Labor Secretary Targets Occupational Licensing for Elimination.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta took on occupational licensing reform Friday, calling for the elimination of unnecessary licenses and the streamlining of those that make sense.

Occupational licensing has to be dismantled at the state level. But having a powerful Fed on the side of the angels is an advantage.

■ Cartoonist/comic Scott Meyer is a pretty funny guy, and he shares my ironic love for the old TV show The Prisoner. Let me share this bit…

I had a boxed set of The Prisoner on DVD. It came with a documentary, made while the creator (head writer and star of the show, Patrick McGoohan) was still alive. Everyone they interviewed said he was a gentleman, that it was an honor to work with him, and that people didn’t understand the last few episodes of the show because he was misunderstood and ahead of his time.

Now I have a boxed set of The Prisoner on Blu-ray. That set came with a documentary made after Patrick McGoohan’s death. Many of the people interviewed say that he was a nightmare to work with, and that the last few episodes made no sense because he was making it up as he went, had written himself into a corner, and ended up having to turn in whatever ideas he had whether they made sense or not.

You can click over to read Scott's comic commentary on The Prisoner; if you go, and you're a fan of Star Trek, don't miss Ask Captain Pike.

Mental Floss headline: Researchers Say You’re Exercising More Than You Think.

I, for one, am Thinking more than I Exercise. Take that, Researchers!

[Also posted to Facebook and Twitter. I'm almost certainly too fond of this.]

URLs du Jour



And we now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…

Proverbs 22:6 sounds famous to me:

6 Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

That's our default translation, the NIV. The KJV used less inclusive phrasing:

6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I wonder if that's more faithful to the original Hebrew? It's good advice in any case.

@kevinNR is unimpressed with the White House's recent efforts to plug "Made in America" products: ‘Made in America.’ So What?

One of the great enduring stupidities of modern economic life is the belief that buying American is somehow beneficial to the United States as a whole. A related daft notion, very popular among our progressive friends horrified at the chauvinism of “Buy American” campaigns, is that buying local helps your local community and economy. This stuff has been studied and studied and studied, and the short version is that buy-American/buy-local efforts amount to approximately squat. It makes sense if you think about it: You can buy a bag of green beans from your local farmers’ cooperative and feel good about yourself, but that farmer is going to use the money to pay his bills, probably to a faraway financial company that holds his mortgage, a carmaker overseas, or a tractor-financing company abroad. He might buy his diesel from a local retailer, but that diesel very likely comes from crude oil drilled in some faraway place (from Canada to the Middle East) and refined in another faraway place. The components that went into those green beans — seeds, fertilizer, farming equipment — probably weren’t locally made. Money likes to move around.

If I restricted myself to "buy local" when it comes to pharmaceuticals, I'd probably be dead.

■ At Reason, Eric Boehm notes a different problem with the same efforts: Trump’s 'Made In America Week' Inadvertently Highlights Corporate Welfare.

A Reason review of the 50 businesses invited to Trump's "Made in America" event reveals that 21 of them have received some form of government grant, subsidy, loan guarantee, or other economic incentive since 1997, according to records aggregated by Good Jobs First, a union-funded nonprofit that opposes corporate welfare.

Running the names of the 50 businesses through the "subsidy tracker" database maintained by Good Jobs First revealed more than 870 records of individual handouts totaling more than $598 million in spending at the local, state, and federal level.

Boehm points out that President Obama was widely derided back in 2012 for his "you didn't build that" remarks. Some people foolishly thought that President Trump would have a different attitude; they should be embarrassed by his celebration of corporate welfare queens.

But they won't be.

■ Patterico praises principled people: These Three Conservatives Make Me Feel Like There Is Still Sanity in the World. Spoiler alert: Ben Shapiro, Charlie Sykes, and Jonah Goldberg. Each is extensively quoted.

Thank you, Mr. Shapiro. Thank you, Mr. Goldberg. Thank you, Mr. Sykes.

Thank you for setting an example. Thank you for reaffirming that decency is not a joke — in a culture that increasingly treats it as one.

For each of you, saying these words, and staking out these positions, is both easy and very difficult. Easy, because it’s the only way you know. You would never become one of the panderers — we all know they exist and who they are — who openly praise the worst of Trump’s immorality, and decry as “sissies” anyone who disagrees. So in a way, it’s easy for you . . . because you would never contemplate being other than who you are.

I would add a few folks to Patterico's list, but he's otherwise on target.

■ Ah, the Google LFOD alert rang for a Sunday op-ed in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, by one Crystal Paradis: The trouble with tipping.

There are also plenty of economic detractions to tipping — the turnover rate for the hospitality industry is drastically higher than all other industries (20.7 percent in 2016) and part of this can be linked to the instability of what restauranteur Danny Meyer calls a “false economy” that doesn’t factor service into base pricing. Taking all of this into consideration, what if a restaurant owner decided to simply get rid of tips and put all employees on salary? New Hampshire law prohibits this. In the “Live free or Die” state, an employer is not allowed to make their own decisions about employee compensation, even if they’ve concluded paying salaries would save costly turnover rates and training time.

The author blurb at the end of the column approaches self-parody:

Crystal Paradis works with progressive organizations who prioritize intersectional feminist leadership, LGBTQIA+ equality and environmental protection and conservation. She promotes and practices values-centric work. She can be reached at [...].

OK. Just a guess, but I don't think that Ms. Paradis completely supports employers and employees making unregulated free-market agreements on compensation.

■ We now return to the topic of parent/child relations. It's not recent, but my attention was drawn to an advice column in (of all places) the Village Voice. Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole. Because I am both a dad and (some would say) a right-wing asshole. From Andrew W.K.'s reply to the RWA's son:

When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the monsters. When we allow our emotions to be hypnotized by the excitement of petty bickering about seemingly important topics, we drift further and further away from the fragile and crucial human bond holding everything together. When we anticipate with ferocious glee the next chance we have to prove someone “wrong” and ourselves “right,” all the while disregarding the vast complexity of almost every subject — not to mention the universe as a whole — we are reducing the beauty and magic of life to a “side” or a “type,” or worst of all, an “answer.” This is the power of politics at it’s most sinister.

You know, I'm not immune to that sort of bad behavior myself. Probably even in what you've read above. My apologies, specifically, to Crystal Paradis. I'll try to do better.

A Letter to the Editor



[A recent op-ed by Marion Blair Kelley ("Don’t call me ‘snowflake’") in my local paper spurred me to reply. I thought I'd blog it too.]

[Update: they published it.]

Marion Blair Kelley's recent column relates being called a "[bad word] snowflake" in a Portsmouth traffic circle road-rage incident, accompanied by the too-common obscene hand gestures. Fortunately, only feelings were hurt. But I agree that yelling foulmouthed insults at even awful drivers is bad.

However, consider Ms. Kelley's op-ed revenge: to belatedly insult her antagonist in front of a much wider audience. He is a "young punk" and, as her subsequent paragraphs clearly imply, almost certainly an incipient [bad word] anti-Semitic Nazi stormtrooper.

And Ms. Kelley criticizes the use of "snowflake" because it is a "conversation ender." Irony is apparently lost on her.

Her drive-by lexicography of the origins of "snowflake" is tendentious, apparently based on a few seconds of scanning through the Urban Dictionary's various definitions to cherry-pick the vilest. If only she'd spent a few more Google-seconds, she'd easily have found a more accurate history. "Snowflake" was used as a political insult as far back as the 1860s, when Missouri abolitionists threw it at pro-slavery Democrats of the day, implying they favored white people over black people. Its more recent usage is probably due to its use in Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel "Fight Club", and the popular movie. Today, it's most clearly a metaphor for the easily-offended, those who "melt down" easily in response to relatively mild stimuli: greeting conservative campus speakers with disruption and violent confrontation; detecting "microaggressions" in everyday conversations; finding racism in sombrero-wearing Cinco de Mayo celebrants; deducing that a short-tempered insult must be coming from a wannabe brownshirt.

And some people have made the obvious point: if "snowflakes" are people who lash out when confronted with even mild criticism, the most prominent example is the current President. Sad!

Last Modified 2017-07-25 4:10 AM EDT

URLs du Jour


Pitfall Str

■ I am a little confused by Proverbs 22:5:

5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

I call an Ambiguous Pronoun Reference foul on the Proverbialist. There are three things to which the final "them" could refer: (1) the wicked; (2) the paths taken by the wicked; (3) the snares and pitfalls on said paths. Which, specifically, are we to avoid?

My guess is "the wicked". Avoid the wicked, you automatically avoid the paths, and the snares and pitfalls thereon.

■ The good old Google LFOD Alert drew me to Ms Paula Hodges' column in the Concord Monitor. She warns: ‘Election Integrity Commission’ is just a voting rights rollback. She's not a fan:

We need to immediately work together to stop this dangerous misuse of power. Every Granite Stater should call Gov. Sununu’s office and Secretary Gardner’s office to demand they choose our interests in New Hampshire. Let’s work together to show Sununu that Granite Staters care about our voting rights and our privacy.

In the spirit of “Live Free or Die,” let’s make sure that the governor understands we won’t let this issue pass without a fight.

Ms. Hodges is NH's director for America Votes: "We lead COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS to advance PROGRESSIVE POLICIES and WIN ELECTIONS in key states…" NH being one of those keys. Their partner list (Planned Parenthood, House Majority PAC, NextGen Climate, Brady Campaign,…) leaves little doubt about who they want to win those elections.

■ The second trigger for LFOD was an unexpected source: the Brunswick [Georgia] News, which relates a tale from 1803 on the Georgia coast: Igbo landing a defiant act for freedom. A ship arrived with prospective slaves, and…

Rather than submit to an existence of bondage and forced labor at the hands of another, these products of proud warrior stock made a staggeringly poignant declaration of independence with their very lives. It happened right here in the Golden Isles, way back in May of 1803. Some 13 members of the Igbo tribe walked as one in chains into St. Simons Island’s Dunbar Creek and drowned themselves rather than accept a life of slavery.

We get the occasional chuckle out of people (like Paula Hodges, above) who invoke LFOD to support nearly every conceivable position under the sun. But this is the real deal, friends.

This striking testament to the harsh legacy of slavery is revered and preserved within the local African American community. It also is a much-cherished story among their descendants back in the Igbo homeland in present day southeastern Nigeria. But there is little in the way of a public marker here on St. Simons Island to commemorate the Igbo’s resolve to live free or die. That seems a shame. Their sacrifice embodies the distinctly American traits of independence, self determination and, when forced, strong-arm rebellion in the name of freedom. Like those 200 Texans at the Alamo in 1836, these Igbo gave their lives in a desperate last stand for that most treasured concept. Thus, they deserve an equally celebrated place in the hearts and minds of all Americans.


■ David Mamet relates how some literature doesn't sit well with him. Specifically: Charles Dickens Makes Me Want to Throw Up.

There I was, sitting on a bench and reading, minding my own business in Harvard Square, where I had an office for 20 years. An old professorial type came up to me. “What are you reading?” he asked. “Trollope,” I said, “he’s the greatest.” Here the man admonished me. “ George Eliot is the greatest,” he said, and walked off.

I had just been given the Received Word, and one could be certain, for the fellow had a beard. Though affronted, I gave it some thought. And I concluded that he, though entitled to his opinion, had not only placed his ex cathedra chip on the wrong square, but also on my shoulder. Sheesh.

Hope you can get through the WSJ paywall to find out why Mamet dislikes Dickens. (He likes A Tale of Two Cities, though.)

■ Mark Steyn remembers Martin Landau: Keeping His Hand In. Title is a reference to Landau's Mission: Impossible character.

There's an anecdote involving Landau's villainous role as "Leonard" in North by Northwest. The director, Alfred Hitchcock, thought it would be neat if Leonard wore better suits than Cary Grant's character. So…

[…] he sent the actor to see Grant's tailor, Quintino of Beverly Hills. A couple of weeks later, Landau arrives to shoot his payphone moment at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, and gets there in the middle of Cary Grant's scene. So he stands in the middle of a crowd of Chicagoans who are watching all the comings and goings. He's hardly been there a few minutes when there's a tap on the shoulder, and he turns to find Grant's English valet behind him. "Only two people in the world make a suit like that," the guy says, unaware that Landau's in the film. "One's in Beverly Hills, the other's in Hong Kong. Mr Grant wants to know where you got yours."


URLs du Jour


Humility poster

Proverbs 22:4 is pro-humility:

4 Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.

It seems like a deal: you get a lot of good stuff in return for humility.

@JonahNRO's weekly G-File is out, and it discusses Trump, Party of One, and it's largely about the True Believers in the Cult of Trump.

If you’re a cultist, the only thing that will snap you out of it is Trump himself. At some point, he will do something that will cause the worshippers — or at least most of them — to recognize he was a false god all along. It will be like that scene in The Man Who Would be King, when the girl bites Sean Connery on the cheek. When he bleeds, the faithful realize he is but a mortal.

That was a great movie. I can only hope Trump's fate is better than Daniel's.

■ Michelle Malkin notes the latest effort to stem inner-city carnage: Baltimore promotes ‘nobody kill anybody’ weekend… next month.

You think she's kidding, but she is not. She quotes the Baltimore Sun:

Organizers aim to stop the shooting from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, with a unified and blunt message: “Nobody kill anybody.”

Hey, they could add: "Aim to maim!"

Or: "Please arrange your murdering schedule appropriately. If you must murder that weekend, please do so outside the Baltimore city limits."

■ If you missed the link on Instapundit, do not miss it here. At Ars Technica, Cyrus Farivar recounts an epic yarn: Man ridicules Olive Garden’s demand letter over trademark dispute.

At issue is OG's demand that blogger Vincent "Vino" Malone remove "all metatags, keywords, visible or hidden texts including [Olive Garden] trademark(s) presently appearing" on his website. Among the paragraphs in his response:

I am not aware of any law against reviewing food and describing it using the name of the company from which it was procured. Some might even call it Nominative Fair Use. I have helpfully included a link to Wikipedia™, The Free Encyclopedia™, for more information on this concept, in case you are new. Just click on the blue words to access the HyperLink™, and you will be transported there in great haste.

I can only wish that Darden, OG's parent company, will bravely smile and offer Mr. Malone some apologetic OG gift cards.

■ Ed Morrissey notes a ghoulish Arizona politician, Dr. Kelli Ward: Ward To McCain: Step Down So I Can Be Appointed To Replace You.

Washington DC is a place for grand ambition, a place that no one gets without having something of a killer instinct. Usually it’s disguised a little better than in this WOWO interview with Kelli Ward, the woman who challenged John McCain in the 2016 primary, picked up here by CNN. Ward, a physician by trade, tells the Indiana station that the prospects for McCain’s health are “low,” and that he should get out of the way immediately in order to open up the seat for … Kelli Ward[.]

Dr. Kelli Ward should be kept far, far away from the levers of political power. She is ostensibly a Tea Partier, but …

■ David Henderson quotes Frank Knight on John B. Watson. Watson was a behaviorist psychologist and held the usual behaviorist contempt for "free will".

Knight is a man of wicked humor:

A man who can stand before the cream of the intelligentsia and exhort them to believe that they do not believe, but only react, to think that there is no such thing as thinking, but only muscle-twitching, that the whole idea of struggle and error is an error against which we must struggle until we see that seeing is an illusion, and illusion likewise an illusion--in short, one who repeats that "I am not saying anything, and you are not hearing anything, the gears are in mesh, nothing more," and makes them like it and pay to hear it--I say such a man should be worth at least $1,000,000 in any properly ordered civilization.

I hope I can remember to dig this out when the next "free will" discuussion breaks out.

True fact from Wikipedia:

Watson was the maternal grandfather of actress Mariette Hartley, who suffered with psychological issues she attributed to her being raised with her grandfather's theories.

I love Mariette Hartley; I last remember seeing her in a Mentalist episode where she was the "Actress Too Famous To Be In The Bit Role, So Must Be The Villain".

URLs du Jour


Prudent Caution :)

Proverbs 22:3 is not so much a Proverb as it is an Observation:

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

I've noticed that myself! Unfortunately, simply telling the simple "Be prudent!" is not efficacious.

■ One continuing theme in Nancy MacLean's dishonest interview attempting to defend her work Democracy in Chains in the Chronicle of Higher Education the other day was the whine that critics "appeared not to have read the book". Well, at Reason, Brian Doherty (an actual libertarian historian) has read the book, and reported back to us on What Nancy MacLean Gets Wrong About James Buchanan.

It's a relatively long article. No surprise there.

[…] The historian has little to no evidence for her history. She invents some when necessary, and will at times just make assertions to suit her narrative, mustering neither real nor phony evidence to back them up. Many of her factual and interpretive errors have already been covered elsewhere, in venues ranging from Vox to The Washington Post. Rather than get lost in the weeds of covering every false statement or misleadingly gerrymandered quotation in this book, I want to focus here on the core claims that it gets wrong:

MacLean fundamentally misunderstands Buchanan's intellectual project, treating his theories about politics as an apologia for the wealthy and powerful. This gives short shrift to a serious body of thought, and it fails to see that his arguments can indict the wealthy as much as anyone else.

I suppose the furor over Prof Nancy's shoddy hit job will eventually die down. But it's kind of fun to watch until then.

■ What's the problem on health care? @JonahNRO knows: On Health Care, Bipartisan Dishonesty Is the Problem.

I like partisan fights when those fights are about something real. The Medicaid fight was at least about something real. But most of this nonsense is a battle of liars trying to protect past lies in the hope of being able to make new lies seem just plausible enough for the liars to keep repeating them.

The battle has for years not been about improving affordability and availability of health care—which would mean moving toward a free market—but simply claiming victory for one side, or (better) defeat for the other.

■ And how worried should you be about the future of free expression? David Harsany knows: Be Very Worried About The Future Of Free Expression.

“Ads that perpetuate gender stereotypes will be banned in UK, but not in the good ol’ USA!” reads a recent headline at the Web site Jezebel. Yay to the good ol’ USA for continuing to value the fundamental right of free expression, you might say. Or maybe not.

Why would a feminist — or anyone, for that matter — celebrate the idea of empowering bureaucrats to decide how we talk about “gender stereotypes”? Because these days, foundational values mean increasingly little to those who believe hearing something disagreeable is the worst thing that could happen to them.

Why, it almost makes me mad enough to want to perpetuate a gender stereotype. In a manly way, of course.

■ It was a banner day for my Google LFOD Alert. One revealed a bit of New Hampshire history of which I was unaware, in this Laconia Daily Sun article about our Governor and Executive Council visiting the Funspot arcade, claimed to be the largest in the world. Here's the thing about the owner, Robert Lawton:

He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 1960s and introduced a bill that resulted in the state motto, “Live Free or Die,” appearing on vehicle license plates.

So: undying gratitude to Mr. Lawton.

■ And if you're into body art, and have some spare time this weekend, you can boogie into Manchester and attend

The 11th annual Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo will again draw plenty of colorful buzz to the Queen City.

More than 3,000 people are expected at the three-day event in Manchester, with more than 200 tattoo artists and body piercers offering their services on site.

I will not be attending, but the deets are at their website.

And—wow, this is kind of fascinating—one of the sponsors is North Conway's Samuel O'Reilly House, which bills itself as the "World's First Tattoo Bed and Breakfast".

Which implies that there's more than one, I guess?

■ Ah, but the most common occurrence of LFOD in recent news is due to You Know What.

  • Five Thirty Eight:

    New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 640 and made New Hampshire the 22nd state to decriminalize marijuana. The “live free or die” state was slower than the likes of Mississippi and Nebraska in making this change.

  • The Washington Times:

    The Live Free or Die State has become the last in New England to decriminalize marijuana after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu autographed a bill rolling back penalties for cannabis possession.

  • The young-adult website Vox:

    New Hampshire just took another step in ensuring its state motto — “live free or die” — is true for marijuana.

Sigh. OK, we get it. LFOD is all about pot and tats.

Although, of course, it's not not about pot and tats. Or Pats and Tots.

If you want me, I'm headed up to Funspot.

■ And finally, your tweet du jour:

URLs du Jour


Ayn Rand has a posse

■ I have no quarrel with Proverbs 22:2:

2 Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.

We all remember the famous zinger from the comedy duo Fitzgerald & Hemingway:

"The rich are different from you or me."

"Yes, they have more money."

And as is all too common with quotes that "everyone knows", the real story is somewhat different.

■ You may have heard: Nancy MacLean wrote a shoddy, sloppy, fundamentally dishonest (but Federally subsidized) book about Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan. The refutations and revelations continue to come thick and fast, because frankly, as Steven Hayward notes, "there is literally a howler on every page." I've long since given up on linking to everything about Prof Nancy.

But this, I promise, is pricelessly illuminating: three weeks ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote on the imbroglio, and opened:

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid there’s that great bit about the super-posse that chases the outlaws. They’re led by a legendary law man, Joe Lefors, and an Indian Scout (Lord Baltimore), who can follow horse tracks over rock and water.

I mention this because if I were Nancy MacLean, I’d much rather have Lefors and Lord Baltimore coming after me than to have Don Boudreaux, Steve Horwitz, Jonathan Adler, Russ Roberts, and the rest of the libertarian super-posse on my ass.

Pun Salad linked to Jonah's comments at the time, quoting a different couple paragraphs.

I mention this in light of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Nancy MacLean Responds to Her Critics. Specifically, this is how she characterizes Jonah's remark:

And some of the rhetoric has been quite threatening. Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review, said I should worry about the "the libertarian super-posse on my ass."

Gee, Nancy. Had you asked me for advice on how to respond to criticism of your lazy and fraudulent scholarship, I would have pointed out that you should avoid dishonestly describing a colorful metaphor as "quite threatening". People will correctly conclude that you're either a habitual prevaricator, or in the throes of self-dramatizing delusion.

■ But that was the second part of her answer to the Chronicle interviewer. Here's the question, and the first part of her answer:

Do you have any evidence for your claim in that Facebook message that the attacks on your work are "coordinated"?

I’m not saying they called each other up and planned a series of critical responses to my book. What I’m saying is many of the critics come from similar backgrounds — they are libertarians who trained at or are employed by the very institutions I write about in my book.

Holy cow. She should have just said "no". It's like she's never heard of the law of holes: When you find yourself in one, stop digging.

The Facebook message in question accused "the Koch operatives" of "using Washington Post [Volokh Conspiracy] blogposts as a seemingly respectable pivot for a coordinated and interlinked set of calculated hit jobs."

Apparently, now she wants us to think that "coordinated" and "calculated" means "from people of similar backgrounds".

That's the kind of straight-shooting honesty we've come to expect from Prof Nancy.

■ When it comes to prevaricating GOP senators, Patterico is not in a forgiving (or forgetting) mood: This Means WAR: The ObamaCare Betrayal by Senators Capito and Murkowski Can Never Be Forgotten or Forgiven.

Capito and Murkowski are the most worthless type of hypocrites imaginable. They have postured as being against Obamacare, but they never really were. They voted in favor of the (partial) repeal in 2015 — and yet they claim they cannot vote for the same bill today, in 2017.

I have lost my capacity for outrage at the GOP, but Patterico hasn't.

■ At the Federalist, Ashe Schow notes the predictable response to an overdue change: As Policy Shift Looms, Left Smears Campus Due Process Advocates As Rape Apologists

A good way to tell if the Left currently believes one of their beloved policies will disappear is how viciously they write about the potential change. In this case, they’re trying to smear people who believe those accused of heinous crimes should be able to defend themselves as somehow supporting the heinous crime. That is where we are in society.

Ms. Schow names and shames.

■ Dan Mitchell takes The Libertarian Hypocrisy Test! But unfortunately…

For all intents and purposes, the test is just a series of “gotcha” questions. [The "test" author] probably hopes that libertarians will get flustered when confronted by this collection of queries.

But Dan is not flustered.

■ And finally, my Google LFOD alert was triggered by a Patch article: Sununu Signs NH Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law.

“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.”

Yes. We also put it on our highway signs.

URLs du Jour



■ We start a new Chapter of Proverbs today with Proverbs 22:1:

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Fair enough.

■ Peter Suderman is one of the libertarian go-tos on health care policy. At Reason, he offers condolences: Obamacare Repeal, R.I.P.. It's a brief history of the GOP train wreck resulting from the party's solemn pledge to "repeal and replace".

And, more importantly, the party could never settle on any clear systemic goals for health policy. It wasn't like not being able to pick a design for a house. It was more like not knowing whether you want to build a house or a boat or a tractor. The most basic elements of a health care plan were always up in the air.

I don't know what will happen next. It's likely to be bad.

■ When you believe in Science, the holy forces of Peer Review will inevitably lead you to Truth, right? Well, unless your prized theory is getting shot down. Then, you call up a lawyer. At NR, Robert Bryce looks at the latest green-debunking: Climate Lawsuit Brewing?

Mark Jacobson, the Stanford engineering professor who became the darling of the green Left by repeatedly claiming the U.S. economy can run solely on renewable energy, has threatened to take legal action against the authors of an article that demolished his claims last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That is PNAS, not "Dave's Corporate Shill Journal".

In an amusing sidenote, Jacobson warns Bryce that quoting his lawyer-invoking email "would be considered a copyright infringement.”

■ At the Atlantic, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff make a point you think might be obvious: Why It's a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence.

Of all the ideas percolating on college campuses these days, the most dangerous one might be that speech is sometimes violence. We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group. This is the kind of speech that many students today refer to as a form of violence. If Milo Yiannopoulos speaks on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, is that an act of violence?

Let's recall a local data point, from this past May: the young lady attending the University Near Here claiming that “Blackface is a direct death threat." You can't just make stuff like that up on your own. You have to be very carefully taught.

■ At Reason, Andrea O'Sullivan notes the incoherent mess that the feelgood advocates of "Net Neutrality" are advocating: Net Neutrality Supporters Should Actually Hate the Regulations They're Endorsing

If you went on the internet at all last week, you could not help but miss some of the web's most popular websites publicizing their campaigns that defend the Obama-era telecommunications regulation known as the Open Internet Order (OIO). Last Wednesday, tech heavyweights like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even Pornhub held a "Day of Action" to support the controversial FCC rules. The websites bombarded users with blog posts encouraging folks to contact their representatives and popup messages bemoaning the future of a slow and tiered internet. But ironically, these websites' stated goals are in direct contradiction of the regulations that they ostensibly support.

Ms. O'Sullivan has a good summary of the History So Far, and how the true-believing NetNeuts went astray in hitching their blurry dreams to real-world pols.

■ My Google LFOD alert was triggered by an unlikely source, an LTE from one Frank Pagano of Jay NY, published in the upstate NY paper The Sun: We’re all in healthcare fight together. It's a stirring plea!

The U.S. has much higher infant mortality than the EU and Canada so pre- and postnatal care is crucial. “Live free or die” sounds great, but what’s the societal and economic impact of preventable illnesses and birth defects?

Mr. Pagano, probably correctly, notes that LFOD implicitly frowns on robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul schemes, even when Paul is Paulette, and you're actually paying Paulette's doctor. You're encouraged to look at the Human Progress website's take on infant mortality.

■ The news (from TechCrunch) is that Disney is opening an immersive Star Wars Hotel where each guest gets a storyline Specifically:

All of the employees (or ‘cast members’, in Disney Park lingo) will be in costume and in character.

"Hello, room service? The minibar is out of macadamia nuts."

"I am altering the contents of your minibar. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Last Modified 2017-07-19 10:43 AM EDT

URLs du Jour


It's Not a Hangover; It's Wine

■ The windup to Proverbs 23 is a seven-verse epic on the perils of ancient Israeli wine: Proverbs 23:29-35

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaints?
    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup,
    when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
    and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
    and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
    lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
  When will I wake up
    so I can find another drink?”

Translation note: at verse 33, King James has instead "Thine eyes shall behold strange women." That sounds kind of appealing!

But I can't help but think some ancient Israeli vintner managed to mix in some hallucinogenic 'shrooms with his product, and slipped it to the Proverbialist.

■ After a short break, @kevinNR is back with a wide-ranging essay on risk: Apartment Fires and Health Insurance. The opening is provocative:

Three people have died in a condominium fire in Honolulu. It was their fault.

The fire almost certainly would have been contained with no loss of life and minimal damage to property if the building had had a modern sprinkler system installed. It didn’t. The building did not have a sprinkler system installed because the residents, through their condominium association, had rejected a proposal to install sprinklers and had lobbied against being required to install them by the local authorities.

How should a free society think about risk management and regulation? It's a general topic that hits on a lot of specific issues, not just building codes and health care. Given the wide variability in peoples' risk tolerance, and also the proclivity toward irresponsible Pollyannism, it's a very thorny problem, and Kevin does a fine job of covering the issues involved.

■ Perhaps you're a liberal who thinks that protecting the Medicaid status quo will save patients. If so, Shikha Dalmia, has some news for you: Sorry, Liberals: Protecting the Medicaid Status Quo Won't Save Patients.

Medicaid provides health care to 75 million Americans. It's also a hideously expensive program that is at the center of the raging health-care debate in Washington. Republicans want to scale back the program, and Democrats warn that doing so will cause nothing short of mass death.

But that is not a credible—or responsible—claim.

The time interval between any given Democrat (a) pontificating against GOP "fear-mongering" and (b) claiming that GOP legislation will cause mass death grows ever shorter.

■ At the Federalist, Robert Tracinski notes The Hypocritical Dishonesty Of The Net Neutrality Campaign. He is triggered by Mozilla's ginning up its Firefox browser to echo the claim of "Concerned Internet Citizen, Malcom IA" that "without Net Neutrality big companies could censor people and perspectives online." Tracinski notes some … well, let's be charitable and call it "irony".

Mozilla is the company that, all the way back in the misty past of 2014, fired its co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich when it was revealed that he had made a small donation to a campaign to put gay marriage on the ballot in California. So he was hounded out of his job because “love wins,” or something. But by all means, Mozilla is now very concerned that corporations might try to dictate what people can think.

As Tracinski notes, a major portion of the Net Neutrality debate is not about deep principles of liberty and fairness; it's about money. Who's gonna pay for all the network infrastructure necessary for everyone, even in Malcom IA, to be able to watch glitch-free porn? Companies like Mozilla, Google, Amazon, etc. want the government, in the form of the FCC, to make sure the answer is: not them.

■ My Google LFOD alert was triggered by an article from Luke Poteat at a website called The Conservative Nut: Libertarian Party Gaining Ground as Primary Parties Lose Support.

The state of New Hampshire has become in a sense the epicenter of Libertarian activity, its state motto of “live free or die” clearly aligning with the party’s principles. The past year has seen three state representatives switching to the party, two coming from the Republicans and one from the Democrats. In a statement regarding why he chose to change, Rep. Brandon Phinney shared that he felt the Republican Party was pressuring him to push certain ideas that didn't align with his own principles. Rep. Joseph Stallcop, the Democratic convert, said that the primary parties’ goal is simply to expand government and their own agendas, ignoring the protection of the people’s rights. The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire is now gaining ground in passing legislation that aligns with their values too, hoping to soon create laws that legalize recreational marijuana and outlaw the death penalty.

Well, that's optimistic. Still, some mainstream NH pols are getting antsy about the Libertarian Menace in our state. I belatedly link to Derrick J. Freeman's longish article at Free Keene: Free State Project EXPOSED! | How Libertarians Took Over New Hampshire

On May 24 2017 I attended, “Exposing the Free State Project,” 90 minutes of slander and lies by Zandra Rice Hawkins. Hawkins is a propagandist with Granite State Progress, a political arm of the New Hampshire Democrats. She apparently missed her calling as a preacher of the fire and brimstone variety, given the fear, mistrust, and terror she attempted to sow throughout the crowd. In the end, attendees seemed rightfully doubtful of Hawkins’ spurious claims that Free Staters are wolves in sheep’s clothing, secretly plotting to dismantle every beloved societal institution they can. Instead, Free Staters were seen as open, willing to engage others on the issues that matter most to them, and find common ground where possible to make a better life for everyone.

So there.

■ A few years back, I noticed that Pun Salad was getting a lot of hits via people searching for "Jane Austen Puns". Which resulted in this article. We're no longer the first site that pops up for that search, but we're still pretty well up there.

So there's always been a soft spot for Jane here at Pun Salad. And she managed to work herself even deeper in my affection when I read this Mental Floss article: Jane Austen, Home Brewer.

When she wasn’t penning beloved novels, Jane Austen brewed her own beer. And she wasn’t the only Regency-era woman to try her hand at craft brewing, either. In fact, brewing beer was part of women’s lives for centuries, long before beer was branded as a beverage for dudes.

The article contains a recipe for spruce beer. I will probably stick with Sam Adams.