URLs du Jour

2017-01-23

Vanity plate seen on an approaching car at Walmart yesterday: "IDNTW8". Made sure to yield the right of way to him.

  • The Trump Administration continues to hand rhetorical ammunition to its enemies. Take it away, Patterico:

    [On Meet the Press,] Chuck Todd asked Trump spokespiehole Kellyanne Conway about Sean Spicer’s pack of falsehoods in yesterday’s press conference on the trivial (but important to Trump’s ego) issue of crowd size at the inauguration. Conway did her usual shtick of aggressive deflection combined with aggressive horseshit, but one moment stood out: Conway’s statement that Spicer was simply offering “alternative facts” […]

    "Spokespiehole". Heh. You may see me steal that. The twitmemes came thick and fast:

    Not that stone-casting Chuck Todd was entirely without sin. Ann Althouse entertainingly scores the exchange as a nine-round bout. Bottom line:

    Final score: 4 to 4. It's a draw. Nice going, you crazy kids.

    Losers in a fight between a hopelessly biased MSM and a thin-skinned ego-driven Administration: everyone else.

  • At PJ Media, Charlie Martin has a modest demand: "Stop Making Me Defend Trump!" Because he's not a fan. But:

    But seriously people, the degree of utter nincompoopery in the last days has just gotten completely out of control. It was bad enough with the moron who thought it was a good idea to harass Ivanka Trump, her three kids, and her husband on an airplane, and the nincompoops who defended the moron; then we got Kevin Williamson, who rightly suggested this was unmannerly—but really spoiled the effect by adding "Uday and Qusay" to the Trump family. (Pro tip, Kev—adding two psychopathic mass-murdering rapists to the Trump family really plays hell with your paean to manners.)

    Yes, a rare misstep for KDW.

  • But the general point remains. For all the Trump-side prevaricating buffoonery, the anti-Trump side seems dominated by shrieking left-wing crazies and thugs. Mickey Kaus notes the fearful Reductio ad Hitlerum articles and memes sprouting like kudzu.

    Of course, you don’t need these examples if you have Democratic Facebook friends.  Just read their posts — alarms about journalists jailed and killed, brownshirts, ethnic cleansing, pervasive surveillance, people living in fear, exterminationist violence, the whole nein yards. They’re scared.

    Speaking as someone with Democratic Facebook friends: this is so, so true. Another data point provided by MSNBC fembot, Rachel Maddow, asked what "first question" she would hypothetically pose to then-PETOUS Trump.

    “Are you going to send me or anybody I know to a camp?” she said she’d ask the Republican.

    [Obvious response: "Of course not, Rachel. Who do I look like, Franklin Delano Roosevelt?"]

  • But (true enough) it's not as if the ongoing verification of Godwin's Law started this year. Last November, Larry Elder sifted through enough history to conclude: "Comparing Republicans to Nazis has long been a national pastime of the Democratic Party." A memorable example from (I think) 2005:

    Former Vice President Al Gore said: "(George W. Bush's) executive branch has made it a practice to try and control and intimidate news organizations, from PBS to CBS to Newsweek. ... And every day, they unleash squadrons of digital brown shirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President."

    Ah, digital brownshirts. Al Gore called me that. Good times.

    So, yes, Charlie Martin, I'm with you.

  • Speaking of crazies and thugs: Ashley Judd sucked enough air out of the room so that relatively little notice was given to one of the other featured speakers at Saturday's "Women's March". Angela Davis. Who the MSM blandly termed an "activist". David Horowitz provides a non-whitewashed bio of her bloodstained career. A high point:

    In 1970 Davis was implicated by more than 20 witnesses in a plot to free her imprisoned lover, fellow Black Panther George Jackson, by hijacking a Marin County, California courtroom and taking hostage the judge, the prosecuting assistant district attorney, and two jurors. In an ensuing gun battle outside the court building, Judge Harold Haley’s head was blown off by a sawed-off shotgun owned by Ms. Davis. To avoid arrest for her alleged complicity in the plot, Ms. Davis fled California, using aliases and changing her appearance to avoid detection.

    So (a) the march organizers were hard-left enough to be just fine having Davis as one of the faces of their movement; (b) they didn't think this would detract from the march's respectability in the eyes of the nation; and (c) it seems they were correct about that, because the :watchdog" MSM totally bought it. I guess I find this disturbing.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-22

Over 24 hours into the Trump Administration, and no nuclear holocaust yet. I'm cautiously optimistic.

  • At Reason, Ronald Bailey asks the musical question: "Is President Trump a 'Climate Menace'?". Answer: everyone seems to think so, based on selective snippets of tweets and speeches. But, Trump being Trump, he's not especially coherent or consistent on the issue.

    Looking at the Cabinet picks, Bailey picks up a different vibe:

    In the hearings for various cabinet nominees, Democrats have sought valiantly to unmask them as "climate change deniers." So far, not one has questioned the scientific reality of man-made global warming. On the other hand, they have tended not to be as alarmed as their interlocutors, and/or have failed to endorse the climate policies that Democrats prefer.

    That last bit is key. It's possible to stake out a middle ground, accepting the reality of anthropogenic climate change without buying into massive scaremongering and proposed statist power grabs.

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File is online, written on January 20 from D. C. But:

    I didn’t go down to the Mall today, but it’s not because I was “boycotting” Trump. A team of scientists could harvest the DNA of Abe Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, Phil Gramm, William F. Buckley, Winston Churchill, and Rowdy Roddy Piper and create some sort of super president with laser vision and a Kung Fu grip and I still wouldn’t want to go down to the Mall, get bumped by other people, and stand in the cold for hours only to hear a speech in the rain.

    Jonah rambles, but it's an entertaining ramble.

  • At the NYT, it's John McWhorter with News You Can Use: "How to Listen to Donald Trump Every Day for Years" Step one is to accept Trump's impossible-to-diagram word flow.

    The truth is that President Trump’s choppy, rambling self-expression is not so exotic. A great many thoroughly intelligent people talk more like Donald Trump than they might know. What’s new is that someone who talks like this in public has become the president of the United States. Yet it isn’t surprising, and if we are not to spend the next four to eight years alternating between exasperation and confusion as he sounds off, we need to learn a new way of listening.

    Yes, the New York Times does, on occasion, still print things worth reading. I know, I was surprised myself.

  • But all is not well, sorry. At Reason (again), Eric Boehm invites us to "Listen to CIA Spooks Applaud Trump for Baselessly Accusing 'The Media' of Lying About Inauguration Crowds".

    Trump discoursed on the media, "among the most dishonest human beings on Earth", drawing applause.

    Apparently feeding off the applause, Trump doubled down and claimed, without any evidence at all, that the media had covered up the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He claimed to have seen a report this morning claiming turnout of 250,000 for his speech, but the president said that could not have been true because he saw people lined up "all the way back to the Washington monument" when he spoke.

    This was a "same old Trump" moment, displaying one of his most worrisome traits, one noted during the campaign: he's obsessed with crowd numbers, applause, TV ratings. Trump's self-aggrandizement combined with his thin skin is notable, even for a politician.

    As Boehm and Patterico note, this obsession leaked into last evening's press conference with Sean Spicer, who … well, let's turn it over to this guy:

    But (unless I've missed something) all the Kristallnacht-style violence and overheated rhetoric is still coming from the other side. So that's something. Although that "something" is far from reassuring.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-21

Inspired by Jay Nordlinger: fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, reactionaries (like me) gotta react. So:

  • Gee, I wonder whether Robert Higgs liked the Inaugural Address?

    […] I would rank it among the very worst political speeches I have ever had the displeasure to hear. Its recipe seems to have been: combine three parts mercantilist fallacies, three parts offensive nationalist bombast, and four parts sheer populist hot air about how great the American people are and how great they will soon be again, thanks to Trump. Serve accompanied by half-hearted applause from the assembled members of the political criminal class. All in all, simply an appalling performance, even by the abysmally low standards applicable to such egregious ceremonies.

    … I guess not.

  • Back to Jay Nordlinger:

    Before the Republican convention, I had this thought: that Trump’s acceptance speech would be artful, nuanced, pretty — not the true Trump. Trump with a mask on. I was wrong. It was pure, 100 percent Trump. Total Trump.

    Same with today’s speech. Same with the inaugural address. Exactly the same.

    People waiting for Trump to turn down the thermostat on overheated political rhetoric should not hold their breath.

  • Walter Olson notes missing words from the address:

    […] I wish the speech had used the word “Constitution,” or “law” in a way beyond the phrase “law enforcement,” or “Framers” or “Founders,” or “Declaration” or “Amendment” or “individual” or perhaps “rights.” The one occurrence of “right” was in a passage about “the right of all nations to put their interests first.”

    OK. For other entrail-readers out there, Aaron Bandler does some textual analysis and comparisons of Inaugural Addresses past and present. For our porpoises, the most interesting stat:

    References to liberty or freedom:

    • Trump: One.
    • Obama: Two.
    • Bush: Two.
    • Clinton: One.
    • Reagan: Eight.
    • Roosevelt: Zero.
    • Wilson: Zero.

    Moan.

  • It's not all thumbs down. Paul Mirengoff liked it:

    It was well-written, well-delivered, and very powerful. He struck many of the right themes. There was plenty to like about it.

    As did Granite Grok's esteemed founder, Skip Murphy:

    […] My initial takeaway is that this was the antithesis of Barack Obama’s Presidency. I think its theme, America First (and screw the references back to WWII and Charles Limburgh), summarized why people voted for him. The last 8 years has been the Progressive Period on steroids and Flyover Country got short shrift.

    I'm not sure if the "Limburgh" is a pun. America First has a stinky history, for sure. But puns are my thing, Skip!

  • We can only take so much reassurance from the plain fact that, while Our Side's reactions are mixed at best, The Other Side has gone off-the-rails deranged. The Daily Signal provides a photo essay of the vandalism and violence committed by the forces of Peace, Love, and Understanding. KDW's tweet is spot on:

  • There was a lot of rhetorical bomb-throwing as well. Stacy McCain notes Chris Matthews' Reductio ad Hitlerum (with bonus Mussolini reference). And Andrew Stiles at Heat Street noticed:

    ABC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran criticized Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “America First” in his inaugural address on Friday, saying the term contained “anti-Semitic” “overtones from the 1930s.”

    I don't believe Trump is anti-Semitic. But it's stupid to resurrect "America First" in any context.

  • The aforementioned Kevin D. Williamson detects "an epidemic of political diaper rash" on the left.

    Funny word, “adult.” We use the word communicating “maturity” to describe the most immature forms of expression. “Adult entertainment” should mean Moby-Dick. But this is a time of childishness, which, in some ways, should give us hope: If the Democrats really thought President Trump were going to be some sort of Hitler figure, they’d be acting differently. They’d be stockpiling firearms and that freeze-dried apocalypse lasagna they’re always peddling on talk radio, or looking very closely at the real-estate listings in Zurich or Montreal. They would be acting like adults.

    In reality, they are doing the opposite.

    If you must Read only one Whole Thing today, make it that one.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-20

I stand with Patterico: Inaugurations are stupid.

  • I read and enjoyed Jason Brennan's book Against Democracy, which argued that there was little to recommend investing so much political power to the thoughtless and irresponsible masses. So I also enjoyed this Bleeding Hearts Libertarians post where he responds to a critic, one Claire Lehmann: "Hurting Low-Information Voters’ Wittle Feelings".

    Let’s be clear: Part of my mission is to downgrade the status we attach to politics. I argue for elitism about politics in the same way I argue for elitism about plumbing. The average person knows jack shit about plumbing, but that doesn’t make him an inferior person. Still, the average person’s opinions on plumbing aren’t worth much more than the stuff we flush down the pipes. Same goes for the average person’s opinions on trade policy, immigration policy, and so on. To have a reasonable point of view requires knowledge of particular relevant facts (let alone social scientific knowledge), but we have 65 years of data showing most people lack awareness or are uninformed about even the most basic relevant facts. “It hurts my feelings when you say that!” Sorry, precious, but I ain’t your mommy.

    The book makes the same point in more academic prose.

  • Jim Treacher takes note of our MSM in action: "CNN Devotes Entire Segment To Trump Assassination Fantasy". That's the way they think, readers.

  • And the Washington Post beclowned itself by labelling David Gelernter, being considered for Trump's science advisor, as "fiercely anti-intellectual". Heatstreet's Ian Miles Cheong debunks, while noting Gelernter's political sorta-conservatism.

    Regardless of Gelernter’s contentious politics, there’s no way call him an “anti-intellectual” at face value – unless your definition of the term only refers to leftist politics in academia. A computer scientist by trade, and a vocal critic of the academic establishment, Gelernter might just be the right person for the job.

    Note that Gelernter isn't afraid to depart from the conservative mainstream either. Here he notes "the next time a multi-billionaire tech bigshot tells me how wonderful capitalism is, I’m going to throw up."

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie catches out the other MSM flagship: "New York Times Publishes Fake News About Rick Perry and Department of Energy". Good advice:

    Simply put: Don't believe everything you read, especially if you basically agree with the outfit reporting it and want to believe whatever moral lesson is being imparted (this goes for Reason loyalists, too, of course). I write this not as a Trump supporter or even as a Trump apologist. I would rather that he not be president of the United States. But he is and much of the media despises him while a solid chunk will also explain all of his bullshit moves. In either case, caveat lector, friends: Let the reader beware. We are entering one of the least-expected and weirdest episodes in American history and I remain optimistic that what we are witnessing are the death throes of a post-war Leviathan that is ideologically exhausted, financially unsustainable, and wildly unpopular. Almost a year ago, as the GOP presidential debates got underway, the need for a new political and cultural operating system, one based one mass personalization, de-politicization of everyday life, and self-regulating systems was plain as day.

    Warning: disturbing GIF of Rick Perry at the link.

  • A stanza I could have added to my Updating Niemöller poem a couple days ago:

    Then the HHS came for the Little Sisters of the Poor, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a nun.

    At NR, James Capretta advocates Trump undoing the Obamacare mandate that would force religious institutions to fund "health care" that runs against their fundamental beliefs. One interesting point:

    The Obama administration seemed to have two motives for waging this entirely unnecessary fight. First, for ideological reasons, it seemed to want to take the position than any objection to the provision of free contraceptives was illegitimate and therefore not worthy of being accommodated. Second, for political reasons, the Obama administration found it useful to be in a fight over the provision of free contraception. During the 2012 presidential campaign, as the proposed rule was rolled out, supporters of exemptions from it were accused of waging a “war on women.”

    A twofer, in other words: soothing an anti-religious ideological itch, and implementing a cynical political ploy.

  • Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has aroused much lefty ire for her support for educational choice. "Unqualified" is the cri de cœur. So I got a chuckle (albeit heavily tinged with bitterness) at the WSJ article: "Student Debt Payback Far Worse Than Believed".

    When The Wall Street Journal analyzed the new numbers, the data revealed that the Department previously had inflated the repayment rates for 99.8% of all colleges and trade schools in the country.

    An Department of Education spokesdroid blamed the previous misreporting on a "technical programming error." No doubt adding, in a whiny voice: Math is hard!

    This is what the Ed Dept does when the qualified people are in charge. I'm pretty sure Betsy would be an improvement.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-19

Ah, Inauguration Eve.

  • Apparently The American Interest website allows non-subscribers only one free article per month. Unless you're familiar with cookie surgery. But whether you are or not, I suggest you spend it on Elliot A. Cohen's "Truth in the Age of Trump". Cohen notes, correctly, that conservatives (which I am, around half the time) have a special responsibility to call out Trump on his lies. And, make no mistake, Trump will be a target-rich environment:

    Trump lies because it is in his nature to lie. One suspects that there is nothing inside this man that quivers, however slightly, at an untruth. It is not uncommon for politicians, to a greater extent than most people, to believe what they want to believe, or to change their take on reality depending on what is convenient for them. With Trump, however, this will to believe is pathological: his psyche is so completely besotted by Trump that there is no room for anything, or anybody else.

    Trump is pissing off "the right people". We can take whatever comfort we can from that. It's fun and somewhat useful to hoist those folks on their own petards. But—I've said this before—schadenfreude is not something on which you want to anchor your intellectual life.

  • But that doesn't mean we can't kick around Obama's on-my-way-out-the-door-so-who-gives-a-shit moves. At Reason, Andrew P. Napolitano notes "President Obama's Parting Shot at Personal Freedom"

    On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency — America's 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus — to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states upon request. She did so, she claimed, for administrative convenience. Yet in doing this, she violated basic constitutional principles that were erected centuries ago to prevent just what she did.

    Yeah, bad idea. There are a lot of Obama decrees that Trump could un-decree, but I fear this won't be one of them.

  • Ever wonder why liberals just love to set terrorists free? Find out at the New York Post, where Bob McManus reveals "Why liberals just love to set terrorists free". The occasion is (1) Obama's commutation of the life sentence of Puerto Rican nationalist-terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, and (2) NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's early release of Weather Underground conspirator Judith Clark. Both with body counts to their credit. Why?

    To wit, in Progressiveland, some lives matter more than others; that dead and maimed cops and unlucky bystanders matter less than justly convicted and incarcerated radicals — and that in the final analysis benevolent government is meant to stand with the bad guys. (And gals, as the case may be. Isn’t everybody a victim these days?)

    Clark and Rivera should have been left to rot. Maybe sharing a cell with Bradley/"Chelsea" Manning.

  • Megan McArdle discusses the Obamacare "death spiral", worthwhile reading as Trump and Congress fumble their way through "repeal and replace". Megan is pessimistic about that process:

    In a normal administration, we could make at least some broad predictions about where health-insurance policy was likely to end up in six months. But at this point, any number of wildly divergent scenarios seems possible. Congress could repeal the whole thing -- or just the subsidies and the individual mandate. This would unquestionably send the market into a death spiral.

    The big unknown is just how much of a loose cannon Trump is going to be. That uncertainty is itself contributory to possible disaster.

  • My esteemed Congresscritter tweets a smear:

    The company in question is Zimmer Biomet, which makes knee and hip implants. Power Line notes the problem with the alleged timeline, credited to the Trump transition team:

    Why this is a non-issue: (a) the account (and the associated purchase) was broker-directed, not directed by Dr. Price; (b) the extremely small purchase of Biomet was part of a larger portfolio rebalancing of Dr. Price’s portfolio (which involved the sale and purchase of dozens of stocks in a wide variety of sectors – again directed and chosen by the broker); (c) Dr. Price did not become aware of the stock purchase until 4/4/16 (as noted in the timeline) – a date well after the bill in question in the CNN story was introduced; and (d) Dr. Price was engaged on the general issues involved in this legislation dating back to 2015 (as described below), including putting out a Dear Colleague letter to that effect in September 2015.

    And at the WSJ, the editors note:

    […] the Zimmer Biomet purchase was made by Mr. Price’s Morgan Stanley broker and became known to him only for financial-disclosure compliance. The broker bought 26 shares whose total value has risen by about $300 in the months since. If Mr. Price really is self-dealing, he’s doing a lousy job.

    The WSJ recommends that all elected pols, Democrat and Republican, direct their stock investment into index funds. (That's a decent idea for anyone, by the way.)

  • And your tweet du jour, on the Supreme Court case on whether the Asian-American band "The Slants" can be denied a trademark on their name because of "disparagement":

Updating Niemöller

In honor of the upcoming Trump Administration, some overly dramatic friends have been posting the famous poem by anti-Nazi German Pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Because Trump is Hitler, you see.

But it got me thinking about what a more honest, updated version would look like. And so:

First the FEC came for Citizens United , and I did not speak out—
Because I did not want to defend an anti-Hillary movie.

Then the IRS came for Tea Party groups, and I did not speak out—
Because those teabaggers irritated me.

Then the authorities came for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and I did not speak out—
Because he was a convenient scapegoat for Benghazi.

Then the DOJ came for a Fox News correspondent, and I did not speak out—
Because, hey, Fox News.

Then the social network mob came after Brendan Eich, and I did not speak out—
Because I did not agree with him.

Then Donald Trump got elected, and I'm now really concerned about arbitrary abuses of power—
And all these people are just laughing at me!

Obviously, I could have added more verses. Disclaimer: despite the "then"s, I didn't bother to put things in chronological order.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-18

True story: I was doing the acrostic in the Saturday WSJ, and one clue was:

Grammy-winning singer whose career began in the Cotton Club chorus line in 1933 (2 wds.)

Nine letters. Hm. An older African-American woman, obviously. Eartha Kitt? Maybe, but the letters didn't fit well into the grid. Oh, well, let's think about it…

But later that day, I was reading a book I got from the library, The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy. And there on page 129 was a story about Steve Allen getting hate mail from a bigot because Allen had dared to kiss a black woman on the cheek after her performance on his 1950s TV show.

The woman: Lena Horne. Hey! Where did I put that puzzle?

Coincidences can be … pretty coincidental sometimes.

  • Kevin D. Williamson offers a remedy to all those oleaginous Obama flacks deeming his tenure to be scandal-free. The VA? Spying on the press? Weaponizing the IRS and the BATF? …

    It is one thing to have a degenerate president. It is something else — something far worse — to have a degenerate government. Barack Obama may have spent the past eight years as sober as a Sunday morning (his main vice, we are told, is sneaking cigarettes) and straight as a No. 2 pencil, but he leaves behind a government that is perverted.

    … something the MSM reported as little as possible, and has now memory-holed.

  • The Live Free or Die state made Reason, but not in a good way: "Rape, Child Molestation Allegations Would Require Outside Corroboration Under Ridiculous New Hampshire Bill"

    In New Hampshire, those who commit rape or sexual abuse without witnesses present could be all but guaranteed to get away with it under a new proposal from state Rep. William Marsh (R-District 8). The measure, House Bill 106, stipulates "that a victim's testimony in a sexual assault case shall require corroboration" when the defendant has no prior sexual-assault convictions. It does not elaborate about what kind of corroboration would be sufficient.

    As the article notes, Marsh's bill would require a higher standard of proof for sexual assault than exists for other violent crimes.

  • Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed "Women’s March on Washington", should more properly be renamed "Some Women's". Katrina Trinko at the Daily Signal: "Once Again, Feminists Silence Pro-Life Women"

    The Women’s March on Washington, scheduled to occur the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, had listed a pro-life group, New Wave Feminists, as a partner organization. After The Atlantic highlighted the group’s participation as a partner in the march, the Women’s March took the group off the list, saying its inclusion had been an “error.”

    That "inclusive" thing only goes so far.

  • Roger L. Simon claims to have discovered "The Real Reason John Lewis and Company Boycott the Inauguration". Executive summary: fear that Trump might succeed. I liked this:

    In any case, this is all happening against a background of what is indeed an unspoken calamity for the media, Lewis, his ideological cohorts, and whoever it is investing all this money (Soros, et al.). Liberalism and progressivism are dead. They're out of ideas. That's the untold story behind the failure of the Hillary Clinton campaign. She had no plan to run on because there is no longer a liberal-progressive plan to have, one that works anyway. There was no longer a there there. Trump won because of that, even with all those forces aligned against him.

    "Out of ideas." Exactly. These days, it's all about the accumulation of political power.

  • Speaking of which, my own CongressCritter/Toothache has announced where she will be during the Inauguration:

    Praying is good. However, I can't help but appreciate the blunt honesty of Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader:

    But [Trump] hasn’t proved himself to me at all yet, so I respectfully decline to freeze my ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony.

    Why can't NH's Democrats be more like Oregon's? "Live Free or Freeze Your Ass Out There".

URLs du Jour

2017-01-17

Steely Dan once dreamed about a time "when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy". Now that I've taken on dog-walking chores, I'm hoping the sidewalks are safe for the big geezer. It's hip-breaking season in New Hampshire!

  • We slag on the New York Times a lot, and deservedly so. But this is pretty neat: "You Draw It: What Got Better or Worse During Obama’s Presidency". You are invited to "draw your guesses" on a number of charts "to see if you’re as smart as you think you are." Who could resist a challenge like that?

    Unfortunately there's no scoring, but I think I did OK. It's fun, try it out, see how well your educated guesses match up with reality.

  • Jim "Indispensible" Geraghty asks today's musical question: "What’s the Difference Between Praising a Company and Endorsing It?" The query is in reference to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub's tsk-tsking Donald Trump for:

    Shaub noted that government employees are prohibited from "Endorsing any product, service, or company".

    Fine. It's a good thing Trump isn't a government employee yet. Still, Geraghty asks:

    Is it an ethically problematic area when a president or president-elect starts touting a particular company? Sure. But how different is “Buy L. L. Bean” from Obama heading to the factory of a soon-to-be-defunct solar-panel manufacturer and declaring, “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” That’s not an endorsement?

    Whatever. Nary a peep from the Ethics cops at the time, though. Geraghty runs through a few more examples, and requests a clearer standard than “it’s bad when the presidents I don’t like do it but okay when the ones I do like do the same.”

  • At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle tells us "How to Replace Obamacare".

    You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting someone who has made fun of congressional Republicans for not having a plan to replace Obamacare. And the critics are right: Republicans don't have a plan. They have a whole bunch of plans. House Speaker Paul Ryan has one. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has another. HHS nominee Tom Price not only has a plan, he has a bill: The Empowering Patients First Act. The trouble is that Republicans haven't collated all those plans into one single, omnibus proposal.

    Hinkle has some good ideas. The GOP, earning its "Stupid Party" moniker, will probably ignore them.

  • At NR, Austin Yack correlates "The Ten Most Bizarre Questions from Last Week’s Senate Confirmation Hearings". The hard part was limiting it to ten, I suppose.

    The funny bit for us Granite Staters: our state's senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, owns three of the ten. Example:

    8. New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen asked [Secretary of State nominee Rex] Tillerson, “In your view, is it helpful to suggest that as Americans we should be afraid of Muslims?”

    No indication of how much Tillerson's eyes rolled at that point.

    Just a few days ago, I incredulously speculated that of the four women in NH's Congressional delegation, Shaheen seemed like "the smart one". Now it's looking more like a race to the bottom.

  • Math is hard, part of a continuing series: Harvard Ecom Prof espies "Careless Headline Writing" at Time (as published by Yahoo! News). The body of the article:

    The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday.

    But the article's headline turns that claim into:

    Half of the World’s Wealth Is in the Hands of Just Eight Men, Study Says

    Prof Mankiw notes, gently:

    Of course, this conclusion does not follow from the fact reported in the story and is not even close to being true.

    Deeming this to be "careless" is overly diplomatic. In the MSM, such carelessness only seems to work in one political direction.

URLs du Jour

2017-01-16

Happy MLK Day!

  • Our nearly-annual commentary on the MLK celebration at the University Near Here is here. Note that the actual festivities don't take place for another month.

    Since I wrote that, the U has added more events, taking place February 1-22. Don't (for example) miss Mr. Ken Nwadike and his "Free Hugs Project"! Although Mr. Nwadike's politics are a bit too predictably tedious, still … free hugs!

  • Kevin D. Williamson gets a predictably amusing column out of NPR editor Marilyn Geewax's dark implication that HHS Secretary-to-be Tom Price was pro-cancer because he failed to clap sufficiently at the proper point in Obama's last State of the Union Address.

    Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.

    "Perfervid." Heh. (My vim spellchecker is flagging that for a possible misspelling, but, c'mon vim, its a perfectly cromulent word.)

  • Vik Khanna debunks "The Phony ‘Public-Health Crisis’ of Gun Violence", noting two recent articles appearing in once-respectable medical journals.

    The first shot across the bow appeared in the November 8 Journal of the American Medical Association, where esteemed Stanford University health economist Victor Fuchs published a paper on the problem of life expectancy in the black community. Near the end of his lamentation, Fuchs asserts that increasing life expectancy in the black community “depends more on public health measures such as gun control than on medical care.” The second shot came with the release of the January issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, which has four papers and an editorial devoted to firearms violence, with a heavy emphasis on suicide prevention, which would benefit whites much more than it would the black community.

    Public health initiatives were once about clean water and polio shots, but activists increasingly use "public health" to justify controlling people "for their own good".

  • Career tip for government school personnel: don't correct your students' misspellings on social media.

    It would be difficult to find a better example of everything that's wrong with education in America: a Maryland public school fired the woman who ran its Twitter account because she corrected a student's spelling.

    As she was escorted from the building, her co-workers consoled/advised: "Forget it, Katie. It's Frederick."

  • Andrew Klavan manages to capture my own feelings about the current political climate.

    Look, I don't care if the Trump fan-bots rail against me, Trump is an unreliable chap, to put it mildly. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and he throws away his promises too easily and a lot of his instincts are leftist in the worst way. Everything he's done so far could be scuttled on the rock of his personality.

    But that hasn't happened yet and every day is another day. And today, after eight years of a dishonest, undemocratic, anti-American scold in the White House, I am feeling gleeful. Almost pretty. Okay, gleeful.

    Andrew's optimism/pessimism ratio is higher than mine, but otherwise: yeah.


Last Modified 2017-01-17 11:03 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2017-01-15

Those painful Chevy commercials assure us that the folks oohing and aahing about their cars and trucks are "Real People. Not Actors." I wonder how actors feel about the implication that they're not real people? Pretty bad, I bet.

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie has a long and thoughtful post about John Lewis's remark that he doesn't see Trump "as a legitimate president."

    I write as a #NeverTrumper (I voted for Gary Johnson), but I find Lewis's comments and broader attempts not simply to disagree with political opponents but to delegitimate them troubling for several reasons.

    First, they are simply a continuation of a tedious, decades-long unwillingness by losers to acknowledge the basic rules of the very game they have rigged. Remember when George W. Bush was not "elected" but "selected" in 2000? Listen closely any time someone from The Nation shows up on MSNBC and there's a good chance that'll still come up.

    To use a different metaphor: politics is a rhetorical arms race that both parties keep escalating. It's hard to see how this ends well.

  • Your tweet du jour:

  • I'm not actually sure what the deal is here: "8 Glad Restaurants Where the Chefs “Live Free or Die” in Keokuk, Iowa".

    Keokuk, Iowa is stocked with chic diners and many are open late. Sometimes you start shopping for later and you ask the trusty, old cell: “Where can I buy organic corn and chickens in Iowa?” And then you realize it would be easier to let a professional handle dinner.

    The article seems to have been generated by some sort of Mad Libs algorithm, but the designer didn't know English very well.

    But in any case: Keokuk chefs, you can't have our motto!