URLs du Jour

2018-12-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Corie Whalen bemoans: I Can’t Figure Out What To Do. Like a lot of us.

    It’s been three months since I left my job as Rep. Justin Amash’s Communications Director. Part of the reason I quit was to start publishing under my own name again as I did for years before the move to Capitol Hill. But I’m stuck. It’s not just writer’s block, although I think that’s part of it. As I’ve told a few people, I’m still trying to find my voice.

    The fact is, I spent the better part of a decade as a mouthpiece for liberty Republicans predicated on the notion that the GOP was improving and had a more libertarian future ahead of it. I naively believed this like gospel for a long time. I wishcasted this destiny for a living. It was arguably a part of my identity. Now, the very thought of calling myself a Republican makes me feel gross, and the respect I had for many conservative politicians and pundits has waned precipitously, to phrase it perhaps more politely than I should.

    I almost left my mantra as a comment: "Just say to yourself: 'Well, I guess I'll just have to be content with being right about everything, all the time.'"

    Too glib, though. Not for nothing is Jonah Goldberg's podcast called "The Remnant". With all its Old Testament implications.


  • Kevin D. Williamson writes at the NYPost: Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drives conservatives crazy.

    One can partly understand why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hilariously ignorant young socialist recently elected to a House seat from The Bronx and Queens, has soared to the top of the Republicans’ naughty list.

    For one thing, the Democrats and their reliably obsequious media allies already have elevated her far above what one might expect for a safe-seat shoo-in from an abjectly Democratic district who has not yet served a single day in office: They’re already asking her about running for president, perhaps sharing a ticket with Robert Francis O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat formerly known as “Who?”

    KDW makes an excellent comparison between the media's treatment of AOC and its treatment of Dan Quayle, who was lampooned mercilessly for saying far less stupid things than does AOC.


  • You may remember Politifact. You may even remember that it awards "Lie of the Year" to … well, what it feels was the most egregious lie of the year. But this year? David Harsanyi writes Why PolitiFact's Winner of the 'Lie of the Year' Award Is Misleading.

    This week, the allegedly unbiased fact-checkers at PolitiFact awarded their “Lie of the Year” award to the “online smear machine” that attempted “to take down” the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    “The attacks against Parkland’s students stand out because of their sheer vitriol,” the piece explains. “Together, the lies against the Parkland students in the wake of unspeakable tragedy were the most significant falsehoods of 2018.”

    It should go without saying that those who spread the conspiracy theory that the activists in the wake of the horrific school shooting were “crisis actors”—kids only pretending to be victims—are exceptionally terrible people.

    It’s debatable, though, whether this conspiracy theory, which had no effect on policy or the students’ ability to march or speak out, should be considered the most significant political lie in 2018. I’m relatively positive that the vast majority of Americans have never heard it.

    Politifact is hopeless, so it's unlikely that they'll reconsider. But, honestly, with all the lying going on, that's the best they could do?


  • I missed the 245th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party yesterday. Let me make it up to you by linking to Jay Cost's National Review article: Boston Tea Party: Lessons for Today.

    In a country with a story as long and colorful as ours, there is hardly a date on the calendar that was not — at some point — an important day in American history. It would be tedious to comment on all of them, yet I cannot help but note that yesterday marked one of my favorite events in American history, the Boston Tea Party.

    There are two reasons I like the Boston Tea Party so much — one “low” and one “high.” The low reason is that it is a good reminder that the Founding generation was not all about highfalutin philosophy and earnest debate about first principles of government. Far from it! There was a lot of mob-like activity during the eleven years between the end of the War of 1765 and the Declaration of Independence. There was also, to be blunt about it, quite a lot of booze consumed by said mobs.

    The higher reason? Well, RTWT.


  • At American Consequences, P.J. O'Rourke provides Useless Christmas Trivia. Specifically, things you can say at your Christmas dinner to deflect political discussion. Examples:

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 for a Montgomery Ward Christmas promotional coloring book. The character was originally rejected by the department store’s executives because red noses were associated with alcoholism. Did Rudolph ever get so drunk that he guided Santa to any of your houses?”

    We call St. Nick ‘Santa Claus’ because we get many of our Christmas traditions from the New Amsterdam Dutch. The way the Dutch pronounce ‘St. Nicholas’ is Sinterklass. And speaking of Rudolph’s red nose, this is how some people at this table are beginning to pronounce their words. I spiked the eggnog with Everclear, in the hope that at least a few of you would pass out face-first in your plates. Santa’s helpers are standing by at EMS.”

    I may give a dramatic reading of P.J.'s column for our dinner this year.

The Phony Campaign

2018-12-16 Update

[phony baloney]

Last week, Hillary Clinton had dropped below our inclusion criterion (3% or better nomination probability according to Predictwise), and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, for some reason, (barely) met it. This week, the inverse happened: Hillary's back, Tom's gone. So: still 16 candidates, with a more partisan split: 10 donkeys, 6 elephants.

President Trump shed about 10% from his Google hits compared to last week, but he's still in a solid first place. Interestingly, his nomination probability dropped significantly, while Nikki Haley's increased.

(True fact: as I type, adding up the probabilities for all GOP candidates listed at Predictwise only gets you to 91%. I don't know whether this means you could make money arbitraging at a betting site, or if there's just a bug in converting betting odds into probabilities.)

Anyway, on to the phony results:

Candidate NomProb Change
Since
12/9
Phony
Results
Change
Since
12/9
Donald Trump 61% -6% 2,900,000 -310,000
Nikki Haley 9% +4% 1,370,000 +30,000
Hillary Clinton 3% --- 895,000 ---
Beto O'Rourke 19% +1% 840,000 +116,000
Kamala Harris 18% unch 572,000 -11,000
Sherrod Brown 3% -1% 474,000 +184,000
Bernie Sanders 8% +1% 283,000 +44,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 226,000 +5,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 203,000 +16,000
Joe Biden 10% +1% 202,000 -9,000
Mike Pence 8% unch 199,000 +34,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 3% -1% 186,000 -12,000
Elizabeth Warren 5% unch 169,000 -32,000
Amy Klobuchar 4% unch 91,500 +3,600
Cory Booker 5% +1% 61,400 -1,500
John Kasich 4% unch 58,700 -2,200

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • As a reminder of why President Trump consistently leads our phony poll, the New York Times reminisces: As the Trumps Dodged Taxes, Their Tenants Paid a Price. Specifically, decades back, renters in "unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island" saw their rents go up! Why?

    As it turned out, a hidden scam lurked behind the mysterious increases. In October, a New York Times investigation into the origins of Mr. Trump’s wealth revealed, among its findings, that the future president and his siblings set up a phony business to pad the cost of nearly everything their father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump, purchased for his buildings. The Trump children split that extra money.

    Ah, well, I can hardly get too exercised about an effort to evade onerous death taxes, especially one that escaped the eagle eyes of the IRS at the time. It's too bad that renters paid the price, but maybe they should be mad at a tax regime that penalizes people that have the poor judgment to die.


  • Since Hillary's back in our listing for now… At the Washington Times Monica Crowley churns out a column based on Hillary's offhand comment to an interviewer: 'Well, I'd like to be president'.

    There it is, in all of its elitism: She still wants to be president, of course. She just doesn’t want to have to go through the marathon pantomime again to get there. No more phony performances. No more kissing babies. No more greeting the factory swing shift in the middle of the night. No more pretending to enjoy corn dogs at the state fair. No more pretending to like normal Americans. No more selling her marriage as anything but a transactional relationship. She’s done with all that.

    And who can blame her? The woman has been faking it for nearly 50 years.

    Eh, it's not as if we'll be seeing a suddenly-authentic version of Hillary Clinton—version 5.0, would it be? I don't believe there's anything real at her core anymore; it would have long since shriveled and died.


  • Jim Treacher stands up and takes notice when Elizabeth Warren Finally Says Something True.

    There comes a time in every successful politician's life when he -- or she! -- needs to completely backpedal on a long-held assertion without ever admitting that he -- or she! -- was wrong. Either through willful dishonesty, reflexive self-delusion, or some combination of the two, the trick is to say the exact opposite of what you said before, without ever acknowledging the contradiction. It's really tricky, and political history is littered with poor chumps who couldn't get away with it. Some people are just better liars than others, whether by natural talent or decades of practice.

    Jim notes (quoting the Washington Examiner, which is quoting the WaPo, which is quoting Warren):

    “I’m not a person of color. And I haven’t lived your life or experienced anything like the subtle prejudice, or more overt harm, that you may have experienced just because of the color of your skin,” Warren said at Morgan State, a historically black college in Baltimore, Md, according to the Washington Post.

    Well, there you have it. Elizabeth Warren's truth, as of late 2018. We'll see if that holds through 2019. Or even the rest of 2018.


  • But Kevin D. Williamson demurs with Senator Warren's backtrack:

    As I have written before, this is not quite accurate. She is a person of color: Pantone 11-0602 TPX.

    I've helpfully added a link to the relevant Pantone page, but I bet you don't need it.


  • So, anyway, there's a lot of punditry to the effect that Warren's campaign—which, technically, doesn't even exist yet—isn't catching fire. At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi says wait a minute: Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 Presidential Run Endangered by Media Coverage.

    (His subhed is kind of classic: "Sit back and watch how 2020 narratives “shift” after questions are “raised” by the very people writing stories about “raising questions”")

    The headline in the New York Times reads: “Sanders and Warren Meet and Agree: They Both Are Probably Running.”

    At first, the story about Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont reads like standard election news. Dig deeper, though, and you find signs of negative media campaigns already beginning in earnest. Over the past few weeks, multiple outlets have published negative pieces about Warren in particular, deploying coverage gimmicks used to disparage candidates early in presidential campaigns before.

    The gist of the new Times piece is that the Warren and Sanders, if they do run, “will not enjoy an easy path to the nomination.” Both are described as having political vulnerabilities that will force them to face questions or “concerns.” (This is code for, “they’ll get beat up by the media.”)

    OK, so Rolling Stone is probably not the best publication to whine about media dishonesty. Still, Taibbi isn't wrong to observe that MSM-pushed narratives can be self-perpetuating. And, in a word, phony.


  • As reported by Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, Senator K. Gillibrand: Say, there are a lot of white men running for President, aren't there?. From her CNN interview (as reported by the Hill):

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said during a televised interview on Friday night that she was worried about a lack of diversity among top potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

    Gillibrand was asked by CNN’s Van Jones about a poll from the network released this week that found that the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination were white men.

    The poll showed former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) as the top three potential 2020 Democratic candidates.

    "In a party as diverse as ours, does it worry you to see the top three being white guys?" Jones asked Gillibrand, herself a potential presidential candidate, in front of the live audience.

    "Yes," Gillibrand responded.

    The CNN poll disagrees with Predictwise, which has Kamala Harris (a non-white non-guy) battling it out with Beto for the most-probably-nominated candidate.

    Which is probably equally meaningless at this point in the campaign; when I look four years back, the oddsmakers thought the favorite to win the 2016 GOP nomination was… Jeb Bush.


URLs du Jour

2018-12-15

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg does some political strategizing: How Democrats Could Blow 2020.

    Right now, it’s almost easier to list the number of prominent Democrats who aren’t thinking of running. No one knows for sure, but estimates on the number of potential Democratic candidates range from 20 to 40. In that kind of field, the ability to attract a small but passionate cadre of supporters will be more important than arguments about electability. Thus, there will be an enormous incentive to replicate the Trump model of taking unorthodox positions, stated as boldly as possible, in order to win over the most passionate ideologues and activists.

    Moreover, the mood among Democrats is more than a little analogous to the mood among Republicans in 2016. Hillary Clinton was a uniquely disliked and feared figure among conservatives. The argument that America would be “over” if she won found purchase among millions of Republican voters. One need only listen to a few minutes of discussion on CNN or MSNBC, or to read the op-ed pages on almost any given day, to see that a similar attitude is widespread among Democrats. If you can’t imagine chants of “Lock him up!” at the Democratic convention in 2020, you haven’t been paying attention.

    Yes, we could have two extremely unappealing major-party candidates in 2020. In fact, from my point of view, that's almost certain. But I mean Hillary-level unappealing.


  • At Reason, Baylen Linnekin asks the musical question (in response to the latest anti-market idea to come out of left field): Are Dollar Stores Really Driving Grocers Out of Business?.

    Earlier this month, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit advocacy group with offices in Minneapolis, Maine, and Washington, D.C., that "challenges concentrated economic and political power, and instead champions an approach in which ownership is broadly distributed, institutions are humanly scaled, and decision-making is accountable to communities," released research meant to push back against the spread of dollar stores, which the group argues are "targeting struggling urban neighborhoods and small towns."

    Aieee! Beware the Dollar Store Menace! They are aimed at people who find Wal-Mart a tad upscale!

    But click through to find Baylen's rebuttal to the shoddy activist research.


  • Our second musical question today comes from David Hines of the Federalist. And it is: Why Does Lin-Manuel Miranda Enthusiastically Support A Terrorist?.

    If a celebrity celebrated the release of an abortion clinic bomber from prison, gave the abortion clinic bomber a present, then personally hung out with the abortion clinic bomber, we wouldn’t chalk it up to naïveté; we would conclude that the celebrity liked the idea of bombing abortion clinics.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda––yes, that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “Hamilton” guy, co-star of Disney’s upcoming “Mary Poppins Returns,” recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, awardee of a shiny new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame––did all of those things as an avid supporter of the Puerto Rican nationalist terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, ringleader of the 1970s terrorist group FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña / Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation), which murdered at least five and probably six innocent New Yorkers.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Miranda can probably insulate himself from any uncomfortable questions about this.


  • A bracing review from Spencer Kornhaber of a new Netflix show by some music guy you may have heard of: Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, on Netflix.

    Bruce Springsteen is a phony, and he wants you to know it. “I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life,” he shouts early in his one-man stage show, viewable on Netflix Sunday. “I’ve never seen the inside of a factory, and yet it’s all I’ve ever written about. Standing before you is a man who’s become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something [with] which he has had absolutely no personal experience.”

    Now if he'd only apply those observations to his political opinions…


  • And P.J. O'Rourke has a seasonal musical question in American Consequences: What if Santa Came for Grown-Ups?.

    Well, for one thing, he wouldn’t land on the roof! Do you know what roofs cost? We had ours re-shingled a couple of years ago and… “skyway robbery” is what I call it. No thanks to an overloaded sleigh and eight sets of sharp, pointy hooves busting through my rafters.

    Although Santa is welcome to come down our chimney. We’ve been meaning to have it cleaned.

    Peej is more fond of scotch and cigars than I am, but there is much wisdom in his words, I promise. For example: "A real Santa-for-Grown-Ups wouldn’t bring us things – he’d take things away." I've got a list.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-14

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Hill, Chris Edwards points out a real problem: Ballooning debt harms our youth, but Trump doesn't care.

    On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump railed against the federal government’s almost $20 trillion of debt, and he boldly promised to eliminate it “over a period of eight years.”

    That would have been nearly impossible, and now that he is president, Trump has changed his mind anyway. Told by his advisors that the soaring debt may generate a crisis years down the road, Trump said bluntly, “Yeah, but I won’t be here,” according to The Daily Beast.

    Sure enough, Trump is acting like the debt is someone else’s problem. Last year’s tax cut increased deficits, the discretionary spending deal earlier this year was a budget buster, and soaring entitlement costs have garnered little interest from the Oval Office.

    Also not caring: many other Republicans, nearly all Democrats, and (most importantly) American voters, who keep electing these people.


  • As we survey the dystopian rubble that used to be the net-neutral Internet, where feral savages roam to plunder the fearful survivors of the FCC-mandated catastrophe… oh, wait: Despite the media’s prophecies of doom a year ago, the internet is alive and well.

    A year ago today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the harmful 2015 internet regulation dubiously titled the “Open Internet Order.”  The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNET, Ars Technica, Recode, The Verge, and advocacy groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge predictably forecasted apocalyptic consequences to the rollback of the regulation, mischaracterizing the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) along the way. CNN declared “the end of the internet as we know it,” and other media outlets said the RIFO was “gutting the rules that protect the internet,” and “that the internet has no oversight.” A year later, the internet is alive and well. The media and pundits are unlikely to issue corrections, but here are some facts to remember.

    That's Roslyn Layton, writing at AEI. The doomsayers will not issue corrections; they've long since moved on to bemoaning other imagined crises.


  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy asks the musical question: Why Are Conservatives Suddenly Supporting Mandatory Paid Leave?.

    The economy is thriving, unemployment rates are low, and companies that have to compete for quality employees are expanding benefits, including paid time off. That makes this an odd moment for conservatives to shift their position on whether the government should implement a family leave mandate.

    A 2017 working group made up of representatives from the center-left Brookings Institution and the conservative American Enterprise Institute outlined the need for a federal paid family leave law. They point to Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that only 13 percent of private sector workers receive paid leave.

    This number ignores a multitude of paid leave options and other benefits that frequently are provided by employers, however. In a new report, the Cato Institute's Vanessa Brown Calder corrects the record. Citing more comprehensive government metrics, she finds that as of 2008 (the last year for which we have data), as many as 61 percent of women reported having access to some form of paid leave from their employers, up dramatically from 16 percent in the 1960s. Calder notes that even in the absence of a federal policy, the number of new moms who quit working declined "from over 60 percent in 1961 to just over 20 percent in 2008."

    Veronique notes that although the mandate proposals promise future spending cuts, we all know those promises go a-glimmering when it comes time to actually keep them. And experience in "progressive" states like California indicates that when government steps in with mandatory benefits, private companies drop their voluntarily-supplied benefits. Net benefit to employees: zero, but the pols can say they "did something".


  • A provocative post from Jonny Anomaly (apparently his real name) at Fake Nous: The “e” word is the new “f” word. And that "e" word is…

    Plato and Aristotle, Russell and Rawls, Darwin and Galton, Crick and Watson, Haldane and Hamilton. What do they have in common? Apart from being some of the most influential philosophers and biologists of the last few millennia, all of them openly supported some version of eugenics. In other words, all of them have argued that traits are to some degree heritable, and that this fact should influence how and with whom we choose to have children. In a passage that many philosophers quietly skip when they teach distributive justice, John Rawls writes:

    “[Deliberators] want to insure for their descendants the best genetic endowment (assuming their own to be fixed). The pursuit of reasonable policies in this regard is something that earlier generations owe to later ones… Thus over time a society is to take steps at least to preserve the general level of natural abilities and to prevent the diffusion of serious defects.” (1971, p. 107).

    The [Deliberators] are those hypothetical social engineers working behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance. Who knew Rawls was such a Nazi?

    Just kidding, he wasn't. But I can't help but wonder if he would have been able to get away with writing those words today.


  • I am a devoted follower of Titania McGrath on Twitter. Because of things like this:

    She's justly famous for taking progressive identity politics to the logical conclusion. So, naturally, she got in trouble with the Twitter censors. And she got an article about it in Quillette: "I Now Understand How Nelson Mandela Felt".

    My name is Titania McGrath. I am a radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice, and armed peaceful protest. In April of this year, I decided to become more industrious on social media. I was inspired by other activists who had made use of their online platforms in order to spread their message and explain to people why they are wrong about everything.

    This week the powers-that-be at Twitter hit my account with a “permanent suspension” (a semantic contradiction, but then I suppose bigots aren’t known for their grammatical prowess). This was the latest in a series of suspensions, all of which were imposed because I had been too woke. The final straw appeared to be a tweet in which I informed my followers that I would be attending a pro-Brexit march so that I could punch a few UKIP supporters in the name of tolerance.

    I'd confess my undying love for Titania, except that she would reject it as a cisnormative attempt at establishing patriarchal hegemony. (I think I got that right.)

URLs du Jour

2018-12-13

[Amazon Link]

  • At Quillette, Conor Barnes does a bit of psychologizing on Sad Radicals.

    When I became an anarchist I was 18, depressed, anxious, and ready to save the world. I moved in with other anarchists and worked at a vegetarian co-op cafe. I protested against student tuition, prison privatization, and pipeline extensions. I had lawyer’s numbers sharpied on my ankle and I assisted friends who were pepper-sprayed at demos. I tabled zines, lived with my “chosen family,” and performed slam poems about the end of the world. While my radical community was deconstructing gender, monogamy, and mental health, we lived and breathed concepts and tools like call-outs, intersectionality, cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, safe spaces, privilege theory, and rape culture.

    Conor's thesis: "The ideology and norms of radicalism have evolved to produce toxic, paranoid, depressed subjects." I usually don't like this sort of psychologizing, but I'll make an exception because (a) Conor is extrapolating from his own experience and observations; (b) I've kind of suspected this anyway. It explains why lefties are so diligently humorless. Or, more exactly, why their "humor" is so bereft of fun.


  • At Cato, Chris Edwards tells the sad story of one more massive, but lousy, piece of Federal legislation: Farm Bill Socialism in Senate.

    Republicans have criticized the socialism of Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but they should reflect on their own party’s socialist vote in the Senate yesterday. The upper chamber voted 87-13 for the bloated monstrosity known as the farm bill, which funds farm subsidies and food stamps. Republicans in the Senate voted in favor 38-13.

    It is not hyperbole to call the farm bill “socialism.” It will spend $867 billion over the next decade, thus pushing up government debt and taxes. It includes large-scale wealth redistribution in the form of food stamps. At its core is central planning, which is obvious when you consider that the bill is 807 pages of legalese laying out excruciating details on crop prices, acres, yields, and other micromanagement. Furthermore, the bill lines the pockets of wealthy elites (landowners), which is a central feature of socialism in practice around the world.

    It also passed overwhelmingly in the House, 369-47. At Reason, Eric Boehm chimes in: it "somehow manages to suck even more than most farm bills."


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson writes on the recent Shutdown Theater & the Spectacle of Trump.

    The problem is that the Republicans have the right politics but the wrong policy. (Often, the opposite is the case.) Building a wall would bring some benefits and would present the Trump administration with an important symbolic victory, but it is at best an incomplete policy, and in some ways a bad one. For much of the U.S.-Mexico border, a wall is neither practical nor desirable, something that would be clear to the denizens of Washington if they spent much time on the parts of the border that are not within micturition distance of a Starbucks in San Diego.

    As a long time NR reader, of course I know what "micturition" means.

    But as KDW notes, the problem with the wall is (a) it's massively expensive and (b) it won't work. But it's symbolic for Trump, and he's looking for a "win". For himself, not the country.


  • At AEI, Jonah Goldberg chronicles one more sign of decline: Trump trouble shows we've abandoned morality for mere legality.

    In Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s legendary 1978 commencement address at Harvard, he lamented how in the West, law had replaced higher notions of morality.

    “Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution,” he observed. “If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required. Nobody will mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk. It would sound simply absurd.”

    This is a point that conservatives once understood.

    Well, some of us still understand it.


  • And Kyle Smith reviews Aquaman at NR: unfortunately, it Stinks Like Last Month’s Fish. Reading Kyle's review is more fun than you'll have at the movie, I think:

    Aquaman’s back story is like a discarded draft of Splash: Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman, with 30 years digitally erased from her face) washes ashore in Maine, where a kindly lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) nurses her back to health. Their son, Arthur (Jason Momoa), combines both of his parents’ qualities and is described as a bridge between the land and the sea, which is not actually how bridges work, unless they’ve got major design flaws.

    Jason Momoa was on SNL last week. His one joke, repeated in multiple sketches, wasn't funny.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-12

[Amazon Link]

  • At the NYPost F.H. Buckley explains Why ‘No Hate Here’ signs are actually pretty hateful.

    Someone came up with the label “virtue signaling” to describe the psychological impulse behind these signs. The idea is that people who put them up want to tell you how noble they are. But that doesn’t sound right. Virtue-signalers aren’t in any way in doubt about their own virtue. What they really want to do is signal how depraved others are.

    It’s about vice signaling, not virtue signaling.

    Um, good point, I think. But if you think otherwise, please feel free to purchase our Amazon Product du Jour via the link at right. (No, your right.) In case you were wondering, the languages are (allegedly) English, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish.


  • At the Daily Signal, Rachel Greszler notes the latest bit of Congressional crony capitalism: Congress Shouldn’t Prop Up Some Newspaper Companies at the Expense of Employee Pensions.

    Under the Save Community Newspaper Act of 2018 being considered in both the House and Senate, a select group of community newspapers would be allowed to use an excessively high discount rate of 8 percent as a means of lowering their pension contributions. (An updated Senate version of the legislation, not yet available online, provides a broader definition of community newspapers and more relief through a retroactive date of enactment.)

    Yes, it's one more bit of special-interest legislation, and the article goes into detail on the likelihood that ordinary taxpayers will eventually wind up footing the bill.

    Slightly interesting in that it's being pushed by a group called the News Media Alliance.

    Treasurer of the News Media Alliance is one Kirk Davis, CEO of Gatehouse Media.

    And among the (many) papers owned by Gatehouse media, is my local one, Foster's Daily Democrat.


  • James B. Freeman of the (possibly paywalled) WSJ debunks a lefty talking point: U.S. Income More Equal than Advertised.

    Remember the 2014 bestseller “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty? Beachgoers in the Hamptons couldn’t be seen without it tucked under an arm if they wanted to be regarded as serious people concerned about the plight of the less fortunate. The dismal tale of exploding inequality and capitalist failure has been a recurring theme in political chatter ever since. But a new report highlights just how poorly Mr. Piketty’s thesis has held up under further study.

    This column should note that some scholars saw problems right from the start. In a 2014 Journal op-ed, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein ticked off a series of fundamental errors, including those related to Mr. Piketty’s practice of comparing the incomes of top earners with total national income. “National income excludes the value of government transfer payments including Social Security, health benefits and food stamps that are a large and growing part of the personal incomes of low- and middle-income households,” wrote the Harvard prof.

    One of my progressive Facebook friends condescendingly tossed some Piketty-based propaganda at me a couple weeks back; wish I'd had this Freeman article around to rebut.


  • Occasionally the right-wing response to the various rumors about Mueller's investigation of Trump/Russia seem to be hopelessly rosy about Trump's outcome. But Megan McArdle of the WaPo is no GOP hack, and she asks and possibly answers: Who’s most at risk from the Russia investigation? It just might be the Democrats..

    But the greatest danger may be the one facing Democrats: that the investigations end up with not quite enough evidence to justify impeachment — and the Democrats nonetheless go ahead and impeach Trump anyway. If the Mueller investigation ends without a credible, direct link between the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Democratic base would still clamor to impeach him over the campaign finance violations that prosecutors have connected to the hush-money payments. If the activists clamor loud enough, impeachment may well happen simply because no one in the Democratic caucus wants to be the one who breaks the bad news to them.

    The result would be a replay of the Clinton impeachment, only with each team taking the other side of the field. Democrats would have their own Lindsey Graham problems — Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) trying to explain why Trump’s behavior is worse than a president having sex with a 22-year-old White House intern and then concealing the affair with a spot of perjury. But those arguments, no matter how ingenious, wouldn’t travel well outside of the left’s ideological bubble. Explaining that everything has changed since the #MeToo movement arrived wouldn’t be much help.

    I don't care much about what happens to Trump, but I care about what happens to the country. Where's MoveOn when you need them? Well, about where you would expect.


  • And at Reason, Jacob Sullum looks at the bad news around Trump's pick for Attorney General: William Barr’s Never-Ending War.

    William Barr, Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, believes the president has vast, unilateral authority to protect national security, which he says is threatened by the distribution of psychoactive substances the government has decreed Americans should not want.

    Those positions are a dangerous combination that is apt to encourage the worst instincts of a president who portrays himself as tough on crime, promises to stop the flow of illegal drugs, and revels in pointless military displays. With Barr as attorney general and Trump as president, we may see an increasingly literal war on drugs in which aggression masquerades as self-defense.

    Worse than Jeff Sessions? Sigh, probably.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-11

[Amazon Link]

  • <voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice> Or, actually, not so good news. The latest Human Freedom Index is out, and Cato reports: Human Freedom Falls in More Countries than Not. Notably:

    New Zealand and Switzerland are the two freest countries on this year’s index, while Venezuela and Syria rank last. The United States ranks 17. In 2008, it ranked 11, then fell notably until 2013, after which it rose through 2016, the latest year for which the index gathers sufficient data that is comparable globally.

    Note: that's all pre-Trump data. Who knows what next year will bring?


  • At the possibly-paywalled WSJ, James B. Freeman writes on The Unbelievable James Comey.

    Can the story former FBI Director James Comey told Congress on Friday possibly be true? In a joint executive session of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, Mr. Comey presented himself as unaware and incurious regarding one of the most consequential investigations the FBI has ever conducted. After describing how little he knew about the federal government’s use of its surveillance powers against associates of the presidential campaign of the party out of power in 2016, Mr. Comey then assured lawmakers that the launching of the investigation was proper and free of political bias.

    As Richard Nixon allegedly urged his aides back in the 1973 about testifying under oath: “Just be damn sure you say, ‘I don’t remember, I can’t recall. I can’t give any honest — an answer to that that I can recall.’" They didn't get away with it, but I bet Comey will.


  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Scott Sumner poses an interesting query: What should be regarded as property?.

    Tangible products such as bicycles and haircuts and food are considered by economists to be rival goods, consumption of the good by one person prevents its use by another. Non-rival goods include things like broadcast TV. If I tune in to Seinfeld, it doesn’t prevent another person from tuning in to the same show. For that reasons, private broadcast TV companies were not able to charge money for their service, and instead relied on advertising revenue. (The publicly-owned BBC was a different story.)

    Most intellectual property has a non-rival characteristic.  Use of an idea by one person doesn’t prevent the use of the idea by another.  So should ideas be regarded as private property?  In other words, should inventions be granted intellectual property rights? And if so, to what degree?

    Scott is not immodest enough to provide a concrete answer, but his post is required reading for folks who worry about such things. Open question.


  • The Google LFOD alert buzzed for a Business Insider story: The CDC issued a warning about not eating raw cookie dough and people don't care at all.

    Flour and raw eggs, both of which are often used in dough and batter, can contain bacteria and salmonella, which pose health risks. The CDC noted that in 2016, E. coli outbreak traced back to raw flour made 63 people sick.

    But many truly do not care about the health risks.

    Adapted from a response to a Facebook friend yesterday: As usual, numbers or solid facts that might allow people to make up their own minds about the risks involved are not easy to find among the "just say no to dough" hoopla. You'd think the CDC might do better. One anecdote about a two-year-ago E. coli outbreak? Just one not particularly helpful data point.

    I've seen estimates that (back in the 90s) the prevalence of salmonella in eggs was 1 in 20,000; it's almost certainly far lower now, and I would imagine your odds improve even further if you get your eggs from a non-sketchy source.

    As for the flour, they point to a 56-person E. coli "outbreak" back in 2016 linked to raw flour. Here's an article that puts that in some context: Why you shouldn't panic about E.coli in your flour.

    And, oh right:

    Thanks, Kaitlin!


  • And those wacky libertarians over at the Union Leader chronicle the latest bit of small-town statism: Shop owners angry as Keene passes tobacco ban.

    Shop owners are angry after the Keene City Council passed a ban on tobacco and other nicotine product sales to people under the age of 21, saying the city is hurting small businesses.

    “I think it’s ridiculous,” said Dan Cavallero, owner of Monadnock Vapors on Washington Street. “I think it’s the first step in making New Hampshire unrecognizable as the Live Free Or Die state.”

    Actually, Dan, it's one more step in making New Hampshire unrecognizable as the Live Free Or Die state.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-10

[Amazon Link]

  • I was pointed to this David Bahnsen article at Forbes thanks to a tweet by National Review publisher Jack Fowler, who said "I wish to hell [National Review Online] published this." High praise! But on to the show: Amazon Has Teed Up A Generation Of Conservative Electoral Success, And We Apparently Don't Want It.

    It may seem that there has been ample conservative opposition to the recent announcement of Amazon’s sweetheart deals to open an office expansion in Queens, NY and Arlington, VA, but the fact of the matter is that the opposition has been grossly inadequate, unless conservatives are content to let Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez grab the mantle of principled opposition to corporate welfare.  At National Review, Jim Geraghty did a stellar job whacking the announcements for what they were – a celebration of crony capitalism.  Other writers took on the issue here and there, but the national press coverage of opposition to the deal was overwhelmingly from the left, and virtually no high profile public elected officials on the right took it on at all.

    David's right, of course. And he doesn't even mention Wisconsin soon-to-be-ex-Governor Scott Walker's Foxconn deal, which probably lost him the election. As many wise people have said over the years: there's a huge distinction between being pro-market and pro-business. If Republicans can't learn that, they really are the stupid party.


  • Two Brit university professors, Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann, write at Quillette: What Happened When We Tried to Debate Immigration.

    Immigration and diversity politics dominate our political and public debates. Disagreements about these issues lie behind the rise of populist politics on the left and the right, as well as the growing polarization of our societies more widely. Unless we find a way of side-stepping the extremes and debating these issues in an evidence-led, analytical way then the moderate, pluralistic middle will buckle and give way.

    This is why, as two university professors who work on these issues, we decided to help organize and join a public debate about immigration and ethnic change. The debate, held in London on December 6, was a great success, featuring a nuanced and evidence-based discussion attended by 400 people. It was initially titled, “Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat to the West?” This was certainly a provocative title, designed to draw in a large audience who might hold strong views on the topic but who would nonetheless be exposed to a moderated and evidence-led debate. Though we would later change the title, we couldn’t escape its powerful logic: On the night itself, we repeatedly returned to this phrasing because it is the clearest way of distinguishing competing positions.

    "… and you won't believe what happened next!" Or, actually, if you've been following this stuff for awhile, you will be able to predict what happened next. Slanders and slurs about "white nationalism", "nativism", "racism", … Activists made no effort was made to engage with the issue because that would "normalise far-right hate."


  • [Amazon Link]
    I read Jason Brennan's Against Democracy (link at right) a couple years back, and liked it quite a bit. He's now a contributor to Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and his most recent article attempts to discover the purpose of political philosophy. And the answer is… The Purpose of Political Philosophy Is to Rationalize Evil. He imagines a hyper-logical Vulcan, T’Luminareth, to whom he gives the standard answer: "The purpose of political philosophy is to determine the standards by which we judge institutions good or bad, just or unjust.”

    She shook her head. “No, that’s not right. Perhaps that’s what Earthling political philosophy aspires to do. But that’s not what it does. Rather, for the most part, Earthling political philosophy attempts to justify holding government agents and political actors to absurdly low moral standards. Nearly all of your philosophers—from Plato to Aristotle to Hobbes to Rousseau to Marx to Mill to Rawls to Habermas—spent most of their time trying to prove that governments and their agents are exempt from normal, commonsense moral obligations. You Earthlings seem to think your governments and their agents are magical, as if they’re surrounded by force field that both relieves them of their basic moral duties and requires you to treat them as if they have a privileged moral status over the rest of you. Hundreds of years ago, you believed in the divine right of kings. You Earthlings realized that was a mistake. Yet rather than reject the idea altogether, you’ve imbued all government agents, including yourselves as when you vote, with a magical and majestic exemption from normal standards of right and wrong.”

    Provocative! Jason has a new book coming out in a couple days, and I've put it on the things-to-read list.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi writes In Defense Of 'Dark Money'.

    Although the term “dark money” sounds ominous and unsavory, it’s just a misleading neologism adopted by activist journalists to make completely legal contributions to political causes they disagree with sound creepy and illegitimate. It’s become dogma among journalists to treat “dark money” as an attack on democracy. It’s not.

    The use of the phrase “dark money” reminds me of words like “loophole,” which, in its new political parlance, means “any act, although wholly legitimate, that Democrats have yet to figure out how to regulate or tax.” It’s a rhetorical shortcut meant to intimate wrongdoing.

    David notes that the spooky term is deployed asymmetrically in the press against groups leaning conservative/libertarian.

    But the general principal holds: people can (or at least should be able to) judge the quality of arguments without knowing the identity or funding source of the people making it. Yes, sometimes it's interesting information. But it's never necessary.

    If you find yourself reading an argument against your position and wondering "who paid for this?", it's maybe because you can't otherwise refute it.


  • A print-Reason article by Matt Welch is released from behind the paywall, and it's a sobering look at the election results: The Libertarian Party Future, Perennially Out of Reach.

    "He's going to finish certainly no worse than second, and maybe first," Libertarian Party (L.P.) 2016 vice presidential nominee Bill Weld enthused about Massachusetts state auditor candidate Dan Fishman in mid-October. And once Fishman grabs all those votes, Weld declared, "[We're going] to make a list of every campaign for whatever office this year that Libertarians fare no worse than second, and then we're going to take that and publicize it strongly. I think that's going to be a crevasse in the two-party monopoly."

    It looked like Weld might be onto something two weeks later when The Boston Globe took the highly unusual step of endorsing the L.P. candidate for a job that's been held, in all living memory, by Democrats. "Fishman would bring a sorely needed independent streak to the office," the region's dominant newspaper proclaimed. "Give this Libertarian a shot."

    Massachusetts voters declined the advice. When the smoke cleared on November 6, the would-be Libertarian auditor for the government of Taxachusetts finished not first, not second, but a distant third place, with a desultory 4.2 percent of the vote. The effort was enough to give the party automatic statewide ballot access for 2020—no small achievement—but not enough to stave off the national wave of nausea that afflicted many libertarians on election day.

    Matt also points out that incumbent New Hampshire Libertarian state representatives Brandon Phinney and Caleb Dyer lost badly. He could have, but doesn't, note that the LPNH lost the automatic ballot access that it won in 2016, when its gubernatorial candidate didn't come close to meeting the 4% vote requirement. Sigh.


  • And at Inside Sources, Michael Graham piles on the woes for Senator Fauxcahontas: Elizabeth Warren's 2020 "Tribe" Troubles Don't End With DNA Debacle.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s struggles to overcome the impact of her unproven—and likely incorrect—claims of Native American ancestry are well known. This week the New York Times reported that Warren and her close aides are finally realizing what many political observers have long known, that her strategy to use a DNA test to resolve the controversy was a fiasco.

    But Warren’s been working on another effort to burnish her Native American bona fides that could be just as problematic: H­­elping the Massachusetts-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe secure a $1 billion casino project in southeastern Massachusetts. As a result, Warren is making a strange bedfellow of a scandal-plagued, billion-dollar multi-national corporation–exactly the sort of company she has railed against at an outspoken economic populist.

    Casinos are designed to encourage people to make bad choices with their money. You'd think that might be something Elizabeth Warren would be against. Is she sacrificing her principles in order to curry favor with Native American constituents? Or is there something even more corrupt going on?

The Phony Campaign

2018-12-09 Update

[phony baloney]

This week, Hillary Clinton has dropped below our inclusion criterion (3% or better nomination probability according to Predictwise), and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, for some reason, has (barely) met it. So: still 16 candidates, with a more bipartisan split: 9 donkeys, 7 elephants. But President Trump widened his phony lead on the field this week:

Candidate NomProb Change
Since
12/2
Phony
Results
Change
Since
12/2
Donald Trump 67% unch 3,210,000 +890,000
Nikki Haley 5% unch 1,340,000 +310,000
Beto O'Rourke 18% unch 724,000 -127,000
Kamala Harris 18% +1% 583,000 +24,000
Sherrod Brown 4% +1% 290,000 +134,000
Bernie Sanders 7% unch 239,000 +1,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 221,000 -18,000
Joe Biden 9% -1% 211,000 -7,000
Elizabeth Warren 5% -1% 201,000 +7,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% unch 198,000 +7,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 187,000 -406,000
Mike Pence 8% unch 165,000 -3,000
Amy Klobuchar 4% -2% 87,900 -4,400
Cory Booker 4% unch 62,900 -3,100
John Kasich 4% unch 60,900 -4,400
Tom Cotton 3% --- 21,100 ---

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At Inside Sources, Michael Graham gives his view of the Democratic nomination horse race: Beto’s Up, Warren’s Down and Avenatti’s Out. We've managed to ignore the so-called "creepy porn lawyer" up until now, but apparently …

    Lots of 2020 news for New Hampshire, starting with the departure of 2018’s Summer Superstar, Michael Avenatti.  The L.A. lawyer had an electric effect on the crowds at Democratic events in New Hampshire, and some longtime Granite State politicos had high praise for him.

    Alas, we'll have to make do, for now, with more conventional pols. And Trump.


  • Fox News reporter Lukas Mikelionis put his ear to the ground and noticed: New York Democrat Gillibrand mocked for saying future is 'female' and 'intersectional'. The New York senator tweeted, she thought inspirationally:

    If we could only somehow harness the renewable energy of millions of eyeballs rolling skyward when reading Senator Gillibrand's tweets, our climate change problems would be solved. Among Lukas's tweet harvest:

    That's… not bad, actually. In a saner world, the president would delegate his tweeting to Junior.


  • We gave up on following Andrew Sullivan years back, when he was obsessing over Sarah Palin's uterus. But he's on target in pinpointing America’s New Religions.

    Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society.

    Maybe I like that because I've said the same damned thing hundreds of times myself. (I'd like to know what Sean Carroll says about it though.)

    Anyway, Andrew gets around to commenting on Senator Gillibrand's tweet:

    I get the point: Women are succeeding more than ever before, are poised to do even better, and this is a great thing. But why express this as if men are also not part of the future? And “intersectional”? It’s telling that, in Democratic circles, this is such a mainstream word now that she doesn’t have to explain it to anyone.

    Gillibrand’s evolution, of course, has been long in the works — and reveals, I’d say, where the Democrats are going. When Gillibrand was a member of Congress, she identified as a Blue Dog conservative Democrat. She once campaigned in defense of gun rights, was in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration, voted against the 2008 bank bailout, and opposed marriage equality. Fast-forward a decade and look at the change.

    "Evolution" is, for our pols, a shorthand for "changing positions to maximize electability".

    I would wager that the senator not only feels that she doesn't have to explain her use of "intersectional" to anyone, I bet she couldn't explain it to anyone without sounding ridiculous.


  • The staid NYT casts a cold eye on Senator Fauxcahontas: Elizabeth Warren Stands by DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

    The plan was straightforward: After years of being challenged by President Trump and others about a decades-old claim of Native American ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would take a DNA test to prove her stated family origins in the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.

    But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.

    Apparently (according to the last link) it's standard Native American dogma to eschew genetic tests. So the senator is in a tad of trouble from them, too.


  • But James Freeman of the (maybe paywalled) WSJ asks: Too Soon for Democrats To Dump Elizabeth Warren?.

    President Donald Trump has famously ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage. Perhaps more damaging to the Massachusetts leftist as she considers running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, many natural allies aren’t buying her story either. But before Democrats reject her as a potential leader of their party, they ought to consider the alternatives. She is not the first and won’t be the last politician to make phony autobiographical claims.

    For example, Freeman notes, compared to Senator-Non-Elect Beto O'Rourke (quoting Alfredo Corchado in the Dallas Morning News):

    O’Rourke was born in prestige, lived a charmed life, raised in an upper-class lifestyle by people accustomed to power -- a sharp contrast to that of a mostly Mexican-American, hardscrabble city where workers still barely make ends meet...

    In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke.

    We can only hope that this who's-phoniest issue gets brought up in debates.


  • At NR, Jonathan S. Tobin notes a side effect of the truth-challenged current president: Donald Trump Makes Joe Biden Plausible.

    Also like Trump, Biden has a famously loose relationship with the truth. When asked in Montana about the accusations of law-school plagiarism that helped derail his 1988 bid for the presidency, he said, “It all came out in the wash — I never did plagiarize, I never did — and it all was proven that that never happened.”

    That, of course, was a brazen lie. Biden even admitted to his guilt at the time. And even setting aside that particular incidence of plagiarism, the sum of his conduct in 1988 speaks for itself. He embarrassed himself over and over again during that campaign. He was found to have blatantly stolen the stump speech of another politician, British Labour-party leader Neil Kinnock, and to have lifted passages from speeches by JFK, RFK, and Hubert Humphrey. He was also found to have lied about his college grades and the degrees he had earned while campaigning.

    Tobin further notes that Biden is the "only likely Democratic contender who is capable of competing with the president when it comes to wild, exaggerated accusations and rhetorical excess."

    Professional fact-checkers would have guaranteed job security if it came down to Trump vs. Biden.


  • In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby dares to recommend that the country Break the Iowa/New Hampshire duopoly. The criticisms are the ones we've heard for years: Iowa and New Hampshire are too white, too old, etc. And the rest of the country is shut out from participating in the inevitable winnowing of the field that happens after (and sometimes before) the Iowa/NH action.

    The problem being that his recommended method…

    Here’s a better system:

    Every four years, the Republican and Democratic parties should hold a drawing to choose two different states to go to the head of the line. Limiting the drawing to, say, the 15 smallest states would preserve the traditional “retail” campaigning that voters and candidates prize in Iowa and New Hampshire. But — this is the crucial reform — the drawing should not take place until Jan. 1 of the presidential election year.

    At least in New Hampshire, the Secretary of State is empowered to set the primary date "7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election". So the "parties" can do whatever they want, but they can't stop us from voting when the SoS says.

    (Well, they could say: "we won't recognize the delegates from your state at our conventions." But see how well that goes over.)

    So: Neener neener, Jeff.



Last Modified 2018-12-10 4:56 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2018-12-08

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Federalist, Jesse Kelly explains Why The Right Should Start Taking Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Seriously. He's talking to me, I think.

    Do not underestimate this woman, and do not think your savage mockery of her stupidity will be an effective tool to stop her. It won’t. It will instead be personalized by her supporters, creating an army that will lay down and die for her (or at least vote for her), just like the army Trump has. You should be afraid of Ocasio-Cortez. Be much more afraid than you are.

    Through thick and thin, up and down, one thing about elections in America has never changed: you cannot win them without non-political people. It is the undecided masses who decide elections. They do not watch YouTube videos of Milton Friedman breaking down economics, and they’re unimpressed that you graduated summa cum laude. They may only glance at the nightly news for a few minutes, but they will get on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    So: point out when she says stupid, false, and/or hypocritical things, but for goodness' sake, don't make fun of her.

    But…


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week is a slight pun: Climate Change Frenzy Clouds Our Judgment.

    So, as often happens, a weasel crawls up your tailpipe (I mean of your car, sicko). It then gets caught in the doohickey connecting the thing to thing that goes mmmm-chicka. And now your car is busted. The mechanic says it will cost $5,000 to de-weasel your diesel engine.

    But you don’t have five grand lying around. So what do you do?

    Obviously, you ask the mechanic how to raise $5,000. I mean, he’s an expert on how to fix your car, he must also be an expert on how to pay for it. Right?

    You see the analogy, I assume. Except the analogy is flawed: because you really should imagine the mechanic is also in the business of making payday loans…


  • I subscribed to the Weekly Standard for a bit back in the 90's, thanks to a generous introductory offer. But then bailed, because subscribing was expensive. But now (you may have heard) the never-Trump conservative magazine is in peril, and Megan McArdle has some praise: The Weekly Standard may be teetering, but its anti-Trumpism is a model of standing firm on principle.

    In fact, ideological magazines always do better when their party is out of power and readers are fired up with outrage. But even if it’s true that the Weekly Standard’s troubles reflect the way Trump has divided the movement, there’s a more appropriate reaction than solemn finger-wagging about the true nature of conservatism. Instead, spare a moment to admire how many of the movement’s leading intellectuals held their ground, even as a substantial portion of the conservative base moved away.

    Those conservatives opposed Trump early and often — earlier, in fact, than many liberals. When the Republican nomination was still contested, plenty of left-leaning public intellectuals argued that he was preferable to supposedly more extreme candidates such as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In fairness, many of those people later admitted that they’d been wrong, although many also implausibly tried to suggest that they’d been unaware of Trump’s character flaws when they praised him.

    At some point, you have to be satisfied merely with being right about everything, all the time.


  • Daniel J. Mitchell offers up his candidate for The World’s Most Depressing Tweet. And here 'tis:

    You'll recognize these counties by their geographical proximity to … guess where?

    The D.C. metropolitan region is unjustly rich because of everyone else who has figured out how to divert taxpayer money into their pockets. That includes disgusting examples of Democrat sleaze and Republican sleaze.

    I'm pretty sure I've made this point before, but: the people who deride "trickle-down economics" when objecting to policies that keep more money in the private sector never seem to mind the cash flowing to Our Federal Government that tends not to trickle down, but to stay right around the Washington D.C. area.


  • Our Google LFOD alert rang for a Providence Journal story from Rhode Island Poet Laureate Tina Cane: This 'toxic' year gives humanity a stark choice.

    As 2018 draws to a close, it seems appropriate to note that the Oxford Word of the Year is toxic. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, since I hear and read this word every day in news articles and commentary. An apt adjective for our current cultural climate, toxic is widely used to characterize anything from political discourse to types of femininity and masculinity. That toxic’s most common usage is no longer relegated to medical waste or that cheesy Britney Spears song may not shock most of us, but it should sadden all of us. And that might be a good thing, for sadness is actually a more productive emotion than the ones that have brought us here.

    You'd think the Poet Laureate could and should write at least some doggerel for the paper about this instead of turgid prose. But no. She quotes a poem, but it's not ever hers, it's Auden, the one with the line "We must love one another or die." And…

    It’s said that Auden, disillusioned by the horrors that unfolded, changed the last line of his poem from We must love one another and die — a move which was effectively a commentary on the ineffectiveness of poetry to impact the state of the world. Still, Auden thought that this shift from “or” to “and” lacked rhetorical power and he removed the line altogether. When it was found years later in his drafts, Auden was convinced to include it as he had originally written it — perhaps because enough time had passed, perhaps because he wanted to preserve the poem’s integrity in accordance with his intention, rather than with the world’s ugly reality.

    I prefer the “or,” even if the “and” is true. Either way, “We must love one another or die” is a directive for our times — an antidote to the toxic tone we’ve managed to cultivate. It brings to mind New Hampshire’s state motto, “Live free or die,” in which Gen. John Stark, who led a charge in the Battle of Bunker Hill, captures America’s revolutionary spirit of independence. Times have changed, but America is still a democracy.

    We are free to decide how we treat one another — regardless of our persuasions — and we should exercise our freedom responsibly and with humanity. We can choose love, as Auden would advise, if we wish to. While love as a solution may sound simplistic, it’s a lot harder than it seems. Perhaps, we can start by putting toxic back in its box and by refusing to take the easy — angry — way out. Maybe then, next year’s Word of the Year can be something closer to respect or the gratitude emoji. That would be a mark of real independence.

    You know, I'm trying to find something to disagree with here, and … failing.


  • But on a lighter note, Seacoast Online gets spooky on us: 'Ghost Ship' docked at state pier. In Portsmouth, NH!

    The stealth and “supercapivating” [sic] water craft “Ghost Ship” has a new home on the state pier, next to the Piscataqua River, where it’s been docked for marketing purposes, explained Greg Sancoff, Juliet Marine Systems chief executive officer, who self-funded the Ghost Ship project.

    The ship has been described as being like a helicopter on water because it travels across water like a boat, but through a tunnel of gas below the surface. The significance of the technology means Ghost Ship moves through a gas instead of water, which has 900 times more drag.

    It looks very cool:

    And, for a bonus:

    On the back of Ghost Ship its home port is noted as Portsmouth, N.H. Over the rear door is the state’s slogan, “Live Free or Die.”