URLs du Jour - 2014-10-28

  • Hillary is trying to walk back the "Don’t let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs" line in her Friday speech. On Monday:

    “I shorthanded this point the other day, so let me be absolutely clear about what I’ve been saying for a couple of decades,” said Mrs. Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

    “Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in an America where workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out — not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas.”

    Shorthanded? She would have done better to call it a "speak-o". I shouldn't need to point this out, but her Friday remarks are not "shorthand" for her Monday remarks.

    Friday: transparently false left-wing demagogic bullshit.

    Monday: focus-grouped banal meaningless bullshit. [Amazon Link]

    With Hillary, as with her husband, dishonesty is the default setting. The late Christopher Hitchens nailed it years ago when he titled his book about the Clintons No One Left To Lie To. Except he was wrong. In low-information America, there are plenty of people left to lie to. And Hillary's taking full advantage.

  • Writing at Patterico's Pontifications, I think JVW could be indulging in sarcasm:

    So, dear reader, it’s really your fault if you didn’t understand the full context of Hillary!’s remarks in Massachusetts. It is most certainly not a case where Hillary! was caught pandering to a far-left audience which probably hopes to replace her with their own local sweetheart Elizabeth Warren as the 2016 nominee for President. This is just another instance where perhaps she slightly misspoke or where maybe her statement just needed a little bit of clarification.

    The links will jog your memory, if your memory need be jogged.

  • I'm not the biggest fan of Jen Rubin, the WaPo's "conservative" blogger, but she's on-target here:

    This latest gaffe confirms that when Clinton’s lips move she is telling us what she thinks her base wants to hear, not sharing any original or sincerely felt position of her own. Moreover, her utter lack of spontaneity has now become a primary characteristic. As one Capitol Hill Republican put it, “She overcompensates when she’s in uncomfortable territory.” Like trying to be a populist. Or trying to attack the corporations whose trough she has fed on for millions of dollars in speaking fees. Or trying to appear nonchalant about a challenger from her left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who actually believes anti-business rhetoric.

  • As Ms. Rubin notes, Hillary is trying, however ineptly, to tap into the "you didn't build that" meme used by President Obama and Senator Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren. It's wildly appealing to many of our "Progressive" friends, but as Ross Kaminsky notes, it shouldn't be so to anyone else.

    As with so many liberal themes, it is easier to rile up voters with jabs at the rich (the irony of which, coming from Hillary who just took $225,000 from an irresponsible UNLV to give a single speech, is almost too much to take) than it is to explain why most of “the one-percent” deserve our praise for getting rich rather than our scorn for not sufficiently “giving back.” After all, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos (and many thousands of others who aren’t household names) did not take anything from us.

    Rather, they have improved our lives dramatically, lowered our costs for things we buy or tasks we must complete, given us access to more information than Encyclopedia Britannica’s editors could ever have imagined, allowed us to communicate, network, and even play with each other in fantastic new ways, and, pace Hillary Clinton, directly and indirectly created lots and lots of jobs.

  • On a lighter note, Wired has helpful advice for cat owners: "Why Your Cat Thinks You’re a Huge, Unpredictable Ape". And it's longer than the obvious three-word answer: "Because you are."

  • And Iowahawk has your Tweet du Jour:

URLs du Jour - 2014-10-27

  • Hillary Clinton said something unspeakably vile:

    “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” Clinton said during a Boston rally for Martha Coakley, who’s running for Massachusetts governor. “You know that old theory — trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

    Why "unspeakably vile" and not "breathtakingly stupid"? Because she knows better. Her remarks were just demagogic boob bait, a desperate attempt to convince low-info voters in Massachusetts that government (generally) is their only path to prosperity and (specifically) electing Martha Coakley is their only hope.

    Amusingly, Jonathan Allen pulls telling quotes from Hillary's recent book—only a few months old!—that contradicts her newfound doltish populism. She's also darn proud of the cozy corporate welfare relationship between Boeing and the Export-Import Bank.

    What can she say? "It's not trickle-down when we do it"?

  • Over at Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux is equally disgusted with a different Clinton "don't let anybody tell you" assertion:

    Don’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I’ve been through that. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s [by signing a bill that raised the national minimum wage].

    I really like Professor Boudreaux's rebuttal, so much so that I'll quote him a little more extensively than normal:

    Workers whose take-home, monetary pay rose as a result of a minimum-wage hike in the 1990s were not given that raise by Bill Clinton.  Rather, Bill Clinton was complicit with Congress in using threats of violence to force thousands of employers throughout America to give raises to some of their workers.

    I write these words from a coffee shop in Fairfax, Virginia.  If I were to point a gun to the head of the man who is now standing second in line to buy coffee and order him to purchase cups of coffee for the two young women standing in front of him in line, no one would say that “Don Boudreaux gave cups of coffee to some women today!”  Rather, anyone who saw me commit this crime would call the police or, perhaps, justifiably take me down with a swift kick to my groin.  My actions would not be praiseworthy.  Quite the opposite, of course.

    Yet when politicians in grand buildings commit essentially the same sorts of aggressions against innocent people, we tolerate their criminal actions – and we also tolerate such actions being described as praiseworthy, noble, and helpful.  Political titles, buildings, and ceremony mask the underlying coercive reality of what politicians do, and it deafens us to the lies – such as that Bill Clinton gave people raises – told about their predations.

    I would like to think that a prevaricating pol like Hillary whose only guiding principle is her lust for power would be doomed to political failure. Hope I'm right, fear I'm wrong.

  • Jed Babbin analyzes the recent call by the (Democrat) Vice Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to begin scrutinizing political-advocacy speech on the Internet, the way it currently monitors broadcast and print media. And comes to the obvious conclusion: the FEC is a clear and present danger to the First Amendment and should be dissolved.

    Congress has limited the amount of political speech, and the courts have only fine-tuned the limits to suit the political atmosphere. The only limit on political speech should be that foreign individuals, companies, and government should continue to be prohibited from donating to campaigns. Their political speech isn’t protected by the Constitution. Ours is. We are going to have to stand up to defend it again and again.

    Also see Noah Rothman at Hot Air.

  • Speaking of things to shut down: Chris Edwards makes the case for terminating the Department of Homeland Security:

    [President Bush's 2002] promise of creating a lean and efficient DHS did not materialize. The department’s spending doubled from $27 billion in 2004 to $54 billion in 2014. Its workforce expanded from 163,000 employees in 2004 to 190,000 by 2014. And far from being efficient, DHS agencies are some of the most poorly managed in the federal government.

    My recollection is that Dubya was stampeded into creating DHS post-9/11. He should have followed his initial instinct there.

  • On a lighter note, Wired has a beautiful article: "Regular Guy From Boston Decides to Map the City’s Entire History". That almost sounds like something from the Onion, but it's about Ed McCarthy, a Beantown EMT and ambulance driver who, in his spare time, puts together gorgeous information-filled maps. Pictures included.

Gamble

[Amazon Link]

Amazon points out that I bought this back in late 2011. They don't add, but could: You sure took your sweet time getting around to reading it. It's on the Kindle, and Amazon Knows All.

You'll note from the cover that the late Dick Francis's name is much bigger than that of the actual author, his son Felix. Dick died in 2010, and this is Felix's first solo effort. (They shared authorial billing on four books.)

I tend to be a sucker for these efforts to keep a beloved author's name alive. (Examples: Joe Gores doing Dashiell Hammett; Ace Atkins doing Robert B. Parker; Benjamin Black doing Raymond Chandler; Spider Robinson doing Robert A. Heinlein.) You can view it as a cold-blooded dollar grab from gullible fans, and I suppose there's something to that. But I have to admit: Felix Francis does a very good job here. If I didn't know better, I'd say: yup, this is Dick Francis.

As Francis novels tend to do, this starts off with a bang. A literal one, in this case: an unknown assassin guns down Herb Kovack at the racetrack as he's strolling to the stands with co-worker (and ex-jockey) Nick Foxton. Nick, the story's narrator, is naturally horrified. He and the late Herb have perfectly boring jobs as investment advisors in a respectable firm. What could possibly have been the motive?

Well, we find out eventually. Nick is caught up in the investigation, but can't provide much help to the cops, other than finding a vaguely threatening note in the deceased's coat pocket. He's nonplussed to discover that Herb's will has named him to be both beneficiary and executor, which leads him to uncover and delve into Herb's mysterious financial dealings. And a number of other things are going on: Nick's girlfriend is acting oddly secretive; there are indications that the firm's investment in a Bulgarian light bulb factory may not be on the up-and-up; a female trainer Nick used to work for is unexpectedly amorous; a jockey whose portfolio Nick manages suddenly demands an immediate cash-out, and soon afterward becomes involved in a nasty hit-and-run accident. Could any of these things be connected?

Bottom line: Felix is doing a fine job writing "Dick Francis" novels. Sympathetic and interesting heroes, twisty plots, inventive action. So I'll be reading some more.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:22 PM EST

Godzilla

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

It could be that I'm growing up. ("About time!" — Mrs. Salad) But I was prepared to have a rockin' good time watching this big-budget resurrection of everyone's favorite Japanese nuclear-powered monster. But instead, meh.

It turns out the movie really should have been titled Godzilla vs. the MUTOs. MUTO == Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. There are two, boy and girl, initially discovered in pods, in the Philippines by a mining operation in 1999. The boy MUTO travels to Japan to destroy a nuclear reactor and go into a 15-year hibernation. The girl MUTO remains empodded and is toted off to Yucca Flats Nevada, since she's also radioactive.

There are people, too. Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche) is married to Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and have young son Ford. Sandra and Joe work at the doomed nuke; Sandra perishes heroically during the MUTO's attack.

Flash forward to the present day: Ford is all grown up, and Joe has turned into an Ahab-like obsessive trying to pierce the government coverup of the disaster. Ford arrives in Japan just in time for the reawakening of the boy MUTO, which (of course) wreaks more havoc, bumping off Joe. It then sets off toward America to reunite with the female.

Then Godzilla shows up, because he really doesn't like MUTOs; he's relatively benevolent toward people, even though they have a history of trying to kill him. The three monsters also take in the tourist sights, destroying Honolulu and Las Vegas on their way to rendezvous in San Francisco.

Well, that's enough plot. The overall themes are: incompetence of the Japanese and American governments and armed forces; also, nukes are bad. Most of the action takes place in the dark, which makes it difficult, at least on home video, to discern what's going on. Some of the special effects are impressive, but three stars are generous.

That spooky Ligeti music from 2001 is employed at one point, but the monolith doesn't show up.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:22 PM EST

URLs du Jour - 2014-10-22

  • Blood pressure too low? Well, Senator/Doctor Tom Coburn has released the final edition of his annual Wastebook, detailing 100 examples of how the Federal Government fritters away your money. And that will get those diastolic and systolic numbers right up there.

    Many are small potatoes ($25K to UCLA for an undergraduate course exploring “the nature of human laughter and humor”), some are huge ($4.2 billion lost on bogus tax returns, while the IRS spends time trying to intimidate conservative 501(c)(4) groups) The bottom line is: the Feds have no right to complain about having enough money to develop vaccines and build bridges as long as stuff like this is going on.

  • Next time someone tells you not to worry about self-defense in the big city because it's the cops' job to protect you: make them read the story of Joe Lozito, who managed to subdue his would-be killer with his bare hands after being stabbed in the face on an NYC subway car. Then the police showed up.

    But Lozito explained to Cracked.com that the cops were present all along, hiding behind a door during the fight to the death, because they were too afraid to confront the stabber until he had been defeated[.]

    Lozito tried to sue, but it failed: legally, police are not obligated to protect people from harm. You thought otherwise? Read the whole thing.

    [Although if any of the Reagan family were there—including Erin or Linda, even Jack, Sean, or Nicky—I am sure it would have been a different story. Their only drawback is being fictional.]

  • Your Tweet du Jour:

    Background, if necessary, here. There's apparently no Hank Schrader action figure which totally sucks.

    The not-yet-available Gus Fring figure has removable glasses. But, as near as I can tell, not a removable face.

URLs du Jour - 2014-10-21

Lots of good URLs today. Click through, Read The Whole Thing, hit back-arrow to come back, lather, rinse, repeat. You won't be sorry.

  • I hardly ever watch TV news, but a combination of factors led me to put on Fox News last night, and so I was treated to the video spectacle of the Keene (NH) Pumpkin Fest Lady Ruth Sterling trying to manhandle freelance reporter Jared Goodell. (Apparently she was objecting to his coverage of the weekend pumpkin rioting.)

    The Free Keene folks have put up a longer clip:

    Reason has more. Notably, Ms. Sterling demands to know if Mr. Goodell is a "Free Stater", apparently considering this a term of opprobrium for people who like the Free State Project. (Yes, even though our state's motto is "Live Free or Die".)

    What's with Keene anyway? It's the town that …

    • gave us State Rep Delmar Burridge, who responded to a constituent's request to favor a marijuana bill by cc:'ing "two members of the Keene Police Department in case you want to change your ways and act legal and save your friends.";

    • gave us State Rep Cynthia Chase who deemed the "Free Staters" to be "the single biggest threat the state is facing today" and encouraged people to let them know they "are not welcome here."

    • contains a local branch of the University System Near Here, Keene State, which sports a red light speech code rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (as does UNH);

    • and of course, their Police Department has a frickin' tank. (I'm not sure if that was called out over the weekend. I think Free Keene would have mentioned it if it had been.)

    Any way we could give Keene to Vermont, perhaps in exchange for two towns to be named later?

  • Jared Goodell (as near as I can tell) is on the fuzzy boundary between "Official Media Journalist" and "Some Dude With A Video Camera". That makes a natural lead-in for Nick Gillespie's interview at Spiked Online, where (among other things) he argues against the distinction.

    ‘In a good way’, [Gillespie tells the interviewer], ‘the press in America is not licensed or regulated, nor does it have to seek certification from the state before it’s allowed to do what it does. I think that’s extremely important because one of the pressing issues in the US, and I think elsewhere, is that the press has a seemingly different relationship to government, to state power, to corporate power, than mere citizens. And a lot of people push this as a positive thing. As a result we have press-shield laws so that reporters won’t be put in jail for refusing to name their sources. They have been given certain exemptions from legal process. And I think that’s very disturbing.’

    And [I'm sure my buddy Nick would agree] it goes the other way too: the Pumpkin Lady should not feel entitled to shove someone around just because he didn't show up in a van with a satellite dish.

  • This NYMag interview with Marc Andreessen is interesting and provocative all the way through. Andreessen identifies himself politically as a "[George] McGovern libertarian" almost guaranteeing that he is going to take a position that will irritate anyone at some point. Here's his response to complaints about the high-tech sector's alleged lack of diversity:

    […] I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, and there are two reasons to believe that that’s the case. No. 1, these companies are like the United Nations internally. All the diversity studies say that the engineering population is like 70 percent white and Asian. Let’s dig into that for a second. First, apparently Asian doesn’t count as diverse. And then “white”: When you actually go in these companies, what you find is it’s American people, but it’s also Russians, and Eastern Europeans, and French, and German, and British. And then there are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indonesians, and Vietnamese. All these different countries, all these different cultures. To believe in a systematic pattern of discrimination, you’d have to believe that we’re discriminatory toward certain people without being discriminatory at all toward an extremely broad range of ethnicities and religions. Because of Pakistanis, we’re seeing a higher-than-ever proportion of Muslim employees in a lot of our companies.

    No. 2, our companies are desperate for talent. Desperate. Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs. The motivation to go find talent wherever it is is unbelievably high.

    According to Wikipedia, Andreesen voted for Obama in 2008, and Romney in 2012. So maybe we could put his politics in the "mugged by reality" category.

  • At Forbes, Rich Karlgaard highlights a recent paper that estimates the effects of US federal regulation to be "negative and substantial", shaving "about two percentage points on average over the period 1949-2005".

    That may not sound like much, but it adds up. For example: "GDP at the end of 2011 would have been $53.9 trillion instead of $15.1 trillion if regulation had remained at its 1949 level."

    Even if you cut the paper's guesstimate of regulation's cost in half, it would still making us significantly poorer, as Karlgaard details:

    • Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.

    • Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.

    • The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.

    • Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.

    … and more.

    This isn't a particularly new observation. It's been over a century since Hugh Walpole advised: "Don't play for safety. It's the most dangerous thing in the world." In a more modern context, the obsession of minimizing risk at any cost has made us poorer and (hence) less safe.

  • And finally, a small humblebrag, somewhat outside the normal blog subject area: throwing caution to the winds, I recently installed the Fedora 21 Alpha Linux release on my home workstation.

    All went basically OK until they issued a 3.17 kernel update from the initial version 3.16. And my wireless card stopped working.

    Booting back to the 3.16 kernel got things working again. Still, wtf? I finally screwed up the courage to submit a bug report. And (good news) smarter people than I found and fixed the bug, and the fix will make it into Beta.

    So if you run Fedora 21 Beta, and use a wireless card with a Broadcom 4318 chipset, and it works, you can thank… well, you can mostly thank those good folks who maintain the Fedora kernel. But at least I kicked off the process.


Last Modified 2014-12-05 11:18 AM EST

To See What Is Right, and Not To Do It, Is Want Of Courage Or Of Principle.

I read about this in a recent issue of National Review, but here's a straight news story:

The University of Chicago has suspended negotiations to renew its agreement to host a Confucius Institute after objecting to an unflattering article that appeared in the Chinese press. The decision follows a petition, signed by more than 100 faculty members this spring, calling for the closure of the institute. The petition raised concerns that in hosting the Chinese government-funded center for research and language teaching, Chicago was ceding control over faculty hiring, course content, and programming to Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing, which is also known as Hanban.

Since then, Penn State has dumped its Confucius Institute program. The American Association of University Professors has recommended "universities cease their involvement in Confucius Institutes unless the agreement between the university and Hanban is renegotiated". I'm slightly amazed that I find myself linking to an article in The Nation subheadlined:

Confucius Institutes censor political discussions and restrain the free exchange of ideas. Why, then, do American universities sponsor them?

But (as indicated above) it's not just left-wing AAUP/Nation types sounding the alarm. The "This Week" blurb in National Review cheering the Chicago decision, was even more straightforward: "Confucius Institutes are learning centers that are funded, staffed, and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party." (Yes, that's a bad thing.)

It's an unusual issue that unites National Review and The Nation.

Why am I interested? Because the University Near Here has a Confucius Institute too. I've heard nary a peep, pro or con, about it. We lead a sheltered life.

Trophy Hunt

[Amazon Link]

This fourth entry in the Joe Pickett series is another well-written page-turner. (Read mostly on the iPad Kindle app so maybe I should have said: "well-written screen-swipe gesturer".)

While fishing with his daughters, game warden Joe makes a grisly discovery: a dead moose, seemingly mutilated with extreme care and expertise. An atmosphere of dread hangs over the scene

Maybe it's aliens, and the Joe Pickett series is about to take a turn into 1930's style science fiction? Not really.

But the mutilated corpses continue to pile up, including a couple of humans, and that broadens the investigation beyond Joe's employer, Wyoming Game & Fish. Joe's old nemesis, the corrupt Sheriff Barnum, is brought in, as is the FBI agent from the previous book, who also dislikes Joe.

Joe has no special expertise in detective work, but he's dogged, diligent, and motivated. There are a lot of twists and a semi-ambiguous ending that flirts with semi-supernatural James Lee Burke-style explication.

C.J. Box (once again) brings Joe's family into the mix, and does a fine job of giving Joe's wife and daughters unique and interesting character traits. From the past entries in the series, we know that Box isn't shy about visiting danger and tragedy upon the Picketts. This makes reading Box an excercise in trepidation. We're pretty sure Joe's going to make it to the end, but who knows about anyone else?


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:22 PM EST

Muppets Most Wanted

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A nice little Muppets movie. Lots of cameos.

The plot kicks off at the end of the previous movie; the Muppets reunited after many years. (As Kermit would say: Yaayyyy!) But what do they do next? Instead of following Kermit's wise counsel to take it slow and hone their craft, the rest of the gang gets taken in by the shrewd conniving "Dominic Badguy" (Ricky Gervais) and go on a world tour.

But—little do they suspect—Dominic is the co-conspirator of Constantine, the most dangerous frog in the world, recently escaped from a Siberian gulag. (Apparently they still have those.) Constantine bears a close resemblance to Kermit, and before you can say "I bet I know what's going to happen next", Constantine has taken Kermit's place and Kermit has been hauled off to Siberia by Gulag warden "Nadya" (Tina Fey).

So while Dominic and Constantine use the Muppet tour as cover for a series of brazen heists, Kermit attempts to deal with his new life as a Zek. (His fellow inmates include Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, Tom Hiddleston; Stanley Tucci plays a guard.) As you might expect, hijinks ensue.

There's some funny stuff, and (darn it) I like these guys. So, while it lacks the inspired lunacy of Jim Henson, I still had a decent time.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:22 PM EST

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-16

  • Reason is an equal-opportunity offender when it comes to the major political parties:

    I hear you saying: only four each? It's a graphic, so they probably had space limitations.

  • But it's not just the Dems and Reps. Ellen Carmichael notes the "Freedom Socialist Party" in Seattle, which supports a $15/hour minimum wage, is looking for a Web Content Manager, and offering… $13/hour.

  • You might be surprised at the tastelessness of some of the Getty Images you get when searching for "shit". Today's embedded image is one of the less objectionable.

  • Kevin Williamson has an unusually good knack of piercing through delusion, euphemism, and cant. A recent example is his brief refutation of an assertion in a Slate review of a pro-abortion book. The reviewer, Hannah Rosin, notes only 7-20% of Americans want to "totally ban abortion", so why is it still an issue politicians tiptoe around?

    The number of people who wish to ban abortion in all instances is not small; it amounts to, as Rosin notes, about one in five Americans. The flip-side proposition is held by about one in four Americans — until you start talking specifics, in which case it falls down to about one in ten. The majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in some cases, but they also support significant restrictions beyond those currently enacted in law. The actual “absolutism” — the unrestricted abortion license through the third trimester — is in fact a distinctly minority inclination, held by about 10 percent of the population.

    Read the whole thing. It's short.

  • Your Tweet du Jour:

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-15

  • At Reason, Robby Soave analyzes Ezra Klein's advocacy of California's "Yes Means Yes" law. (Which is also being proposed in New Hampshire.)

    One hint that it's worth analysis: Klein says it's "a terrible law, and I completely support it." Wha?

    So there's obviously some politician's fallacy at work between young Ezra's ears. ("We must do something; this is something; therefore we must do this.")

    But more important is young Ezra's reliance on panic-inducing, yet dubious, evidence for the fallacy's major premise. Wny must something be done? Because "one in five women is the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault while in college". Comments Robby:

    […], the 1-in-5 statistic is hotly contested, as Klein surely knows. (See The Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow and American Enterprise Institute's Christina Hoff Sommers for thorough debunking.) That statistic was produced by a survey of just two colleges; the survey had a high non-response rate, and critics contend that victims of sexual assault were more likely to respond in the first place, skewing the results. The 1-in-5 statistic is also out of whack with national figures: just 1.3 in 1,000 people age 12 and up are victims of sexual assault nationwide, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Why, one might suspect that the actual purpose of "Yes Means Yes" is not to make women safer. Maybe it's simply to increase government power?

    Or it could be the "progressive" side of "boob bait for the bubbas", Daniel Moynihan's term for demagogic legislation designed to jerk the knees of low-information voters?

    Hey, no reason it can't be both!

    [Also see Taranto's Best of the Web Today if you can.]

  • In related news, 28 members of the Harvard Law School Faculty issued a statement about Harvard's new sexual harassment policy:

    As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, the substantive law governing discrimination and violence, appropriate administrative decision-making, and the rule of law generally, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach. We also find the process by which this policy was decided and imposed on all parts of the university inconsistent with the finest traditions of Harvard University, of faculty governance, and of academic freedom.

    Very bad. And it's coming to an institution of higher education near you.

  • Today's embedded Getty image, by the way, is one of the results when you search their site for "yes means yes". I don't know what the connection is, but I couldn't resist. Sorry.

  • Numerous people are pointing out the subpoenas issued by the City of Houston Texas to a number of conservative Houston preachers, demanding (among other things) transcripts of any sermons given referring to (among other things) the city's mayor. Conservatives are upset about a recent ordinance that prohibits public businesses from denying "transgendered" customers access to the restroom corresponding to their transgender.

    Matt K. Lewis asks the relevant question: shouldn't liberals defend religious liberty?

    Could it be that all this talk about tolerating diverse viewpoints and opinions was merely a political tactic employed by the left — just so long as their viewpoints were out of political power and out of touch with mainstream opinion?

    Yes, it could. Matt also wonders where the heck the ACLU is.

  • Glenn Kessler awards a coveted Four Pinocchios to the claim that we'd have an Ebola vaccine now if it weren't for those pesky Republicans.

    Obama’s Republican predecessor oversaw big increases in public-health sector spending, and both Democrats and Republicans in recent years have broadly supported efforts to rein in federal spending. Sequestration resulted from a bipartisan agreement. In some years, Congress has allocated more money for NIH and CDC than the Obama administration requested. Meanwhile, contrary to the suggestion of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] ad, there never was a specific vote on funding to prevent Ebola.

    Related is Michelle Malkin's column at NR, concentrating on the CDC, perhaps best summarized in the subtitle: "What does $7 billion buy us? A power-hungry busybody brigade of politicized blame-mongers."

    Kessler points out that the CDC also gets about $4 billion in mandatory fees.

    Also, they were totally worthless against the Walking Dead.

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-13

  • Nick Gillespie does a fine job of shooting down a developing attack on the GOP. A group deploying ads in states with close electoral races is unsubtly titled "Republican Cuts Kill", blaming GOP efforts to constrain Federal spending (weak as they are) for lack of an Ebola vaccine. A desperate, dishonest, despicable charge.

    I can understand why Democrats are trying to turn the Ebola outbreak here and abroad into a campaign issue. But that sort of gambit is more likely to draw attention to the failure and incompetency of public health bureaucrats here and abroad. That's probably not good for Democrats, given that the[y] run the White House and the agencies in question.

    An article of faith in the Progressive religion is that all major problems can be "solved" by putting more money and power in government hands. Which leads to the obvious logical corollaries:

    • When problems occur, it's because government didn't have enough money and power.

    • Anyone not in favor of giving the government more money and power is a vile—nay, heretical—person, in favor of problems.

    QED, in the Progressive mindset.

  • Kevin D. Williamson reviews Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, as recently performed in Central Park. Sample:

    To say that The Winter’s Tale is the worst thing I ever have seen staged would be an understatement. It represents nothing less than the complete abandonment of artistic and intellectual standards—to say nothing of self-respect—and what may as well be the last word in the degradation of theater and its reduction into a branch of politics. Every professional involved with this supine display of sycophancy should, after a thorough examination of conscience, go into retirement, or else be forcibly driven to it. No reputation should survive.

    I encourage you to read the entire review, because it is a hoot. Big Bird shows up.

  • Ever wonder what it's like to carry your Nobel Prize through airport security? Yeah, probably not, but you can nevertheless find out the answer in "What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security".

    The punchline comes at the end of the article, and I won't spoil it.

  • And your tweet du jour:

Jeanne Shaheen, Corporate Welfare Queen

[A letter sent to my local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat.]

A recent letter in Foster's by Sean O’Kane sings the praises of the "Travel Promotion Act" (TPA). He lauds Senator Jeanne Shaheen for supporting it, and excoriates then-Senator Scott Brown for voting against it back in 2010. Mr. O'Kane's cheerleading for the TPA should not go unchallenged.

The TPA subsidizes the private tourism industry by imposing a new "Mickey Mouse tax" on some foreign visitors to the US. It's not surprising that the tourism industry, at least the part of it that's politically well-connected, is largely in favor of this handout. (The major driving force behind the bill was Nevada Senator Harry Reid, with the enthusiastic backing of Vegas casinos, the Disney Corporation, etc.) The hand-waving assurances that the benefits will eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us are dubious at best.

Is the TPA, as claimed, vital to the American tourism industry? This doesn't pass a simple credibility check: TPA has only existed for a few years, and somehow the tourism industry managed to get along without it for the previous couple of centuries.

If travel promotion has the massive benefits that Mr. O'Kane alleges, certainly it could and should be carried by out by the private tourism industry itself. The Federal Government has no magical powers in this field, other than extracting extra fees from foreign travelers and funneling the money to the TPA slush fund. The "success" of the TPA will simply lead to more and more industries lining up to get their similar government largesse.

O'Kane paints the opposition to TPA as the product of scary "far-right, extreme political organizations". These organizations are easy enough to track down, and include the Heritage Foundation and the Club For Growth. Mud-slinging labels aside, there's nothing particularly scary about them, except that they consistently oppose corporate welfare programs like TPA. Apparently that's a right-wing position these days.

In its brief life, the TPA has behaved poorly, even by government standards. A report authored by Senators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint found a "history of questionable expenditures, lavish spending, inappropriate lobbying activity and corporate cronyism" at the "Brand USA" corporation established by the TPA legislation. A lavish party held at the British Maritime Museum for "560 VIP guests" cost hundreds of thousands; a luxury-suite bash at a Washington Nationals ballgame cost thousands more. (I wasn't invited, were you?) In order to extract "matching funds" from the US Treasury, board members charged their "volunteer" time ($258 per hour), first-class airplane fares, private car services, and more. Even though the TPA legislation banned lobbying activities by Brand USA, the corporation went ahead and bought themselves a Patton Boggs lobbyist anyway.

Unsurprisingly, the Brand USA Board of Directors was found to be stuffed with "heavy contributors to President Obama and Democratic campaigns."

There are more direct ways the Federal Government could promote tourism to the US, mainly by getting out of the way: making visa and customs processes easier, consistent with maintaining security requirements. This would, however, not be something that allows politicians to easily dole out Federal goodies to their corporate buddies/contributors. If Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen are truly on opposite sides of this issue, it's a good reason to vote for Brown.


Last Modified 2014-10-13 12:18 PM EDT

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-10

  • Must read for all Chandlerphiles: "Philip Marlowe Attends a Court-Mandated Women’s Studies Workshop"

    The air in Silver Lake was a fresh as a drunkard’s breath on Sunday morning. I drove until I found the place, a YMCA with a façade that had last been scrubbed during the Eisenhower administration. I parked next to a green sedan with a COEXIST sticker on the bumper. Yeah, this was the place.

  • I am fully prepared to believe that Gwyneth Paltrow is the greatest actress alive. Because I've seen her play movie characters with intelligence and wit. Yet, it's increasingly clear that the space between her ears is mostly twigs, bits of string, and loose screws.

    On Thursday, Oscar winning Actress Gwyneth Paltrow concluded her introductory remarks about President Obama at a star studded fundraiser held in the backyard of her upscale Brentwood home in Los Angeles, saying that she was turning the microphone over to him because “you’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”

    Paltrow’s adoration of the President was palpable, according to a press pool report. She told Obama that “I am one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest… It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass” she said.

  • Reason's five most anti-libertarian TV shows ever!:

    … includes two of my favorites (I'll let you guess which ones), but I can see their point even there.


Last Modified 2014-12-05 11:20 AM EST

A Long Walk Up the Waterslide

[Amazon Link]

This is (so far) the penultimate book in Don Winslow's Neal Carey series. My take on the previous entries in the series: here, here, and here. They're all fine reading; although seemingly out of print, they're available and inexpensive for Kindle.

In this installment, Neal is living in Austin, Nevada with the local schoolmarm, with whom he became enraptured in the previous book. He's on a well-deserved hiatus from doing odd (but always dangerous) jobs for Friends of the Family, a mysterious Rhode Island bank that caters to its ultrarich clientele. Neal's mentor, the one-armed Joe Graham, appears with an (apparently) non-dangerous but extremely odd job: the family-oriented broadcasting empire of Jack Landis and wife Candy is threatened by the accusations of trashy bimbo Polly Paget. She claims that, after a sordid affair with Jack, she tried to break up with him and was raped. (Think: Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye, and Jessica Hahn.)

Landis's partner, who is a client of Friends, sees Polly as a lever to take control of the lucrative Landis empire. Only problem is that Polly's heavy New Jersey diction and her scrambled bimbo brain make her completely non-credible. So she's gone into hiding, and Neal's task is to be Henry Higgins: smooth off Polly's rough edges and get her ready for a media circus.

But there are a couple problems there too: the minor one is that a sleazy skin-mag publisher wants Polly to appear in his publication en déshabillé (as one of the characters puts it) and hires a has-been alcoholic detective to track her down. The major problem: mobster Joey Beans wants Polly dead (for initially unexplained reasons) and hires a mysterious assassin nicknamed "Overtime" to do the deed.

All these people find it ridiculously easy to track down Polly in Austin, and Neal's job suddenly gets a lot more complex and dangerous.

This is a much lighter entry in the series than its predecessors. Winslow shows that he can be the equal of Carl Hiaasen or the late Donald Westlake in the hard-boiled comic crime fiction sub-genre; it's laugh-out-loud, read-to-your-wife hilarious in spots.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:22 PM EST

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-09

  • Kevin Williamson has some fun with the comments of a Chicago law enforcement officer worried about Apple's decision to implement new data encryption behavior in its iOS:

    "Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile. The average pedophile at this point is probably thinking, I’ve got to get an Apple phone.” Setting aside the question of what, exactly, an average pedophile is (or an above-average pedophile, for that matter), take a moment to savor the paranoid, intellectually dishonest, and technologically illiterate imagination of John J. Escalante, Chicago PD’s chief of detectives. He is not alone in his fear: Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI boss James B. Comey, and the editors of the Washington Post are united in their horror of the fact that Apple has taken the radical step of . . . changing the default privacy arrangements on its new telephones.

    As near as I can tell, iOS has long had the ability to encrypt some data on your iThing; the difference now is: not only is encryption now the default behavior, the scope of the encryption is much wider.

    Based on experience, I'm virtually certain that large swaths of users will make (or, more precisely, continue to make) poor choices here: rendering their data unrecoverable, assuming their data is secure when it's not, protecting it with a weak key. Still, Apple has moved the sticks a bit away from the snoopers and toward the users, so it's probably a net win.

  • If the GOP does poorer than expected on November 4, you should remember this article from Neil Munro at the Daily Caller.

    President Barack Obama delayed his planned unilateral amnesty until after the election to prevent GOP legislators or the media from recognizing it as an election-winner for the GOP, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

    Okay, so Obama's neither courageous nor honest enough to put this issue on the front burner where voters can turn thumbs up-or-down on it. It's slightly surprising that Josh Earnest admits it, but other than that, what's new?

    The frustrating part (as the article makes clear) is that the GOP leadership (largely pro-amnesty) is cooperating with Obama in keeping the heat off the issue. All the better to claim on November 5 that the voters didn't express their preferences clearly.

    Same point made more incindiarily (not an actual word, as near as I can tell, but it should be): Ann Coulter.

  • Speaking of dishonest Democrats [but I repeat myself], Senatorial candidate Scott Brown's daughter, Ayla Brown, is pretty darn mad about the attack ad designed to scare low-information women voters into voting for his opponent, Jeanne Shaheen. [In my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat]

    Jeanne Shaheen should be ashamed of herself. The attack ad she’s running against my dad, Scott Brown, is flat-out wrong, and is a desperate attempt to scare women. As a young voter, I find Shaheen’s smear campaign highly offensive. It’s clearly a last-ditch attempt to distract the people of New Hampshire from her record of voting 99 percent of the time with President Obama.

    I believe Jeanne's ad accuses young Scott Brown of dipping girls' pigtails in his inkwell back in elementary school. I'm pretty sure I remember that.

  • Your Tweet du Jour:

    I believe Thomas Jefferson said something similar.


Last Modified 2014-10-10 4:22 AM EDT

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-08

  • Traditional marriage (or, as I like to think of it, "marriage") is apparently headed toward the ash heap of history. At the Federalist, David Harsanyi makes a small plea for language honesty:

    […], I’m asking on what logical grounds can a person argue that gay marriage is okay but polygamy is not—or any other type of marriage? If your answer is an arbitrary declaration like “the ideal union is between only two individuals” then all you’ve done is redefine the parameters of marriage. You support gay marriage, not “marriage equality.”

  • Nick Gillespie is at his snarky best writing about Harvard students asking—nay, demanding—that the college sever ties to the "Teach For America" program (which puts college grads directly into schools that lack quality teachers and/or resources) unless TFA only places participants in unionized government schools.

    The Harvard prodigies and the organizers at USAS ["United Students Against Sweatshops"] are about the last people standing who think that unionizing teachers is the last, best hope of improving American education, especially for students from lower-income, higher-risk-for-failure backgrounds. Good luck to them as their reactionary attitudes leave them further and further in the rear-view window as the rest of the country moves into a future of increased options for all, regardless of family income and ability to pay.

    I can only imagine the thought processes of the typical Harvard student who tries to reconcile these demands with their default moral preening about their compassion.

  • From Charles C. W. Cooke, more analysis of Scripps College's disinvitation to George F. Will.

    For all the elaborate apologias and tortuous self-justifications, the enemies of open expression are in practice singing the same song now as they ever were: “Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, we don’t want you here!” That, of course, is their right, but it is not a right that can be exercised without cost. To deprive a speaker of his chance to speak is, by definition, to deprive his listeners of a chance to listen — no small crime in a school purporting to teach “liberal arts.” Today, we roll our eyes at the peculiar uniformity of the American college campus. Tomorrow, though, we should laugh, for the losers here are not George Will and the nation’s many conservatives, but instead the students of Scripps, who, thanks to the prim and delicate scolds who run their grubby, insipid little establishment, will remain cosseted in their bubble for yet another day.

    Mamas, don't let your daughters grow up to go to Scripps.

  • Some default-view readers may be interested in my take on Bourgeois Dignity by Deirdre N. McCloskey, over on the Pun Salad books area.

  • Your Tweet du Jour:

    Background if necessary here and here and (even) here.

Bourgeois Dignity

[Amazon Link]

The subtitle is: "Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World". It is the second volume in Deirdre McCloskey's exploration of how the bourgeois mindset caused the miracle of prosperity that has lifted much of the world out of abject poverty, and can do the same for many more, if we let it. My report on the first volume in the series is here.

The emphasis here is on varying explanations for the "astonishing enrichment" that occurred in many countries in a relative historical eyeblink. (E.g. Norway, where incomes went from $3/day/person in 1800 to $137 in 2006—and way more today.) As the subtitle implies, McCloskey argues this economic miracle did not have economic causes. Explanations need to meet various challenges: why did the miracle occur here and here, and not there, or there? Why then, and not before, after, or never? And (most important, and often missed) why a hockey-stick increase in prosperity, and not a "mere" modest 2-4% increase per annum? Instead, McCloskey says, the root cause was a flip-flop of respect and encouragement for the commercial professsions and the ideas and values that undergird them.

It's a little funny that this needs to be explained at all: the historical facts are pretty well known. Everybody had their eyes open at the time. Yet the explanations often come with the baggage of ideology (you've heard of Karl Marx, perhaps?). And others resemble the methodology of the blind men exploring the elephant: author A finds semi-plausible cause B, and flogs it mercilessly for a couple of academic papers or perhaps a popular tome that might crack the best-seller list.

So: McCloskey does a pretty good job of shooting down multiple alternative explanataions. It's clear that this is an ongoing academic debate. (And, caveat lector, we are only getting her side of the story here.)

As I noted about the previous volume, McCloskey's style is at the opposite pole from much academic prose. I will plagiarize myself: it's personal (lots of "I"s and "you"s) very funny in spots, fearless and aggressive in argument. Not condescending at all.

I'm not (however) totally persuaded. I tend to the "just dumb luck" theory of economic prosperity: a synergistic combination of factors that nobody intentionally combined or designed, not even obvious in retrospect. Certainly McCloskey's "dignity" revolution is one of those factors; but maybe not the only one?

But I'm a dilettante in this field, so I'm probably wrong. Or maybe I missed or misunderstood the part where McCloskey discussed this. Ignore me.

I was also slightly disappointed by McCloskey's dismissal of Gregory Clark's argument that genetics might have some role in the human social behavior that underlies economic activity. Probably because I'd just read Nicholas Wade's recent book that treats that argument more fully and respectfully. McCloskey gets pretty rude, for example her gratuitous use of "Untermenschen" to caricature Clark's description of various nationalities. That's argumentum ad Hitlerum. Unworthy.

But whatever the details, the point remains: if you want a prosperous society (with all the attendant bells and whistles of peace, health, and opportunities for human flourishing), it's very important that the bourgeois virtues be honored, and the forces of innovation and trade be respected. What was done can be undone.

Virginia Postrel (of course) makes the explicit point better than I: the left wing political elite (including our President) thinks that it's deeply insightful to mock and deride business ("You didn't build that"). Also see Michelle Obama's unsage advice to avoid "corporate America" in your career plans. After reading McCloskey, those attitudes are, at best, a source of head-shaking despair about the future of our country.


Last Modified 2014-12-10 12:21 PM EST

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-07

Sometimes it seems like all Pun Salad content is about the multiple-front battle by "progressives" to reallocate power from the private/individual sphere to the political/collective sphere. For example…

  • I wish every voter could watch George F. Will speak briefly (5 minutes and 48 seconds) about the illiberal attack on free speech masquerading as "campaign finance reform".

    Especially I wish that every New Hampshire voter even considering voting for Jeanne Shaheen would watch it, after learning that she co-sponsored and voted for Senate Joint Resolution 19, a Constitutional amendment that would trample free speech in the name of "campaign finance reform". She should be electorally retired, come home to Madbury, and write her memoirs. (Suggested title: How I Wish I Could Figure Out a Way to Make My Political Opponents Shut UP!)

  • Mr. Will's opinions are considered too controversial for the delicate ears of the ladies of Scripps College. Apparently "Disinvitation Season" is starting early this year. (Or perhaps running late.)

    Ed Morrissey digs out Scripps' "Core curriculum" description that promises to "encourage students to think critically and challenge ideas." Just, y'know, not icky ones.

  • Kevin D. Williamson writes "They Are Coming for Your Children", about the effort in Connecticut to suppress the home-schoolers, using Sandy Hook as a pretext. Kevin puts it together:

    Contrary to the crude cartoon of them, home-schooling families are a motley bunch, including everybody from heartland Evangelicals to Brooklyn’s quinoa-and-yoga set. Many of them are amused and surprised when I describe them as “radicals,” but that is what they are — people who have told the state that they’ll pay their taxes but are not handing over their children, that they will render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s but not a mite more. Home-schooling isn’t for everybody, but every home-school student, like every firearm in private hands, is a quiet little declaration of independence. It’s no accident that the people who want to seize your guns are also the ones who want to seize your children. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s desire to imprison people who hold the wrong views on climate change and Harry Reid’s plot to gut the Bill of Rights are not aberrations in an otherwise genuinely liberal agenda; the Left desires to put every aspect of every human life under political discipline, from which history books your children read to what kind of cheese you eat.

    Kevin's more than a tad irritated, and he is a wonderful writer when irritated.

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-06

  • It must be a blue moon, because I am going to quote the opening paragraph from an article by Katha Pollitt of The Nation magazine.

    Here’s a great way to make a movement: have your most famous and powerful public figures obsess over Henry Higgins’s famous question, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Why aren’t they more into critical thinking, argument, logic? more rational? Why do they accuse a man of sexual harassment when he’s just trying to chat them up in an elevator at 4 in the morning? Why do they get drunk and then accuse men of rape? Then, having alienated a huge number of actual and potential members, to whom you sound arrogant, vain, sexist and clueless, look around and wonder, Gee, where are the women? They must be even less rational than we thought!

    Katha is talking about atheists. On and on, she does. Conclusion:

    Why would women join a movement led by sexists and populated by trolls? If this is atheism, I’m becoming a Catholic.

    I find this odd that atheism is a "movement" that one might "join". I'm pretty sure that all you need do to be an atheist is follow the first half of Psalm 14:1:

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

    Pretty simple. You don't have to join anything, attend any meetings, send in dues. You don't even have to say anything out loud.

    If you're looking for fellow fools, though… Well, you shouldn't be surprised if you find foolish ("arrogant, vain, sexist and clueless") people doing foolish things.

    [Atheism is a surprisingly hot topic at Pun Salad. Previous posts at least tangentially related here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

  • Need verification? You can always ask the Google autocompleter:

    [why are atheists...]

    Tough, but why should you care? You're an atheist, man!

  • A pretty neat tweet from Virginia Postrel:

    That leads to a very neat article at Slate. Apparently they're doing map stuff all week. "Tomorrow: Remapping America based on baseball player birthplaces."


Last Modified 2014-10-07 4:54 AM EDT

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-03

  • I find myself strangely intrigued by the recent revelations that Neil deGrasse Tyson makes up quotes and yarns to more easily illustrate the essential yahooism of his inferiors. I looked at some of that yesterday. Let me also refer you to a new broadside from Ace of Spades HQ:

    But now I've seen the real Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and I see him for the intellectually-insecure can't-be-wrong juvenile man-child asshole he is, the typical professor type who can't gracefully admit an error because their whole fascade [sic] of authority might collapse around them.

    Which is one way to look at it. But at National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke has a significantly more sympathetic look at NdGT, also worth your while. Whatever Tyson's (increasingly manifest) sins, his fanboy cult-followers are much worse.

    That cult, by the furious and devastated manner in which it has reacted to each and every quibble that Tyson’s critics have expressed, has proved my point beautifully of late. To be among the staunchest of deGrasse Tyson’s fans, it seems, one has to be both a know-nothing and a zealot, one has to live in the desperate and pathetic hope that another person’s intelligence and eloquence will somehow rub off on oneself, and one has to make a highly public show of positioning oneself in relation to others so that strangers will know where to place one within the nation’s moral and intellectual hierarchy. If you want to see some examples of how these traits play out in the real world, read any of the hilarious reactions to Sean Davis, to Rich Lowry, to Jonathan Adler, or to myself; or, for that matter, to anyone else who has exhibited the temerity to write about the man in a less than reverent manner.

    (The last link above goes to Mr. Cooke's NR cover story from earlier this year, "Smarter than Thou", an examination of "politics pretending to be science". And you should check that out too.)

    Also weighing in perceptively: Ed Driscoll. "Back off man, I’m an intellectual."

  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has portrayed herself as a dedicated class warrior, fighting the fatcats on behalf of the little people (You mean the leprechauns?). At Reason, Shikha Dalmia points out how that shtick is as phony as her Native American heritage: "Elizabeth Warren Sells Out to Her Corporate Masters". She's now an ardent supporter of keeping alive that poster child of corporate welfare, the Export-Import Bank. Read the whole thing if you need to remind yourself how dreadful Ex-Im is. But even worse:

    Why is Warren so sweet on the bank? It's not like Massachusetts companies receive disproportionate export aid. It's because, as former Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank told the Huffington Post, Democrats have made a tactical decision to close ranks and dump their previous opposition to Ex-Im because they want to wrest Corporate America—and presumably its campaign contributions—from the GOP.

    Ms Dalmia advises that you "don't stand on one foot" waiting for Senator Warren to adhere to her stated principles. Pun Salad agrees, and also points out that the only truly reliable "Progressive" principle is to increase the power of the political sector at the expense of the private. Ex-Im is just one example.

  • Speaking of which: one of my must-watch TV shows, Jeopardy! had a "Mrs. Warren’s Profession" category earlier this week, containing "answers" revolving around the Senator. Not to be outdone, Prof Jacobsen of Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion provides (more amusing) alternates. Sample:

    1. In connection with breast implant litigation for which Warren claimed during the 2012 Senate campaign to have fought for women, Warren actually represented this company which was trying to avoid liability.

    Answer: What is Dow Chemical.

    Heh. Indeed!

  • Coming soon to a campus near you… Scott Johnson of PowerLine shares an e-mail sent by upper administrators at Middlebury College to the campus community. Begins:

    We are writing to share exciting news with you regarding the college’s new preferred name and gender pronoun procedure, an option for identifying oneself in BannerWeb. This initiative was born from a proposal presented to the Administration in 2011 that highlighted recommendations for developing a process for those seeking to identify their preferred name and gender pronoun within Middlebury’s internal data systems.

    So (for example) Mr. Steven Reeves doesn't have to go through the hassle of a legal name change to appear as "Miss Stephanie Reeves" on class rosters and e-mail.

    I've had a long-time ambition to be known as "Captain Megazone" myself. Depending on how far the University Near Here lags behind what is obviously a trend, that might happen before I retire.

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-02

  • Sean Davis has done admirable work in exposing Neil deGrasse Tyson's unfortunate habit of fabricating quotes and yarns in order to paint people he disfavors as ignorant yahoos. Sean's latest is an analysis of Tyson's latest weasel-worded effort to "explain" how he came to make up a Dubya quote. Sample:

    I still find it shocking the lengths to which Tyson went — up to and including repeated and obvious fabrications about the president of the United States — to make such a pathetically bad point. His story is the Rube Goldberg machine of stupid stories: completely pointless, and hopelessly fragile. You’d think somebody intent on pointing out a massive internal contradiction would, oh, I don’t know, spend some time researching whether there was actually an internal contradiction. But then again, you’d probably think that somebody would make sure a quote actually existed before repeating it as gospel.

    Sean's history of Tyson-related posts are here. My advice: unless Tyson's talking about the radial velocity distribution and line strengths of 33 carbon stars in the Galactic bulge or something similar, it's unsafe to assume he's not just making shit up.

    Also see Rich Lowry joining the well-deserved pile-on.

  • Jonah Goldberg's article from the current issue of National Review is worth your while. (As pretty much everything from Mr. Goldberg is.) It's a lengthy takeoff from a Barackrobatic tic:

    We’ve heard a great deal lately about the “wrong side of history.” It is one of the president’s favorite ways to describe whatever side he isn’t on, and it’s been a phrase on the lips of progressives for quite a while. Among the myriad problems with the notion of a “wrong side of history,” as many critics (including me) have long argued, is that in the domestic sphere it is a call for one’s opponents to surrender to the inevitability of defeat, and in the international sphere it is deployed rhetorically to avoid deploying anything real.

    It's a good news/bad news situation for "champions of freedom" (Jonah's term): defeat's not certain, but neither is victory. (But I'd add: there are reasons to be optimistic.)

  • Cato has released its FISCAL POLICY REPORT CARD ON AMERICA’S GOVERNORS 2014, just in time for elections. New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan got a D. And that D is for "Depressing", because most polls have her leading her GOP opponent by double-digits.

  • Frank J. Fleming opines: "Now Is Not the Time to Turn the Country Around". Revel in the inspired lunacy.

    Now, I want to note that I don’t mean this analogy to be disrespectful to President Obama. But I think most historians will back me when I say his presidency is the equivalent of a dumb child running into tables.

  • For your informed amusement: 12 informative [animated] GIFs.

    I especially liked "worldwide flight patterns"; it looks like the US and Europe are fighting a super-soaker war. (And to a lesser extent, the mainland US and Hawaii.)


Last Modified 2017-11-29 5:46 PM EST

URLs du Jour — 2014-10-01

Consumer Notice: du jour does not imply linked-to content is en date d'aujourd'hui. At least according to Google Translate.

  • For example, the origin of the list "11 ways to know when you live in a country run by idiots" is apparently unknown, lost in the mists of Internet plagiarism history, and there are a number of different mutations. Still, if you haven't seen it, it might as well have been written today. Sample:

    1. If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote on who runs the government, you live in a country run by idiots.

    Ouch.

  • Which brings me to something from Drew Cline of the Union Leader, who interviewed New Hampshire's venerable Secretary of State, Bill Gardner. A problem is pinpointed:

    He has witnessed fraud with his own eyes, Gardner says. He tells anyone who will listen that the problem is real and pervasive. But few are listening.

    Gardner identifies two central reasons why New Hampshire is a haven for voter fraud. One is the way the state defines “domicile” for voting purposes.

    “We have all kinds of different durational requirements for residency,” he said. “You have to be here five years. You have to be here six months, depending on whether it’s a fishing license, welfare. The governor has to live here seven years. When Eisenhower came here in the 1950s, he couldn’t fish. They had to go to Maine.”

    But there is no residency requirement for voting. Many states — including Maine and Vermont — require that voters be residents. New Hampshire does not. […]

    Whoa, wait, what?!

    So add another item to the list: If your state has looser voting eligibility rules than its neighbors, and your Secretary of State identifies it a real problem, and nobody does anything about it, you live in a state run by idiots.

    [Of course, despite my daily reading of Granite Grok, which discusses voter fraud a lot, I was unaware that NH didn't require actual residency to vote here. So that may make me an idiot too.]

  • You have probably experienced glib liberals (gliberals?) trot out the talking point: Corporations aren't people! (For example.)

    Sounds good. Appealing to the lo-info voter. Except this banal truism is invariably the sole means of support for a further assertion: that corporations are not entitled to Constitutional rights.

    Ilya Somyin provides a useful rebuttal to this "argument". There's a good chance he'll convince you (or convince you further) of its essential bogosity. RTWT, but here's a sample:

    It is indeed true that corporations are not people. But those who own and operate them are. In modern society, people routinely use corporations for a wide range of activities. Numerous employers, churches, schools, newspapers, charities, and other organizations all use the corporate form. When they do so, their owners and employees should not have to automatically check their constitutional and statutory rights at the door.

    If we consistently apply the principle that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not real people, then the government would be free to censor newspapers and TV stations that use the corporate form, including the New York Times and CNN. Similarly, it would be free to take corporate property without paying the “just compensation” required by the Fifth Amendment, or search it in ways that would otherwise be forbidden by the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. It could also regulate or ban services at houses of worship owned by the many religious organizations that use the corporate form. CNN, the New York Times, and the Catholic Church are no more “real” persons than  Hobby Lobby Stores is.

    Bottom line: You don't want to live in a country where corporations don't have Constitutional rights.

  • The "fact checking" website Politifact momentarily redeemed itself late last year when it awarded "Lie of the Year" to the Obamacare selling point: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." A fraudulent assertion that, had it been made in the private sector, would have been cause for indictments. So good for Politifact, right?

    Wrong, bunkie. Now, Guy Benson reports, Politifact has given a "False" rating to one of GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie's TV ads because the ad points out that his incumbent opponent was an eager repeater of the "Lie of the Year".

    The shamelessly twisted logic used by Politifact to justify their rating is painful to observe. (But Guy Benson does a worthy job of trying to untangle it.) I regret that I had ever considered them worthy of respect or credence.

  • Your tweet du jour:


Last Modified 2014-10-07 5:06 AM EDT