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