Irritants & Outrages du Jour - 2015-08-05

Not mad enough? We will fix that.

  • The sainted founder of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, uttered the grim news about the possible future of his company:

    “We are vulnerable because we currently report all of our income in the United States and pay a tax rate of about 38 percent on that income,” said founder Jim Koch to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations last Thursday. “Because of our broken corporate tax system, I can honestly say that I will likely be the last American owner of the Boston Beer Company.”

    Will this be the anecdote that finally inspires corporate tax reform? That would be nice.

    I can't help but think that one of Jim Koch's US Senators is Elizabeth Warren, famous for making progressives swoon with her "you didn't build that" rhetoric. Perhaps she'll point out to Koch: "You didn't brew that!"

  • Not that it matters, but Mrs. Salad and I took in the Samuel Adams Brewery tour while we were in Boston a few days ago. It's a short walk from the Stony Brook T Station on the Orange Line, and the price is a bargain: a suggested $2, donated to charity. Educational, and a small amount of free beer is involved.

    And I suppose it will continue to be fun after it's sold to SABMiller.

  • Big debate coming up, and Donald Trump will be there in the middle of things. If you need one more reminder of how depressing that is for any sensible conservative/libertarian, check Jim Geraghty on "Donald Trump’s Odd Fixation on Seizing Middle Eastern Oil Fields"

    Since announcing his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump has made clear that he’s a different kind of candidate. He’s loud, he’s brash, and he’s got an uncanny ability to spark outrage and controversy just by opening his mouth. His is a reality-show candidacy for a reality-show age, and his pitch to voters fits it to a tee: heavy on personality and light on policy. Those stances he does take have a superficial populist appeal — quite a substantial one if the polls are to be believed — but tend to fall apart on closer inspection.

    Case in point: American policy in the Middle East, where Trump has in recent years repeatedly endorsed the bizarre, bellicose fantasy that the U.S. could and should seize oil fields in Iraq and Libya.

    Four years ago, Rick Perry doomed himself by momentarily forgetting exactly which cabinet departments he wanted to dump. Trump's policy positions are nutty (to the extent they aren't vaporous) and yet voters continue to favor him. How long can this go on?

  • More Koch (but no relation to the beer guy) news: Brian Doherty notes that Time headlined its story about a Charles Koch speech "Charles Koch says U.S. can bomb its way to $100,000 salaries: Building bombs and using them is one way to growth, the billionaire suggests to allies."

    In fact, Koch was making the point that government spending, no matter how stupid, wasteful, or destructive, automatically adds to GDP. This is not difficult to grasp. But why, if you're a Time reporter, or an idiot (but I repeat myself), bother with trying to understand that when you can just leap to the Koch smear?

    Time eventually changed the headline, but not before insulting the intelligence of the dozen or so readers it still has.

  • There's apparently a Twitter bot that attempts to "correct" tweets using the phrase "illegal immigrant". "People aren't illegal," it hectors. Euphemisms are suggested.

    I have to admit there's a point there. "Illegal" properly refers to acts, not people.

    But what the bot fails to note is that "illegal immigrant" is already kind of a euphemism, designed to avoid plain language.

    "Immigration lawbreaker" is more accurate. But I won't hold my breath waiting for people to say that.

Midcentury

[Amazon Link]

Another entry from National Review's list of "Ten Great Conservative Novels". Five down, five to go. I was able to find a second-printing copy in the dark and remote shelves of the Dimond Library of the University Near Here; it appears to be out of print, but Amazon has a thriving used market for it.

The author, John Dos Passos (1896-1970), flirted with left-wingism in his early career, but was apparently too much of an realistic individualist to go full Commie. (His reaction to the Communist side in the Spanish Civil War caused a breakup with his former buddy Ernest Hemingway.) Later in his life he voted for Nixon and Goldwater; it's out of that mindset that Midcentury was written.

The structure of the book is (so-called) "nonlinear", with multiple stories intertwined with biographical sketches of actual people, and amusingly-juxtaposed snippets of news stories and advertisements (I assume also real). Dos Passos was a major developer of this technique; it must have been revolutionary at the time.

The biographical sketches are snappy and interesting. Some are famous (Eleanor Roosevelt, James Dean, Jimmy Hoffa…). A couple I had never heard of: Robert R. Young and William F. Dean. (I'm kind of ashamed about not knowing about Dean.)

The fiction bits mostly concern organized labor, with characters on both sides: an old Wobbly reminisces about his colorful life from the bed of a Veterans Administration hospital; a small businessman tries to set up a rival cab company in a small city. Dos Passos's picture of Big Labor is largely unflattering: a smattering of good eggs, mostly ground down by the corrupt.


Last Modified 2015-08-06 6:46 AM EDT