URLs du Jour

2017-01-12

Looking forward to sharing the following with you:

  • A few days ago Pun Salad proclaimed irritation with politicians' use of "common sense" and "smart" to describe their own policies.

    There's a flip side to that: using "extreme" or "extremist" to deride people or policies you oppose. Nearly always meaningless, question-begging, and intelligence-insulting.

    Which made me wonder about President Obama's Farewell Address. Yup:

    For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression […]

    Call in the airstrikes on Fox News Headquarters!

    When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

    Yes, a twofer: for "common sense", against "extremes".

  • That last bit was Obama's advocacy of "redistricting reform". Comments Kevin D. Williamson:

    In his final presidential speech, Obama proposed redrawing congressional districts to make them less partisan. Who in his right mind would trust the people who weaponized the IRS — and who are at this very moment using prosecutors’ offices across the country to try to criminalize global-warming dissent — to do that in a fair and honest way? He proposed new campaign-finance rules that would purportedly reduce the role of money in politics, but who in his right mind would trust him and his colleagues — Lois Lerner, Loretta Lynch, Harry Reid — to oversee such regulations?

    Since I am in my right mind, I would not. (Nor would I trust Trump and his colleagues, but they're not the ones with the proposals.)

  • Arizona Senator Flake has issued this year's Wastebook: "50 examples of egregious government spending including fish on a treadmill, loans repaid in peanuts, and a Desperate Housewives-watching computer". See if you can get to number ten before smashing your computer screen against the wall.

    Number One is "Spaceport to Nowhere":

    A rarely used rocket launch facility in Alaska that was constructed as part of an illegal kickback scheme between midlevel Department of Defense (DOD) employees and contractors, is being kept in business by a “sole source” contract awarded by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) that “could total up to $80.4 million.”

    There have been no launches since 2014, and that one blew up.

  • Nick Gillespie recommends James Poulos's new book The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us from Ourselves.

    When you throw in [with depressed politicos] folks who are terrified that global warming is about to swamp the Midwest along with good old-fashioned religious end-timers, just about everybody is convinced these are the last days of modern Rome. Against such a background, Poulos' The Art of Being Free isn't just a pleasant diversion from the dog-eat-dog world of 24/7 news and partisan bickering. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet for the mind, groaning with allusions to history, political science, economics, literature, and pop culture: Socrates, Nietzche, Netflix, The Smashing Pumpkins, Seinfeld, Stendahl, and Scooby-Doo all make appearances in this essay about getting beyond superficial politics to the parts of life that really matter. And along the way, he charts a path that just might lead back to politics that will help us all be free to become whomever we think we want to be.

    Definitely going on the things-to-read list.

  • Samantha Harris of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is incredulous about people trying to make Betsy DeVos's contributions to FIRE an issue.

    They probably do see. They probably see it as a plus.