URLs du Jour

2017-01-14

Peeve of the day: when did it become de rigueur for ensemble crime/action shows to set aside long stretches of touchy-feely interactions between members of the "team" of good guys?

I'm looking at you, Hawaii Five-O. I like Masi Oka, and his character Max, as much as the next guy. But his farewell at the end of last night's episode was interminable and dramatically pointless.

Maybe the point is to show the characters as "human", with "feelings"? Sigh. Fine. But can't you do it by weaving it into the story? Preferably while there are chases, gunplay, and explosions going on concurrently?

Exception: family dinners on Blue Bloods. Because Tom Selleck.

  • We can't get enough commentary on Obama's Farewell Address. Charles C. W. Cooke muses on what it shows about Obama's old "hope and change" motto. The subtext of "change" was always "change we approve of" and "hope" always implied … "hope we get away with it"?

    Cynical as it may be, Obama’s trick is a clever one, for it has allowed him to cast even his most reactionary instincts as downright futuristic, and to portray the critics of his agenda as the enemies of progress per se. On the question of, say, entitlement reform, this president has been an unabashed champion of the status quo, whereas Paul Ryan is a radical and a reformer. That, though, doesn’t fit into Obama’s model. That’s bad change, and bad change must by rights be conservative. Nod as he might to the sanctity of democratic control, there has always been something of the millenarian about Barack Obama. Properly understood, politics is the process by which free people work out their civic differences without resorting to arms. In his rhetoric, Obama implies otherwise: There’s a path toward History, he is fond of contending, and he is walking straight down the middle line.

  • One of Trump's better picks: Betsy DeVos for Education. (I'd prefer someone who would oversee the shutdown of the department, turning out the lights and locking the doors on her way out, but that's not going to happen this year.) So, naturally, she's the one drawing the most nasty flak. At Reason, Robby Soave points the finger at "teachers unions and Title IX zealots". In regard to the latter:

    Title IX supporters portray their critics as radicals who believe that every rapist should go free and that every woman is a liar. Of course, this is not the case. The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights's (OCR) interpretation of Title IX has come under fire precisely because OCR has taken a radical position: It believes that university students accused of sexual misconduct should be left with very little means of proving their innocence before poorly trained bureaucrats. It is OCR's opinion—not Congress' or the Supreme Court's—that federal law requires universities to investigate wrongdoing in accordance with a definition of sexual harassment so broad that it threatens academic freedom and free speech while denying fundamental due process to the accused.

    The WSJ notes that Ms. DeVos "has committed the unpardonable sin of devoting much of her fortune to helping poor kids escape failing public schools."

    Progressives and their media allies have spent the last week roughing up Mrs. DeVos in preparation for her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, which will feature the charms of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Liberals claim that Mrs. DeVos, wife of former Amway president Dick DeVos, is unqualified to lead the Education Department because she’s never been a teacher.

    Yet the same crowd howls that bankers shouldn’t be regulating banks. Which is it? Managing a bureaucracy isn’t like running a classroom, though both require a steely resolve. Most Education secretaries have been former teachers or school superintendents—not that student test scores are better for it.

    Political rhetoric forecast for the coming week: overheated phony bluster accompanied by periods of brain-freezing insults to our intelligence.

  • Um. "German court rules synagogue torching not anti-Semitism, but act to ‘criticize Israel’"

    A Wuppertal judge last Friday upheld a lower court’s 2015 ruling that German-Palestinians convicted of arson against the city’s synagogue did so merely to “criticize Israel” and “bring attention to the Gaza conflict.” Fire damage caused by 31-year-old Mohamad E., 26-year-old Ismail A. and 20-year-old Mohammad A. (full names withheld by German authorities) totaled almost $850.

    Hey, when I want to criticize Israel, I always go looking for a synagogue to torch. Who's to say this isn't a First Amendment protected activity?

  • Oh, yeah: in another one of his on-my-way-out-the-door-so-who-gives-a-shit moves, Obama ended a couple of policies that made it easier for Cubans to escape the Communist hellhole and come to the US. At Cato, David Bier deems that a "mistake".

    President Obama is abandoning America’s five decade-old policy on asylum seekers that guarantees Cubans asylum in the United States The change comes at a time when more Cubans will have arrived at U.S. borders than at any time since 1980, and it is a major win for the Cuban regime and opponents of immigration, both of which oppose Cuban immigration to the United States. But the sudden reversal is bad policy that will harm efforts to secure the border and aid the regime most hostile to human rights in the Western Hemisphere.

    I'm not a fan of unrestricted immigration, but I'm fine with making plenty of exceptions for people seeking liberty. But is Bier accurate in calling Obama's move a "mistake"? At the Daily Signal Mike Gonzalez argues that Obama pretty much knew what he was doing:

    […] that’s the thing about Obama: his apparent desire to please the octogenarian American-hater [Raul Castro] in Havana is only matched by his obvious disregard for the Cuban people’s legitimate desire for freedom.

    He seems to forget that they are trapped inside an authoritarian military dictatorship. In his announcement he once again said that “the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people”—as if they lived in Ohio or the south of France.

    What Obama can decree, Trump can un-decree, though. It would be nice if he found some totalitarian dictator to piss off.

  • Megan McArdle notes that PEOTUS Trump managed to wipe out $25 billion of market value in 20 minutes with some of his loose-cannon press conference remarks on Wednesday.

    But those were "Big Pharma" companies, so good luck in getting any sympathetic attention.

    Megan—I call her Megan—debunks the notion that there's some basic magic in "price negotiation" that will lower consumer drug prices. You have to look at the reality of bargaining power.

    That bargaining power does not come from sheer size. America’s large health insurers and pharmaceutical benefit managers each cover more people than, say, Norway. These companies -- which also cover a lot of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries -- negotiate quite fiercely on drug prices, because every dollar they shave off the price is either a dollar in their pocket, or a dollar of savings they can shave off their own prices, thus giving them an advantage over their competitors.

    Negotiators need to be willing to not pay for expensive drugs. But, Megan notes, that's less likely to happen in the US.

  • And finally, Granite Geek (and Concord Monitor reporter) David Brooks tells the story of NH legislative efforts to remove "bonding and licensing" regulations for selling Bitcoins. Which is kind of interesting in itself but I liked this bit:

     * If you’re a reporter is New Hampshire, you get really tired of hearing people intone “As it says on the license plate, Live Free or Die!” to support any point of view about anything.

    Heh. But I doubt that. And I enjoy living in a state where license plate words can be used to support some point of view. Unlike, say, "Lobster" in Maine. That's not going to be a Bruce Willis movie any time soon.


Last Modified 2017-01-14 10:35 AM EST