URLs du Jour

2017-01-17

Steely Dan once dreamed about a time "when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy". Now that I've taken on dog-walking chores, I'm hoping the sidewalks are safe for the big geezer. It's hip-breaking season in New Hampshire!

  • We slag on the New York Times a lot, and deservedly so. But this is pretty neat: "You Draw It: What Got Better or Worse During Obama’s Presidency". You are invited to "draw your guesses" on a number of charts "to see if you’re as smart as you think you are." Who could resist a challenge like that?

    Unfortunately there's no scoring, but I think I did OK. It's fun, try it out, see how well your educated guesses match up with reality.

  • Jim "Indispensible" Geraghty asks today's musical question: "What’s the Difference Between Praising a Company and Endorsing It?" The query is in reference to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub's tsk-tsking Donald Trump for:

    Shaub noted that government employees are prohibited from "Endorsing any product, service, or company".

    Fine. It's a good thing Trump isn't a government employee yet. Still, Geraghty asks:

    Is it an ethically problematic area when a president or president-elect starts touting a particular company? Sure. But how different is “Buy L. L. Bean” from Obama heading to the factory of a soon-to-be-defunct solar-panel manufacturer and declaring, “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” That’s not an endorsement?

    Whatever. Nary a peep from the Ethics cops at the time, though. Geraghty runs through a few more examples, and requests a clearer standard than “it’s bad when the presidents I don’t like do it but okay when the ones I do like do the same.”

  • At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle tells us "How to Replace Obamacare".

    You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting someone who has made fun of congressional Republicans for not having a plan to replace Obamacare. And the critics are right: Republicans don't have a plan. They have a whole bunch of plans. House Speaker Paul Ryan has one. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has another. HHS nominee Tom Price not only has a plan, he has a bill: The Empowering Patients First Act. The trouble is that Republicans haven't collated all those plans into one single, omnibus proposal.

    Hinkle has some good ideas. The GOP, earning its "Stupid Party" moniker, will probably ignore them.

  • At NR, Austin Yack correlates "The Ten Most Bizarre Questions from Last Week’s Senate Confirmation Hearings". The hard part was limiting it to ten, I suppose.

    The funny bit for us Granite Staters: our state's senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, owns three of the ten. Example:

    8. New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen asked [Secretary of State nominee Rex] Tillerson, “In your view, is it helpful to suggest that as Americans we should be afraid of Muslims?”

    No indication of how much Tillerson's eyes rolled at that point.

    Just a few days ago, I incredulously speculated that of the four women in NH's Congressional delegation, Shaheen seemed like "the smart one". Now it's looking more like a race to the bottom.

  • Math is hard, part of a continuing series: Harvard Ecom Prof espies "Careless Headline Writing" at Time (as published by Yahoo! News). The body of the article:

    The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday.

    But the article's headline turns that claim into:

    Half of the World’s Wealth Is in the Hands of Just Eight Men, Study Says

    Prof Mankiw notes, gently:

    Of course, this conclusion does not follow from the fact reported in the story and is not even close to being true.

    Deeming this to be "careless" is overly diplomatic. In the MSM, such carelessness only seems to work in one political direction.