URLs du Jour

2017-02-18

Moving right along to Proverbs 29:16:

When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall.

Good news for me, because I am so very very righteous.

  • Jonah Goldberg with a word, but almost certainly not the last word, on Michael Flynn's resignation as Trump's national security advisor: "How the Center Does Not Hold"

    Some of the things Trump has done to turn the page on politics-as-usual are probably good, and some are obviously bad. The problem with a bull in a china shop is that he doesn’t discriminate between the lousy dishware and the good stuff. More importantly, what distinguishes the lousy from the luxury is in the eye of the beholder.

    As Jonah notes, we're living in an age where both sides have their bull-in-a-china-shop factions. Alinksy advocated “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” Not: "Be as crazy as your enemy."

  • I could have added another stanza to my Niemöller pastiche:

    Then they came for a Washington florist, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Washington florist.

    A Washington florist who refused to participate in a same-sex wedding lost a unanimous decision yesterday at the state Supreme Court. The 9-0 ruling rejected her claim to a First Amendment right to exercise her right to religious liberty in favor of the state’s anti-discrimination law.

    The case is on its way to the USSC.

  • At Reason, Brian Doherty writes on Trump's Dangerous Anti-Libertarian Nationalism". His argument: although libertarians might cheer some of Trump's appointments or policies, they shouldn't be fooled, because…

    Trump is openly a type of illibertarian leader we haven't seen in a while. The "open" part is important. Those wanting to downplay the threat of Trump can, justly, point to all sorts of crummy and illiberal policies that past administrations and imagined alternate administrations did or might also pursue. In the context of the current political debate, that scarcely matters. Trump is the president we have, and his policies are what we have to face, and fight. It may fit any given person's amour propre to not ever risk seeming to overstate or overguess exactly how bad Trump is or might be, but it doesn't necessarily help the cause of promoting liberty.

    Those on the conservative side should adapt Doherty's points to their own: Trump isn't very conservative either.

  • Case in point. Daniel J. Mitchell writes on Trump's apparent π-radian reversal on the Export-Import Bank.

    I often joke that these are people who start out thinking Washington is a cesspool but eventually decide it’s a hot tub.

    During the presidential campaign, Trump said he wanted to “drain the swamp,” which is similar to my cesspool example. My concern is that El Presidente may not understand (or perhaps not even care) that shrinking the size and scope of government is the only effective way to reduce Washington corruption.

  • A standard anti-libertarian trope goes more or less like this: "Under libertarianism, we'd have no USDA to make sure our meat is safe. Aieee!" As it turns out, the real-world USDA has identified an insidious threat at the West Michigan Beef Company, owned by Donald and Ellen Vander Boon. What's the problem? Is it Campylobacter jejuni? Free-range rats? No, something far worse:

    The Vander Boons are facing closure due to the United States Department of Agriculture threatening to pull inspectors from reviewing their business. The department had made a decision that “prohibits [the] family-owned Michigan meatpacking facility from including religious literature concerning marriage on a break room table,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

    Unapproved pamphlets in the break room! Ohmigod!

    So let's add one more stanza to Niemöller:

    Then they came for the West Michigan Beef Company and I did not speak out—
    Because I didn't approve of the literature provided in their employee break room either.

  • And yet another stupid story in online Wired: "Tina Fey Nailed It: Hollywood Has a Serious Ageism Problem"

    Back in ye olden times of 2014, before the Golden Globes became the place for Meryl Streep sonning President Trump, it was noteworthy for a different Streep-related zinger, this one courtesy of co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. “Meryl Streep is so brilliant in August: Osage County,” Fey said during in the pair’s opening monologue, “proving that there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.” The audience laughed, and Streep acknowledged the remark with a knowing nod.

    [Aside: sonning? I thought at first 'twas a sloppy typo, but apparently it's a thing.]

    Wired continues:

    Now we know that not only was Fey’s joke funny—it was true.

    Because science.

    A new study from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism analyzed 1,256 speaking parts in 25 movies that received Best Picture Oscar nominations from 2014 to 2016. It found that only 148 (12 percent) of those characters were 60 years of age or older—and, of those 148 characters, 78 percent were men and 22 percent were women. That’s 3.5 men for every woman in an already tiny category. (Streep actually wasn’t among those few women, since none of her movies got a Best Picture nomination, but the sentiment stands.)

    For not the first time, we'll dig out this gem (ironically found via print-Wired):

    Let me defend Tina Fey: she is that rare combination of smart, funny, and beautiful, and my feelings for her are (a) enthusiastically fond, (b) irrespective of her (I assume dreadful) politics, (c) almost certainly inappropriate for a man of my age and marital status. She deserves better than to be used in a clickbait headline touting "a new study".

    But as to that study: you'll already notice skepticism-inducing warning signs: just 25 movies? How long did that data take to analyze? A couple hours with IMDB?

    Another factoid from the study:

    Seniors represent about 19 percent of the US population, but only 11 percent of the people with speaking roles in the top 100 movies of 2015.

    Since I'm not obsessed with quotas, that gives rise to numerous Questions and Observations:

    • The 19% and 11% numbers are different, but not that different.

    • Should movies be cast according to the demographics of the US population?

    • Shouldn't that be worldwide demographics, you ignorant Trumpian xenophobe?

    • This assumes consumers want to see people of their demographic pigeonholes in their movies. I, for one, do not. Even though I am, technically, a senior. I don't want to see, for example, James Caan as Batman.

    Oh, yes. Wired also notes other "depressing findings": For example "90 percent of the seniors on screen were white; none were Latino, and none were LGBTQ."

    No LGBTQ seniors in 25 movies! How can I even go on?