URLs du Jour

2017-08-04

Freedom

■ Hey, did the Proverbialist toss the papyrus to Bernie Sanders for Proverbs 22:16?

16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

It seems like good advice, though, especially that last part.

■ I don't know if it made much of a splash outside the Granite State, but this is what we especially noticed in the leaked transcript of Trump's January call to the president of Mexico: "I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den." The link goes to Prof Althouse, who derides "the level of Democratic Party media savvy, trying to foment outrage" via (her example) this tweet:

Ann comments:

Yes, it's pretty. They've got that fall foliage, so how could they — why would they? — use drugs?

This outrage is particularly phony coming from NH Democrats, who are just now trashing the six-month old Trump administration, while the problem did nothing but grow during 8 years of President Obama and 12 years of NH governors John Lynch and Maggie Hassan, all of whom were asleep at the switch.

■ At the Federalist, Tom Nichols knows what is not good: It’s Not Good To See So Many Generals In The White House.

[…] the problem is that the public’s eagerness to see a general impose order on the White House—with the president’s blessing, no less—represents a potentially dangerous bargain that at least some Americans seem willing to forge with serving and retired members of the U.S. military: we will accept dysfunction in the Oval Office, it seems, so long as there are enough generals ensconced around it as insurance against disaster.

By all accounts the generals in question (Kelly, McMaster, Mattis) are fine folk. But military folk mixed up in political positions is symbolically bad.

■ This is Pun Salad, so every now and then we have to point out a little groan-inducing wordplay. And today, Mark Steyn provides it with his commentary on the kerfuffle between CNN's Jim Acosta and Trump advisor Stephen Miller: Bad Poems Make Verse Law. Mark notes this USNews description of the Emma Lazarus verse:

The White House advisor appeared to distance himself from the 1883 "huddled masses" poem inscribed at the base of the landmark, chiding reporter Jim Acosta. Miller's remarks shocked many, even as supporters argue the symbolic poem technically isn't US law.

[Emph. added] Technically? Technically!?

Yes, it's true: this poem "technically isn't US law". It's not statute law, or even statue law. When Shelley said "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world", he didn't intend for you to take it literally, as apparently half the population of America now does. And, if we have to have poems as law, let's start with Shelley's and work our way down - way down - to Emma Lazarus.

Ms Lazarus (it turns out) was a Georgist, an adherent of everyone's favorite late-19th century crackpot idea. In fact, she wrote another poem said to have been inspired by George's tome Progress and Poverty, in the New York Times on October 2, 1881.

Oh splendid age when Science lights her lamp
At the brief lightning's momentary flame.
Fixing it steadfast as a star, man's name
Upon the very brow of heaven to stamp,
Launched on a ship whose iron-cuirassed sides
Mock storm and wave. Humanity sails free;
Gayly upon a vast untraveled sea,
O'er pathless wastes, to ports undreamed she rides.
Richer than Cleopatra's barge of gold,
This vessel, manned by demi-gods, with freight
Of priceless marvels. But where yawns the hold
In that deep, reeking hell, what slaves be they
Who feed the ravenous monster, pant and sweat,
Nor know if overhead reign night and day?

More huddled masses. Emma was into them.

■ Another day, another Inspector General reporting sheer incompetence, this time at the Department of the Interior: Government Has No Clue How Much Land It Bought With $815 Million. From the report:

As such, [the Interior Department] is unable to identify how much grant money has been used to purchase land, how much land has been purchased and whether that land is being used for its intended purpose. Without an adequate process in place to monitor funds used to purchase land, [the department] is potentially exposed to significant risk of wasted funds.

But I'm sure they'll do a much better job when they take over health insurance.

■ At Reason, David Harsanyi advocates: Get Government out of the College Discrimination Business.

According to The New York Times, the civil rights division of the Trump administration's Justice Department is going to ramp up investigating and sue universities over affirmative-action admissions policies deemed discriminatory against "white applicants."

Incidentally, nothing in the story backs up the Times' assertion that "white applicants" will be afforded a special place in these suits. Now, I get the perfunctory need to render everything a clear-cut racial crisis. But not only are Asian students disproportionately hurt by these policies—white women also happen to benefit from affirmative action programs.The reaction was predictable. When your ideology demands you bean-count human beings by their color, it's probably difficult to understand that individuals, whatever their race, can be hurt by discriminatory policies—even a white male.

While the University Near Here (and associated public colleges) are legally prohibited from using preferences "based on race, sex, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation", it still has something called the Affirmative Action and Equity Office. Which (I guess) is relegated to pointing out stuff like the U's Consensual Amorous Relationship Policy. It's a laff riot:

This policy provides guidelines specifically designed to prevent conflicts of interest that can occur when two members of the UNH community whose institutional roles place them in an uneven power dynamic engage in a consensual amorous relationship. The institutional interest in establishing clear standards of professional conduct for these types of relationships is clear. Such relationships create the opportunity for abuse of power and/or bias in the exercise of professional judgment.

The romantic comedy script writes itself. Uneven Power Dynamic, starring Paul Rudd and Katherine Heigl!

■ Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah: @kevinNR also has thoughts on the issue: Campus Racial Preferences, Again.

With the advent of a renewed federal interest in the use of racial criteria in college admissions — the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions intends to launch new investigations into the question — we arrive, or re-arrive, at what is now a very familiar debate. Those who argue that the policies of our public institutions should be racially neutral have the better end of the argument, and always have. But conservatives should spare a moment to give some consideration to the merits — which are real but not dispositive — of the other side of the argument.

It's a good summary, and points out the folly involved:

There is some relief to be found in specificity. Even if we were to take to heart arguments based on “social justice,” the use of racial preferences in college admissions could probably be safely set aside as an instrument of such justice, because it does very little for people who are in fact marginalized. The people who are genuinely suffering in our society are not, for the most part, right on the cusp of being accepted to a top-tier undergraduate program or professional school. The elite obsession with admissions policies at what are, after all, mostly elite institutions is omphaloskepsis-as-policy: The genuinely downtrodden are not applying to study at Haverford College. Upper West Side progressives care a great deal about the admissions rules at Columbia but have relatively little to say about the dropout rate for black men in New York City’s public schools. If “social justice” is to be found in some part in institutional reform, then the institutions that ought to be on our radar are public schools, not Ivy League universities.

Yes, he said "omphaloskepsis". He went there.

■ And Lileks is on fire today with an R-rated Bleat, full of the f-word, because he's tired of lazy writers using it to pump up their stupid clickbait headlines.

Buzzfeed abounds with these people - young, presumably educated, full of brittle snark and conspicuous insecurities, constantly quizzing each other about which Harry Potter Punctuation Mark they are (you could be a comma tbh) or whether their score on this test shows they are a true 90s Disney Princess or the rest of the meaningless exercises in emotional onanism they perform nine times an hour to fill up the day.

We all have our bubbles, I suppose. But Lileks has identified a particularly sad one.