URLs du Jour

2017-10-21

Proverbs 19:3 is an insight into the human psyche:

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
    yet their heart rages against the Lord.

I've noticed that my successes are due to my brilliance and diligence; failures are due entirely to bad luck and the machinations of others. I should probably post this Proverb somewhere I can see it daily.


American Consequences brings us an excerpt from P.J. O'Rourke's classic Parliament of Whores, updated by the man himself.

What is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire for civic order? How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?

The federal government of the United States of America takes away between a fifth and a quarter of all our money every year. That is eight times the Islamic zakat, the almsgiving required of believers by the Quran. It is double the tithe of the medieval church and twice the royal tribute that the prophet Samuel warned the Israelites against when they wanted him to anoint a king.

     He will take the tenth of your seed,
    and of your vineyards… He will
    take the tenth of your sheep… And
    ye shall cry out in that day because
    of your king.

P.J. helpfully adds: "In 2017, combined federal, state, and local government spending exceeds 36% of GDP."

Parliament of Whores is also the source of the classic quote: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."


@kevinNR pens a long, provocative, and insightful essay: The White-Minstrel Show. It's unexcerptable, but let me try:

Ludwig von Mises was as clear-eyed a social critic as he was an economist, and he noted something peculiar about the anti-Semitism of the Nazi era: In the past, minority groups were despised for their purported vices — white American racists considered African Americans lazy and mentally deficient, the English thought the Irish drank too much to be trusted to rule their own country, everybody thought the Gypsies were put on this Earth to spread disease and thievery. But the Jews were hated by the Nazis for their virtues: They were too intelligent, too clever, too good at business, too cosmopolitan, too committed to their own distinctness, too rich, too influential, too thrifty.

Our billionaire-ensorcelled anti-elitists take much the same tack: Anybody with a prestigious job, a good income, an education at a selective university, and no oxy overdoses in the immediate family — and anybody who prefers hearing the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center to watching football on television — just doesn’t know what life is like in “the real America” or for the “real men” who live there. No, the “real America,” in this telling, is little more than a series of dead factory towns, dying farms, pill mills — and, above all, victims. There, too, white people acting white echo elements of hip-hop culture, which presents powerful and violent icons of masculinity as hapless victims of American society.

The “alpha male” posturing, the valorizing of underclass dysfunction, the rejection of “elite” tastes and manners — right-wing populism in the age of Trump is a lot like Bruce Springsteen’s act, once acidly (and perfectly) described as a “white minstrel show.”

Mr. Williamson is tough, but (I think) very accurate.


■ At PJMedia, Tom Kingston says: Study Finds 'Bias Response Teams' Have Difficulty Balancing Duties and Free Speech.

Yes, I know: the same study also found that water was wet, the sky blue, and that bears tend to defecate in forested areas. Tom, to his credit, realizes this:

Bias response teams exist solely for the purpose of infringing on free speech. Administrators can claim they're true believers in free speech until they're blue in the face, but the organizations they support and lead exist to tell some students that they're not allowed to say certain things. If that's not contrary to the First Amendment, what is?

Only quibble is that it's not just students. The University Near Here has an entire website, reportit.unh.edu, devoted to alerting the campus authorities to "incidents of bias or hate, discrimination and/or harassment directed to members of our UNH community and guests." And they'll accept complaints about anyone, faculty, staff, or students.

If you look at the reporting form, there's no explicit way to report that you are being intimidated, harassed, or discriminated against for exercising your First Amendment rights. I guess that would be "other".


■ Dan Hannan, although British, has his fingers on the American pulse: How to anger a feminist: Criticize Harvey Weinstein the wrong way. Amazingly, Mayim Bialik is not mentioned.

The curse of our age is that it elevates the moralistic (holding the right opinions) over the moral (doing the right thing). Several Democrats were slow to condemn Weinstein, who had raised a more than $2.2 million for them. Some Hollywood liberals were guilty of stunning hypocrisy, fulminating against Donald Trump while attending Weinstein fundraisers, even while the movie director's behavior was an open secret. It's reminiscent of Gloria Steinem's defense of Bill Clinton on grounds that his theoretical feminism canceled out his personal debauchery.

But (as Hannan also notes) "our side" is not without its problems: if you waved away the lechery problems with Trump and Fox News, you're not in a great position to loudly disclaim about Harvey.


[Amazon Link] The NYT has been taking some deserved fire for some of its recent hagiography about Communism. But let's be generous. This review of a recent Lenin biography, Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen is unsparing: The First Totalitarian. And (bonus) there's a limerick:

There was a great Marxist named Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in
But where he did one in
That grand Marxist Stalin did 10 in.

We'll take the truth when offered, even from the NYT.


■ James Lileks asks: How badly do we want the new Amazon headquarters? Where "we" in this case is Minneapolis, but his lessons are portable to other locales.

But what Amazon wants is this:
  • Billions of dollars in subsidies, delivered to the office by the mayor wearing a leprechaun costume and dragging a pot of gold, smiling for the cameras, flush with humiliation.
  • The winning town renamed Bezosia, after the company founder.
  • Alexa installed on every street corner so you can bark out an order for paper towels while waiting for the light.
… and more, of course. Much more.


■ And (moan) my friends at UNH's Granite State Poll asked their respondents about the 2020 presidential race. Too soon? No, never too soon.

While nearly all likely Democratic primary voters are still trying to make up their minds in the 2020 New Hampshire Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren are the early frontrunners. More than three-quarters of Republicans are still trying to decide whom to support, and just under half say they currently plan on voting for Donald Trump, considerably lower than the proportion of Democrats who planned on voting for Barack Obama in October 2009. Interest in the 2020 primary is quite high and greater than at this point in the last two electoral cycles.

In November 2020, Joe will be 78; Bernie will be 79; Liz will be (however) a sprightly 71. You think the Democrats just might have a fresh-face problem?

The GSP provided a list of potential candidates to their respondents, so it's possible every other candidate listed (Cory Booker, Martin O'Malley, John Hickenlooper, Mark Zuckerberg (!), Kamala Harris, Tim Ryan, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Delaney) suffered from a "who?" problem.


Last Modified 2017-10-22 6:58 AM EDT