URLs du Jour

2017-10-23

Proverbs 19:5 is optimistic…

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and whoever pours out lies will not go free.

… but, since Donald J. Trump, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and most of our other pols remain unincarcerated, I assume it is no longer functional.


@kevinNR asks the musical question: Tax Cuts . . . And?

House Republicans and Senate Republicans were at an impasse on Friday after the Senate produced its budget document. The House, led by Representative Diane Black (R., Tenn.), who chairs the Budget Committee, wanted at least $200 billion in cuts from so-called mandatory spending (mostly meaning entitlements); the Senate wanted to give President Donald Trump his “MASSIVE” (the president is fond of capital letters) tax cut, even if that meant adding $1.5 trillion — note the “t” — to the debt. The impasse lasted about four minutes before the House leadership went down like Galtieri facing British commandos — the “battle” they’d promised over spending cuts turned out to be as lopsided as the Falklands War.

Time to put on that Elvis Costello song. You know, the one with the lyric "I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused"? It's getting real hard to be amused.


■ Also weighing in on the GOP's fiscal will of jello is Matt Welch at Reason: Republicans Officially Give Up Trying to Cut Spending.

After the rise of the Tea Party in 2009 as a grassroots expression of revulsion at government bailouts, spending, and Obamacare; after a series of insurgent Tea Party primary victories in 2010 over big-spending incumbents and hand-picked establishmentarians; after Republicans re-took the House that November thanks in part to that new jolt of fiscally conservative energy; after the House majority from 2011-14 successfully used its power of the purse to force debate and at least some temporary agreements on the debt ceiling, long-term entitlements, and year-on-year spending, and then after Republicans re-took the Senate and eventually the White House…after all this activity, when it finally came time for the GOP to stand up and demonstrate its values of fiscal stewardship and limited government, you could count the number of Republicans voting to restrain government spending on exactly one finger[…]

And, yes, that finger is Rand Paul. The guy whose campaign didn't even make it to the New Hampshire Primary last year.


■ And the WSJ notes that it's not just Congressional Republicans who are mealy-mouthed weasels on an issue they once assured us was important. Because: Trump Caves on Ethanol.

The bipartisan pull of corporate welfare—also known as the swamp—is powerful. Last week it swallowed up no less than Donald Trump and his fearless Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt. They caved under pressure from the ethanol lobby and political extortion from Republican Senators Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer and Chuck Grassley.

Mr. Pruitt announced Thursday that EPA won’t reduce its proposed 19.24 billion gallon biofuels quota for 2018, and may even increase it. The EPA will further consider giving biofuels a pass to pollute that no other industry enjoys, via what’s known as a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for high-ethanol blends.

There was a lot of pressure applied to the Trump Administration by a "bipartisan" group of Senators (including NH's own Jeanne Shaheen).


■ Always on the lookout for bad news, I noted the dire headline in the student newspaper at the University Near Here: Diversity enforced in ENGL 401 curriculum. Enforced? Oh oh.

In response to student demands made last spring following the Cinco de Mayo incidents, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Heidi Bostic, and the English department co-sponsored an event that brought Dr. Teresa Redd to campus. Redd, a nationally-renowned and now-retired composition professor and also former Director of Howard University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Assessment (CETLA), visited campus on Oct. 5 to discuss the ENGL401 program and how different views of diversity could be included in the classroom.

The initiative was conceptualized and proposed by Dr. Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, associate professor of English at UNH and also the director of composition. In an email exchange with Ortmeier-Hooper, she stated, "In the past, English 401 instructors have worked on best practices in the teaching of writing, inclusive pedagogy, responding to multilingual writers and integrating college and career-readiness concerns. This year, in addition to these ongoing efforts, English 401 instructors are participating in training on diversity, tolerance and civic engagement.”

In other words, the alleged course in "English" was a muddle of politically-correct indoctrination before, and it's going to get a little worse.

But no talk in the article about the headline-promised enforcement. It could be the headline writer meant to type "reinforced", which would be more accurate, at least in a Newspeak way.


■ And another page-one article has a barely-coherent headline: Discussion talks limits of free speech.

UNH hosted a panel of experts from the UNH School of Law on Monday for students, faculty, staff and members of the community to discuss the issue of offensive speech and the First Amendment on campus and online.

And—good news here—the headline-promised "limits" do not appear in the body of the article. And what we do get is pretty good. For example, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law John Greabe was tossed a softball on "hate speech" and he proceded to knock it, if not out of the park, perhaps for a triple:

Quoting the amendment itself in the beginning of the forum, Greabe began by saying that offensive speech or hate speech does not, "receive lesser protection under the First Amendment.”

Greabe explained that public universities like UNH act as "arms of the government,” meaning they must stand by the First Amendment. He quoted John Marshall Harlan, who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, when he said, "One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

"What one person finds hateful, another person finds to be the core of protected speech and a means for trying to urge change,” Greabe said.

Answering Idahosa’s question, Greabe explained that though hate speech and offensive speech are "horrible and distressing,” speech under the law without intent is "just speech. It is not something that in and of itself can be punished.”

All in all, the forum doesn't seem to have provided any aid and comfort to would-be campus censors.


■ And the venerable tech news site Slashdot is coming up on its 20th anniversary, and ran a celebratory experiment: When an AI Tries Writing Slashdot Headlines.

For Slashdot's 20th anniversary, "What could be geekier than celebrating with the help of an open-source neural network?" Neural network hobbyist Janelle Shane has already used machine learning to generate names for paint colors, guinea pigs, heavy metal bands, and even craft beers, she explains on her blog. "Slashdot sent me a list of all the headlines they've ever run, over 162,000 in all, and asked me to train a neural network to try to generate more." Could she distill 20 years of news -- all of humanity's greatest technological advancements -- down to a few quintessential words?

And "the answer may shock you". For some reason there was a lot of suing. Samples:

Steve Jobs Sues Death of the Future
Sun Sues Open Source Project Content
Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math
Sony Sues Apple Server For Seconds Off From SpaceX Project
Why Open Source Power Man Sues Java

For youngsters: "Sun" was Sun Microsystems, a once-proud computer company that now belongs to Oracle. Probably because they wanted Star Trek to stop the math.


Last Modified 2017-10-23 11:50 AM EST