URLs du Jour

2017-11-29

■ Needless to say, many things were different in Old Testament days. But Proverbs 18:13 illustrates one thing that's exactly the same:

13 To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

"Indeed."


■ Caitlin Johnstone correctly notes that Sinclair Lewis didn't say "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." However:

It’s a good quote, whoever said it. It warns that if manipulative oppressors are going to seize control of a nation’s government, they will obviously need to do so by appealing to the spirit of the times, the current values system of the masses. They’re not going to make their entrance screaming “Freedom is slavery!” while a band plays the Darth Vader theme. This is obvious to anyone who possesses any insight into how people think and behave.

But it’s a quote from a bygone age. Christianity and flag-waving patriotism still hold value in red states, but they’ve become largely invisible to the major culture factories of New York and Los Angeles, and thus to the dominant culture of the greater United States. If fascism came to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross today, it wouldn’t have enough broad public support to implement its agendas, because crosses and flags don’t hold that much sway over America’s dominant value system. In order to rope in those who don’t value the old cultural value symbols, something more is needed.

So when fascism came to America, it came wrapped in a rainbow flag, and wearing a pussyhat.

… and demanding "net neutrality".


■ Daniel J. Mitchell notes: Sequesters Are Good for Prosperity, Tax-Hike Triggers Are Bad for Growth.

At the start of the year, I pointed out that it would be possible to both balance the budget and approve a $3 trillion tax cut if spending grew each year by an average of 1.96 percent.

That modest bit of fiscal discipline apparently was asking too much. When Trump’s budget was released in May, he proposed that spending should increase by an average of 3.5 percent annually.

But neither Trump nor Republicans on Capitol Hill have done much to hit even that lax target (which is especially disappointing since they actually did a good job of restraining spending when Obama was in the White House). So the federal budget instead is operating on auto-pilot and spending is now projected to increase by 5.2 percent annually, more than [two]-and-one-half times faster than needed to keep pace with inflation.

Republicans should learn that they won't out-compete the Democrats at spending taxpayer money. But they really are the stupid party.


■ At Reason, Eric Boehm observes that the Fight Over CFPB Director Shows—Again!—How Powerful Government Entities Backfire on Their Creators. He's deeply amused that the architect of the CFPB, Elizabeth Warren, now claims that the Trump Adminstration will "turn the CFPB into a disaster."

Ordinarily, independent agencies authorized by Congress—like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission—must have a multi-member commission at the helm. The CFPB was created by Congress but a political compromise during negotiations over Dodd-Frank left the bureau with a single executive.

That's a compromise that CFPB supporters might now wish hadn't been made, because the unchecked power of the CFPB's director may soon reside in the hands of someone who, in Warren's mind at least, wants to tear down the agency she worked to create.

"I designed an unaccountable agency, immune from normal checks and balances, and now I see that was a bad idea!"

Which brings to mind…


■ One of these days, we'll start keeping track of the phonies running for President. But at NRO, David French gets a head start on us: Elizabeth Warren, Progressive Fraud.

My favorite Elizabeth Warren story involves a cookbook. Warren, who was at that time posing as a trailblazing Cherokee, actually contributed recipes to a recipe book with the name, I kid you not, “Pow Wow Chow.” But here’s the best part of the story. She plagiarized some of the recipes. Yes indeed, her version of “pow wow chow” came directly from a famous French chef.

"Pow Wow Chow." Isn't that racist?


■ James Freeman asks [from behind the WSJ paywall, unfortunately]: Why Is the ‘Resistance’ Harassing This Man? That man being FCC chair Ajit Pai.

The resisters are casting as a fundamental free speech right what was essentially a gift to tech lobbyists. Companies like Netflix, which by some measures generates more than a third of all North American Internet traffic, and Google, which also generates significant traffic via its YouTube video service, didn’t want to pay market rates to companies like Verizon for moving that traffic. Essentially, Silicon Valley wanted to cut its phone bill and it persuaded President Obama to instruct his supposedly independent telecom regulators to make it happen.

I have a number of Progressive friends on Facebook who have been taken in by this scam. Their default position is unskeptical support for statist regulation; combine this with reflexive hatred for all things Trump-connected, and you get a toxic mix. Sad!


■ At the Federalist, David Harsanyi relates: This Is Why We Can’t Trust Factcheckers, Part Infinity.

During a speech at the Tax Foundation last week, Vice President Mike Pence dropped a meaningless but innocuous political talking point about the U.S. economy. “There are more Americans working today than ever before in American history,” he reportedly said.

This statement really irritated one of The Washington Post’s factchecking professionals. “Amazingly,” Nicole Lewis contends, Pence’s statement “met with applause.” Because superficial rah-rah declarations by politicians are typically met with pie charts, I guess. The “economic boast is so mindlessly dumb we can’t believe we have to fact check it,” reads the abstract on the story.

The "fact checker" awarded Pence three Pinocchios out of four. For a literally true (albeit trivially so) statement. Is the WaPo in a competition with Politifact to see who can be the bigger Democrat shill?


Mental Floss reveals The Most Common "Why Do" Questions People Are Asking In Your State, According to Google. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.

Luckily for internet users across America, Mental Floss has answers for some of these pressing questions. For example, residents of Oregon, Iowa, Kansas, and Kentucky wondered why cats like to knead, or "make biscuits." This puzzling behavior could be chalked up to cats trying to mark humans as "territory" using the scent glands in their paws. Or, it could be a "neotenic behavior," or a kittenish trait that cats retain as adults.

New Hampshire, like Maine and Vermont, wants to know "Why do leaves change color?"

I want to know: "Why is there something, rather than nothing?" Google sends me here.