URLs du Jour

2017-12-03

■ Taken literally, Proverbs 18:17 seems trivially obvious:

17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
    until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

Generally speaking (however) this fits in with what I've mentioned here before: on issues where I have an open mind, I tend to agree with the plausible article I've read most recently. Until the next plausible article comes along; then I agree with that.


■ For example, I was all ready to enjoy the likelihood of tax reform legislation making it through the Congressional digestive tract, before I read @kevinNR's The Downward Spiral. What's that, you ask?

The downward spiral here isn’t tracing the decline of the Republican party but the descent of Congress, which, from the Affordable Care Act to the new tax-cut bill, has shown itself incapable of proceeding according to regular order, of conducting its business in a fashion befitting the legislature of the most powerful nation in the history of human affairs, and of forging bipartisan compromises — which are desirable not because bipartisanship and compromise are virtuous but because achieving broad political buy-in is the only way to produce stable and long-lasting policy settlements. The Affordable Care Act began coming undone the second it was signed; this tax plan, created in much the same way, may very well suffer the same fate. Whatever the corporate tax rate is when Trump signs the tax bill, it is unlikely that it will stay there for very long if Democrats come back into the majority in Congress. And who believes that Republican congressional majorities are destined to be eternal?

The Republicans are very lucky that the only practical alternative to them at the moment is the Democrats. The Democrats are lucky in precisely the same way.

A whipsawing tax landscape is not what the country needs.


■ As another example, I was pretty well convinced that a baker [e.g., Jack Phillips, proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop] should not be compelled to produce a concoction [e.g., a cake] celebrating activity [e.g., gay marriage] cutting against his religious beliefs. Until I read George F. Will's column contending otherwise.

The First Amendment speaks of speech; its presence in a political document establishes its core purpose as the protection of speech intended for public persuasion. The amendment has, however, been rightly construed broadly to protect many expressive activities. Many, but there must be limits.

Phillips was neither asked nor required to attend, let alone participate in, the wedding. Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado, so Craig and Mullins were to be married in Massachusetts. The cake was for a subsequent reception in Denver. But even if the cake were to have been consumed at a wedding, Phillips’ creation of the cake before the ceremony would not have constituted participation in any meaningful sense.

I'm actually not convinced by Will's argument, but you may be, so check it out. You need a pretty strong argument to compel people to act against their druthers, and I'm just not seeing it here.


■ Back to the tax stuff, though. Daniel J. Mitchell makes another plea for restoring fiscal sanity: Balancing the Budget Should Be Very Easy, Regardless of the GOP’s Tiny (and Temporary) Tax Cut.

Chris Edwards put together a very helpful chart showing federal taxes and revenues as a share of economic output. As you can see, America’s real fiscal problem is government spending. The tax cut being considered on Capitol Hill only causes a small – and completely temporary – drop in revenues.

[JCT Chart]

[That's an embed from Cato, so I have no idea how long it's going to work.]


■ At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw asks the musical question: I Think We Can All Get Behind A Randy Quaid Vs Bernie Sanders Senate Race, No?

The star who made his mark in films such as Brokeback Mountain, Kingpin, The Last Detail, Vacation and, of course, Independence Day, let people know that powerful individuals are looking at him for a Senate run. As with all things in the post-2016 era, the announcement came on Twitter. And the prospect is so exciting that there’s already a rumored reality television series in the works which would cover the race step by step.

Click on over if you need any reminder of how insane Randy Quaid is. But he'd be running against Bernie, who's also insane (albeit with more "socially respectable" symptoms). It's difficult to disagree with Jazz when he says "The Sanders – Quaid general election contest in Vermont may not be the race we need. But it’s most certainly the race we deserve."


■ And you'll want to visit the newest innovation in randomized text generation, the Celebrity Perv Apology Generator. Here's what I got:

As a person who was born in an era before women were “people,” my actions do not align with my values, nor represent who I am as a person. I imagined that any woman would have been thrilled to see a tiny penis peeking out from below my pasty, middle-aged paunch like the head of a geriatric albino turtle moments from death, and of course now I realize my behavior was wrong. In conclusion, I will do my best to learn from this situation, without reading anything or listening to anyone’s perspective other than my own.

Apologies to those I have offended by using the word "penis".

Just kidding. I don't care if you're offended. If you were, grow up.


Last Modified 2017-12-03 6:09 AM EST