URLs du Jour

2018-01-03

Proverbs 17:23 is one of those where we implicitly prepend "Even back in Ancient Israel…"

23 The wicked accept bribes in secret
    to pervert the course of justice.

… but in 21st Century America, they proceed to run for Congress.


■ At American Consequences, P. J. O'Rourke calculates The Price of Being Middle Class.

(Let us pause for a moment to contemplate the chilling fact that the U.S. dollar has lost 93% of its value in one lifetime. And pause also to wonder what other things, fundamental to an ordinary middle-class life, have lost 93% of their value. Trust in our political institutions? Patriotism? Modesty? Virtue? Faith? Hope? Charity?)

Anyway, the results of his calculation may surprise you are detailed and interesting.


■ The WSJ [possibly paywalled] editorialists have (1) long memories, and (2) a bone to pick with hysterical pundits About That Trump ‘Autocracy’.

As Donald Trump heads into his second year as President, we’re pleased to report that there hasn’t been a fascist coup in Washington. This must be terribly disappointing to the progressive elites who a year ago predicted an authoritarian America because Mr. Trump posed a unique threat to democratic norms. But it looks like the U.S. will have to settle for James Madison’s boring checks and balances.

“How to stop an autocracy,” said a Feb. 7, 2017 headline on Vox, ruminating on a zillion-word essay in The Atlantic on how Donald Trump might impose authoritarian rule. Academics and pundits mined analogies to Mussolini, Hitler and Vladimir Putin.

I miss James Taranto referring to Vox as "the young-adult site Vox".


■ At NRO, David French rebuts some conservatives who are attempting to pigeonhole/downplay other conservatives' criticism of Donald Trump: It’s Not Just ‘Tone’ and ‘Style’

I’d submit, however, that there is a difference between “tone” and truth, between “style” and knowledge or even intellectual coherence. Last week, Trump granted an interview to the New York Times’ Michael Schmidt that was so rambling and inarticulate it could hardly be read as a calculated campaign of deception on the president’s part. It was such a “word salad” (to borrow Yuval Levin’s description) that it gave the impression Trump simply doesn’t know what the truth is in many cases, and concocts his own reality as he goes.

Time and again, he made statements that were blatantly untrue, nonsensical, or both. He invented things that Democrats didn’t say, garbled the description of his own policies, bragged like a WWE wrestler hyping his prowess, and in many instances appeared to simply make things up to fit the rhetorical needs of the moment. It wasn’t the first time, either.

A fair point. There's an argument that Trump is simply taking a politician's normal character flaws, and making them obvious by turning them up to eleven.


■ At Reason, Ronald Bailey asks the musical question: Will the Government Ban Human Driving?

When self-driving vehicles become safer than human-driven ones, the government will ban people from driving. Or that, at least, is the claim made in some recent articles in Automotive News and National Review. Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors, declares in Automotive News that vehicles "will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years—at the latest—human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways." By the time 20 to 30 percent of vehicles on the roads are fully autonomous, Lutz argues, officials "will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents."

It's an interesting topic for speculation. How quickly were horses displaced by cars? Much quicker than your local blacksmith expected, I would guess.


Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting a lot of crap for this tweet:

That's actually a pretty interesting (albeit negative) fact, when you consider how many other significant yearly events are governed by astronomical observations.


The Daily Dot compiles a fascinating graphic showing What each state has Googled more than any other in 2017. The tweet gives you an idea…

Spoiler: New Hampshire googled "Tom Petty" more than any other state. While Vermont googled "Impeachment". I am not sure of the cosmic significance of that; maybe I should Twitter-follow Neil deGrasse Tyson in case he has some insight.


■ I am loving the Babylon Bee for important news you can't get elsewhere: First Baptist Dallas Members Melt Golden Jewelry Down Into Towering Donald Trump Statue.

In a powerful show of devotion to the president of the United States, members of First Baptist Dallas passed their golden jewelry, watches, and personal trinkets down to the front of the sanctuary Sunday morning, where Pastor Robert Jeffress melted the large pile of golden knickknacks into a towering statue of President Donald Trump.

If that behavior sounds a bit familiar to you, there's a reason.