URLs du Jour

2018-01-22

week #9/52: fallacy

Proverbs 16:13 continues the absurd sycophancy toward monarchs:

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value the one who speaks what is right.

But what about modern-day pols? That question leads to the next item…


■ Freed up from dead-trees Reason, a Glenn Garvin review of six books purporting to analyze the 2016 election: What the Heck Happened? It's full of interesting anecdotes culled from the books, and relevant to the above verse:

On the day of the convention [Hillary Clinton's] staff had to bring in a coach, because, despite three decades of giving campaign speeches for Bill as well as herself, Clinton still didn't understand how to deliver an applause line.

At least she accepted the speaking advice, noted [Jonathen Allen's and Ami Parnes' book] Shattered; often, her response to criticism was to fly into a rage. When an aide, during a prep session for a debate with Sanders, said one of her responses was "not very good," she furiously replied, "Really? Why don't you do it?" For half an hour, the aide was forced to play Clinton in a mock debate, and no matter what he said, she childishly interrupted him to snarl, "That isn't very good, you can do better."

In her own book, Clinton describes this episode as a lot of chortling good fun; Shattered calls it a "browbeating" and quotes an employee saying: "She was visibly, unflinchingly pissed off at us as a group." Her staff began moving tough questions to the end of debate practice because she so often stormed away and refused to continue.

Hillary was not the kind of person who took "pleasure in honest lips."

One more tidbit, that I hadn't seen before, in discussing Hillary's memoir What Happened?:

There's not a word about the most profoundly damaging misanalysis of the whole election: the Clinton campaign's insanely ironic fear, during the last days, that Trump might win the popular vote but lose in the Electoral College.

This peculiar belief, Politico would report a month after the election, prompted the Clinton braintrust to pour several million dollars into places like Illinois (where Clinton would win 56–39 percent) and Louisiana (where she would lose 58–39) to maximize turnout in Clinton strongholds like Chicago and New Orleans, running up the score in the popular vote. Had that money gone instead to battleground states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which Clinton would lose by a combined total of just 80,000, it might have turned the election.

All I can say is: thank heaven for insanely ironic fears among the Clinton braintrust.


■ Say what you will about the NYT, but at least there's someone there with a few brain cells, paying Peter Suderman to write there insightfully: The Shutdown Shows the Twisted Rules of a Broken Congress.

This week’s government shutdown is a bipartisan failure, with bad faith all around, and both parties trying to blame the other for the consequences, in hopes of winning one for the team.

But it is also a systemic failure, in which an outdated budget process — the complex set of procedures that keeps the government open — has become an empty ritual, twisted in the service of narrow partisan gain.

The source of today’s dysfunctions goes back more than 40 years, to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. That law was passed as a result of a perception within Congress — which under the Constitution holds the power of the purse — that the White House had too much influence over the budget.

Suderman wishes for reform to undo the breakage of 1974. But a Congress mature enough to do that would also be a Congress that wouldn't have put us where we are now.


■ Jay Nordlinger has a pretty fascinating history of the Browder family, which is indeed A Family in History. It starts with him meeting Bill Browder, "a truth-telling foe of the Putin regime".

“Any relation?” I asked him. He said, “To Earl Browder?”

I thought this was puzzling, because who else could I have meant? Anyway, it transpired that Browder was indeed related — he is the grandson of Earl Browder. “My grandfather was the biggest Communist in America,” Bill remarked, “and I became the biggest capitalist in Russia.”

Earl Browder was head of the CPUSA — the American Communist party — in the 1930s and ’40s. Bill Browder created his hedge fund, Hermitage, in 1996. The Kremlin turned on him hard in 2005, declaring him persona non grata. He had been a thorn in the side of Putin’s oligarchs. In 2008, the authorities arrested Browder’s fearless and whistleblowing lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. They tortured him to death. Real slow, over the course of a year.

Also running in the family: math brilliance. RTWT.


■ Writing in City Journal, Amity Shlaes tells us our policy aims should be Growth, Not Equality.

Free marketeers may sometimes win elections, but they are not winning U.S. history. In recent years, the consensus regarding the American past has slipped leftward, and then leftward again. No longer is American history a story of opportunity, or of military or domestic triumph. Ours has become, rather, a story of wrongs, racial and social. Today, any historical figure who failed at any time to support abolition, or, worse, took the Confederate side in the Civil War, must be expunged from history. Wrongs must be righted, and equality of result enforced.

The equality campaign spills over into a less obvious field, one that might otherwise provide a useful check upon the nonempirical claims of the humanities: economics. In a discipline that once showcased the power of markets, an axiom is taking hold: equal incomes lead to general prosperity and point toward utopia. Teachers, book review editors, and especially professors withhold any evidence to the contrary. Universities lead the shift, and the population follows. Today, millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, outnumber baby boomers by the millions, and polls suggest that they support redistribution specifically, and government action generally, more than their predecessors do. A 2014 Reason/Rupe poll found 48 percent of millennials agreeing that government should “do more” to solve problems, whereas 37 percent said that government was doing “too many things.” A full 58 percent of the youngest of millennials, those 18–24 when surveyed, held a “positive” view of socialism, in dramatic contrast with their parents: only 23 percent of those aged 55 to 64 viewed socialism positively.

That's not encouraging. Neither is the possible corollary: it might take (yet) another huge economic crisis for millennials to gain a decent appreciation for free markets.


■ Did I say something nice about the NYT above? Sorry, I take that back. Katharine Q. Seelye reports from Manchester on How a ‘Perfect Storm’ in New Hampshire Has Fueled an Opioid Crisis. What can we blame? Seelye reports on a federally-funded study by Dartmouth researchers that fingers (among other things)…

Live Free or Die.” The researchers said the New Hampshire ethos of “self-sufficiency and individualism” could inhibit some residents from seeking help. And for some, they said, the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto might justify risky behaviors. The state does not require drivers to wear seatbelts. It allows motorcyclists to ride without helmets. And state liquor stores are right on the major highways.

Yes, blame our motto.

And I can only gape at the "logic" that that says state-owned-and-operated liquor stores (on the Interstates or elsewhere) are indicators of our LFOD individualism.


■ But at least we don't have the woes of the Ocean State. The online news source What'sUpNewp [i.e., Newport, Rhode Island] reports on Rhode Island’s Tourism Marketing Initiative. It's not working as well as the state's tourism fat-cats want it to. And so what's the problem?

Rhode Island, [Lara Salamano, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation] says, is a state without a slogan.

“You can tell a lot about a place from the slogan it brands with,” said Greig Lamont in a blog on HuffPost in 2013. “That self-professed badge of honour [sic] it fixes to its chest, the indelible stamp it sears into its flesh for all to see: the standard by which it thinks it ought to be judged.

“Tourism slogans are the peacocks’ feathers of places. The mating call of a chunk of land enticing into its clutches passers-by and peregrinators alike, bidding them in for a spot of geographical dalliance, possibly even a cultural roll in the hay.”

So, Massachusetts has used “It’s all here in Massachusetts”; Connecticut is “Still Revolutionary”; we should “Think Vermont”; “Live Free or Die” in New Hampshire; “The Maine Thing”, “Vacationland”, “It Must Be Maine; the Way Life Should Be.”

Hey, how about "Discount Fentanyl!" That would attract folks from New Hampshire!