URLs du Jour

2018-02-01

■ An anatomy lesson today from Proverbs 16:23:

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

I think the King James Version says it better:

The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

… but try saying it without sounding as if you're lisping.

Yes, by stupid modern standards, the KJV is irredeemably sexist.


■ At Cato, Randal O'Toole looks at what President Trump had to say about the State of the Union’s Infrastructure.

Remember America’s crumbling infrastructure that supposedly needs trillions of dollars for maintenance and rehabilitation? President Trump doesn’t. Instead, the seven sentences in his State of the Union speech that focused on infrastructure talked about building “gleaming new” projects rather than fixing existing systems.

The only news is that he is upping the ante from $1.0 trillion to “at least $1.5 trillion.” More disturbingly, other than mentioning an “infrastructure deficit” – which could just as easily be interpreted to mean a shortage of new infrastructure as a deficit in maintenance – Trump said nothing about fixing existing infrastructure. Instead, he wants to “build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways.”

O'Toole offers a different vision of what we really need: better funding systems for local infrastructure, and less sentiment about "railways and waterways".

And, please, no "gleaming". That gleam wears off quickly.


■ At Reason, Eric Boehm asks: What About the Debt? Trump's SOTU Ignores a $20 Trillion Time Bomb.

He did not once utter the words "debt" or "entitlement." The only mention of "deficit" came in reference to America's supposed "infrastructure deficit"—in other words, it came in a call for even more government spending. Trump did reference the "sequester," a colloquial name for the 2013 budget act instituting limited cuts in discretionary spending, but only long enough to call it "dangerous" and to ask for Congress to repeal it so more tax money can be shoveled into the Pentagon.

In both parties, the perception is that advocating entitlement reform courts electoral disaster. The Democrat playbook involves postulating some sort of GOP secret plan to yank away Social Security, Medicare, etc.; but that would involve Republicans actually having (1) principles and (2) courage, facts not in current evidence.


■ "What the New York Times Gets Wrong about X" would seem to be a productive headline for many values of X. At NRO, David French tries out: What the New York Times Gets Wrong about Conscience. He quotes from a recent editorial ("The White House Puts the Bible Before the Hippocratic Oath"), and I've helpfully enlarged the key word:

Freedom of religion is essential — and so is access to health care. Current law tries to accommodate both, but the far right has stirred unfounded fears that religion (and Christianity in particular) is under assault, and that people of faith are in danger of being forced to do things they find morally objectionable. “Patient-centered care” is an important goal in clinical training today, but the administration is instead proposing provider-centered care.

French makes the point:

This paragraph is a perfect example of the principle that when it comes to discussions of civil liberties, never read anything before the “but.” Civil libertarians are wearily familiar with hearing would-be censors and authoritarians declare, “I believe in religious liberty, but . . . ” or “I believe in free speech, but . . . ” — and what comes after the but is invariably the exception that swallows the rule.

Previous big "but"s noticed by Pun Salad here, here, here, here, and here.

I've embarked on a Heinlein-rereading project, which will probably not end before I do. But this reminds me of a Lazarus Long quote from Time Enough for Love:

The correct way to punctuate a sentence that states: "Of course it is none of my business, but -- " is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.

Not really relevant to French's article; I still like it.


■ A (mostly) non-political URL from Mental Floss, noting how the US was self-handicapped in the early days of spaceflight: The Secret Cold War History of the Missile That Launched America's First Satellite. You may know that was Explorer I, launched by the Army's Jupiter-C rocket, months after the Soviets launched Sputnik I.

What happened?

[General John Medaris, commander of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama] was working under heavy restrictions against stiff competition. In 1956, the Secretary of Defense, Charlie Erwin Wilson, had issued an edict expressly forbidding the Army from even planning to build, let alone employ, long-range missiles "or for any other missiles with ranges beyond 200 miles." Land-based intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles were now to be the sole responsibility of the Air Force, while the Navy had authority for the sea-launched variety.

Huntsville had the ultra-competent ex-Nazi Wernher von Braun. Restricting him to 200-mile rockets was like making David Ortiz use a 20-inch baseball bat.