URLs du Jour

2018-02-14

Happy Valentine's Day! A feast day. Also Ash Wednesday, a fasting day. For those needing spiritual guidance navigating the competing messages: How to celebrate Valentine’s Day without compromising your Christian faith on Ash Wednesday.

■ You better not pout, you better not cry, you better not shout, Proverbs 15:3 tells you why:

3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
    keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

That was in Ancient Israel, though. Santa took over this job in the 20th century.

Depending on your domicile, the Eyes of Texas may also be upon you, all the livelong day.


■ A recent Wired essay, "It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech", argued for state regulation of speech, because democracy. At Reason, Brian Doherty eviscerates: Wired Thinks Free Speech Has Been Tried and Failed.

It seems that the likes of Wired, though alarmed by a world of Russian bots and alt-right trolls (which one imagines, though they don't spell this out, that they blame for President Trump) manages to perceive the worlds of media and expression as so ineluctably Theirs—their sensitive, progressive, smart, techno-elite but not beholden to Facebook selves—that they can't see the disconnect between "let us manage expression through politics" and "expressive practices we don't like have handed the government over to dangerous people."

The "deeply political decisions" [Wired's essayist Zeynep] Tufekci wants to control expression can and will be made by people who do not necessarily share Wired's beliefs or sensitivities, and it is dangerous even on its own terms to call for making such decisions politically.

The Wired essay is nastily misguided when it assumes that free speech is only good insofar as it promotes certain "values"; it goes further astray when it assumes government regulation of speech would effectively accomplish that nebulous goal.


[Amazon Link]

■ We are still bugged by the media fawning over North Korean despots and enslaved North Korean cheerleaders. But David Harsanyi notes: The Left’s Soft Spot For Communist Propaganda Is Nothing New.

No, not every Western journalist fell for North Korean propaganda efforts at the Pyeongchang Olympics, though there were more than plenty. Some of it, no doubt, is driven by animosity for Donald Trump. Many people live a reactive existence that demands they show admiration for anyone perceived as standing in opposition to the president. The number of liberals asking “are we any better?” than North Korea on social media is horrifying, but, at this point, predictable.

But we also shouldn’t act as if embrace of Communism deception is something new or rare. The Left, and really we have no choice but to treat most big media outlets as functionaries of the Left, has a long tradition of falling (or worse) for this kind of propaganda — from Stalin to the Vietcong to Castro to Sandinistas to Hugo Chavez to fetching DPRK henchwomen.

Harsanyi relates the history. Also see: Paul Hollander.


@kevinNR warns: The IRS Is Coming for Your Passports.

The U.S. government is building the world’s largest debtors’ prison: the United States.

Beginning this month, the Internal Revenue Service will begin denying passports to some American citizens with unpaid taxes and, in some cases, revoking the passports of Americans with tax delinquencies. The government will in effect place those with unpaid taxes under arrest, effectively denying them their right to travel.

Seriously, dude, WTF? Kevin makes the further point:

People should pay their taxes, and the people at the IRS should do their jobs honestly and ethically. Most of them do. But not all of them. Lois Lerner, the IRS boss who illegally targeted conservative groups for harassment in the runup to the 2012 presidential election, is happily enjoying retired life in some Washington suburb while collecting a fat federal pension. She didn’t lose her passport. Former IRS commissioner John Koskinen lied to Congress about the situation and oversaw the destruction of evidence. He still has a passport. The crimes — actual crimes — of the powerful and the connected go unpunished, while those who for whatever reason have an unmet obligation to the IRS are treated like East Germans locked behind the Checkpoint Charlie of the federal bureaucracy. If you want to know why faith in our institutions is at such a low point, meditate on that.

Meditate, and see if you can keep that Valentine candy down.


■ Yesterday I wished for Michael Ramirez to do something clever about curling. But Lisa Benson got to it first: