URLs du Jour

2018-03-30

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 14:13 is another downer:

    13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
        and rejoicing may end in grief.

    Still, other things being equal, I recommend laughter and rejoicing over the alternative.


  • At the Independent Institute's Beacon, Robert Higgs writes On Socialism’s Rhetorical Appeal.

    Socialism’s appeal has always lain primarily in its vision of living in a fantasy land, a land of lollipops and lemonade, a land where everyone has plenty and all have the same. Aside from the utter impossibility of attaining such abundance without private property and free markets, this vision has a fatal element of abstraction from the realities of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. It declares that “society” or “the community” will own all the means of production, but in reality this communal ownership always boils down to de facto ownership by a political elite with untrammeled power and a determination to obliterate individual rights, first private property rights, then all other rights, including the entire litany of civil rights. Socialism is a mythical, impossible ideal employed as a rhetorical enticement to mobilize large groups in favor of collective action that leads ultimately if not immediately to their own enslavement. That so many young people in the West now regard socialism as the most desirable form of political economy is a tragedy in the making.

    Or, in a nutshell, the childish socialist dream of economic equality demands a nightmarish reality: massive inequality of coercive power.


  • Chris Edwards writes at The Hill about the Omnibus: Dems take GOP — and future generations — to the cleaners.

    The 2,232-page omnibus spending deal signed into law last week threw fiscal sanity out the window. While entitlement spending has continued to grow, the relative restraint in discretionary spending had provided hope that federal budget control was possible.

    But that hope is now dashed under this president and Congress. The omnibus hiked discretionary spending 13 percent in a single year, while scraping the budget caps that were the singular achievement of reformers after the landmark 2010 election.

    It's easy to blame "our" elected officials, but hey, guess who put 'em there? That's right: "we" did.


  • But some Republicans are pushing for a constitutional "Balanced Budget Amendment". That's good, right? No. At NR, Charles C. W. Cooke makes a point succinctly in his headline: If a Balanced Budget Amendment Could Pass, We Wouldn’t Need One.

    As usual, I am deeply, deeply skeptical. It’s not that I’m opposed to it in principle; I’m not, although if we’re going to have a government that does what ours does there are some excellent arguments against permanently depriving Congress of the power to run a deficit. Rather, it’s that if a proposal such as this had the requisite support, it wouldn’t be necessary in the first place. The federal government routinely fails to balance its budget because Congress does not want to balance the budget. And Congress does not want to balance the budget because voters do not want to balance the budget. Or, more accurately, they don’t want to do what would be necessary in order to do so. There are, in truth, very few fiscal hawks in Washington — or in the country at large. Some politicians want to cut taxes; others want to increase social spending; yet more want to increase defense spending. Rare is the elected official who wants to increase taxes and slash spending, and those that do exist would probably be kicked out of office if they actually managed to do it. That — not for lack of a constitutional mandate — is why spending is out of control. Nobody will touch entitlements. Nobody will jack up taxes. Nobody will even defund NPR.

    It's insanity, but it's a widely shared insanity.


  • We had a lot of action from the Google LFOD alert lately. For example, Democrat (and former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives) Terie Norelli in the Concord Monitor uses it to argue: Safe, affordable abortion access is crucial to women’s health care.

    Before Mike Pence’s visit to New Hampshire to fund raise with Gov. Chris Sununu, the vice president shared his belief that legal protections for abortion would end in his lifetime. His foreboding claim is, unfortunately, largely indicative of a growing resurgence of the anti-choice movement that’s taken place since President Donald Trump’s election. Even worse, it’s become clear that the New Hampshire Republican Party is not immune. In the past year and a half, Gov. Sununu and his party seem to have willingly forgotten our state’s “Live Free or Die” creed in their mad dash to support or silently accept restrictive abortion legislation.

    Terie believes LFOD implies "taxpayers must pay for abortion". It's a very flexible motto for Democrats.


  • Down in the Ozarks, Bret Burquest writes for Areawide News on a New State Motto for Arkansas. And LFOD is cited…

    Every state in America has a state motto. They tend to be inspirational catchwords, brief yet powerful, no doubt meant to inspire the populace to greatness.

    The mottos are heavy on truth, justice and the American way – much like Superman without the blue tights, red cape and the need to masquerade as a mild-mannered reporter.

    The most famous state motto is New Hampshire – “Live free or die.” It leaves little doubt where the citizens of the Granite State stand on various issues. Being a wimpy outsider in New Hampshire is a lot like going to a clown convention in full costume and accidentally showing up at a Sicilian funeral for a guy named Big Tony the Enforcer – you tend to be noticed.

    Mr. Burquest has amusing insights on other state mottos, and suggestions for improvements. I quibble with the following, though:

    The smallest state in the Union, Rhode Island, has the shortest motto – “Hope." There's nothing wrong with being small or short, however calling yourself an island when you are surrounded on two sides by land is either a sign of ignorance or a sign of wishful thinking, also called hope.

    Maps show that it's more accurate to describe Rhode "Island" being surrounded on three sides by land, since it has a lot of real estate on the other side of Narragansett Bay.

    And, if you're interested, this article on the origins of the "Rhode Island" name will almost certainly tell you more than you want to know about it.


  • And finally, ArtSlant mentions LFOD in Ali Fitzgerald's article: Clash of Political Visuals Part Two. It's part of "a blog and visual diary" which promises to "explore France’s evolving visual relationship to propaganda, looking deeply at aesthetics of nationalism and politicized otherness." Lest there be any doubt where Ali is coming from:

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we forge the symbols and icons of resistance. Last week, during the March for Our Lives, images of Parkland High School student and gun control activist Emma Gonzalez circulated which recall older, lionizing posters of resistance fighters. In fact, her frontal, defiant pose resembles several wartime depictions of Joan of Arc.

    … with illustration. But LFOD comes up too, in a WW2 French Resistance poster:

    [Vivre libre ou mourir]

    We've noted that French Connection before.

    Ali makes no connection between today's gun-grabbers and those of the past:

    SS chief Heinrich Himmler decreed that 20 years be served in a concentration camp by any Jew possessing a firearm. Rusty revolvers and bayonets from the Great War were confiscated from Jewish veterans who had served with distinction. Twenty thousand Jewish men were thrown into concentration camps, and had to pay ransoms to get released.

    The U.S. media covered the above events. And when France fell to Nazi invasion in 1940, the New York Times reported that the French were deprived of rights such as free speech and firearm possession just as the Germans had been. Frenchmen who failed to surrender their firearms within 24 hours were subject to the death penalty.

    So there's no serious effort made to imagine how French Resistance fighters would have felt about modern efforts to disarm the citizenry. That would complicate the narrative.

    Also, not that it matters, but: Amazon returns some really bizarre and disturbing products when you search for "vivre libre ou mourir".


Last Modified 2018-03-30 7:03 AM EST