URLs du Jour

2018-05-29

[Amazon Link]

  • Even though the two halves of Proverbs 12:9 don't quite match up, the style is jarringly modern. It might even be as close as Proverbs gets to making a joke:

    9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
        than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

    Was the only way to get food in Ancient Israel via one's servant? What did the servants do?


  • Hot Air's Allahpundit notes that President Bone Spurs could not avoid embarrassing himself, and us, yesterday: Trump On Memorial Day: Our Fallen Heroes Would Be Very Proud Of How This Administration Is Doing. Specifically:

    Sheesh. If he couldn’t resist indulging his narcissism during a moment devoted to remembering others, he could have just followed the Obama model and honored the subjects of today’s ceremonies by posting a photo of himself.

    Is it too much to ask to have a president that could at least pretend not to be narcissistic? Yeah, I guess so.


  • But as far as irritating behavior goes, it's a tough race between Trump and his over-the-top critics. At Reason, Jacob Sullum reports on An English Teacher's Incorrect Correction of a Trump Letter Illustrates His Critics' Reflexive Condescension.

    A glance at Donald Trump's Twitter feed is enough to show that the president does not have a firm grasp of punctuation and tends to capitalize words arbitrarily. By comparison, the form letter that Yvonne Mason received from Trump, which presumably was written by a staffer on his behalf, is a model of care. Yet Mason, a retired English teacher in Atlanta, thought the letter was so riddled with errors that she marked it up, posted a photo of it on Facebook, and sent the "corrected" version back to the White House. I know about this incident only because The New York Times thought it was worth a story, as part of a continuing series on what a huge doofus the president is.

    Don't get me wrong. The president is a huge doofus. But Mason's markup of his letter does not reinforce that point. In fact, none of Mason's corrections is correct, although there are at least two mistakes in the letter that she neglected to note. Mason's showy but erroneous pedantry illustrates the tendency of Trump's opponents to cast policy disagreements as questions of competence and to delight in everything that reflects badly on him, even when that thing is not, strictly speaking, true. These tendencies, which mirror Trump's own fondness for ad hominem attacks and recklessness with facts, alienate potential allies while confirming his supporters' conviction that he is sticking it to a supercilious elite that holds them in contempt.

    Details and counter-details at the link. This incident came up at our Memorial Day dinner last evening, with the "reflexive condescension" in full operation. I tried to summarize Sullum's counterpoint, but didn't do a great job. Probably I should just shut up and eat when at the table.


  • Via Marginal Revolution, "reality-based" Mark Kleiman offers A primer on fentanyl(s). It's a fascinating, scary look at how we got here, and discusses more than just fentanyl. Sample factoid:

    But with mobile phones, texting, and social media, transactions can now be arranged electronically and completed by home delivery, reducing the buyer’s risk and travel time to near zero and even his waiting time to minimal levels. In the recent Global Survey on Drugs, cocaine users around the world reported that their most recent cocaine order was delivered in less time, on average, than their most recent pizza order.

    Another stunning stat: we "have about thirty times as many drug dealers behind bars today as we had in 1980 (450,000 v. about 15,000)."

    The War on Drugs has been a spectacular, deadly failure.

    And yet, people with a prohibitionist mentality imagine that a "War on Guns" would be a swell idea. It would, in fact, be much, much worse.


  • OK, enough current events. George Will remembers a past president fondly: Taft the Anti-Populist.

    No elaborate catechism is required to determine whether someone is a conservative. A single question, as simple as it is infallible, suffices: For whom would you have voted in the presidential election of 1912?

    That year, a former president and a future president ran against the incumbent president, who lost, as did the country, which would have been much better off giving another term to William Howard Taft. Instead it got Woodrow Wilson and the modern imperial presidency that had been prefigured by Taft’s predecessor and second major opponent in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt. Taft won fewer electoral votes (eight, from Utah and Vermont) than any other incumbent president; Roosevelt carried six states, Wilson 40.

    A sad episode in American history, indeed. [For our New Hampshire viewers: the state went for Woodrow Wilson in 1912, but it was a squeaker: Wilson got 39.48% of the vote, Taft got 37.43%, while 20.23% went for Teddy.]

    I'm a diehard Blue Bloods watcher, but I wince every time I see Teddy Roosevelt's portrait in Tom Selleck's office. Although both Selleck and Roosevelt had impressive mustaches, so I get the appeal.