URLs du Jour

2018-08-25

[Amazon Link]

  • We've been featuring verses from the Book of Proverbs (usually one, sometimes more) here since February of last year. We went through Chapters 9 through 29.

    That was fine fun, hope you enjoyed it, but (as it turns out) the remaining Proverbial chapters (1-8 and 30-31) do not contain the punchy, easy-to-digest one-liners suited to Pun Salad's respectfully snarky comments. (Even Chapter 9 was marginal.)

    So we'll call a close to our commentary on Proverbs. I don't currently have a gimmick to replace it. Maybe someday.

    Bottom line: it's better to be wise and righteous than foolish and wicked. And don't jog. Remember that.


  • Like me, Patterico had multiple disagreements with John McCain over the years, but this isn't the time to rehash that: John McCain Ending Treatment for His Terminal Cancer.

    McCain pissed me off many, many times. But he’s a far better human being than Donald Trump (I’m sorry for the absurdly faint praise, Senator) and he is owed some respect at this point in time for the good aspects of his character. Best of luck to him and his family in facing the tough times just on the horizon.

    I can't say it any better than that.

    Patterico also embeds tweet one in a long Matt Welch thread, and it's worth your attention.


  • At Reason, Bradley Smith writes on Trump’s Campaign Finance Catch-22.

    Increasingly, campaign finance laws now illustrate the classic situation where the government can always get you for something—it's just a question of what they'll get you for.

    In the Cohen case, the prosecutors hung their hat on FECA's definition of "contributions" and "expenditures" as anything spent or contributed "for the purpose of influencing any election." That's a pretty broad definition, and certainly it may have been thought that paying hush money to Trump's old memories would "influence an election." Thus, they argue, payment of the hush money was subject to limits on the size of contributions used to pay, could not include corporate funds, and had to be reported to the FEC.

    But there is another provision in the statute that prohibits a candidate from diverting campaign funds to "personal use." "Personal use," in turn, is defined as any expenditure "used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign." These may not be paid with campaign funds, even if they are intended to influence the election.

    Interesting take. Coincidentally, Bradley Smith is a longtime nemesis of John McCain.


  • Oops. DNC Announces ‘Sophisticated’ Hack Was Actually Just an Unauthorized Security Test.

    After announcing on Tuesday that it detected a ‘sophisticated’ hacking attempt on its servers, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) walked back the claim late Wednesday night once it became clear that the unauthorized activity was actually attributable to a subcontractor running a security test.

    “We, along with the partners who reported the [fake] site, now believe it was built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test on VoteBuilder,” said DNC chief security officer Bob Lord in a statement.

    As a used-to-be system administrator, I was (at least dimly) aware of the probes and attempted cracks that were mounted against UNH servers all the time. (My catchphrase: "We've never had an undetected breakin.")

    It's really hard, if not impossible, to track down the perpetrators to their physical location, let alone their identities. As this example shows, sometimes you get it wrong.


  • At Cato, Colin Grabow points to, and refutes, A Feeble Defense of the Jones Act. The defense was mounted by the recently-indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter, so that's something.

    Sample Hunter:

    The Jones Act also improves our safety and security. Rather than having unvetted foreign workers sail ships on our inland waterways, the Jones Act mitigates safety risks by ensuring that vessels are operated by U.S. mariners only.

    Grabow rebuttal:

    Pure demagoguery. Foreign mariners already operate in U.S. waters on a daily basis and present no established threat. As a 2011 GAO report noted, overwhelmingly foreign maritime crews already make millions of entries into U.S. ports each year and yet there has never been a reported terrorist attack involving one of these seafarers. What reason is there to think these same foreign mariners would suddenly become a menace if permitted to operate on inland waters?

    Furthermore, Hunter is factually wrong. Foreign mariners are already allowed to work on Jones Act vessels, with the minimum number of American crew set at 75 percent, not 100. As for safety, let’s note that it was a Jones Act ship with an American captain, the Exxon Valdez, that is responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

    Maybe in a Hunterless Congress, we might get rid of the Jones Act.


  • Writing in the New York Post, Rich Lowry has a suggestion that Trump could, but won't, take up: Trump’s best bet to survive: Come clean about the payoffs.

    The American public has a nearly boundless ability to forgive. Wayward politicians have fallen back on it throughout our history, whether it was Alexander Hamilton pouring out his guts over his sordid affair with Maria Reynolds, or John F. Kennedy admitting error in the Bay of Pigs, or Bill Clinton (after a season of extravagant and increasingly tinny denials) ’fessing up to his fling with Monica Lewinsky.

    It is in this spirit that Donald Trump should confess his affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, admit he wanted to keep them quiet for a variety of reasons (sheer embarrassment, the potential political fallout, and the emotional effect on his wife and youngest son) and apologize to the public for his deception. Then, he should say he’s directing his lawyers to approach the Federal Election Commission to negotiate a large payment for any violation of its rules.

    A continual impeachment effort after that theoretical coming-clean would look small and petulant.

    Good strategy, but it's just not in Trump's DNA.