URLs du Jour

2019-01-10

[Amazon Link]

  • I suppose we should talk about Tucker Carlson's Fox news monologue from last week, which itself was a response to Mitt Romney's Trump-trashing op-ed in the WaPo. A random excerpt:

    At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone, too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live? These are the only questions that matter.

    The answer used to be obvious. The overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. And yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.

    The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would want if they cared.

    But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.

    [Amazon Link]

    As someone who looks forward to getting the occasional Amazon box containing plastic garbage from China, I don't entirely agree.

    On the other hand: I agree that happiness is a worthy social goal. That isn't, or at least shouldn't be, a disputed fact in a country whose founding document contended that the pursuit of happiness was one of the big three inalienable rights of individuals.

    For more on that, see Charles Murray, at right.


  • So (basically) Tucker's commentary had something for everyone to either adore or despise. On balance, though, Kevin D. Williamson was negative about Tucker Carlson’s Vacuous Populism.

    Tucker Carlson says that conservatives are operating with blinders, that “the idea that families are being crushed by market forces never seems to occur to them.” Perhaps it is the case that the possibility has occurred to them, and that the proposition has been examined and found to be untrue. Carlson mocks the idea that lower prices for consumer goods — “plastic garbage from China,” in the popular banal formulation — are in the interests of Americans of more modest means; I would like to suggest, in all charity and friendship, that those Americans who are literally counting their pennies could do with hearing a good deal less about the triviality of low prices from a born-rich multimillionaire who never had to literally count pennies. If you have ever known a family who — and this is a real-life example — used to dread receiving Christmas presents because they could not afford the postage to send a thank-you note, then you know what lower prices can mean to real people.

    KDW's article is longish, and refers to other participants in the discussion at NR and elsewhere.


  • Patterico pontificates: Why This Wall Fight Now? Good Question!. Working off this tweet:

    A WaPo article is quoted claiming that Trump could have had $25 billion for the wall last year.

    You don’t hear much about that these days. One gets the sense that if Schumer offered the same deal today — $25 billion for legislative DACA — Trump would jump at it.

    Instead, Mr. Art of the Deal let the moment pass. And here we are, with Democrats in control of the House, in a far worse negotiating position.

    So he chooses to make a stand now?

    Remember when Republicans passed legislation to repeal ObamaCare when Obama was in office, he refused to pass the same legislation when Trump was in office?

    This is what Republicans do. They fake support for things. That’s what this shutdown is about. Convincing you they care, when they don’t.

    I don't disagree.


  • So the shutdown continues. At Reason, J.D. Tuccille has a good suggestion: Please, TSA Workers, Don’t Come Back. (Some are calling in with "blue flu".)

    Along those lines, it's nearly ideal that the federal sick-out has begun among TSA employees, since their agency is so astoundingly incompetent and abusive at its assigned tasks and is skilled only at angering travelers of all political persuasions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) may be more explicitly malevolent, but their fans and detractors tend to break down along ideological lines. Even the Internal Revenue Service can find boosters among whoever it is who keeps weeping over those regurgitated press releases about how hard it is to be a tax collector. But sharing vicious comments about the TSA clowns squeezing people's junk is a game we can all play while suffering in line at the airport.

    Not that there's any point to all of that groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that's because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they're certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

    Unfortunately, they probably will be back.


  • And the Babylon Bee has a good summary of the state of play: With Government Shut Down, Citizens Forced To Interfere In Their Own Lives.

    With the government shutdown in effect, life has felt incomplete for many Americans. “Everything is just too easy—it’s boring,” said restaurant owner Gloria Morgan, “and I realized it’s because we’re missing an essential challenge in life: soulless bureaucrats posing arbitrary rules on us.”

    One of the primary functions of the government is to ignorantly muck around in the business of others, but the shutdown has hampered that. Thus citizens have been forced to try to fill that void themselves. “Today I just suddenly decided large sodas weren’t allowed,” said Morgan. “It was an annoying, pointless obstacle the whole day—it was like the government was still around.”

    Fortunately, New Hampshire legislator Judith Spang is available to fill the breach, still being paid ($400/year) to force people to behave the way she thinks they should.


  • And Cathy Young writes at Quillette on The Posthumous #MeToo-ing of J. D. Salinger, and the changing attitudes toward Durham native Joyce Maynard's (also changing) memories of their tumultuous relationship.

    Maynard, who had an ill-fated romance with Salinger in 1972 when he was 53 and she was nineteen, first told her story in the scandalous 1999 memoir, At Home in the World; it earned her both notoriety and opprobrium for invading the reclusive writer’s privacy. The book certainly painted Salinger in a mostly unflattering light—as a self-centered domineering crank, albeit capable of “sweetness and tenderness.” The 2018 essay went much further. This time, Maynard—who expressed disappointment that the #MeToo movement had not led to a re-examination of her story—depicted her experience with Salinger as not just a bad relationship but essentially a violation. She also charged that the criticism she faced twenty years ago was a grotesquely sexist backlash in defense of a famous abuser.

    I've never been able to fathom why people find Joyce Maynard interesting, but that's me. Clearly, J. D. did, for a while anyway.