URLs du Jour

2019-05-22

[Amazon Link]

  • P. J. O'Rourke, writing in the WaPo, has a modest proposal: It’s time to make rich people uncomfortable again.

    Lately there has been a lot of anger and indignation about income inequality. Some blame this on . . . income inequality. I blame it on rich people in T-shirts.

    I won’t mention Mark Zuckerberg by name. But, honestly, young man, you’re almost 35 years old, worth $72 billion, and you’re wearing your underwear in public.

    Peej is always worth reading. But the subtext… The article features an illustration with Zuck, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Richard Branson,… and Jeff Bezos. Who (you probably don't need to be reminded) owns the WaPo.

    Even better, or worse, depending on your attitudes: Peej also complains:

    Rich people are also having fun — launching their own rocket ships, sending lewd selfies, buying private islands (Manhattan, for example). Having fun was something rich people didn’t used to do, at least not as far as we poor people could tell.

    And (as you also probably don't need to be reminded) two of those three examples are Bezos-relevant.

    I'm not sure what to make of that. I would expect Peej to take shots at Bezos. But I can't help but wonder what the fate of the relevant WaPo editors will be in the near future.


  • Guaranteed to make lefty heads explode is a New Republic article by Win McCormack, Socialism in No Country.

    There is now an organization in the United States called the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA)—the youth wing of the older DSA. Unfortunately, no self-identified socialist regime in the world—all of which have been installed by professional revolutionists in the Marxist-Leninist tradition—has ever been the least bit democratic. No democratically elected legislative body has ever voted to take control of their nation’s “means of production,” except to the most modest extent. Jacobin magazine, which could reasonably serve as the house organ of the YDSA, points to Salvador Allende’s brief presidency of Chile as an example of a situation in which true socialism might have been democratically installed, had it not been for America’s intervention.

    There’s good reason to be skeptical of that claim. Allende, elected to his nation’s presidency in 1970 with 36.3 percent of the vote, was ousted in a bloody coup by right-wing forces three years later. Thirty years on, Chilean socialists would argue that Allende’s basic error was in disregarding “the law of the three-thirds,” meaning the almost even division between left, right, and center in Chilean politics. Allende represented a Popular Unity coalition, in which his principal partner was the Chilean Communist Party. While Allende seems to have been sincere in his commitment to build a “democratic, pluralistic, and libertarian” model of socialism (whatever he imagined that meant), Chile’s hard-line Communist Party was not so committed. Its leaders pressured Allende to move ahead ever faster with a radical socialist agenda, alarming not only Chilean rightists and many centrists as well, but also Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, an informal adviser to Allende. In conversation with the Chilean foreign minister, Zhou said tersely, “You’re going too fast,” and implied doubt about whether it would be possible to create socialism in a country with a parliament and free press (i.e., a democracy), especially at such reckless speed.

    Win McCormack is editor in chief of The New Republic. The mag is probably not going to turn into National Review, I suppose, but still.


  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum weighs in on the last honest Republican Congresscritter: Justin Amash Is Right About Impeachable Conduct.

    Justin Amash thinks Donald Trump is guilty of "impeachable conduct," and he is absolutely right. Impeachable conduct is whatever the House of Representatives decides it is, a point the president's defenders and some of his critics seem determined to obscure.

    The House impeached Bill Clinton for lying under oath about oral sex, and the conduct described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is more troubling and consequential, even if it does not amount to a crime that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. When Amash, a five-term Michigan congressman, became the first Republican legislator to make that point, the reaction revealed how determined his colleagues are to evade their responsibilities.

    I can't help but think "obstruction of justice" is what prosecutors charge you with when they can't find enough evidence to make the case for an actual crime.


  • Baseball stats geeks will love Dave Sheinin's article in the WaPo: Velocity is strangling baseball — and its grip keeps tightening.

    A flame-throwing relief pitcher enters a game — mid-inning, runners on base, tie score — sending the telecast to another commercial break, dialing back the tension in the stadium and pushing the game into its fourth hour. As he faces his first batter, two more relievers are warming up in the bullpen.

    He takes huge breaths and lengthy pauses between pitches, as he gears up for each neck-straining, 100-mph heater or sharp-breaking slider. The hitter, fully aware he has little chance of making contact, likewise gears up to swing for the fences, just in case he does. The defense, anticipating the full-throttle hack, shifts acutely to the hitter’s pull side.

    Within this scenario are the ingredients many believe are strangling the game of baseball: long games with little action, the growing reliance on relief pitchers at the expense of starters, the all-or-nothing distillation of the essential pitcher/hitter matchup. Those are some of the problems Major League Baseball is contemplating, with newly installed and proposed rule changes. But they are merely the symptoms.

    A lot of impressive numbers and neat visualizations help Dave make his point. I'm impressed, but… I tend to take baseball as it is, not as I might wish it to be. No, it's not thrill-a-minute. But here are a couple things I've fantasized about in the past: (1) A pitch clock: throw the ball within 35 seconds of your previous pitch, or it's an automatic ball. (2) No batter-requested timeouts. If you're not ready to swing the bat when the pitch comes, it's just too darn bad. Plan your day better.


  • And finally a Babylon Bee twofer, both riffing off Robert F. Smith's promise to pay off the college loans of Morehouse College's graduating class. First up: Bernie Sanders Criticizes Billionaire For Giving Money To Students Instead Of The Needy Federal Government.

    Bernie Sanders's favorite pastime is calling out evil billionaires for their evilness. Sanders found the perfect opportunity to do this once again as billionaire Robert F. Smith announced he would be paying off the student debt of those who graduated from Morehouse College.

    Sanders pointed to the egregious waste of funds as a perfect example of what happens when billionaires are allowed to keep their money.

    Satire, but… is it, really?


  • But another presidential candidate weighed in (fictionally) as well: Elizabeth Warren Surprises Grads By Announcing She Will Sharply Increase Their Taxes To Pay For Their Student Loans.

    Speaking to the graduating class of 2019 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Senator Elizabeth Warren proudly announced she would be sharply increasing their taxes in order to pay for their own student loans, which were inflated by government subsidies in the first place.

    After an inspiring speech in which she encouraged students to let the government do everything for them instead of doing things themselves and to exploit any minority status they have, or even ones they don't have, Warren unveiled her generous offer.

    Snopes will no doubt rate this article "false", including the final shot: "At publishing time, Warren had told all the students to look under their seats for a free, authentic Indian headdress she had purchased at the Dollar Tree."