URLs du Jour

2019-07-05

[Amazon Link]

Hope everyone survived the 4th. Let's start out with a point/counterpoint on the pressing issue of yesterday, namely: TANKS!

  • At the Corner, Charles C. W. Cooke assures us: It’s Not About the Tanks.

    I’m not at all happy about Trump’s July 4th parade — replete with tanks, and a ticketed speech, no less! — and yet I can’t help but feel that most of its critics have got their objections the wrong way around. The problem is not that the presence of the tanks augurs an American dictatorship or that President Trump is signaling that he intends to become Chairman Mao. The problem is that events such as this one are the logical outgrowth of an executive branch that has become overbearing and imperial, in structure and in style, and of a culture that cares about the White House and its occupants above all other political concerns. Or, put another way: Trump’s tanks are a symptom of a bigger problem, not its cause. The disease is simply being taken to the next stage.

    Well, of course he's right about that.


  • [Amazon Link]
    At Reason, Eric Boehm doesn't like 'em: Trump’s Militarized Fourth of July Parade Makes America Less Great.

    Nationalism, political philosopher Isaiah Berlin observed, is the "inflamed desire of the insufficiently regarded" to prove their significance.

    In his 1972 book The Crooked Timber of Humanity, Berlin wrote that nationalist fervor is a "pathological form of self-protective resistance," a victim mentality that serves as a sort of cultural coping mechanism, emerging from historical wounds or "collective humiliation."

    It follows, then, that the United States would have little reason for such displays. For nearly a century—and certainly, for the past 30 years—America has been the exact opposite of "insufficiently regarded." There's no need to remind Americans, or the rest of the world, of that fact by parading tanks through Washington, D.C.

    We've long left such vulgar displays of power to nations that feel the need to compensate for lacking what Americans enjoy—places like North Korea and the former Soviet Union. Or those that suffer from a pathological sense of victimhood and national inadequacy, like France. Instead, Americans celebrate the Fourth of July joyously with food and recreation. We don't wallow in our ability to destroy, or the fear that we could be destroyed.

    Yeah, I get that too. There's been a spirited debate about "nationalism" among some folks on Our Side for the past few months. It's one of those slippery terms that may be less than useful in the current climate. People wind up saying, essentially, that they're in favor of "nationalism" that's good. And against "nationalism" that's bad.


  • Philip Greenspun comments on the unexpected report: Boeing hires software engineers for $9/hour.

    “Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers” (Bloomberg) seems to be getting folks’ attention regarding the aviation safety angle. I think the career planning angle is much more interesting. The other day, I met a bright young high school student who said that he was considering a career in software engineering. He used the term “STEM” about 15 times. Presumably he is being pushed in this direction by well-meaning adults, including our politicians (nothing helps turn a person into a cheerleader for STEM more than a complete absence of any engineering background and a college transcript that is devoid of a single science class).

    Programming/software development/software engineering tends to be a brief career, almost certain to end when the former coder is in his or her 50s (usually much quicker because people don’t love this job).

    Now we learn that one of America’s most demanding employers is able to find programmers to work for $9/hour. Why would a young American want to slug it out against that kind of competition?

    A few months ago, advising people to "learn to code" could get you kicked off Twitter. The reasons for that were unclear, but probably not because it was unacceptably poor career advice.

    And just yesterday, I filled up the Impreza at Cumberland Farms, and observed a sign offering positions paying "up to" $12/hr. With decent benefits.

    Disclaimer: I did software stuff, including coding, for most of my career. (And, yeah, for more than $9/hr.) I thought it was fun, and I still code for fun. But I understand it's not everyone's dream job.


  • Dan Mitchell brings us up to speed on The Continuing Battle against Cronyism at the Export-Import Bank. Its charter is up for renewal this year!

    There’s no chance of killing the program, but there may be an opportunity to at least curtail its power and authority.

    Negotiations on Capitol Hill have produced a compromise package between the top Democrat and top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee.

    But not everyone is a fan. The Washington Examiner opined that the deal should be rejected.

    House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has drafted a bill that would expand the Ex-Im Bank, rename it, free it from oversight, and charge it with a handful of irrelevant liberal mandates. The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., has unfortunately agreed to Waters’ bill. …Republicans should outright reject Waters’ proposal. It’s pitched as a compromise, but the Senate GOP has no reason to compromise. Either fix Waters’ bill or let the Ex-Im Bank’s charter expire in the fall. The “reforms” in Waters’ bill are weak tea. They don’t do anything to steer the Ex-Im Bank away from being welfare for America’s largest corporations.

    So did House Republicans kill the deal, which should have been an easy decision?

    Not exactly. According to a Politico report, House Democrats stopped it.

    But not because they’re opposed to corporate welfare. They rebelled because they want a deal that’s even worse.

    Sigh. They came this close (visualize my thumb and forefinger 1 millimeter apart) to killing it.


  • And last but not least: a brilliant take from Michael Ramirez on Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross flag.

    [Colin Complains]

    That is… good.