URLs du Jour

2019-07-23

[Amazon Link]

  • Our last P. J. O'Rourke selection for the month, from American Consequences, on a topic under heated discussion of late: Patriotism Versus Nationalism.

    The difference between patriotism and nationalism is the difference between the love a father has for his family and the love a Godfather has for his “family” – the Bonanno family, the Colombo family, the Gambino family, the Genovese family, the Lucchese family…

    Patriotism is a warm and personal business. Nationalism is another business entirely. It’s the kind of business Salvatore Tessio talks to Tom Hagen about after Tessio’s betrayal of Michael Corleone.

    Tessio: “Tell Mike it was just business.”

    P. J. refers to Orwell's 1945 essay Notes on Nationalism. Which outlines the distinction without reference to The Godfather:

    By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

    Neither O'Rourke nor O'Rwell buy the thesis of our Amazon Product du Jour, which uses "Argumentum ad dictionarium". Thought by many authorities to be potentially fallacious. (Also fallacious: appeal to authority, so you might want to work this out on your own.)


  • Good Lord, this reminds me of the books I used to gobble up in the 1970s: The Coming Economic Crash — And How to Stop It.

    Except that those books were mostly about how to survive it, not stop it. Anyway, alarmism sells. And the linked entry is by Elizabeth Warren, not (say) Howard Ruff.

    And what she's trying to get you to buy is not her investment advice. Instead, the only recipe for disaster is to give her and her (theoretical) government a lot more power to boss people around. E.g.:

    Monitor and reduce leveraged corporate lending: In response to the 2008 crisis, Congress created the Financial Stability Oversight Council — made up of the heads of the financial regulatory agencies — to monitor risks that cut across different markets. The risks of leveraged lending are exactly the kind of thing FSOC is supposed to monitor, but the Trump-era FSOC is falling down on the job. It should meet specifically to discuss these risks and announce a plan for addressing them. Federal regulators should also enforce leveraged lending guidance that is intended to stop banks from issuing these risky loans in the first place.

    Predictions are difficult, especially about the future, but I suspect that the most likely scenario to drive our country into the economic ditch starts with Elizabeth Warren getting elected.


  • But I've always wanted to ask prophets of economic doom to provide the following full-disclosure information:

    1. What did your investment portfolio look like five years ago?
    2. How has it performed since then?
    3. What does it look like today?

    Not too much to ask, right? I assume Senator Warren has gone all in on short positions on stocks. Or there are even mutual funds that will do that for you. For example, the Grizzly Short Fund (GRZZX). Which (as I type) is

    • down 21.62% YTD;
    • down 12.61% over the past year;
    • averages a -16.18% return over the past three years;
    • a -11.03% return over the past 5 years;
    • and a -16.79% return over the past 10 years.

    If you'd bought $10,000 worth of GRZZX 10 years ago, you'd now have a cool $1592.

    Not to say Liz is wrong. She could be right. But I want to know her track record.


  • We've been harping on Google playing footsie with the Chinese dictators, possibly offering a version of their search engine to the masses that wouldn't return anything that might embarrass the thugs in power. But, according to Taylor Millard at Hot Air, Google: Project Dragonfly is terminated. Promise..

    Lost in the kerfuffle over Houston Congressman Al Green’s failed attempt to get an impeachment vote on President Donald Trump and the “send her back” chants is a rather interesting piece of news regarding Google’s censored search engine for China.

    It’s deader than Jacob Marley.

    Google’s Karan Bhatia told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday the company was no longer working on the project using the phrase, “we have terminated that,” when asked by Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley. A Google spokesperson provided a little more context to Buzzfeed.

    Well, fine. I promise to terminate my criticism. About this one thing.


  • Inside Sources opens its pages to Mark Sanford, allegedly thinking about challenging the Donald for the GOP nomination: The Deafening Silence on Debt and Deficits in the 2020 Debate.

    A national debate is a terrible thing to waste.

    On July 30 and 31, twenty of the Democrats running for president will participate in yet another four hours of political debate. If past is prologue, not one of them will mention the massive debt that hangs over our country and its future.

    And, if things stay on script, President Trump will have something to say—or rather, tweet–about those debates, too. But none of his commentary will confront the surge in spending and debt happening on his watch.

    This is not a coincidence.

    Just think: if Sanford campaigns in New Hampshire, he could actually hike the Appalachian Trail.

    Still, I'd vote for him over Trump or Weld.


  • Because, as Daniel J. Mitchell points out, Reckless and Irresponsible: Trump Is Making Big Government Even Bigger. He quotes the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB):

    …this agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the President. It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious. If this deal passes, President Trump will have increased discretionary spending by as much as 22 percent over his first term… There was a time when Republicans insisted on a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar increase in the debt limit. It’s hard to believe they are now considering the opposite – attaching $2 trillion of spending increases to a similar-sized debt limit hike.

    But don't worry, Dan. There's nothing Trump can do that Democrats can't do worse.


Last Modified 2019-07-24 5:32 AM EST