URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Shikha Dalmia pinpoints the problem. Donald Trump’s Chaotic Presidency Has One Fixed Principle: Retaliation.

    In recent days, President Donald Trump has threatened the Ukraine whistleblower with the treatment meted out in "old times" to "spies," which means execution. He has suggested that Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.)—chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the scandal—should be arrested and charged with treason for unfairly characterizing Trump's comments soliciting dirt about former Vice President Joe Biden from the Ukrainian president. And he has warned that if Democrats try to remove him from office through impeachment, they will trigger another "civil war" in the country.

    This language may be spooky, but it is not surprising. Trump thrives on chaos. But the one constant in everything he does is that he will pull out all the stops to retaliate against anyone who crosses him—friend or foe, domestic or foreign. This would be a dangerous trait in a person with any degree of power, let alone the most powerful man on the planet.

    This should be no surprise, other than to the folks who expected that Trump would "grow" once in office.

  • Robert VerBruggen writes at National Review on a topic near and dear to my heart: As Senior Population Expands, Political Clout Increases & Fiscal Crisis Worsens.

    The president on Thursday unveiled the “Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors,” a plan to, among other things, expand seniors’ options within Medicare Advantage, the popular program that allows the elderly to buy private health plans in lieu of receiving traditional Medicare.

    There are several conversations we could have about this move. We could talk about the debate over Medicare Advantage itself, in which conservatives point out that it is far more cost-effective than traditional Medicare but skeptics say the savings aren’t passed through to taxpayers. Or we could talk about how this fits into the Trump administration’s broader efforts on health care, which have freed up many Americans to buy many plans that regulations previously took off the table. Or we could talk about the criticisms Trump made of the Democrats’ health-care plans, and whether those plans would really hurt seniors as he claimed, rather than holding seniors harmless and expanding benefits for everyone else.

    But instead, let’s talk about why the president, facing a major controversy you no doubt have already read about elsewhere, would head to Florida to visit “the country’s largest retirement community” (as the New York Times observed) and make a big show of how much he supported Medicare. The reason is that seniors have a hugely disproportionate sway over this country’s politics and policy, and their power will only continue to grow even as it destroys our finances.

    It's kind of fun watching people pandering to my demographic. Not just politicians, but also advertisements on "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy". (Apparently a lot of the audience has problems with COPD, AFib, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia,…)

    But if you can't afford your medication, AstraZeneca may be able to help.

  • Issues & Insights wonders: Will Capitalists Fight Elizabeth Warren, Or Sell Her The Rope?. After noting some in the business community speculating that an Elizabeth Warren presidency might not be so bad:

    There’s no mystery motivation here. People in the business of making money want to be able to play ball with whoever occupies the Oval Office. But more soldiers have saved their own lives in the face of the enemy with artillery than with wishful thinking, and business and finance shouldn’t kid themselves: Sens. Warren, Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the like are their mortal enemies.

    What they should be fearful of is not identifying and fighting the adversaries of the market, but of taking a hand in fulfilling Lenin’s prophesy that “the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

    Not to say the left in America has immediate plans to hang capitalists to death. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn, appearing on Fox News last week, said of post-Mao Beijing’s hard-line policy toward staunchly capitalist Hong Kong’s aspirations for freedom, “It’s always been more about Lenin in power than Marx in economics. They might want to get rich but they want control.”

    Some "capitalists" are perfectly OK with being milk cows for the state. I think I read about this in Atlas Shrugged.

  • [Amazon Link]
    I have Robby Soave's recent book, Panic Attack (Amazon link at right) teed up for my next Interlibrary Loan request from UNH. Arnold Kling takes a look at it too, and likes what he sees. Wrangling Radicals: Intersectionality and Campus Culture.

    I would speculate that young people are turning to intersectionality in part because a totalitarian ideology is appealing at a time of cultural stress. I believe that the cultural stress comes from the ubiquitous media environment created by cable television news, smart phones, the Internet, and social media.

    Technology has erased what used to be a boundary between personal space and public space. Your friends used to be available in person, while public figures used to be distant and usually out of view, accessed when you read a newspaper or watched the evening news on television. Now, both your friends and the President of the United States can be found on apps on your phone. The felt need to respond to both reflects emotional triggers that were never experienced by earlier generations.

    The 1930s also were a stressful time, and radio technology also coincided with strong totalitarian impulses in many societies. I hope that today’s totalitarian ideology ultimately gives way to better solutions for coping with our current media environment.

    Uh, yeah. Difficult to disagree with that.

  • And finally, the Google LFOD News Alert flashed a big red arrow pointing to this article in the Nigerian Voice by Farouk Martins Aresa: Why Africans Achieve More Outside Despite Hostile Environment.

    Most Africans that have not traveled or lived in foreign countries think once we get out, fertile enabling environment where our potentials will be appreciated and rewarded accordingly await us. In essence, that it is easier to succeed outside Africa. Please, you cannot blame us for that wrong assumption. Especially when we see our cohorts coming back to flash foreign currencies and exotic cars. If it is that easy, foreigners will not be leaving home for Africa to make a fortune.

    Indeed, outside environment is more hostile and not as enabling as postulated by those that come back with easy money and vanities. By the time those looking for a land full of milk and honey realize that they have to work their butt off, twice or three times as they would have at home; they fight back vigorously or take a flight into desperation. Rather than starve, they improvise and make ways to survive in many ways; they would not even think of doing at home.

    I confess that I'm not sure what Farouk is getting at here, but he seems earnest enough. His prose seems to have been translated automatically from Hausa into English, maybe with intermediate stops at Croatian and Icelandic.

    LFOD comes up later in the article:

    Recently though, other pictures of Nigerians on FBI list in USA, on death row in Asia and Saudi Arabia have spoken louder than voice or oral stories. Yet, it has not discouraged desperadoes from engaging in nefarious activities outside their countries. They have acquired warped or twisted mentality of bravery that a desperate man must do just about anything to survive.

    There is also the tendency of those that suffered and worked hard to disrespect lazy people and blame them for their predicament since they were sleeping while their mates were hustling and working hard. There is a state in the U.S. where "Live Free or Die" is the official motto of New Hampshire adopted in 1945. Yes, there are unfortunate and unlucky people but too many of us looking for freebies hide under them giving them a bad name.

    OK… An early New Year's Resolution: don't be looking for freebies while hiding under unfortunate and unlucky people.