URLs du Jour

2020-02-18

Bizarre pic today, right? I can't figure out what's going on here. "Mr. Giant, I'll give you this big dollar sign for that even bigger mask!" "OK, little running man, it's a deal!"

  • At National Review, David Harsanyi is upset with The Roger Stone Double Standard.

    Whether Roger Stone, the loopy, self-aggrandizing political operative, deserves nine years in Supermax for obstructing an investigation into Russia–Donald Trump “collusion” is debatable. Whether the powerful men who helped create the investigation that ensnared Stone have been allowed to lie with impunity is not. They have.

    Only a few days after prosecutors melodramatically left the DOJ after Trump tweeted a defense of Stone and the DOJ subsequently revised its sentencing recommendation to be more lenient, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe was informed that he wouldn’t face charges. McCabe faced an inquiry into whether he broke the law when he denied to investigators that he had leaked information concerning a Clinton Foundation probe to the press.

    I've seen good arguments both ways on Mr. Stone. (Kevin D. Williamson is a lock-him-up guy, for example.)


  • At Spectator USA, Will Lloyd derives some loopy fun from the antics of one of the clowns in the car: Joe Biden should do town halls forever.

    While a successful politician in many ways, Joe Biden’s attempts to become president are marked by quite a severe flaw — he cannot enter a town hall without saying something stupid. What would American democracy be without Joe Biden garlanding astonished voters with insults and imprecations of every kind? God bless that man. Biden has been making a fool of himself at these events for so long now that I’m fairly sure Alexis de Tocqueville observed this phenomenon in a celebrated passage from his Democracy in America (1835):

    ‘I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers — and it was not there…in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there…in her rich mines and her vast world commerce — and it was not there…in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution — and it was not there.’

    Indeed, it was not until I went into the town halls of America and heard Joe Biden, aflame with righteousness, describe a young woman as a ‘lying, dog-faced pony soldier’ did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she allows crazy old men to talk nonsense without interruption, and if America ever ceases to allow this deluded old mariner to run for president, she will cease to be great.

    Since I have a vested interest in staying amused, I hope Joe doesn't drop out soon.


  • Deirdre McCloskey writes at Reason: Steal This Intellectual Property.

    In 1971 the yippie radical Abbie Hoffman wrote a book advocating resistance to government, capitalism, and the "Pig Nation." Steal This Book advocated shoplifting, squatting, and other methods of living off other people for free. The title and the contents made the manuscript hard to peddle. But when it finally got a publisher it sold well in bookstores, which was good for Hoffman financially. It turns out that most people want to live off other people not by stealing but by paying a fair price earned by their own labors. Hoffman remarked, "It's embarrassing when you try to overthrow the government"—and capitalism—"and you wind up on the Best Seller's List."

    I want you to steal what the lawyers self-interestedly call "intellectual property": Hoffman's book or my books or E=mc2 or the Alzheimer's drug that the Food and Drug Administration is "testing" in its usual bogus and unethical fashion. I want the Chinese to steal "our" intellectual property, so that consumers worldwide get stuff cheaply. I want everybody to steal every idea, book, chemical formula, Stephen Foster lyric—all of it. Steal, steal, steal. You have my official economic permission.

    I'm glad Deirdre's OK with it, but I bet if I walked out of Barnes&Noble with her latest book under my arm, the gendarmes would be called. So that wouldn't be prudent. I'll be content with quoting her "liberally" here at Pun Salad. (Heh.)

    She was on C-SPAN2 last night. Mrs. Salad commented on Deidre's voice. I had to explain.


  • Mickey Kaus is Chastising Amy. Klobuchar, that is.

    In her triumphant speech after a strong third place finish in New Hampshire, new MSM darling Amy Klobuchar said this:

    America deserves a president who's gonna take on the challenges of our time: Climate change and affordable education and college, immigration reform, justice and democracy and, yes, bringing down the cost of health care

    Hmm. The rap on Klobuchar is she's smart and capable but "small bore," gubernatorial, focused on meaningful but wildly incremental victories like getting an extra day in the hospital for women after they’ve given birth (something she boasts about in her stump speech).

    Here she's hanging a lantern on her problem, and [she's right] to do so — presidents are supposed to take on “the challenges of our time."

    But look at her list:. Those are the big challenges?

    Mickey lists some other challenges he'd like to see addressed: Alienation; Meritocratic inequality; Mass migration; China; Robots.

    What about the robots, Amy?! Is Andrew Yang the only person worried about the robots?


  • At AEI, James Pethokoukis asks the question Are most Americans really living paycheck to paycheck? All the Democrats seem to think that's happening, but…

    Anyway, a more rigorous way to get at this issue of financial vulnerability is the Federal Reserve’s annual report on household well–being. The most recent one found that 39 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to scrape together the cash to meet a $400 emergency expense, while 61 percent said they would cover it with cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement. 

    Now here’s what’s weird and why you need to be careful with surveys: A footnote in the survey highlights 2016 research that found 76 percent of households had at least $400 in liquid assets, far higher than even the 60 percent with cash or its equivalent. 

    See, there’s a thing called the “credit card debt puzzle,” where some people choose to hold both high–interest credit card debt and cash that could be used to pay down that debt. And the survey itself poses the question: “Although so many incurring additional costs for a modest expense is disconcerting, it is possible that some would choose to borrow even if they had $400 available, preserving their cash as a buffer for other expenses.”

    This is the second Democrat meme-debunker from James, and I look forward to more.

Angel Eyes

[Amazon Link]

The latest Spenser novel by Ace Atkins, continuing the Robert B. Parker series. Mr. Atkins has really hit his stride, turning out content that's very comparable to the original.

Yeah, I know: this whole thing is pretty ghoulish. I'm not sure how I'd react to (say) someone resurrecting the Kinsey Millhone series that Sue Grafton didn't get around to finishing. (Z is for Zero, then looping back around with A is for Avarice, B is for Buy This Book, C is for Cupidity, …).

Anyway, this is set in Los Angeles, where wannabe Hollywood starlet Gabby Leggett has dropped out of sight. Gabby's Boston-based mom hires Spenser to find out what happened to her.

And immediately I have quibbles: What, not local boy Elvis Cole? At least Mom would have saved some travel, lodging, and dining expenses. (Spenser grows fond of eating at Gjusta in Venice, and seems fond of the $17 huevos rancheros with $7 almond butter toast on the side.)

Spenser has help from series supporting characters: Zebulon Sixkill, a comrade Spenser met in the final Parker-written novel, now an LA private eye. And also Chollo, a marginal thug. And eventually (small spoiler) Susan Silverman shows up to help out. (Let me utter a minor heresy: Mr. Atkins manages to make Susan more tolerable than Parker did.)

No Hawk this time around.

Anyway, Spenser engages his usual detecting methods: asking around, making a pest of himself, until thugs show up to shoot him, women try to seduce him, moguls try to bribe him, cops threaten to arrest him… you, know, the usual stuff. There is the usual amount of sharply-observed scenery and characters, replete with wisecracks and testosterone.

And (speaking of Elvis Cole) there's a skim-and-you'll-miss-it Joe Pike cameo. I may have missed others.