One Good Turn

[Amazon Link]

This is the second entry in Kate Atkinson's series about sorta-detective Jackson Brodie. For some reason, I liked it better than the first one. There's still plenty of sordid and violent behavior. The characters are a miserable bunch, saddled with guilt, depression, and an number of dead parents, children, spouses, and siblings. Jackson's probably the most likeable of the lot, but even he's kind of a Sad Sack, unhappy even with the small fortune and the girlfriend he (spoiler coming up!) acquired in the previous book.

But he's off to Edinburgh with that actress girlfriend, who's appearing in a local play. And he's one of the bystanding witnesses to an inexplicable display of road rage; the would-be victim is saved by the intervention of a meek author. Whose ouevre is solely pseudonymous cozy mysteries set in the 1930s. Also involved in the (at first seemingly unrelated) plot threads: the wife of a corrupt homebuilder who's had a heart attack while under the ministrations of a Russian hooker; the lady cop who's charged with investigating the various crimes involved, but her son and his buddy have come into possession of … oh, well, that's enough.

Even among all the darkness, there's a considerable amount of hilarity. Ms. Atkinson is fond of providing the stream-of-consciousness for her multiple characters, and they're fond of making acerbic comments on their various plights. ("Squirrels are eating my house," the lady cop observes to Jackson.)

Last Modified 2022-10-01 9:33 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2020-03-01 Update

[Amazon Link]

Welcome to March! Our phony campaign loses another candidate today, with Mayor Pete's hopes of being President Pete (again) plunging below our 2% threshold.

But President Biden suddenly looks significantly more attractive to the oddsmakers, his win-probability bouncing up by over 8 percentage points. Still well behind Bernie and Trump, though.

Bloomberg is still alive after losing nearly 4 percentage points, but he's obviously having some difficulty explaining to people why his manifest personality flaws are more excusable than Bernie's or Joe's.

In terms of phoniness, however, it's really come to a two-person race:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 56.5% -2.0% 7,370,000 +5,440,000
Bernie Sanders 22.7% -1.0% 6,090,000 +5,589,000
Joe Biden 11.1% +8.1% 403,000 -72,000
Michael Bloomberg 4.8% -3.8% 100,000 -18,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

Diversity watch on our current slate: 100% white, 100% male, 100% septuagenarian. But (hey) 25% Protestant, 25% Catholic, 50% Jewish.

  • Although he's not (yet) running for President, Andrew Walz has made some phony history.

    Andrew Walz calls himself a "proven business leader" and a "passionate advocate for students." Walz, a Republican from Rhode Island, is running for Congress with the tagline, "Let's make change in Washington together," or so his Twitter account claimed.

    Earlier this month, Walz's account received a coveted blue checkmark from Twitter as part of the company's broader push to verify the authenticity of many Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates currently running for office. Twitter has framed this effort as key to helping Americans find reliable information about politicians in the leadup to the 2020 election.

    But there's just one problem: Walz does not exist. The candidate is the creation of a 17-year-old high school student from upstate New York, CNN Business has learned.

    To quote Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot: "Well, nobody's perfect."

  • Philosopher Michael Huemer attempts A Right-Wing, Populist Critique of President Trump. He contends that "most Republican voters" are immune to Trump-bashing emanating from other viewpoints.

    He also equates "most Republican voters" as "alt-right", which I consider sloppy and somewhat slanderous; I left a comment to that effect.

    But slanderous labels aside, this seems spot on:

    Mr. Trump is not Christian, nor is he helping Christianity in the long run. He is among the least pious public figures in America and is probably the first atheist President (though he will not publicly admit that). He shows no interest in such Christian virtues as humility, or charity, or chastity, or piety; he is if anything an enormous advertisement for the opposite of all those traits. His position as the nation’s leader helps to promote his combination of deeply profane attitudes, to make them seem socially acceptable and even to encourage admiration for them.

    His current putative pro-life stance is probably just a stance of convenience, as he previously called himself “pro-choice in every respect”. Most likely, he does not care about the unborn, any more than he cares about conservatism or the Republican party. But, just as he is weakening the Republican party, he is probably weakening American Christianity, through dividing Christians and turning ordinary Christians against core values that their belief system has hitherto supported.

    By the way, he also used to be a ‘liberal’ and a fan of Hilary Clinton, before he was running against her. (, He just decided to become a “Republican” so he could get power. Mr. Trump does not care about the things that sincere Republicans or Christians care about; he just says whatever he thinks is useful for manipulating other people, to get himself money and power. His business career was focused on tricking other people into giving him as much as possible of what he wants, while giving them as little as possible of what they want in return (often refusing to pay even what he agreed to pay). And that is exactly what he has done to the Republican party, and to the country.

    I've never been a Trump fan, so I'm 80% in agreement with Huemer. But he fails to consider the obvious objection to his argument: "Yeah, maybe, but [insert Democrat name here] is worse."

  • At National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty says Goodbye, Liz, You Lied & Pandered Your Way Out of Race. (Okay, Liz hasn't been in our credible-candidate list for a long time, but this is hard to resist.)

    But the Left rejected her as a phony. She wouldn’t call herself a socialist, like Bernie Sanders. Also, if you looked carefully, the plans weren’t socialist in a traditional sense. They weren’t intended to destroy the social stratification of American life, but to reinforce it. In the debate preceding the South Carolina primary, Warren said that cancelling student debt was one of the ways she would help black and Latino Americans achieve equality with their white peers. But of course, this would be the equivalent of passing reparations for the doctors, lawyers, academics, and other professionals who hold the bulk of the loan debt and who would benefit the most from seeing it disappear. Working-class kids, disproportionately black and Latin, who saved their pennies, paid their freight as they went along, and chose an affordable night school would come out the biggest sucker of all.

    She was also a phony in deeper ways. Elizabeth Warren vowed to stop taking the support of super PACs, which she opposed as part of her anti-corruption agenda. She had already tapped out her donor network in super Pacs before she stopped taking their money. Or so she thought. More recently, she reversed her position on super PACs once again and raised millions of the supposedly corrupt soft money in the days leading to Super Tuesday.

    I saw a Super PAC ad for her while watching Friday's Hawaii Five-O on a Boston station. I'm not the target audience, but I wasn't impressed with the quality.

  • Peter Kirsanow posts at the NR Corner about the most likely Democrat: Bernie Sanders, the Most Useful Idiot.

    Bernie Sanders is, to put it gently, either terminally obtuse, mentally unbalanced, or dangerously dishonest.

    That Sanders could’ve visited the Soviet Union during the Cold War and, with all of the evidence before him, come back extolling the country’s systems, programs, and infrastructure, reveals either stupidity on a galactic scale, certifiable delusion, or a willingness to perpetuate the greatest lie in modern history.

    Is there an "all of the above" option there, Peter?

  • Joe won big in South Carolina yesterday, the voters there apparently unappalled by Ed Morrisey's post earlier in the week on Joe Biden's gaffery. For example:

    Just to be clear, Joe Biden was last in the US Senate eleven years ago, and last ran for that office in 2008, beating Christine O’Donnell handily (after which he resigned to be VP). That might be just a force-of-habit mix-up, but it’s a strange one to have after nearly a year of running for president and two consecutive terms of running for vice-president. On top of that, the delivery almost sounds as though Biden’s on autopilot, using a speech he might have written in 1978 and regurgitating as though it’s the best his memory can do.

    And maybe that’s exactly what is happening.

    Also mentioned: Biden's claims (1) that he met with Deng Xiaoping, long after that despot was safely in Hell; (2) that he was arrested in South Africa for attempting to visit a jailed Nelson Mandela.

    Ah, well, at least President Biden will be entertaining for a while.

  • And Pete's gone from our standings, but Power Line gives us one last phony observation: is Mayor Pete: Plain Vanilla Obama?. Providing this video:

    How many hours did Pete practice in front of a mirror to get that down?

  • And finally a Reason shot across the Bloomberg bow from Matt Welch: Michael Bloomberg Wants Public Health Policy Based on ‘Science,’ Which Would Be a Huge Change for Michael Bloomberg. Matt's especially teed off by Bloomberg's smug debate hubris: "You should listen to the scientists and the doctors."

    Bloomberg is the country's leading advocate for banning e-cigarettes in the name of public health, despite conclusive proof that vaping is one of the best harm-reduction strategies that smokers can employ short of quitting nicotine altogether. He is also the leading advocate for gun control, in which service he tells campaign whoppers about children killed by gun violence that are just 73 percent off the mark.

    Nonetheless, credit where credit's due to the Democratic presidential candidate currently polling in third place nationally after dropping a cool half-billion on his three-month quest: The government should listen more often to scientists and doctors. Then maybe politicians wouldn't campaign on such anti-scientific, freedom-restricting claptrap.

    Letting people decide on their own what to ingest is anathema to the nannies.

Last Modified 2022-10-01 9:33 PM EDT