URLs du Jour

2020-03-10

  • At NR, Jim Geraghty makes a lot of sense: U.S. Coronavirus Spread: We Should Prepare for a Disruption. But I'll just share the bit that made me chuckle:

    No matter our politics, no matter our race, creed, or color, it is at moments such as this that everything that divides us falls away, and we realize what unites every last one of us as human beings: None of us can stop touching our face.

    Pun Salad Fact Check: True.


  • Also making even-handed sense is the Dispatch's Andrew Egger, who wonders: On Coronavirus, Can Trump Tell Us What We Need to Hear?

    It’s not hard to see why things like the coronavirus tanking U.S. markets get under Trump’s skin: He’s obsessed with keeping up appearances, and he bristles at being blamed for things he considers outside his own control. It’s the same outlook that was on display in a strange comment about a quarantined cruise ship he made during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, saying he’d prefer infected passengers stay aboard because “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

    I'm not a fan of the view that POTUS must play Reassuring Daddy to the nation. But (on the other hand) wouldn't you think that just this once Trump could turn off his "It's All About Me" default attitude?


  • We found Brian Riedl at the Daily Beast yesterday, today he's at the Dispatch, with the same theme. The Math Doesn't Work: Utopian Progressive Tax Plans Don't Add Up.

    Democratic presidential candidates have spent the primary season promising the largest non-war spending spree in American history. Sen. Bernie Sanders has promised a staggering $97 trillion over the next decade. Before she dropped out last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren had proposed approximately $50 trillion. Former Vice President Joe Biden has looked like Barry Goldwater by comparison, promising “only” $6 trillion in new spending above the current $60 trillion baseline level. All of these candidates are far to the left of President Obama, who regularly proposed about $2 trillion in new spending over the next decade.

    Let me offer an idea that may sound crazy in Washington, D.C. Before doubling government spending, why don’t we pay for our current commitments first?

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that annual budget deficits will surpass $1 trillion this year, and approach $2 trillion within a decade. Even if the presidential candidates actually paid for all their spending hikes—which is nearly impossible—it would still leave $13 trillion in underlying budget deficits over the next decade, and a national debt roughly the size of the entire economy. 

    Not only would it be nice if we paid for current commitments (or, even better, scale back the "commitments" to some saner level); it would also be nice if government got a lot better at meeting those commitments responsibly and competently. Before they even try taking on all that new stuff.


  • Speaking of handling commitments responsibly: At Reason, Peter Suderman notes something of you might not have heard: Congress Quietly Repeals More of Obamacare. But not in a good way.

    At the end of 2019, Congress repealed three significant tax components of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Each of them had been included in the initial legislation to raise the revenue required to pay for the new spending the law called for.

    The biggest of the three was the so-called Cadillac tax, which was expected to raise about $197 billion over the next decade. Congress also nixed the law's health insurance tax, projected to raise $150 billion over 10 years, and the medical device tax, projected to raise $25.5 billion. All three taxes were eliminated as part of a $1.4 trillion year-end budget bill that President Donald Trump signed at the last possible minute in order to keep the government open.

    Moral: it's safe to disbelieve any politician's claim about funding an expensive program. The spending is popular, paying for it less so.

Spenser Confidential

[0.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This Netflix streaming dreck is a "real movie" with an MPAA rating (R) and everything, so I'm counting it as a watched movie.

Reader, if you're thinking about watching this because you've maybe read some of the Spenser books, or maybe you liked the old TV show with Robert Urich? Eh, don't bother. I've read all the Spenser novels, even after Ace Atkins took over writing duties after Robert B. Parker died. Other than three characters in this movie having the same names as the book characters (Spenser, Hawk, Henry Cimoli), and being filmed in the Boston area, that's the extent of the resemblance.

Oh, I forgot: there's also Pearl the Wonder Dog, but she's is transformed into some sort of droopy-eared beagle.

No Susan, she's apparently too classy and smart; instead we have Cissy, a foulmouthed ditz played by Iliza Shlesinger.

The movie is allegedly based on Wonderland, a post-Parker novel, but … yeah, that's bogus too. (Our image is the retitled paperback.) The moviemakers seem to have felt that the novel's plot was too cerebral and short of action set-pieces. Instead, we have a lot of choreographed fistfights, one sleazy sex scene, and a bad guy mastermind I figured out in his first scene.

Here, Spenser is an ex-cop, and also an ex-con, due to his pummelling of a cop he suspects is dirty. Years later, he gets out, and has dreams of becoming a semi driver, and moving to Arizona. But that whole dirty cop thing is still going, and the cop he beat up years back is brutally murdered. So he's dragged back into it.

In other disquieting news, Colleen Camp is … well, way different now than she was back in the 70s-80s. Sigh.