URLs du Jour

2021-08-30

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  • You f'd up. You trusted me. Charles C. W. Cooke notes the emerging consensus. Right on Cue, the President's Mistakes Are Our Fault Again.

    You can tell a Democrat is president, because we’re starting to see pieces blaming “us” for his mistakes. In The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago, Tom Nichols wrote that “Afghanistan Is Your Fault.” “American citizens,” Nichols suggested, “will separate into their usual camps and identify all of the obvious causes and culprits except for one: themselves.” Today, Max Boot makes the same argument in the Post. “Who’s to blame for the deaths of 13 service members in Kabul?” he asks. Answer: “We all are.”

    This is of a piece with the tendency of journalists and historians to start muttering about how the presidency is “too big for one man” when the bad president in question is a Democrat. Under these terms, Republicans just aren’t up to the job, while Democrats are the victims of design or modernity or of the public being feckless. Last year, coronavirus was Trump’s fault. Now, it’s the fault of Republican governors and the unvaccinated (well, only some of the unvaccinated).

    And for that matter, who killed the Kennedys? After all, it was you and me.

    But for more on that general topic…


  • Prague, you say? Sounds legit. Fellow Granite State blogger Tom Bowler provides a quote at Libertarian Leanings that's pretty much on the nose:

    The danger to America is not Joe Biden, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of a Biden presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Biden, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Biden who is after all merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.

    I'm much in agreement. Except for sacred-cow slayers like H. L. Mencken, the voters tend to escape responsibility.

    Probably unlike Tom, I'd extend this to Trump too. And, well, as it turns out…

    It's claimed this "extraordinarily accurate analysis" comes from "a Prague newspaper", now translated into English. Approximately three seconds of Googling finds this from Reuters in December 2020. Fact check: Fake ‘Prague newspaper’ article repurposed to attack Biden supporters.

    I'd say it's more insult than attack, but:

    Users on social media are sharing a text, allegedly an extract of an editorial piece by a Czech newspaper translated into English, which claims the United States is endangered by the people who have elected Joe Biden as president. Reuters found no evidence to support this translation comes from an actual article. Virtually the same text has been circulating since at least 2010, targeting Barack Obama.

    Examples are visible here , and here , here , here .

    [Their third link isn't working for me.]

    So despite the underlying truth, the source is bogus. I have to wonder why the originator thought that attributing it to a "Prague newspaper" would lend it more credibility. Are Czechs supposed to have superior political wisdom?

    At least they didn't claim it came from Abe Lincoln.

    But for yet another mutation, here's a twitter thread from February. Key element:

    Those darn Czechs say that about all the liberals.


  • That Big L makes a difference. New Hampshire Business Review looks at ‘Liberty Republicans’ and an evolving GOP. And, as befitting a modern journalistic site, I came away from the article knowing less than I did going in.

    In a taped interview in June, Gov. Chris Sununu addressed what he called at the time “squabbles” within the New Hampshire Republican Party arising from the growing presence of libertarians within the caucus in the New Hampshire House.

    “The Libertarians are not Republicans,” Sununu said flatly. “They have their own party, their own place. Libertarians are not Republicans. Okay? I know a lot of them like to sign up as Republicans and pass themselves off as Republicans,” he continued. “But, they’re not. Not even remotely.”

    Call them what he will, they are the very same lawmakers who control the House Republican caucus and played a strong hand in the state budget Sununu has called “transformational,” “historic” and “a win for every citizen and family in this state.”

    In modern parlance, a big-L Libertarian is a member of the Libertarian Party. Whoever transcribed the Guv's interview apparently thought he should capitalize, but was that a mistake?

    Guv, there's no purity test for being a Republican. If you register that way, you are a Republican. Maybe "in name only", but that's the only thing that matters.

    And in these days when the New Hampshire Libertarian Party is a raging dumpster fire, more and more people will be changing to "Liberty Republicans".



Last Modified 2021-08-31 5:22 AM EDT

The Distant Dead

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This finishes up another mini-project: read all the 2021 Edgar Award "Best Novel" nominees. Overall, a pretty decent group.

This one is dark and gritty, but it starts out with an unexpected scene, set "long ago": a young Native American lad crawls into a remote cave and has an unfortunate accident. We'll see him again near the end…

In the present day, we're in one of the least glamorous places in Nevada: a stretch of desolation just off I-80 between Lovelock and Winnemucca. A horrific murder occurs; the victim is Adam Merkel, a grade-school math teacher bound and immolated in a remote acacia grove. The body is reported by young Sal Prentiss, who's pretty shaken up. But (as it turns out) he knows a lot more than he's telling.

The story jumps around a lot, both in time (before and after the teacher's death) and between characters. (Third-person limited omniscient, according to the Masterclass folks.) There's Sal: an imaginative and quiet kid living "off the grid" with his uncles after his mom died. There's Jake, a volunteer firefighter to whom Sal reports the body. And Nora, another teacher who is compelled to turn amateur detective in trying to figure out what happened.

As the novel develops, we get a lot of revealed dysfunctional details, many sordid. A lot of guilt and resentment, built up over years. Infidelity, jealousy, revenge, fantasy, anthropology. And (whoa) lots of substance abuse, some alcohol, but mostly OxyContin and heroin. (A lot of sad people in physical/psychological pain in this stretch of Nevada.) Especially stricken is Adam, the victim, who is shown to be a truly tragic figure; he can be lyrical in his explanations of math and science. And yet tormented by his past and inner demons.

And, oh yeah, a diligent effort to prove the Riemann hypothesis. Didn't see that coming either.

The Law of Innocence

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Kind of a milestone: I've been playing catchup with Michael Connelly books for at least twenty years. (I think; I started this project before I was diligent about logging my book-reading.) And this one is his most recent, the next one not coming out until November. So I'm caught up, yay!

The protagonist/narrator is Mickey Haller, ace defense lawyer. And he's in trouble from the get-go. He's pulled over by a cop one night for a missing license plate. When the cop notices apparently bodily fluids dripping from the car's trunk, the lid is popped, and, hey, it's a murder victim. And Mickey quickly gets sent to the slammer to await trial.

It's a frame-up, of course. But it's a very elaborate one. The victim is one of Mickey's old clients, a scam artist who didn't pay his legal fees. And physical evidence indicates that the murder occurred in Mickey's own garage.

It looks grim, but Mickey is fortunate to have Harry Bosch on his side. (Harry's just a supporting character here, but it's good to see him.) He pulls out an obscure clue, overlooked by police detectives in their rush to sew up their case against Mickey. Eventually, the outline of the conspiracy against Mickey gets revealed.

A very decent page-turner (or, since I read the Kindle version mostly on an iPad, screen-swiper). Connelly is as good at lawyer procedurals as he is with police procedurals. It's set amidst the beginning of the Covid pandemic, which forms a backdrop to Mickey's efforts to prove his innocence. And that's the deal: with his normal clients, he's satisfied with a "not guilty" verdict. But his goal here is total exoneration, a higher bar to clear, dictating his strategy at a number of points.