URLs du Jour

2021-09-17

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  • Semantic change is unfortunate. But it's worth pointing out, as does Gerard Baker of the WSJ: Joe Biden’s Presidency Is Incredible—No, Really.

    Say what you will, it should be obvious by now to any fair-minded observer that Joe Biden is an incredible president. Absolutely unbelievable.

    Given what might be politely termed as recent adverse developments, this will come as a surprise to some readers, so let me clarify: I don’t mean “incredible” in the sense the word has come to be used in the modern argot of our rapidly devaluing language. Like “awesome,” which, growing up I only ever heard used in the context of the deity but which is now typically deployed to describe a slice of pizza or a haircut, “incredible” has been subject to significant linguistic distortion.

    It’s amusing to hear some journalist of impressively wide self-esteem but evidently narrower vocabulary heap praise on a story by describing it as “incredible”—though the phrase “this is some incredible reporting from CNN,” which I have occasionally seen tweeted, has a satisfactorily, if unintentionally, faultless quality to it.

    So, in a probably futile bid to return English words to their actual meaning, I should make clear that what makes Joe Biden an incredible president is that you can’t believe a word he says.

    I'm with Baker in my griping about semantic change, and "incredible" is one of the sadder cases. Back in my Usenet days, I recall moaning when someone talked about George Orwell's "incredible honesty". What a concept!

    But (as Baker notes) such griping is "probably futile", and I'd even drop the "probably".

    After all, with respect to our Amazon Product du Jour, they didn't call them "Incredibles" because they were famed for their prevarications and misstatements.

    See also: "literally". Which, thanks to people like Biden, doesn't actually mean literally any more. He loves to use it as a vague adverbial intensifier. Yesterday:

    And I’ve said many times before: I believe we’re at an inflection point in this country — one of those moments where the decisions we’re about to make can change — literally change the trajectory of our nation for years and possibly decades to come.

    Sheesh, there's another one: "inflection point" I took calculus. I wince whenever anyone misappropriates that term simply to sound as if they took calculus.

    As noted previously, there's "racism" too. Dictionary definitions seem to be color-blind, but there's a mighty struggle to make it impossible for People of Color to be racist, even if they generally despise People of Different Color.


  • He's not great on exit strategies. Talking about futile suggestions, here's Jonah Goldberg: Joe Biden Needs a COVID Exit Strategy.

    Maybe President Biden should handle COVID-19 the way he’s handled Afghanistan.

    It’s a strange thought, given how badly he botched the U.S. withdrawal. But at least Afghanistan Joe had a clear idea about what we needed to do. COVID Joe has no such exit strategy. He’s making it up as he goes.

    “I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden proclaimed on Aug. 31—and he meant it.

    However, he has no problem with a forever exit from the pandemic.

    Jonah goes on to cite Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commisioner, who thinks that Covid is here to stay, Biden's promise to "shut down the virus" was and is a pipe dream.

    So what's the end game? Unfortunately, it seems the "strategy" is simply to keep the crisis mentality hyped, the fear level up, and (by all means) get more and more people dependent on government.


  • But it's also a great excuse to expand Leviathan. Veronique de Rugy invokes a gastric metaphor: Spending Gluttony Is Washington's Deadly Sin.

    Democrats are ready to raise taxes. They want more revenue, in part to fund an out-of-this-world amount of new spending. Some simply want to soak the rich, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., plainly signaled at the Met Gala by wearing a white dress with "TAX THE RICH" scrawled across it in red paint. While the public may be more receptive to the idea because of concerns over high budget deficits, let's not be naive — many voters believe that these tax hikes won't hit them. There's so much wrong about this assumption.

    Writing for The Dispatch, the Manhattan Institute's Brian Riedl documents President Joe Biden's spending plan, which would expand federal government spending by $11 trillion over the next decade. This spending would help fund a cradle-to-grave new world in which government is omnipresent in our lives. The spending would increase family assistance by $550 billion. Another $700 billion would be wasted on counterproductive "Buy America" provisions. Expansion of the Affordable Care Act would cost another $1.4 trillion; some $2 trillion would go to a Green New Deal; K-12 schools would get more money. All of this is on top of the $6.6 trillion spent on COVID-19 relief.

    For your reference, Riedl's column (from July) is here.


  • But it is a handy excuse for getting people scared, the easier to push them around. David Harsanyi says nay: Climate Change Is Not a Crisis.

    President Joe Biden contends that the recent hurricanes that hit the United States prove we’re in a “climate crisis.”

    It’s a “code red” for the world, the president warns. White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy added that climate is now a “health emergency.”

    It is, no doubt, quite convenient for politicians to treat every hurricane, tornado, and flood as an apocalyptic sign from Gaea—and then blame political apostates for the existence of nature.

    But it’s an irrational way to think about the world, because our situation is, in most ways—including our ability to adapt to the vagaries of climate—quantifiably better than before on nearly every front.

    I can't help but quote another gem:

    Ponder this rhetorical question of a columnist at The Hill: “Could climate change finally expose China as a global outlaw?” So, it wasn’t the concentration camps that did it. Or the ethnic cleansing. Or the slave labor. Or the decades of collectivist-induced economic misery and authoritarian control. Or the state censorship. It was the Chinese government’s refusal to live by the precepts of the Paris accord.

    It's a public health crisis! Which, as we've seen, means there are no limits to state coercion done in its name.


  • They aimed at a resented minority, shot down the economy. The NR editors look at Democrats' Tax Proposal: More Revenge Than Revenue.

    You might think that raising taxes on the $400,000-and-up set would please progressives, but they are howling about this proposal. Progressivism increasingly is a tendency found in those $400,000-and-up households, and so the current demand is for a tax regime that punishes the wealthy for their wealth rather than docking the high-income for their incomes. “House Democrats’ Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed,” reads the New York Times headline, as though the purpose of taxes were to scathe the rich. The article goes on to complain that the proposal “stopped well short of changes needed to dent the vast fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk” and landed “only glancing blows at the wealthiest Americans.”

    In other words: Never mind the revenue, bring on the pain.

    Veronique de Rugy, above, noted "gluttony" as a deadly sin exemplified by Democrat-run government. But (checking the list) we could make a solid argument that Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride are wound up in there too.

    I can only make a strained argument for Lust, though.


  • We're Number … <sigh> … Six. Daniel J. Mitchell points to the New Economic Freedom Rankings. The US of A is in the sixth spot, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Georgia (the country, not the state).

    Hong Kong's high ranking is explained by the fact that the rankers used 2019 data.

    So: good news is the US might move up next year. Bad news is, it will probably be because Hong Kong will drop down to China's level (#121).


Last Modified 2021-09-18 5:15 AM EDT