URLs du Jour


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  • Asking the important questions. That's Ann Althouse's job today: Where is Jake Tapper's bullshit detector? At issue is this tweet:

    And Tapper's BS-susceptibility was in his "like". OK, fine. Ann:

    It's one thing to have to see junk like this on Facebook, where I encounter various nice people I know who unthinkingly pass along inspirational "quotes" that would cause an educated sensible person to question whether that celebrity could have said that. 

    It's quite another thing to get that kind of crap on Twitter, where I'm only following people I think might say something sharp and intelligent!

    Anyone who cares what Hemingway said ought to know he's unlikely to have said "We are all broken — that's how the light gets in." And annoyed as I am to have been spammed because Tapper "liked" that, I'd be more alarmed to learn that Hemingway actually did say that. 

    She manages to pull out a silver lining among the nonsense, as she examines the (fake) quote's provenance. If you're interested (as I am) in where profound-sounding quotes come from and how they get famous peoples' names attached to them, check it out.

  • The Not-So-Mysterious Unexpected Consequence. Illuminated by the wonderful Virginia Postrel: How Dodd-Frank Locks Out the Least Affluent Homebuyers

    About one in five U.S. homes are valued at $100,000 or less. And despite their low prices, they’ve gotten extremely hard to sell. When they move at all, these small-dollar properties tend to go for cash. Lenders increasingly won’t write mortgages for them.

    “Over the last decade, origination for mortgage loans between $10,000 and $70,000 and between $70,000 and $150,000 has dropped by 38 percent and 26 percent, respectively, while origination for loans exceeding $150,000 rose by a staggering 65 percent,” reports a new study on small-dollar mortgages from the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston-Salem State University and the Future of Land and Housing program at the New America think tank. The study is scheduled for release on Tuesday

    The culprits behind the disappearance of small-dollar mortgages are lending restrictions enacted with good intentions and warped by economic blind spots. Designed to protect borrowers and the financial system, the Dodd-Frank Act regulations passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis “increased the fixed costs and the per-loan costs of extending a mortgage,” says the study. The regulation-imposed costs made small-dollar mortgages a lousy proposition for lenders.

    Also "helping": Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Which really deserves sneer-quotes around "Protection" here, but…

  • I hope my NR subscription renewal paid for whatever he was drinking on the flight over. Kevin D. Williamson infiltrated the U.N. climate-change conference, and was on hand for a visit from a secular saint: Barack Obama Graces Glasgow

    Like almost everyone else here in Glasgow, Obama spoke about “ambition” and an “ambitious” climate program. Ambition is taken as a good in and of itself here at the commanding heights of global do-goodery, and it is easy to appreciate the attraction for the politician — ambition isn’t subject to hard-and-fast measurement, it doesn’t actually impose any actual obligations, and it doesn’t come with any meaningful deliverables. Obama still believes in “ambition” even as he noted, rightly, that a lot of “ambitious” promises were solemnly exchanged at an earlier COP in Paris, with basically nobody making good on those stated ambitions.

    He might as well have said: “Go forth and sin no more.”

    And there is no better example of the hollowness of such “ambition” than Barack Obama himself. He signed on to the Paris agreement but did not have the ambition — or, in spite of his considerable political skill, the juice — to actually commit the United States to it by means of a Senate-ratified treaty. Of course, in order to be ratified by the Senate, any climate treaty would have had to have been a good deal less ambitious than the Paris agreement — and so we got an unratified commitment to the more ambitious deal instead of a ratified commitment to a less ambitious deal, which, of course, went right out the window as soon as there was a change in administration. All that unilateral executive-action stuff that seems so sexy in the moment gets changed with the drapes every time there’s a new president.

    As long as we looked at a bogus Hemingway quote, my headline above reminds me of a quote Abe Lincoln might have actually said when some bluenoses griped to him about General U. S. Grant's affinity for booze, something like: "I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.”

    So: Find out what KDW drinks, and send it to all writers at National Review, Reason, …

  • Sadly, he didn't mention the potato famine. Also on the Obama watch is young Jack Butler, who noticed Obama's Latest Blunder in his speech (transcript)

    Since we’re in the Emerald Isles here, let me quote the bard, William Shakespeare, “What wound,” he writes, “did ever heal but by degrees.”

    Observes Jack (revealing his knowledge of basic literature, history, and geography, as well as SF geekery):

    “The Emerald Isle” (singular) refers to Ireland, not to Scotland. And at any rate, the Bard was from neither place.

    This mix-up reminds me of two classics from the Obama years. First, his reference to a “Jedi mind meld” (inadvertently combining the telepathic suggestive powers of a ‘Jedi mind trick’ from Star Wars with the consciousness sharing ‘mind meld’ by Vulcans in Star Trek). And second, his failed attempt to refer to the Falklands Islands by their Spanish name, the Malvinas. This would have been a controversial designation to Brits, who just a few decades ago fought a war over their overseas possession off the Atlantic coast in South America. But Obama instead referenced the “Maldives,” which are thousands of miles away in the Pacific.

    Ackshually, the Maldives are in the Indian Ocean, even further from the Falklands. Not generally considered to be emerald isles, either.

  • And a reminder from Reason's Ronald Bailey (also in Glasgow): Free Markets Are the Best and Fastest Way to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Sample:

    Markets are already playing a clear role in cleaning up the environment. And, generally speaking, the more free market a country is, the cleaner its environment is. A freer market also means that a country's carbon emissions are already falling. C3 Solutions' Director of Public Policy Nick Loris made this clear in his report, "Free Economies are Clean Economies."

    Loris used data from the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom that ranks 180 countries on a 100-point scale evaluating measures such as how well they protect property rights, government size, regulatory efficiency, and openness of their markets. Based on these calculations, the Index labels countries as repressed, mostly unfree, moderately free, mostly free, and free. Loris then compared these economic freedom rankings with Yale University's Environmental Performance Index, which ranks 180 countries on a 100-point scale, judging their performance with respect to air and water pollution, biodiversity, agriculture, and climate change.

    Loris found that the correlation between economic freedom and cleaner natural environments is robust.

    … which is unsurprising.