Outrages du Jour - 2015-01-01

The "outrage" in the title is rhetorical overkill. I'm not a guy who gets outraged. Very often. In public. But:

  • Reason compiles "Five Mindbogglingly Stupid Government Tricks of 2014". They are (1) cop paramilitarization; (2) the decline of Secret Service professionalism; (3) the VHA; (4) the CDC's botched Ebola handling; (5) Social Security's effort to collect ancient mispayments. From the last one:

    In at least some cases that made the headlines in 2014, the government intercepted tax refunds to adults because, bureaucrats claimed, they benefited from Social Security overpayments made to their now-dead parents in the 1960s and 1970s.

    And yet, the faith held by the average "progressive" remains: the government is manifestly qualified to regulate ever more areas of our lives.

  • Reason's list does not include the Small Business Administration (SBA). As Veronique de Rugy admits, the SBA has a pretty good rep, because we all have the warm-n-fuzzies for the mom-and-pop corner store, the neighborhood's cozy eatery, the garage-based entrepreneur.

    Veronique notes a recent report that details where some of that cool SBA cash went:

    Amongst the $1 million SBA Wealthy Lifestyle loan recipients are exclusive Rolex and other up-scale, affluent jewelers; Lamborghini and other luxury auto dealers; aesthetic enhancement and plastic surgery clinics; helicopter tour companies, BMW motorcycle dealers; wineries- including those in Napa Valley and Sonoma, CA; lodges and resorts in Jackson Hole, Cape Cod, Palm Beach, Lake Tahoe and across America; high-end private clubs for yachting, skiing, shooting, surfing, smoking cigars, and members-only country clubs; injury lawyers; artistic dental firms; venture capital, mezzanine finance & private investment pools; specialty companies including luxury pet resorts, golf courses, marinas & more!

    Her conclusion:

    The bottom line is the Small Business Administration is not doing what it claims it does, is careless with taxpayers’ money, and is misleading the public. Let’s abolish it once and for all.

    Full agreement here!

  • And then there's the National Security Agency (NSA), who did a "Christmas Eve document dump" where, according to Kevin D. Williamson:

    […] we learn that agents of the National Security Agency, the spookiest spooks in all our vast spookocracy, are a bunch of stalkers, using the effectively boundless surveillance powers of their organization to spy on husbands and wives, overseas girlfriends, and sundry romantic partners. And that’s our government at work: While the guys who are supposed to be keeping an eye on Gordon Gekko are keeping their eyes on marathon porn sessions instead, the guys who are supposed to be putting a hurt on Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad are trying to figure out whether their girlfriends are browsing Tinder. One curious analyst targeted the numbers in her husband’s telephone directory. Another spied on his wife, who was stationed overseas.

    I part company with some of my libertarian brethren when they reflexively hate the Federal Government's anti-terrorist measures. But everything here simply screams out: the NSA is unaccountable and sloppy, and needs badly to be brought under control.

  • Ah, but it's not just outrageous government follies today at Pun Salad: Someone noticed that …

    HarperCollins has produced at atlas for use in English-speaking schools in the Middle East that features a conspicuous omission. There’s Gaza, and there’s the West Bank. Jordan and Lebanon are accounted for. But…where is Israel?

    To quote Han Solo: "It ain't there. It's been totally blown away." Perhaps an innocent mistake, or they couldn't find room for six extra letters on the map? Nope:

    Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, told The Tablet that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the amendment incorporated “local preferences”.

    Now, as I type, HarperCollins has apologized and will "destroy any remaining copies."

    But (apparently) there will be an upcoming fierce battle between Amazon and HarperCollins. I know which side I'll be cheering for.

Happy New Year, 2015

Just some beginning-of-year stuff. I have some blog resolutions:

If you're interested—and I can't think why you would be—I perled up a script to scrape through the blog and make (IMHO) attractive pages showing the movies/books I watched/read in 2014.

If you missed it: This post from March, an old-fashioned fisking of the program for the "Future Leaders Institute" at the University Near Here, might be my favorite from last year.

I'm in agreement with Kevin D. Williamson: making predictions is difficult, especially about the future. But his seems safe, and I'll concur:

So here’s the one prediction I will make: 2015 will be one of the best years in human history. And next December, we’ll all be bitching about it.

Happy New Year to all.

Last Modified 2016-07-15 6:23 AM EDT