URLs du Jour

2019-01-26

  • At Reason, Eric Boehm invites us to Meet the Green Reaper: The Department of Energy's Ridiculous and Terrifying Mascot. (Not pictured at right.)

    In what is basically a 30 Rock episode come to life, the federal Department of Energy designed and purchased a mascot costume to warn children about the dangers of environmental catastrophe—and to haunt their dreams, apparently.

    Thanks to a FOIA request from journalist Emma Best, the details of which were published this week at Muckrock, we now know a bit more about the history of the Green Reaper—a verdant version of the Grim Reaper that manages to combine the ominous presence of the original with the vacant eyes of a cartoon character. While the mascot seems best suited to shatter children's innocence by informing them about the inevitabilty of their own deaths, the documents show that the Green Reaper, which was designed in 2012, was intended to be used in "community outreach presentations to local elementary school children" and in internal memos reminding government workers to conserve energy and carpool when possible.

    The costume cost $5K, but that doesn't count the employee time spent in (no doubt countless) meetings and presentations. Or even having employees with enough free time on their hands to dream this up.


  • We looked yesterday at some of the jousting between Congresscritter Ocasio-Cortez and the WaPo fact checker. At Hot Air, John Sexton recapitulated and reviewed the further furor: AOC spent yesterday fighting with the Washington Post's fact-checker, today she (sort of) apologized. Bottom line:

    Bottom line: AOC jumped on a false claim about a paper cited in a fact-check critical of her. Then she doubled-down suggesting the author might be a revolving-door lobbyist. Then she finally apologized for the insinuation when pressed by someone at the Post. But she’s still claiming victory over Kessler as if none of that mattered. Once again with AOC, it seems being “morally right” is more important to her than being factually accurate. That certainly seems to play well with her admirers, including the many in the media.

    By standards previously established (Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin) she deserves merciless MSM ridicule. She will not get it; you'll have to visit the right-wing fever swamps to see it.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson speaks truth to arrogant power: Elizabeth Warren’s Tax Is Asset Forfeiture.

    (Geeknote: I usually take my link text from a page's HTML <title> element, often the same as the headline. But the current headline is punchier: "The Kulaks Must Be Liquidated as a Class")

    Revolutions do not set out to be awful. Not usually. They just end up that way. When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, many of them wanted to prohibit capital punishment, which they saw as a high-handed czarist institution. V. I. Lenin overruled them. “How can you make a revolution without executions?” he asked. The key to revolution in his mind — and in those of his revolutionary antecedents and descendants — was terror. “We shall return to terror and to economic terror,” he promised, in a revolution of “unrestricted power based on force, not law.”

    Senator Warren apparently has found her guiding spirit and has announced along with her presidential campaign a campaign of economic terror based on force, not law. Specifically, she has proposed to begin seizing a portion of the assets of some wealthy Americans, a course of action that the federal government has no constitutional power to undertake. The seizure of assets is a fundamentally different thing from the taxation of income, which itself took a constitutional amendment to implement. What Warren is proposing is essentially a federal version of the hated asset-forfeiture programs that have been so much abused by law-enforcement agencies — minus the allegation of criminal misconduct and made universal and annual.

    Dreadful as Warren's proposal is on the grounds of political morality, I'll make a practical objection too:

    Scrooge
Swimming in his Money Bin Rich people don't have a money bin, like Scrooge McDuck. Well, maybe Bezos, does. But generally they don't.

    Instead their wealth is made up of various assets, varying in risk, liquidity, and physical nature.

    So when you say Joe is "worth" $X million dollars, you're really saying that Joe could get $X million if he sold off his assets.

    So if he gets a tax bill for $(0.05X) million from Uncle Sugar, Joe will have to sell off some of those assets.

    But (here's the kicker): his assets are only worth $X million because they are perceived as a durable store of value. When subjected to the Warren expropriation, they no longer have that perception. They'll be worth a lot less.

    Put another way: assuming you're not an idiot, would you give Joe full asking price for his assets knowing that he must sell?

    Congratulations, Liz. You've successfully destroyed a whole bunch of American wealth.


  • In local news, Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy notes the latest crony capitalism effort by a Republican legislator, in league with guess who? Oscar asks for a handout.

    In the last legislative session, this newsletter warned about the dangerous precedent legislators would set if they passed a tax incentive package tailored for a specific industry, in this case a single company, Manchester’s Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI). New Hampshire doesn’t do industrial tax incentives, we warned, and if the state starts, other industries will come, hat in hand, to explain how their critically important industry deserves special tax treatment too.

    Behold, on Wednesday, before the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, presented his bill (House Bill 234) to create a film industry tax credit. To sell it, he noted that it was based on the ARMI bill. 

    “The wording is almost identical to the regenerative tissue bill,” he said.

    Yes, also appearing before the committee was Ernest Thompson, who brought along his Oscar for On Golden Pond. Glitz.

    But (fortunately) he was followed by Josiah Bartlett testimony showing (of course convincingly) that tax subsidies to the film industry are "costly and ineffective giveaways". Hope that the legislators listened more to that than the showbiz.


  • At Quillette, Clay Routledge says Thank You, APA. That's the American Psychological Association.

    Thanks to the new guidelines from the American Psychological Association (APA) for practice with men and boys, male psychology is no longer a mystery and mental health professionals are now equipped with the tools they need to combat the worst forms of it. According to the APA, boys and men are at risk of suffering from traditional masculinity which is on the whole unhealthy. Turns out, the traditional masculinity that drives many of us men to be confident, assertive, adventurous, stoic, and willing to take risks for our goals, the people we love, and sometimes even complete strangers are bad for us and society.

    Who knew?

    Biologists, philosophers, theologians, physicians, parents, and really almost all regular folk have long believed that there are meaningful and biologically-based psychological differences between males and females. Fortunately for us mere mortals, the APA is setting the record straight. It is an oppressive patriarchy, not biology, that has shaped our psychology. Gender and the masculine traits associated with being male are social constructs. The APA obviously isn’t denying that evolution is true. They aren’t some kind of silly group of religious fundamentalists. But like most educated progressives, they understand that evolution stopped at the neck.

    What's the downside of combating "traditional masculinity"? I, for one, anticipate an infestation of spiders.


  • And the Babylon Bee has the best take on the end of the Great Government Shutdown of 2019: Nation's Libertarians To Scream At Sky The Moment Government Reopens.

    After the news broke earlier today that President Trump has agreed to end the government shutdown, the nation's libertarians gathered somberly outside the Capitol Building today to scream at the sky the moment the government reopens.

    "As soon as the bill to fully restore our bloated federal government is passed into law, we will scream at the sky uncontrollably," said Henry Renaldo, a libertarian activist from New Hampshire as he held back tears. "I had hoped this was Trump's 4D chess masterstroke to keep the government shut down forever, but it seems he's a deep state operative just like the rest of them."

    Yeah, darn. As the Bee says: "At publishing time, sources had confirmed the method was just as effective as libertarians' usual political strategies."