URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson welcomes the latest entry to the presidential campaign: One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders.

    The feature of nationalism that Trump and Sanders — and, to a considerable degree, figures such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are rehabilitating is, in part, corporatism, a word that all of them certainly would abjure and that none of them quite understands. Contemporary progressives use the word corporatism to describe a situation in which the notionally democratic character of government is subverted by private business interests, but in reality it means something closer to the opposite: the subordination of private business interests to the “national interest,” something formally short of the Marxist-Leninist model of outright appropriation of the means of production but functionally similar to it.

    Mussolini was, for all his absurd macho-man peacocking and bluster, a practitioner of what American progressives sometimes call “stakeholder” economics and politics. The corporazioni of fascist Italy were intended to coordinate the efforts of business owners, labor, government, and other interest groups in the service of a unified national agenda. Senator Warren, in particular, frequently speaks of the social role of American businesses in explicitly corporatist terms, but the far-left American intellectuals who dream of “workers’ councils” and grand industrial projects directed by the central government are practitioners of classical corporatism, whether they understand the fact or do not. The so-called Green New Deal is a textbook corporatist boondoggle.

    Senator Sanders may call himself a socialist, but then, so did Mussolini, for a long time.

    Where are the non-fascist candidates?

  • Jonah Goldberg's column notes that Trump’s national emergency declaration is an act of weakness.

    President Trump declared an emergency in part to conceal his weakness. The bipartisan deal to provide even less funding for border security than what was offered to the White House before the shutdown was an unadulterated defeat for the president. If Trump hadn’t declared a national emergency the same day he signed the legislation, all of the headlines would reflect that. It was an effective way of changing the subject.

    It’s also grotesque.

    Jonah goes on to point out that border security is a civilian function of government, and is crime control. Invoking a military response is… well, grotesque.

  • Andrew G. Biggs looks at the latest effort to make things worse: Expanding Social Security for the rich (huh?).

    Consider two groups of Americans: one group’s incomes have risen by 4 percent above inflation over the past two decades, according to Federal Reserve data; the second group’s incomes rose by 84 percent. So what’s the proposal from over 200 House Democrats? To raise taxes on the first group to pay higher benefits to the second.

    Those two groups are working-age households and retirees, and over 80 percent of House Democrats have co-sponsored legislation – the Social Security 2100 Act – that would do precisely as described: raise taxes on working-age households who have seen only skimpy income growth in order to “expand” Social Security benefits for retirees whose incomes have risen rapidly.

    Click through for the dreadful details: boosting the top marginal rates for high-income earners by 14.8 percentage points, but also boosting the payroll tax rate by nearly one-fifth for everyone.

    And (of course), both New Hampshire congresscritters have signed on as co-sponsors. I've penned my first, futile, e-mail to my rep, Chris Pappas, urging him to withdraw. Because I'm an idiot.

  • Veronique de Rugy asks the provocative question: Is Your Car a Threat to National Security?.

    If you drive an imported car, as I do, your vehicle may soon be declared a national security risk by the Department of Commerce. If you drive an American-assembled car, your car may also pose a threat to U.S. national security because it inevitably contains some foreign parts — which Commerce could include in its list of threats to national security. If President Donald Trump acts on this finding, it'll be bad news for automakers and even worse news for consumers.

    Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president unilateral authority to impose tariffs or quotas on imports that "threaten to impair" U.S. national security. In a still-undisclosed-to-the-public report sent to the administration on Sunday, many suspect that Commerce contends imported foreign cars and parts represent just such a threat. If that's the case, it would give the president power to impose restrictions on them, such as a 25 percent tariff. He has up to 90 days to announce his decision and another 180 days to negotiate remedies with trade partners.

    I can only hope that Trump doesn't call in a drone strike on my Impreza.

  • James Lileks' Bleat is a regular (Mon-Fri) stop for me. And yesterday brought us "The Wednesday Review of Modern Thought":

    GOD I HATE SO MUCH these movies and TV shows about tormented young waify women with super-ultra powers who are grim and determined and have issues but are incredibly special. I had to lie in public about enjoying the second season of Stranger Things, because it was totally awesome that what’s-er-name, Seven? Eleven? had ultra powers that made her capable of defeating Big Tentacled Evil by holding out her hands and assuming the expression of a 12-year-old who just found out the local 21 Forever was closing its doors. Amazon is full of ads for Hanna, which is about some super-ultra kid with powers. Yes, yes, no - I am not the target market. Wish-fufillment, teen fantasy, empowerment, all that. Got it. But the end lesson seems to be that violence is cool if girls do it, because girls are better than boys.

    Yes, it's a thing. Also analyzed, mercilessly, is the new animated version of original Star Wars, in which Leia is "defined by one thing: ANGERY ANGER."

    Is there nothing the SJWs can't ruin?

Last Modified 2019-10-16 10:00 AM EST

Secondhand Souls

[Amazon Link]

Chronology: This Christopher Moore book is a sequel to A Dirty Job which I read back in the summer of 2016.

Which is kind of a problem for me, sorry. There are quite a few characters, survivors from A Dirty Job, they pretty much pick things up from where they left off, and I'm supposed to remember who everyone is, their backstories, their situations?

Worse, it's set in a Christopher Moore universe, with a lot of supernatural goings-on involving death, souls, and various deities, mostly malign. This universe took an entire book to build, and I'm supposed to remember important details about that, too?

Well, I muddled through. Christopher Moore remains a profanely hilarious writer. But it wasn't as much fun as the first book. I recommend you read them closer together than 18 months.

Charlie, the hero from the past book, died at the end. But fortunately his soul was preserved in a small monster made of animal parts and deli meat. Which is good, because he's needed to fight a resurgent Force of Evil, a reincarnated ancient god who's planning on (um, somehow) using the ghosts of San Francisco's departed to establish his rule over the Earth. (Where's Jehovah when you need him, anyway? I can't help but think He'd make short work of this upstart.)

Charlie's seven-year-old daughter, Sophie is an issue as well. The Bad Guy has designs on her, the hellhounds that protected her in the previous book are seemingly AWOL, and her cute (albeit murderous) supernatural powers may be AWOL too. (She's still pretty foulmouthed for a seven-year-old, though.)

So circumstances dictate that Charlie's soul be incarnated into a new human body. Fortunately, there's a candidate, Mike, who's one of the perpetual painters of the Golden Gate Bridge. And Mike's become enraptured with one of the ghosts who's haunting the bridge, so…

Kind of a hoot, as expected with Moore. But, as noted, kind of a slog, too. It's not him, it's me.