URLs du Jour

2021-04-11

[Amazon Link]

  • Just Two? Matt Taibbi reveals The Two Faces of Joe Biden.

    On April Fool’s Day, CNN ran an “analysis” of Joe Biden’s presidency:

    Will JRB take his place alongside FDR and LBJ?

    CNN explained “JRB” had just unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan “to boost ordinary working Americans rather than the wealthy,” a program that together with his $1.9 trillion Covid rescue doubles “as a bid to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.”

    The news is like high school. One day, one kid comes in wearing Dior sneakers and Nike X Ambush pants, and two days later, that’s all you see in the halls. The “Biden-as-FDR” stories raced around News High, with headlines like “With nods to FDR, JFK and LBJ, Biden goes big on infrastructure plan” (Yahoo!) and “Can Biden achieve an FDR-style presidency? A historian sees surprising parallels” (Washington Post). Even the New Yorker’s naysayingtake, “Is Biden Really the Second Coming of F.D.R. and L.B.J.?” read at first glance like an affirmation.

    Now Taibbi is a lefty, so he wishes Joe was an AOC-emulating bringer of Social Justice. But the rest of us don't need to adopt that viewpoint to shake our heads in wonder at the silly sycophancy of CNN et al.


  • Also Crumbling: His Grasp on Reality. Chris Edwards notes the herd of independent minds discoursing on Biden’s Crumbling Bridges.

    Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says America’s roads and bridges are “crumbling.” The administration’s infrastructure plan says, “After decades of disinvestment, our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling,” and it notes that 45,000 bridges are in “poor condition.”

    The Washington Post says, “President Biden aims to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing problems—from climate change to decaying water systems to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” and it claims that “the nation’s infrastructure woes … have been growing for decades.”

    Rolling Stone says Biden’s plan “promises to revitalize 20,000 miles of roads and fix 10,000 crumbling bridges.” A 2018 NBC report was titled, “More than 50,000 American bridges are falling apart,” and pointed to 54,259 bridges that are “structurally deficient.”

    Nobody wants to drive on a "crumbling bridge". Or under one, for that matter. But (as the article details) bridge quality statistics have shown improvement for decades.

    Biden will (of course) take credit for improvements that would have happened anyway.

    But bridge-uncrumbling is popular. So even though that makes up a mere sliver of his massive "infrastruture bill", it can be used as a smokescreen to hide the billions handed out for less popular items.


  • I Strongly Suggest the Answer Is: Stop Using It, If You're So Damned Concerned. Bari Weiss wonders: What Should Be Done to Curb Big Tech?. And, good news, her article is more nuanced than its question-begging headline implies. Good point here:

    So why is so much of the writing about tech so confusing? One of the reasons it confuses, I think, is that the loudest “progressive” and “conservative” arguments are the opposite of what you’d imagine.

    Progressives are supposed to be against corporate power. And yet on this subject, they are the ones pushing for more of it. They are enraged that these companies don’t crack down harder on “disinformation,” arguing that the Zuckerbergs and Dorseys of the world put profit above principle when they allow groups like QAnon to run wild on their platforms. Sure, President Trump was banned, but only after he lost the election. Why didn’t it happen earlier? Private companies are not hamstrung by the First Amendment, so why do they hesitate to ban dangerous people whose online words lead to real-world violence?

    Conservatives are supposed to be for small government and allergic to sweeping intervention. And yet some of the country’s most prominent Republicans find themselves arguing against free enterprise. The crux of their argument, pushed most passionately by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, goes like this: The law is handing Big Tech companies a ridiculous and unfair advantage. Section 230 grants companies like Twitter protection from the kind of legal liability that makes a traditional publisher, like a newspaper, vulnerable. Why should tech companies have that privilege, given that they obviously make editorial decisions? Fairness would begin with a repeal of Section 230.

    I'm knee-jerk libertarian on the issue: there's nothing wrong with Big Tech that government-imposed "solutions" won't make worse. But Bari (I call her Bari) notes some pushback on that from Richard Epstein and Clarence Thomas, who make alternate arguments without statist bias.


  • Nothing Says 'We Have Had No New Ideas Since the 1930s' Like… Jonah Goldberg writes his G-File on The Newest Deal. It's an interesting look at the programs and philosophy behind Progressive Statism. But let's go right to pungently-observed bottom line:

    Joe Biden’s trillion-here, trillion-there approach is as ad hoc as FDR’s in many ways. You look at some of the outlays in his proposals—a hundred billion for this, a hundred billion for that—and it becomes clear that the important thing is just to spend a hundred billion, or $2.4 trillion; what the money actually goes to is an afterthought.

    Similarly, his conception of “infrastructure” is very New Deal-y. “So many people said, ‘Oh, the $400 billion that are being proposed for the home care workers or the home care sector, that’s not really infrastructure,’” White House economist Cecelia Rouse argues. “Well, I beg to differ. I can’t go to work, if I don’t have someone who’s taking care of my parents or my children.”

    I can’t go to work without pants either, that doesn’t mean the government should launch a pants-buying program.

    I have problems with a lot of the people on both sides of the aisle who throw around the term “socialism” without knowing what socialism is—and isn’t. But at some point, if everything is “infrastructure”—which Biden basically defines as anything that makes your life easier—than we’re going to stumble into precisely that. It may still be “democratic,” but the range of stuff you’ll be allowed to vote for will be quite Deweyan. That was Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s hope. In 1947, he wrote in Partisan Review, “There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals.” All it would take is the empowerment of the “politician-manager-intellectual type—the New Dealer,” to make it happen.

    We’re on our way.

    I keep looking for a pony in here somewhere.


  • Gullible Virtue-Signalling Donors Also Matter. The UK Daily Mail has a provocative article: BLM founder is branded a FRAUD after buying a $1.4 million home.

    A Black Lives Matter co-founder and self-professed 'trained Marxist' has raised eyebrows by purchasing a $1.4 million Los Angeles home, in a largely white district.

    Patrisse Cullors, a 37-year-old 'artist, organizer, and freedom fighter', has bought a three bedroom, three bathroom house in Topanga Canyon, complete with a separate guest house and expansive back yard, reports

    The home is described in the real estate listing as having 'a vast great room with vaulted and beamed ceilings'.

    It's a nice house. Pictures at the link. The folks who bought swag at the Black Lives Matter Official Store ("Proceeds help fund the Movement.") should especially click over.

    I keep thinking about Patrisse's claim to be a "trained Marxist". Is there an Obedience School you can attend, you know, like my dog?