URLs du Jour

2021-06-09

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • IRS Delenda Est. The WSJ comments on the Return of the IRS Scandal. In case you missed the news, ProPublica was the recipient of illegally leaked tax returns of the Rich and Famous.

    This still leaves the real scandal, which is that someone leaked confidential IRS information about individuals to serve a political agenda. This is the same tax agency that pursued a vendetta against conservative nonprofit groups during the Obama Administration. Remember Lois Lerner ?

    This is also the same IRS that Democrats now want to infuse with $80 billion more to chase a fanciful amount of uncollected taxes. As part of this effort, Mr. Biden wants the IRS to collect “gross inflows and outflows on all business and personal accounts from financial institutions.” Why? So the information can be leaked to ProPublica?

    The IRS says it has begun an investigation into the tax-return disclosure, and by all means send the guilty to prison. But Congress should also not trust the IRS with any more power and money than it already has.

    The point of the leak was almost certainly to drum up political support for some punitive tax scheme aimed at "exorbitant" wealth and/or unrealized capital gains.

    How many IRS people have access to the data that was leaked?

    Obviously, the answer is "too many".

    The IRS should not get another additional dime in its budget unless and until it's found the leakers, they've been sentenced to jail, and safeguards are put in place so this never happens again.


  • Let's Be Frank. Thomas Frank, that is. He's an independent mind, a left-wing populist willing to call out bullshit on his side. He writes at the Guardian: If the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is true, expect a political earthquake.

    There was a time when the Covid pandemic seemed to confirm so many of our assumptions. It cast down the people we regarded as villains. It raised up those we thought were heroes. It prospered people who could shift easily to working from home even as it problematized the lives of those Trump voters living in the old economy.

    Like all plagues, Covid often felt like the hand of God on earth, scourging the people for their sins against higher learning and visibly sorting the righteous from the unmasked wicked. “Respect science,” admonished our yard signs. And lo!, Covid came and forced us to do so, elevating our scientists to the highest seats of social authority, from where they banned assembly, commerce, and all the rest.

    We cast blame so innocently in those days. We scolded at will. We knew who was right and we shook our heads to behold those in the wrong playing in their swimming pools and on the beach. It made perfect sense to us that Donald Trump, a politician we despised, could not grasp the situation, that he suggested people inject bleach, and that he was personally responsible for more than one super-spreading event. Reality itself punished leaders like him who refused to bow to expertise. The prestige news media even figured out a way to blame the worst death tolls on a system of organized ignorance they called “populism.”

    But these days the consensus doesn’t consense quite as well as it used to. Now the media is filled with disturbing stories suggesting that Covid might have come — not from “populism” at all, but from a laboratory screw-up in Wuhan, China. You can feel the moral convulsions beginning as the question sets in: What if science itself is in some way culpable for all this?

    Yes, "consense" is an actual word. I didn't know that, but looked it up.


  • Propaganda Propagates. David Harsanyi notes the latest effort at making up history: The 1619 Project Comes for the Second Amendment.

    Left-wing academic Carol Anderson’s new book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, is all over the news. “The Second Amendment is not about guns — it’s about anti-Blackness, a new book argues,” reads a CNN headline. NPR claims that the author has uncovered the racist “roots” of the Second Amendment.

    This is wishful thinking. The Second is an attempt — much like the 1619 Project — to reimagine history in purely racial terms. The result is tendentious polemic that suffers not only from a paucity of historical evidence, but from a dishonest rendering of the facts we do know.

    After comprehensively detailing the constitutional debate over slavery and the nefariousness of that institution, Anderson takes the liberty of asserting that the Second Amendment was “not some hallowed ground but rather a bribe, paid again with Black bodies.” This is a contention that isn’t backed by a single contemporaneous quote or piece of hard evidence in the book.

    I foresee fawning reviews! And I bet… yup, the book is already on order at Portsmouth (NH) Public Library.


  • Senate Crones Gotta Crony. Eric Boehm minces no words on the latest legislative porkfest: The Senate’s Industrial Policy Bill Is a Debt-Financed Corporate Giveaway That Lobbyists Love.

    Before the end of the week, and possibly as soon as later today, the Senate will vote on a major industrial policy bill that spends $195 billion, with much of it funneled to high-tech manufacturing.

    The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is being widely framed as a bipartisan effort to stand up to China. The New York Times, for example, describes the effort as "powered by rising fears among members of both parties that the United States is losing its edge against China and other authoritarian governments that have invested heavily in developing cutting-edge technologies." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y), the lead sponsor of the 1,500-page package, ominously tells the Times that "if we don't step up our game right now, we will fall behind the rest of the world."

    "That's what this legislation is ultimately about," Schumer adds.

    But if you want to know what this legislation is really about, you have to skip down several paragraphs to where the Times notes that the bill's "popularity made it a magnet for industry lobbyists and lawmakers' pet priorities."

    Unsurprisingly, our state's Senators lined up in support:

    I chastised them both with a link to Eric's article. Because I enjoy making futile gestures on Twitter. The legislation passed the Senate last night 68-32. The only non-Republican to vote against: Bernie. (Inexplicably, one of my faves, Ben Sasse, voted Yea. What the hell, Senator?)

When She Was Good

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

This is a followup novel to Michael Robotham's Good Girl, Bad Girl, which I read earlier this year. Caveat lector: I can't imagine trying to read When She Was Good without reading Good Girl, Bad Girl first. Don't do that.

The narrative alternates between forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven and teen Evie Cormac. Both have serious psychological problems, and come by them honestly: years back, Evie was found cowering in a secret room in a house occupied by a corpse who had been tortured to death. Cyrus, for his part comes from a broken home: specifically, broken by his schizophrenic brother who slaughtered mom, dad, and sis. Yeesh!

But they have their strengths as well: Cyrus has Holmesian powers of observation and deduction; Evie has an uncanny (and useful) ability to detect lies, combined with a feral skill for survival in hostile environments.

This book is devoted to teasing out the truth of Evie's backstory, how she came to be hidden away in the secret room and who was responsible for putting her there. Unfortunately, that's complicated by the evildoers behind the (previously mentioned) torture and death. Those shadowy folks are still in play, which makes Evie's situation perilous. Without spoiling things too much: they have their tendrils everywhere, trying their murderous best to cover up their crimes.

A lot of gritty, unpleasant, sordid goings-on here. It's set in Britain, so there's also a lot of tea.


Last Modified 2021-06-21 5:30 AM EDT