URLs du Jour

2021-11-19

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • I am not a Steve Bannon fanboy. Just the opposite, in fact. I used to read Breitbart all the time, but he turned it into a Trump-worshipping rag.

    It's safe to say that National Review doesn't have a lot of love for Bannon either. But Andy McCarthy knows what the DOJ's indictment of Bannon is: Politicized Prosecution.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland waxed self-reverential after indicting Trump confidant Steve Bannon last week. “Since my first day in office,” he droned, “I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people, by word and deed, that the Department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law. Today’s charges reflect the Department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

    No, they don’t. Last Friday’s indictment of Bannon for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena is a sop to the Democrats’ Trump-deranged base.

    The criminal-contempt charges, on which Bannon surrendered on Monday, stem from a House January 6 Committee subpoena directing him to testify and produce documents. The Justice Department has rarely brought such an indictment in American history and hasn’t tried to do so in nearly 40 years. Nor has it escaped notice that DOJ has shown no interest in prosecuting government officials who, for example, misled the FISA Court on Russiagate or refused to cooperate in Congress’s probe of such Obama-era scandals as the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups and the ATF’s “gun-walking” debacle.

    It's an NRPlus article, sorry. But it's a long and interesting discussion of the legal issues swirling around the toilet bowl of the January 6 Committee's investigation media circus/show trial.


  • Consider my shit flipped. Liz Wolfe analyzes the claim by a media star: New York Times Writer Sarah Jeong Says Inflation in the News Is Just 'Rich People Flipping Their Shit'. In a tweet:

    I had to look it up, so you don't have to: "jmt" stands for "just my thoughts". Not, as I first suspected, "jejune mediocre tweet". But let's hear Liz's take:

    This is patently false for a few notable reasons: Inflation is most definitely not a manufactured media narrative, but rather a real, agreed-upon thing that is happening (though the Biden administration irresponsibly insists it's transitory). The consumer price index indicates that, from last September to this September, Americans have seen beef prices rise by 18 percent; gas prices by 42 percent; furniture prices by 11 percent; electricity prices by 5 percent; and used car prices by 24 percent. Consumer prices for October, the most recent month for which is there is data, jumped by 6.2 percent compared to what they were a year prior—the highest year-over-year jump we've seen in three decades!

    It is not ginned-up outrage spurred along by rich people either. In fact, wealthy people who have invested heavily in the stock market are, by and large, doing quite well right now, contra Jeong's claim. (Bitcoin, too, has seen extraordinary growth over the last year, but is down this week.) Homeowners, rich and less rich alike, might even stand to benefit from inflation; those who have secured low-interest fixed-rate loans from the bank are the real potential winners, given that they're insulated from landlords raising rents on them while being locked into the amount they have to pay back to the bank. Though their asset keeps rising in value, their monthly payments stay the same over time.

    Jeong's "parasitic" crack has a long and nasty (but "bipartisan") history.


  • What they don't think you should see. Slashdot features a Reuters story with alarming news: During COP26, Facebook Served Ads With Climate Falsehoods, Skepticism. Oh no!

    Facebook advertisers promoted false and misleading claims about climate change on the platform in recent weeks, just as the COP26 conference was getting under way.

    Days after Facebook's vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, touted the company's efforts to combat climate misinformation in a blog as the Glasgow summit began, conservative media network Newsmax ran an ad on Facebook (FB.O) that called man-made global warming a "hoax."

    The ad, which had multiple versions, garnered more than 200,000 views. In another, conservative commentator Candace Owens said, "apparently we're just supposed to trust our new authoritarian government" on climate science, while a U.S. libertarian think-tank ran an ad on how "modern doomsayers" had been wrongly predicting climate crises for decades.

    Sigh. I can't find anything at the Newsmax site that claims man-made global warming is a hoax, but here is a poll asking whether it is. (With perhaps a significant push toward "yes".) Fair enough. But, Reuters, could we see the problematic ad so we can judge for ourselves?

    And I can't find the original Candace Owens quote anywhere. I'd like to see it in context. I can find plenty of articles echoing the Reuters claim. Maybe you'll have better luck than I.

    But I have no problem whatsoever with a general skepticism about allegedly-authoritative pronouncements from Uncle Stupid.

    A likely candidate for the "libertarian think-tank" Reuters mentions isn't hard to find, though. I'm presuming it's the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which could be pointing to this 2019 article: Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions. Their summary:

    Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

    None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

    What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.

    More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.

    While such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines, the failures are typically not revisited.

    I can't find anything wrong with this factual article. "Modern doomsayers" have been wrongly predicting climate crises for decades.

    What Reuters is doing is firing yet another salvo in the effort to get Facebook to (further) censor conservative/libertarian voices. And Slashdot is adding its clout to the war.


  • My answer to the headline question is "yes". At Hot Air, Easy Ed Morrissey notes the Washington Post's analysis of the "Build Back Better" legislation, and asks: You know who scores the most from the House's BBB bill, right?

    The drift of the Democratic Party from working-class heros to elite Neros has gotten so obvious that even the Washington Post can’t help but notice. We already know who scores the benefit of Joe Biden’s proposal to lift the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions; 80% of those benefits accrue to the already wealthy. The Post walked its readers back through that calculation again yesterday:

    It’s the second-most expensive item in the legislation over the next five years, more costly than establishing a paid family and medical leave program, and nearly twice as expensive as funding home-medical services for the elderly and disabled, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. …

    Over the next five years, raising the SALT cap would provide a tax cut only to those who itemize their taxes and pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes — a group overwhelmingly made up of the wealthy. A recent analysis from the Tax Policy Center says the tax cut will benefit primarily the top 10 percent of income earners, with almost nothing flowing to middle- and lower-income families.

    New Hampshire has (I'm told) insane reliance on property taxes for funding state and local government. So you'd think at least some of our citizenry would make out… Nope, according the the American Enterprise Institute's analysis: "Over 50 percent of this reduction would accrue to taxpayers in just four states: California (25.1 percent), New York (16.8 percent), New Jersey (6.4 percent), and Illinois (4.2 percent)." New Hampshire's taxpayers are down in the noise.


  • Wokeism is bad, but even for one adherent, there are limits. Jerry Coyne has a lot of excerpts from a Regina Reni article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, headlined "Why I’m Tired of Hearing About ‘Wokeism’".

    That article is paywalled, but Jerry notes Reni is A woke person opposed to diversity statements.

    Perhaps the worst effect of the anti-Wokeist rhetoric invading academe is that it drowns out more careful critiques of so-called “Woke” policies. Take, for example, the diversity statements that some colleges and universities now require from faculty job candidates. I think these are a bad idea for at least two reasons having nothing to do with scary stories about Wokeism.

    First, requiring diversity statements in job materials places responsibility for correcting entrenched historical injustice in exactly the wrong place: on disempowered applicants (often themselves members of marginalized groups), rather than on the top-of-the-hierarchy administrators who can actually make systemic change. Second, requiring these statements as part of the hiring process encourages candidates to think about diversity as just another marketable skill, something to puff up and cynically stage like everything else in one’s portfolio.

    The University Near Here (of course) requires a diversity statement from applicants for faculty positions. Particularly amusing (I hope you're amused, anyway) is their Official Guidance for underlings writing a "position announcement". One of the wording suggestions: demand your applicant have a

    Demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice

    Anyone who cannot pass this ideological litmus test (or at least lie convincingly about it) need not apply.


  • Where do I line up? GeekPress has an Alzheimer's Vaccine Update, linking to a Boston TV news story.

    Brigham and Women’s Hospital is going to test a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease.

    The hospital announced the launch of a clinical trial Tuesday to test the safety and efficacy of the medicine, which has been researched for nearly 20 years.

    According to the Brigham, the nasal vaccine is “intended to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.”

    I guess I'm glad I don't qualify for the study. You need to have "early, symptomatic Alzheimer’s". Which, as far as I can tell, I don't.

    (But if it's a vaccine, shouldn't they be testing it on people who don't have Alzheimer's yet?)


Last Modified 2021-11-20 6:38 AM EST

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

[4.0 stars] [IMDB Link] [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

This movie dropped into free-to-me territory on Disney+, Mrs. Salad and I spent an enjoyable evening with it. She usually doesn't like superhero movies. "Too much fighting." But she liked this one more than average.

I love superhero movies. And I loved it more than average.

In the prologue, we're told of how Shang-Chi's mom and dad met: Dad having acquired the titular Ten Rings, has used their power to ruthlessly conquer some large area of … China, I guess. But a village out in the boondocks has resisted his forces. When Dad comes to see the problem first hand, he's confronted by Mom, they fight to (more or less) a draw, and fall in love. Awww! Just like in real life.

Years later, Mom's dead, Dad returns to his arrogant and murderous ways, and the kids (Shang-Chi and Sister) are estranged. But they keep the mysterious green pendants Mom has given them.

And years after that, Shang-Chi has changed his name to "Shaun", moved to San Francisco, and nabbed a sweet job as a valet parking cars at a posh hotel. He's acquired a best friend, Katy, played by the always-wonderful Awkwafina. Unfortunately, but also predictably, trouble arises when a gang of kung-fu thieves attempt to steal the aforementioned pendant from Shawn's neck, not caring overmuch if they have to remove his head to get it. To Katy's amazement, an epic battle follows, mostly on an articulated city bus. Shaun and Katy survive, but the pendant gets swiped. And Shaun decides to travel to Macau, where his sister is, to inform her she's probably in danger too. Katy tags along.

Well, that's enough plot. It's a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and there are plenty of cameos from previous entries. (And since I avoided reading spoilers, I squealed with delight at one from Iron Man 3.)

And the ageless, luminous, Michelle Yeoh eventually appears. Worth the price of admission right there.