URLs du Jour

2022-08-22

[Party of Jackasses]

  • As Mr. Ramirez demonstrates so often, a picture is worth a thousand words. Give or take. Or it can be. But we have words too! Specifically, from Park MacDougald, writing at UnHerd about an undeniable truth: Clowns have captured the GOP.

    Only a few short months ago, the Democratic Party looked to be doomed. Joe Biden’s approval rating was scraping historic lows in the mid-30s, Republicans were building a solid lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot, and story after story detailed how once-reliable Democratic constituencies — Hispanics, Asians, millennials — were abandoning the party in droves. As in the Seventies, the Democrats had become the party of inflation, urban lawlessness, foreign-policy weakness, and elite cultural radicalism, raising Republican hopes that the GOP could sweep Congress in 2022 on the way to presidential victory. Biden looked so dead in the water that The Atlantic began soliciting reader suggestions for Democrats who could replace him in 2024.

    Well, that was then. Today — after the Dobbs decision in late June, a better-than-expected inflation report in July, recent Democratic victories in Congress, and a Republican primary season that has seen Trump-backed candidates edging out their more conventional rivals — the terrain is looking a lot more favourable for the Democrats. While the GOP is still expected to take the House in November, the Senate has become a gigantic question mark. As RealClearPolitics election analyst Sean Trende put it in June, what we are looking at now is “a classic battle between an irresistible force and an immovable object”. The irresistible force is Biden’s unpopularity; the immovable object is the fact that GOP primary voters have reliably opted for weak, unproven, and at times cartoonishly bad Senate candidates to run against Democrats. Faced with one of the most favourable electoral environments in decades, Republicans are finding a way to blow it.

    Well, that's only 266 words, but there are more at the link. MacDougald concentrates on the Senate races that have been set up so far, and despairs: Herschel Walker in Georgia; Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania; Blake Masters in Arizona; J.D. Vance in Ohio. Polling is not good.

    We'll see what happens in the New Hampshire "normal" primary, three weeks from tomorrow. As a registered Republican, I have a dizzying array of choices for Governor (six candidates, including the incumbent Chris Sununu); US Senator (eleven candidates); and US CongressCritter (only ten candidates there).

    And then in November… let's see how crazy the Libertarians are.


  • Starry-eyed optimism about government agencies is no way to go through life, son. The "Inflation Reduction Act" (yes those are sneer quotes) dumped a bunch of taxpayer cash on the IRS in return for promises that, yes finally, this will allow it to go after those fat cat tax cheats.

    The WSJ editorialists are as dubious as I am (and as you should be) about that: This Is Your IRS at Work.

    The new Inflation Reduction Act has many damaging provisions, but for sheer government gall the $80 billion reward to the Internal Revenue Service stands out. The money will go to hire 87,000 new employees, doubling its current payroll. This is also doubling down on incompetence, as anyone can see in the official reports of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (Tigta).

    We’ve read those reports for the last several years so you don’t have to, and the experience is a government version of finding yourself in a blighted neighborhood for the first time. You can’t believe it’s that bad. The trouble goes beyond the oft-cited failures like answering only 10% of taxpayer calls, or a backlog of 17 million unprocessed tax returns. The audits reveal an agency that can’t do its basic job well but will terrorize taxpayers whether deserving or not.

    They list some of Tigta's greatest hits, none of which will inspire confidence that the IRS can magically transform itself into a shiny, competent, efficient agency that treats citizens with respect.

    "Just give us a lot more money, and we totally won't waste it. This time."

    Here's a sample (just one) from the editorial:

    This ineptitude extends to programs Democrats insist will now raise revenue—those targeting higher earners. In 2010 Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which was supposed to identify wealthy Americans using undisclosed foreign accounts. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation said this would raise some $9 billion in revenue by fiscal 2020. Yet an April Tigta audit noted that while the IRS has spent $574 million to implement the law, the agency has drummed up only $14 million in compliance revenue.

    You might remember the acronym for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: FATCA. Yeah, let's get the IRS to go after them fatcats!


  • If you use "both-sidesism" as a pejorative, it quickly becomes an excuse. Kevin D. Williamson looks at The Left’s Opt-In Totalitarianism.

    Here’s a remarkable — stupid, awful, ghastly — document of our times: A group calling itself Physicians for Reproductive Health has published an open letter to the nation’s reporters and news editors, demanding that they pretend anti-abortion activists do not exist.

    The group writes:

    We are writing today with a big request: stop giving air-time to anti-abortion activists. . . . We know your reporting standards are to cover “both sides” of any debate. Allow us to be clear: Medicine and science are not up for debate. Health care is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact. And the fact is, abortion is not in the realm of theory or belief. Abortion belongs in health care, social services, and public health reporting.

    With this in mind, we are asking for a commitment from the community of media outlets reporting on abortion to keep in mind the true danger that you present when interviewing anti-abortion extremists. You are giving the opportunity for dangerous lies to spread. You are, by way of asking them questions, legitimizing their answers. You are allowing hateful, dangerous harassers to build a base that encourages protesting at clinics, stalking and harming clinic staff and abortion providers, and online and in-person abuse of people who have abortions and those who support them in getting that care.

    This is mad and foolish in several ways.

    For one thing, medicine and science are, in fact, “up for debate,” and health care is, in fact, very often a “matter of opinion.” Hence the ubiquity of such expressions as, “In my medical opinion” and “get a second opinion.” Debate is essential to science. This point may seem an obvious and trivial one, but it apparently needs repeating.

    KDW also points out that there's (actually) little scientific/medical "debate" abortion. Everyone pretty much agrees on the facts: "A living individual organism of the species Homo sapiens is destroyed at an early stage of development."

    The attempt to squelch valid debate on ethics and politics gets KDW's scorn, as it does mine, and should get yours too.


  • [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Would have been a great Star Trek episode title: "The Arnaz Paradox". But it's an article at the Free Beacon.

    The first televised interracial kiss is canonically dated to the November 22, 1968, episode of Star Trek, the one where William Shatner’s Captain Kirk shares a passionate moment with Nichelle Nichols’s Lt. Uhura. The kiss was not the first instance in which a white and nonwhite actor swapped spit—Wikipedia snippily notes a number of prior instances on Star Trek in fact—but it attained its cultural status because it was the first kiss between a white man and a black woman (rather than some other, less-villainized pairing) and because it took place at the height of the civil rights movement, on an extremely progressive television show.

    Pop culture, in other words, reflects where people want to see race, and where they don’t. Take, by contrast, one of the earliest examples: the 1950s comedy classic I Love Lucy. The show features the white Lucille Ball playing opposite her husband (in the show and real life), Desi Arnaz, who fled to the United States from Cuba following the 1933 revolution. Today, Arnaz would check the "Hispanic-Cuban" box on his Census form. But in the 1950s, when less than 5 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage, millions of viewers nevertheless cheered his antics with the English-descended Ball.

    It's a review of Classified by David Bernstein, which I've mentioned here before, and haven't read yet. The reviewer doesn't mention the interesting connection: the original Star Trek started out as a production of Desilu Studios. (Long after Lucy 'splained to Desi that she was going to buy him out.)