URLs du Jour

2022-05-10

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • Why I subscribe to the WSJ. As bad as you thought the Steele Dossier was, guess what, it was worse than that. The page one story in the Wall Street Journal today is Three Friends Chatting: How the Steele Dossier Was Created. (That's a free link, but those prone to hypertension might want to avoid.)

    Hours after the publication in early 2017 of a dossier claiming President-elect Donald Trump conspired with Russia to steer the U.S. election, a public relations executive in Washington tapped out an email to a client whose company was cited in the document, cast as a villain.

    “I’m hoping that this is exposed as fake news,” Charles Dolan Jr. wrote. “I will check with some folks in the intel world to see if they know who produced this.” The dossier, published by BuzzFeed News, used code names to conceal its sources. Some were close to Kremlin corridors of power, it said.

    The dossier proceeded to rivet the U.S. political class, win credibility within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cast a shadow over the first two years of the Trump presidency and cost millions of dollars for investigations and lawsuits, only to eventually be mostly discredited. One reason was where much of the dossier’s information came from—anything but Kremlin insiders.

    Instead, a Wall Street Journal review found, many of the dossier’s key details originated with a few people gossiping after they had been brought together over a minor corporate publicity contract.

    Goodness knows I'm no Trump fan, but the people pushing the Steele dossier owe him and the nation an abject apology.

    In the alternate universe where the dossier never existed, is there a chance that Trump would have been less paranoid and crazy? Well, probably not. But…


  • "Muddling through" has always worked in the past. Kevin D. Williamson writes on America’s Unwarranted Pessimism.

    Trolling is no way to conduct a foreign policy, but President Joe Biden might consider channeling just a little bit of the prankish spirit of his predecessor by offering to send Beijing 1 billion doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as a goodwill gesture.

    If Beijing accepts, then Washington enjoys a major diplomatic triumph and the opportunity to do something good at a minor expense for people who desperately need it. If Beijing refuses out of pride and spleen — which is a near certainty — then Washington enjoys a minor diplomatic triumph at no expense at all and Beijing deepens the trouble it is facing vis-à-vis the restive urban elites of Shanghai and Beijing.

    Under the increasingly personalized rule of Xi Jinping, things are grim in China right now — very.

    In Shanghai, which has been under a brutal lockdown for weeks, residents including nonagenarians and centenarians have been rounded up and incarcerated in quarantine facilities after testing positive for Covid-19. Drones circle overhead with loudspeakers blaring the message that the Chinese people must “suppress your soul’s desire for freedom.” Shanghai is not enjoying this. The Economist reports that a local rapper called Astro has had an underground hit with an angry anthem denouncing the “White Guards,” as the hazmat-suit-clad enforcers of public health have been nicknamed in an echo of the Cultural Revolution.

    In comparison with China, we have it pretty good.


  • But some look at China, and wonder "why can't we do that?" Specifically, according to Toby Green: Bill Gates wants to build a dystopia.

    His model for the future is built on what he feels has worked over the past two years: isolate contacts, close borders, lockdown as quickly as possible, then remove restrictions slowly and cautiously. He cites Dr Anthony Fauci, who Gates says he spoke to once a month during the pandemic: “Not only should you appear to overreact at first, as Tony Fauci said, but you also have to be careful about relaxing all NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] too soon.” Meanwhile, you should invest enormous sums in boosting global public health systems, vaccine production in poor and rich countries, and fund a Global Pandemic Emergency Response Unit to monitor potential outbreaks. The aim, says Gates, is to vaccinate the entire world — twice if necessary — within six months while lockdown measures restrict the spread of the new pathogen.

    It all sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? Or it might do to those who haven’t seen the footage of Shanghai’s lockdown circulating on social media, to those who can work online in relative comfort, or indeed to billionaires with comfortable gardens and libraries in which to while away those six months. With the Gates model, a little translation is in order.

    Great. I'm sure a guy whose company can't even come up with accurate progress meters in Windows is just right for designing a pandemic response.


  • Did Trump invent awful Republican primaries? Fortunately, Chris Stirewalt has an answer to that burning query: Trump Did Not Invent Awful Republican Primaries.

    To read the coverage of the still-young midterm primary season on the Republican side is to read of royalty. Former President Donald Trump is “the Republican Party kingmaker” whose “endorsement is worth its weight in political gold” and who has “enduring power.”

    Kingmaker Midas Trump’s enduring power, we are told, is the “cause of [the] unrelenting nastiness” between candidates and that even when the former president isn’t involved, the races “are mostly about Trump anyway.”

    We are here reminded of one of the key rules of politics in the past seven years: The only reliable point of agreement between Trump, the political press, and Democrats is that Trump should always be the focus of the discussion. It needn’t be explained why a man who refers to himself in the third person would want it that way. But less obvious is why Democrats believe, often wrongly, that this works in their favor with voters. News organizations believe, often rightly, that Trump will drive traffic.

    I've seen ads for "smart" TVs. A really smart TV would trim down nightly network news programs by eliminating:

    • partisan soundbites delivered by scripted talking heads;
    • emotional heart-tugging;
    • lurid crimes;
    • etc.