URLs du Jour

2022-06-18

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  • "But you get this nice plaque saying you participated." Veronique de Rugy explains, using mostly small words: Biden's Budget Deficit Victory Lap Is Unearned and Unjustified.

    President Joe Biden is taking victory laps for last year's reduced budget deficit. No one would be happier than me to see this number fall in a significant way. But the decline has nothing to do with the president's policies, and it changes little about the dangers of our fiscal situation.

    According to monthly reporting by the Treasury Department, we know the budget deficit for May was $66 billion. So far, the deficit for the 2022 fiscal year is $426 billion. With four months left, this year's deficit will indeed be significantly lower than last year's, which was nearly $2.8 trillion. There's nothing like $5 trillion in COVID-19-relief spending paid for with borrowed cash to balloon a deficit!

    Biden's administration did nothing to bring about the deficit's decline. Credit really goes to large increases in tax revenues as the economy rebounded combined with the decision by Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and their Republican colleagues to block Biden's expensive "Build Back Better" proposal. BBB would have made permanent many of the emergency programs created or expanded during the pandemic, and had it passed, government spending and deficits would be heading even higher than they are today.

    And (as I type) the DJIA is down 3.6% since 2021-01-20. S&P500 down 3.7%. NASDAQ down 19.1%. (But, boy, I'm told we need to rein in those nasty tech companies.)


  • Just kidding. Failure looks like this. George F. Will asks a rhetorical (I think) question: If Powell’s Fed tenure is a success, what would failure look like?.

    Just 36 months ago, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said low inflation — it had averaged just 1.7 percent for a decade — was the nation’s foremost economic challenge. That challenge has been surmounted. Inflation has nullified nominal wage gains; real wages have fallen, hurting most those the Fed most wants to help.

    Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Fed’s board, wrote that the risk of inflation rises “when policy makers first dismiss the problem and then cast blame elsewhere.” Although greed has stained the human story since Eve ate the apple, President Biden and other progressives blame the sudden appearance of greed as the serpent in America’s otherwise lush economic garden. Biden says that because the oil market is global, his crusade to save the planet from fossil fuels is not to blame for Americans’ novel experience of spending $100 to fill their gas tanks. But he simultaneously blames greedy U.S. oil companies for restricted supplies.

    About five weeks ago, inflation was at a 40-year high and the Fed had stopped describing it as “transitory” when the Senate confirmed Powell to a second term, 80 to 19. The Wall Street Journal called this a “vote for the inflation status quo.” It raised a question: If Powell’s stewardship of monetary policy is a success, what would failure look like?

    If you want to see how your Senator voted on Powell's renomination, here you go. The Nay-votes were an interesting combination of lefty Dems and righty GOPs.


  • As the ACLU is trying to make sure trans girls get on women's athletic teams… I wonder where they are on The World's Most Taboo Legal Case. Here's honest leftist Matt Taibbi:

    On November 17, 2021, the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, filed a civil rights lawsuit in California that drew almost no coverage. A press corps gearing up to be outraged en masse by the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp defamation case had zero interest in a lawsuit filed by far poorer female abuse victims.

    Janine Chandler et al vs. California Department of Corrections targeted a new California state law, the “The Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act,” a.k.a. S.B. 132. The statute allows any prisoner who self-identifies as a woman — including prisoners with penises who may have stopped taking hormones — into women’s prisons. There was nothing TV-friendly about the scenes depicted in the complaint:

    Plaintiff Krystal Gonzalez (“Krystal”) is a female offender currently incarcerated in Central California Women’s Facility. Krystal was sexually assaulted by a man transferred to her unit under S.B. 132. Krystal filed a grievance and requested single-sex housing away from men; the prison’s response to Krystal’s grievance referred to her assault by a “transgender woman with a penis.” Krystal does not believe that women have penises…

    After a week spent denounced for reviewing the Matt Walsh documentary What is a Woman?, and for saying things I think will be boring conventional wisdom within a year, I was ready to never go near trans issues again and move to the impending financial disaster. But accident sucked me back. I’d made a point of pride of not reading a line of commentary about Heard-Depp, but listened to an episode of Blocked and Reported that touched on it after it was over, and learned three things that made me furious and think immediately of Chandler.

    Well, don't go to the Google to find out what the ACLU is up to here. Taibbi:

    The ACLU just proudly announced an attempt to challenge Chandler with other “LGBTQ organizations.” It’s weird enough to see the ACLU — which historically has used most careful language in defending everyone from Neo-Nazis to NAMBLA — issue a press release bluntly describing a feminist organization like WoLF as “bigoted.” It’s weirder still when the complainants are women, many with extensive histories of sexual abuse, suing on behalf of a community that is disproportionately LGB, as 42% of incarcerated women identify as lesbian or bisexual.

    Taibbi goes on to describe how people on the plaintiff's side are getting cancelled, many rather pettily.


  • Into your heart it will creep. Kat Rosenfield (I really gotta read her book) describes The paranoia driving office politics.

    Picture a huge, poisonous fruit falling to the ground, its skin splitting open, the rancid pulp pouring out. Picture the ants discovering the mess, swarming over it, drunk on the abundance in front of them — and far too preoccupied with their feasting to ever look up at the tree it fell from.

    It’s an apt metaphor for what happens during one of the public meltdowns that double as free entertainment for the extremely online. The splatter of drama, the rush to consume, the way we pick over every last sordid detail of the controversy until there’s no meat left. What we miss is that the details hardly matter, as individually fascinating as they may be; indeed, a large part of this problem is that we only ever talk about it in terms of its most recent iteration. We obsess over the individual characters — the Bean Dad, the Racist Cheerleader, the Guy Who Didn’t Cum On His Cat (the internet remains unpersuaded) — yet fail to grasp that they’re all starring in the same self-perpetuating tragedy.

    I'm really, really happy to be retired. Except for my investment accounts, since 2021-01-20. Did I mention those? Oh, right, I did.


  • You haven't seen such brotherly love since Cain and Abel. This is pretty funny: Joel Coen's "The Tragedy of Macbeth", Reviewed by Ethan Coen.

    In The Tragedy of Macbeth, long-time Hollywood presence Joel Coen — who has 18 prior films to his credit — takes sole creative control of a project for the first time. The result, not unlike the tale of Macbeth itself, is a tragedy of epic proportions.

    In the interest of full disclosure, my editor has requested that I mention that I was Mr. Coen’s writing partner, producer, and creative collaborator on the aforementioned 18 films. I am also his brother. We parted ways prior to Macbeth in a split that the press described as completely amicable. Despite my prior association with Mr. Coen, I feel that I am entirely capable of reviewing his work in a fair and objective way.

    Macbeth is Joel Coen’s shittiest movie by several billion light years. If all the elephants in all the world crapped into the same canyon for 100 years, you would still not have a pile of shit half a large as Joel Coen’s dumb-as-a-dog-dick rendering of this classic tale. One can’t watch Macbeth without getting the sense that something is missing; some inspired element that gave Mr. Coen’s earlier work an aura of ebullient genius is absent this time. The wit, verve, and undeniable rugged machismo that characterized the other 18 films in which he happened to be involved are nowhere to be found here. Ultimately, one must conclude that what’s lacking is talent itself.

    OK, I'll watch it. Jeez.