URLs du Jour


  • Any fact-checkers out there? Greg Price provides our Tweet du Jour:

    Reminiscent of Biden's "We reduced — my budget reduced the — the deficit by $350 billion".

    I'm pretty sure it was only a few months ago that high gas prices were blamed on "greed" (did people get less greedy?) and "Putin" (did Putin withdraw from Ukraine?)

  • Meanwhile, another taxpayer ripoff continues. Emma Camp reviews the ongoing story: Student Loan Repayment Pause Is Costing Taxpayers Billions.

    The Federal Student Loan Program is often criticized as a source of revenue for the federal government. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the present situation can't be further from the truth.

    When the Federal Direct Student Loan Program began in 1994, the Department of Education estimated that it would generate $114 billion in revenue for the federal government. Almost 30 years later, the program is estimated to cost the government $197 billion, a staggering difference of over $300 billion. The Federal Student Loan Program has failed, and the cost of its failures will be shouldered by the American public.

    Note that first link is from August 2016—just six years ago!—when both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton expressed outrage on their respective campaign trails that Uncle Stupid was making money off student loans. Well, I guess that problem got fixed.

  • I thought George Soros was smart. I was disabused of that notion when I read his recent op-ed in the WSJ: Why I Support Reform Prosecutors. Or at least I read up to the bit I bolded:

    Americans desperately need a more thoughtful discussion about our response to crime. People have had enough of the demagoguery and divisive partisan attacks that dominate the debate and obscure the issues.

    Like most of us, I’m concerned about crime. One of government’s most important roles is to ensure public safety. I have been involved in efforts to reform the criminal-justice system for the more than 30 years I have been a philanthropist.

    Yet our system is rife with injustices that make us all less safe. The idea that we need to choose between justice and safety is false. They reinforce each other: If people trust the justice system, it will work. And if the system works, public safety will improve.

    I've rarely seen a more egregious example of the Tinkerbell Fallacy. "All you have to do is wish real hard for my scheme to work, and it will!"

    And also note the corollary: "If my scheme doesn't work, it's your fault, peons, for not believing in it! Not mine!"

  • [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Longest article ever? Rafael A. Mangual, braver than I, kept reading Soros's op-ed, and offers a more detailed rebuttal: What George Soros Gets Wrong on Criminal Justice.

    Soros highlights the statistic that “black people in the U.S. are five times as likely to be sent to jail as white people.” This is, he says without explanation, “an injustice that undermines our democracy.” Such a contention is meant to persuade the reader that these incarcerations are mostly (if not overwhelmingly) illegitimate—the product of racial animus more than anything else. What else could it be? Well, how about disparate rates of criminal offending? A Bureau of Justice Statistics study of homicides between 1980 and 2008 found that blacks commit homicide offenses at a rate “almost eight times higher than the rate for whites.”

    Presenting a disparity without any mention of what its causes might be is not a responsible way of arguing that “injustice” is afoot. That’s a serious charge, and, as we’ve seen over the last few years, many who believe it will push (often successfully) for serious policy changes couched in breezy phrases like “reimagining public safety.”

    When relevant factors are taken into account, the disparities that Soros point to as obvious evidence of injustice shrink substantially, undercutting his claim. As a 2014 report on incarceration from the National Academies of Sciences shows: “Racial bias and discrimination are not the primary causes of disparities in sentencing decisions or rates of imprisonment. . . . Overall, when statistical controls are used to take account of offense characteristics, prior criminal records, and personal characteristics, black defendants are on average sentenced somewhat but not substantially more severely than whites.”

    Mangual (Amazon link to his new book on the right) points out a factoid that Soros ("and his ilk") ignore: "In 2020—a year in which homicides rose nearly 30 percent across the U.S.—the share of white homicide victims actually declined by 2.4 percentage points relative to 2019, while the share of black and Hispanic victims increased by 2.2 percentage points."

    I'd welcome any concrete indication that Soros ("and his ilk") had more sympathy for crime victims than perps.

  • Credit where it's due. I'm not sure if I've every uttered the slightest compliment to Nancy Pelosi in the 6365 days of Pun Salad's existence. But there's a first time for everything, and I'm in full agreement with Jim Geraghty: Pelosi Stands Up to the Bully in Beijing.

    As of this writing, it appears House speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel to Taiwan, based on statements from unnamed U.S. and Taiwanese officials. But it is not confirmed.

    Conservatives rarely applaud Pelosi, but her willingness to visit Taiwan — and to tell the Chinese government in Beijing to go pound sand if it doesn’t like her making the trip — is one of those rare times when they do. As the editors of NR put it:

    Much as we disagree with the speaker on most issues, on this question she has been stalwart. Pelosi, by making this trip against the background of Chinese threats, would do a service to her country, Taiwan, and all nations with an interest in resisting a totalitarian party-state’s military aggression. She must go to Taiwan.

    With some of the more hyperactive Chinese state-media propagandists talking up the possibility of the Chinese military shooting down her flight and the Chinese military promising live-fire exercises near the coast, Pelosi is demonstrating courage and accepting a certain amount of risk to life and limb by making the trip. The chances of the Chinese military deliberately or accidentally shooting down her flight are not high . . . but they are not zero, either.

    So I hope that works out.