URLs du Jour

2022-09-06

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  • Among many things Biden has forgotten… Eric Boehm describes a recent one: Biden Forgets That Workers Are Consumers Too.

    Since taking office, President Joe Biden has sought to position himself as an ally of working Americans. His administration is enacting what it calls a "worker-centric" trade policy, and the president scarcely seems to give a public address without mentioning the importance of union jobs.

    "You're a gigantic reason why I'm standing here—standing here today as your president," Biden said in a June keynote address at the AFL-CIO annual convention in Philadelphia. "I owe you. From the very beginning of my running for office, back when I was a kid, it was labor, the unions."

    Yet despite all he believes he owes American laborers, Biden's economic policies are punishing them as consumers.

    Consider that supposedly worker-centric trade policy. Biden has left in place many of the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, including the levies on aluminum and steel. By artificially hiking the price of imported steel, those tariffs are supposed to boost domestic production, creating more and better-paying steelworker jobs. But the cost of the tariffs rebounds onto every industry that uses steel to make other products. While about 57,000 Americans work in steelmaking jobs, more than 12 million are employed in manufacturing jobs that use steel. The tariffs hurt those workers.

    Plenty more examples at the link, of course under-reported in the mainstream media.


  • Time for Republicans to take a bold stand. Although you wouldn't think it would be that bold. The National Review editors put it this way: End Infanticide.

    As the general election heats up, Democrats continue to pour tens of millions of dollars into advertising that hammers Republicans on the issue of abortion, and too many congressional GOP candidates are responding by looking at their feet, mumbling something about letting the states decide, and pivoting to a discussion of inflation.

    That response simply won’t do. Pro-life candidates need to punch back before they pivot.

    Congressional Democrats are perhaps one or two Senate seats shy of providing unlimited taxpayer funding of elective abortions for Medicaid recipients — a policy that would result in tens of thousands more babies being dismembered or poisoned to death in the womb each year.

    Most congressional Democrats have pretended for decades that they support limits on abortion after viability, the point in pregnancy when a baby can survive outside the womb. But they have almost unanimously opposed legislation that would ban abortion beyond the fifth month of pregnancy, when babies are viable and capable of feeling pain. Congressional Democrats have almost unanimously voted for legislation that would create a national right to abort a baby beyond viability until birth whenever a midwife, nurse, or doctor asserts the continuation of that pregnancy poses a risk to the pregnant woman’s mental or emotional health. That same abortion bill — the one almost all Democrats are promising to make law in 2023 if they get the chance — would also gut conscience laws that protect health-care workers, strike down parental-consent abortion laws, and override some state laws banning partial-birth abortion.

    I'm generally in favor of Republicans not looking at their feet. Democrats are extreme on this issue, and the GOP should point this out, early and often.


  • It's horseshit vs. bullshit. J.D. Tuccille reviews the recent presidential speech: In Philadelphia, Joe Biden Peddled a Competing Brand of Authoritarianism.

    Back in the distant year of 2020, Joe Biden sold himself as a unifier, able to bridge divides created by then-President Donald Trump.

    What a long way he's fallen. Last week, he took to a stage to denounce his political opponents as a "threat to this country" in a setting seemingly chosen by 20-something staffers who dusted off imagery from V for Vendetta. And he did so not as a political candidate, but "as your president." Even for those of us who agree that Republicans are a flawed bunch defined by their loyalty to a wannabe caudillo, Biden's alternative is just a different brand of authoritarianism.

    "There is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country," President Biden insisted in a speech at Philadelphia's Independence Hall, lit blood-red and flanked in the background by two marines. "And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people."

    It's true that former President Trump threw a temper tantrum when he lost the 2020 election and that his supporters rioted at the Capitol. To this day, Trump and company nurse fantasies of stolen elections. But it's not clear what use for the Constitution and rule of law is harbored by his successor, who took office with an avalanche of executive orders that disconcerted even The New York Times editorial board and recently launched a half-trillion-dollar vote-buying scheme by unilaterally forgiving student loans.

    I'm currently reading a book of essays by David Mamet. Quote: "We cannot hate something unless we fear it."

    By stoking fear of vaguely described "MAGA Republicans", Biden invites the unfocused hatred that will surely follow.


  • Speaking of competing authoritarians… Ann Althouse noticed that Trump accused Fetterman of drug use!

    But here's how the drug-use charge pops out:

    Fetterman supports setting loose one out of every three inmates in your prisons, and he bragged that his goal is to get as many criminals out onto the street as quickly as possible. Fetterman supports taxpayer funded drug dens and the complete decriminalization of illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and ultra lethal fentanyl — and by the way, he takes them himself— which would mean death and despair for every community in Pennsylvania and every community in the United States of America....

    Why did Trump say that? There are many possibilities:

    1. Trump is an out-of-control blurter, who might say anything, for virtually no reason at all.

    2. Trump has some evidence that Fetterman is a user of illegal drugs.

    3. Trump is guessing that Fetterman is a user, and he's putting drug use in issue to see what happens. Will Fetterman deny it? Then people will fact check him, informants may come forward. Why wouldn't they? There's so much at stake. He remembers what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Why not attract some of that kind of action?

    4. He was riffing, stirring up a cloud of fear of crime and disorder and drug use and putting Fetterman in the center of that chaos: Fetterman is wearing a dirty sweatsuit! Fetterman leeches off his parents! Fetterman is a socialist loser! Fetterman uses drugs! It sticks in the mind. That's how you do political rhetoric... if you're Trump.

    I lean toward explanation one above. If you're interested in some legal analysis, here's Eugene Volokh: Could John Fetterman Win a Defamation Lawsuit Against Donald Trump, for Accusing Fetterman of Hard Drug Use?


  • The long con continues. Tim Carney has a long memory and an old-fashioned sense of honesty: Obamacare was ‘paid for’ by nationalizing student loans. Embedding this video:

    Got it? By nationalizing the student lending industry, which previously had federal guarantees for private banks, Obamacare would raise $58 billion [$68 billion in the video -- your blogger] in revenue over a decade.

    Some Democrats promised even more. “Part of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 will make key changes to the student loan industry,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) said. “This measure will save taxpayers nearly $70 billion over 10 years.”

    So to all the other ways in which this student loan bailout is objectionable, here is another one. It is yet another abandonment of the lies used to sell Obamacare. Of all the bogus claims that it paid for itself, this is only the latest to fall apart.

    Carney dubs this (accurately) a "long-term con". But it's really even longer than he implies. Even back in 1848, Bastiat wrote:

    L'État, c'est la grande fiction à travers laquelle Tout Le Monde s'efforce de vivre aux dépens de Tout Le Monde. (The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.)

    I left the original French in so you would think me très chic..

Heretics of Dune

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Consumer note: I actually own the 1984 hardcover (picked off a remainder shelf for $4.98), but its ISBN doesn't give me an accurate cover image. So clicking on the cover will take you to the Kindle page at Amazon.

Continuing my "reread/read Frank Herbert's Dune series" project. This is number five out of six, previous entries here, here, here, and here. My enjoyment is monotonically decreasing, volume by volume. I won't repeat my observations from previous books, but the negative ones apply here to an even greater extent.

I can't help but think of 1980s Frank Herbert, cursing himself for signing a contract requiring him to deliver a 480-page Dune book.

This book is set 1500 years after the events of the previous book, which ended with the demise of Leto II, Paul Atreides' son, who self-transformed into a monstrous human/sandworm hybrid. In between, there's been massive famine, followed by an even more massive migration of humanity into unknown reaches of the galaxy. And now people are returning to known space from that "Scattering", and not all of them are nice.

Most of the action takes place on Arrakis (now called "Rakis" for some reason) and the old home planet of the Harkonnens, Giedi Prime (now called "Gemmu" for some reason). A returning character (of sorts) is a Duncan Idaho ghola, the latest in a long series of Tleilaxu reincarnations of an Atreides fighter who didn't make it through the first book. Another interesting character is Sheeana, who is able to control the Rakis sandworms. The manipulative Bene Gesserit have designs on both the ghola and Sheeana. There are Fish Speakers and Face Dancers. (Or is that Fish Dancers and Face Speakers?) There's a lot of intrigue, violence, and (I think) a noticeable uptick in sex. (Because of the breeding.)

There's also a lot of people talking, in the usual pretentious way, interspersed with inner monologizing. Italics and exclamation points! They are rife.

Sigh. One more to go.