To Make Room For Joe, Bernie Moved Over To Become Vladimir Lenin

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Daniel Henninger looks at a stunning transformation: Joe Biden Is Bernie Sanders.

Mr. Biden described what he had done or would do for women, election reform, marriage, gas prices, 20,000 infrastructure projects, lead in pipes, cancer, insulin, price controls on drugs, Medicaid expansion, 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations, tax credits to buy electric cars and on and on.

He paused for a moment to assert out of thin air, “I’m a capitalist.” But then it got weird, even for anyone wanting a lot of control over the means of production.

Suddenly, Mr. Biden was identifying microscopic economic discrepancies he vowed to erase. He said he would ban resort fees, impose a cap on concert-ticket fees and ban fees for people wanting to sit together on planes. Then he said something about getting involved with whether a person can quit a job as a cashier at a burger joint to take the same job across the street. Even Karl Marx wouldn’t have thought to propose so much flat-earth socialism. Far from done, Mr. Biden moved on to home care, housing, pre-K, teachers pay, student debt, mental health and addressing the crime crisis with counselors, social workers and psychologists.

To slightly mutate a well-known movie quote: "Capitalism. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

As another example of that rhetorical phenomenon, Eric Boehm observes that For Joe Biden, Competition Is Essential. Except When It Must Be Banned..

"Capitalism without competition is not capitalism," the president declared. "It's exploitation."

A bit of a cliché, but State of the Union speeches tend to be full of those. What made the line particularly jarring, however, is that it was delivered just 10 minutes or so after Biden had extolled—to bipartisan applause—the use of government power to shield American companies from foreign competition by tightening so-called Buy American rules for federal infrastructure projects. Doing so, he argued, was not only going to strengthen the economy but was the patriotic and upstanding thing to do.

Mr. Boehm has a number of other examples of this competition-is-good-unless-it's-bad schizophrenia.

Briefly noted:

  • The National Review editors note an amusing anecdote: Ben Sasse vs. the College Adolescents.

    ‘Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore — or how to become one,” wrote Ben Sasse, now president of the University of Florida, in 2017’s The Vanishing American Adult. More evidence for Sasse’s thesis emerged the first day of his tenure at the university. A hundred protesters showed up at the door of Sasse’s office, pounding on it and presenting a list of “demands.”

    At some point, I'm sure Sasse will take to print comparing the current crop of college students with the current crop of Washington pols. More alike than you'd think?

  • Pop quiz, hotshot: what's the difference between education and schooling? That's the question that sprung to my mind while reading KC Cole's provocative story at WIRED, titled The End of Grading.

    On March 14 at 1:59 (3.14159), people all over the world eat pies, run circles, crash computers, and generally act irrationally—all in celebration of everyone’s favorite irrational number. Pi Day was born at San Francisco’s Exploratorium in 1988 but has since colonized the globe, recognized by both UNESCO and the US House of Representatives. Ubiquitous in equations, pi begat Pilish, a constrained language fun for writing poems and stories (“how I want a drink—alcoholic of course” uses the first nine digits); 3.14 is also, incidentally, Einstein’s birthday. I’m not the only person with a cat named Pi.

    But we’ve got pi all wrong. It’s not really a number at all. It’s a relationship—between the diameter of a circle and its circumference. Its richness only becomes irrational when shoehorned into ill-fitting numbers (think of Cinderella’s slipper), shattering its beauty and burying its meaning. Numbers aren’t pi’s native language. We shouldn’t be surprised that its essence gets lost in translation.

    OK, let's just call out some bullshit here: of course π is a number. That said:

    I was struck by this recently when faced with the horror of grading—slotting students into numbers. My fellow instructors at the University of Washington, where I teach in the honors program, feel the same dread. More irrational even than pi, assessing people amounts to quantifying a relationship between unknown, usually unknowable things. Every measurement, the mathematician Paul Lockhart reminds us in his book Measurement, is a comparison: “We are comparing the thing we are measuring to the thing we are measuring it with.”

    I think Ms. Cole is expressing, imperfectly, one of the things that turned me away from teaching.

    What are the kiddos really buying with their tuition cash? Seems unfair doesn't it, to charge an A student the same as the one who barely squeaked by with a D?

  • And we haven't encountered any decent recent material via our LFOD Google News Alert. But (finally), Jim Killett, resident of Lahaina, Hawaii, came through in a searing letter to the editor of the Maui News: Base government mottos on peace, not violence.

    I have always wondered about the New Hampshire motto of “Live Free or Die.”

    Shouldn’t New Hampshire people consider other, less-severe options, at least occasionally?

    And to what lack of freedom requires such pledge to death? Freedom is a matter of degree. Total freedom is not a good thing for all.

    And, do they need many jails in New Hampshire in that the inmates obviously have an obligation to die soon in that they have lost their freedom?

    I think that New Hampshire needs a new motto, but then I think “The Star Spangled Banner” should be replaced by “America, the Beautiful,” as it evokes more peaceful pride in our country and less praise for violence.

    Deep thoughts, Jim!

    To further boggle your mind: (1) The motto's on our license plates, which are (2) exclusively manufactured by Correctional Industries, New Hampshire Department of Corrections.

    And let me point out Hawaii's state motto, Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono.

    Which doesn't get any more comprehensible when translated, usually as: "the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

    Neither version would fit on a license plate.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:39 AM EDT