I Guess I Can Forget About Being Secretary of Transportation, Too

Nikki came through with my swag:

Background, if you need it, is here.

A Cheap, But Clever, Shot

But Reason contributing editor J.D. Tuccille claims Trump Had a Point About NATO Free-Riding Off American Defense. Let's take a look:

At a weekend rally in Conway, South Carolina, Trump told of a supposed gathering during his presidency of NATO leaders discussing the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense:

One of the presidents of a big country stood up, said, "Well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?" I said, "You didn't pay. You're delinquent?" He said, "Yes, let's say that happened."

"No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills."

The continent's prickly officials immediately flew into a frenzy over the threat.

"NATO cannot be an a la carte military alliance, it cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humor of the president of the U.S.," huffed European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The problem for Borrell and company is that Trump has a point. Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, many NATO members remain less allies than dependencies sheltering under the U.S. military umbrella.

Tuccille says that of the 31 NATO countries, only 7 meet the 2% target.

I'm wary (however) of the notion that defense (or any other category of government spending) should be entitled to some arbitrary fraction of a country's GDP. Does the cost of defending a country automatically go up by X% if its economy grows by X%?

But I'm still disgusted that Trump comes across like a mob boss demanding protection money.

Also of note:

  • On the CPW watch. A huge article by Jonathan Kay in Quillette about Chanda Presod-Weinstein, our favorite physics professor at the University Near Here: Intersectionality’s Cosmic Inquisitor. CPW has many crusades, but Kay concentrates on one: her demands that the James Webb Space Telescope… not be named after James Webb. Reason: Webb's alleged homophobic activities during his tenure at the State Department (1949-1952).

    Those allegations were debunked, mainly by astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi. And then things got nasty. And now:

    Over time, the UNH scientist has escalated her grievances into increasingly dubious accusations of scholarly misconduct, misogyny, and homophobia, as well as entirely unsubstantiated remarks about sexual harassment.

    This week, Oluseyi sent UNH officials a 61-page complaint regarding Prescod-Weinstein’s behaviour, a copy of which has been obtained by Quillette. The document provides a detailed chronological record of Prescod-Weinstein’s alleged “harassment, bullying, and discrimination”—behaviour that Oluseyi believes runs afoul of the university’s policies.

    While Quillette has already reported on the dispute between these two scientists, Oluseyi’s correspondence provides abundant new details concerning Prescod-Weinstein’s online behaviour that have not yet been publicly reported. In one case, Oluseyi alleges, Prescod-Weinstein successfully pressured a well-known author to rescind his offer to provide a promotional blurb for Oluseyi’s then-forthcoming book. Oluseyi also alleges that Prescod-Weinstein prevented him from being hired for at least one lucrative university speaking engagement by falsely suggesting he had sexually harassed women.

    Additionally, Quillette has obtained copies of complaints against Prescod-Weinstein recently submitted to UNH by three other scholars. Among these materials is a database cataloguing over 50,000 of Prescod-Weinstein’s tweets posted during the five-year period ending in September 2023.

    I was aware that CPW tweets a lot. But 50,000 tweets over a five year period works out to between 25-30 tweets per day. Every day. That's … um … prolific.

    Quillette claims Kay's article is a "35 minute read". That seems low.

  • Gernsback spins in his grave. Slashdot chronicles some corruption in SciFi-land: Leaked Emails Show Hugo Awards Self-Censoring To Appease China. Quoting from a 404 Media article:

    A trove of leaked emails shows how administrators of one of the most prestigious awards in science fiction censored themselves because the awards ceremony was being held in China. Earlier this month, the Hugo Awards came under fire with accusations of censorship when several authors were excluded from the awards, including Neil Gaiman, R. F. Kuang, Xiran Jay Zhao, and Paul Weimer. These authors' works had earned enough votes to make them finalists, but were deemed "ineligible" for reasons not disclosed by Hugo administrators. The Hugo Awards are one of the largest and most important science fiction awards. [...]

    The emails, which show the process of compiling spreadsheets of the top 10 works in each category and checking them for "sensitive political nature" to see if they were "an issue in China," were obtained by fan writer Chris M. Barkley and author Jason Sanford, and published on fandom news site File 770 and Sanford's Patreon, where they uploaded the full PDF of the emails. They were provided to them by Hugo Awards administrator Diane Lacey. Lacey confirmed in an email to 404 Media that she was the source of the emails. "In addition to the regular technical review, as we are happening in China and the *laws* we operate under are different...we need to highlight anything of a sensitive political nature in the work," Dave McCarty, head of the 2023 awards jury, directed administrators in an email. "It's not necessary to read everything, but if the work focuses on China, taiwan, tibet, or other topics that may be an issue *in* China...that needs to be highlighted so that we can determine if it is safe to put it on the ballot of if the law will require us to make an administrative decision about it."

    Well, that's amusing. Not that it matters, but I gave up on following Hugo advice when I was unimpressed with both A Memory Called Empire (Best Novel for 2020) and This Is How You Lose the Time War (Best Novella in 2020).

  • Tevi Troy writes about presidential language: Obscenity in the Executive. We'll leave the City Journal expurgation:

    President Joe Biden likes to cuss. We have learned recently that he calls former president and likely election rival Donald Trump “a sick f***” and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “bad f***ing guy” and an “a**hole.”

    When questioned about his memory, he said to House Democrats, “How the f*** could I forget the day my son died?” The swearing itself is not news—recall Biden’s famous overheard whisper to Barack Obama that Obamacare was “a big f***ing deal.” What is news is that Biden’s cursing seems to be increasing in venom and frequency. More and more, it looks like a crutch to show that he has the energy to remain president.

    Troy notes Clinton's frustration with Bibi Netanyahu caused him to drop the f-bomb, but this example is missing:

  • Take pity on Pamela Paul, people. She's a New York Times liberal who's struggling with the conflict between her desires and hard reality: Biden Must Win. But How?.

    Like many Democrats, I’m stuck on a doomsday merry-go-round: Joe Biden shouldn’t be running for president. Joe Biden is running for president. Donald Trump shouldn’t be running for president. Donald Trump is running for president.

    But this isn’t 2020. Biden cannot run the same campaign he did last time, when all he had to do was appear normal. Back then he still had some of the Obama sheen; today, he and his vice president are both unpopular. Little in his first term seems to be serving him well. Though he’s done a good job as president and the economy is thriving, few give him credit. And multiple polls show him running behind Donald Trump.

    Most troubling, he’s too old and he looks tired. My brain wants to delete everything it’s heard from people who have spent time in his presence in the last year. (It’s not encouraging.) Only 23 percent of voters, according to a January NBC poll, say Biden is better than Trump on “having the necessary mental and physical health to be president,” a statistic that, no matter which way you bend it, doesn’t mean anything good.

    Via Ann Althouse, who comments:

    I really don't care what her "brain" "wants." Your brain is you. If it feels like a separate entity that you need to speak about in the third person, something is very wrong. Maybe you think it's humorous. But you're talking about withholding information from us. You're admitting that you know things that would hurt Biden's campaign, and you won't share it with the voters. You just wish you didn't know.

    Good point. And for every Pamela Paul who makes it obvious, there are probably ten "journalists" who successfully disguise it.