Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Getting a couple of big ones right on day three

Cuffing the hands of what had been an all-too-effective tool for tyranny when the previous regime was gripping America's throat:

Donald Trump plans to ban the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from funding science, and “overhaul” its use of science from outside groups, according to a Monday report published in Axios.
The EPA is the agency charged with protecting America’s clean air and water, and under former President Barack Obama, it took significant steps to combat climate change.
Axios reporters Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen say they got a “sneaky peek” at the Trump transition team’s action plan for the agency. They did not publish the full plan, but summarized it and included this key excerpt:
“EPA does not use science to guide regulatory policy as much as it uses regulatory policy to steer the science. This is an old problem at EPA. In 1992, a blue-ribbon panel of EPA science advisers that [sic] ‘science should not be adjusted to fit policy.’ But rather than heed this advice, EPA has greatly increased its science manipulation.”
And the previous regime's deliberate hobbling of economic advancement gets an abrupt reversal:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive actions to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
The decision to advance the pipelines cast aside efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to block construction of the two pipelines, while making good on one of Trump's campaign promises.
    As he signed the documents Tuesday in the Oval Office, Trump also vowed to "renegotiate some of the terms" of the Keystone bill and said he would then seek to "get that pipeline built."
    Beautiful and glorious.

    As I've said a few times recently, it's clear that wise, principled people have the new president's ear.

    Color me pleasantly surprised and delighted.

    What would it take to restore the health and rightful place of the humanities in the university?

    Two articles this morning each having to do with the state of the humanities, the sciences and education and society in general. The area in which the point of each dovetails bears some examination.

    At The Weekly Standard, James Pierson and Naomi Schaefer Riley revisit a great trick that was played on the academy twenty years ago:

    Twenty years ago, the academic journal Social Text published an article with the trendy title “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Herme­neutics of Quantum Gravity." The article claimed that quantum gravity is nothing but a social and linguistic construct that physicists are trying to pass off as a genuine account of the universe around us. Theoretical physics, the article concluded, is just a bunch of meaningless words and symbols.
    The actual meaningless words and symbols were those in the article itself, which consisted of high-flown gibberish. It was a postmodern spoof of postmodernism.
    The article, author Alan Sokal would later write, was "a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense," all "structured around the silliest quotations" by postmodernist academics. He hoped by his hoax to make an important point: that humanities professors under the influence of postmodern doctrines had discarded basic standards of logic and proof and were prone to believe—even publish—utter silliness.
    They say that the problem with Sokal's hoax was that it only dealt with the encroachment of postmodern gobbledy-gook on the hard-sciences realm - which, we must conclude, was a tacit giving of a pass to its infection of the humanities, where it originated.

    And that metastasizing infection has widened and deepened the rift between the humanities classroom and the normal-people world:

    Sokal's original hoax may have ridiculed "left-wing cant" but it did little to blunt the ascendancy of the left on campus. Fewer professors today would dare to take on the postmodernists in the manner Sokal did two decades ago. This should serve as a warning to those who think that professors in the hard sciences might act as a check on the absurdities committed by their colleagues in the humanities. Academe is now much more of an ideological monolith than it was two decades ago.
    The general public has made no such movement to the left. Which means that over the decades, the gulf between academe and the taxpayers called upon to support it has widened. The tension between town and gown is growing, McClay points out, in part because highly ideological fields such as gender and race studies have broken out of the academic hothouse and into the mainstream of American life and politics.
    As there is no longer any serious check on extremism from within the academic world, that check is going to have to come from the public at large as expressed through politics and elections. In this sense academia is no different from any other sector of American life: If it cannot regulate itself, it may eventually find itself regulated by others, and in ways not to its liking.
    At NRO, Ian Tuttle responds to a piece that appeared on that site on Saturday by Varad Mehta, who had posited that  George Washington University had dropping its American-history requirement for its history majors was strictly a commercial calculation.

    GWU is seeing fewer students signing up as history majors; the department’s funding is dependent on enrollment; ergo, it’s hoping this change and others make the GW history department more attractive to matriculating students. 

    Fair enough.
    Tuttle goes on to cite a passage from Mehta's piece in which he says that "we insisted they alter the requirements for history majors,"  and then quite rightly goes on to ask who Mehta presumes this "we" to be.

    He takes us back to the 1980s, when conservatives began to take a serious look at the Leftist rot occurring within humanities fields. The most notable example of this was Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind.

    The upshot of the conversation on the Right since then has tended toward a view that the humanities were beyond fixing, and that fact, combined with the changing world of work worldwide, meant that the humanities were probably best left to wither. Hence unfortunate pronouncements such as that of Marco Rubio that one ought to study welding and probably not philosophy.

    Tuttle concludes:

     . . . if “philosophy” is understood as “much of what passes for philosophy in institutions of higher learning today,” the sentiment is perhaps less galling. A degree is expensive, and people have to make a living. They also should be sufficiently educated as to be up to the tasks of citizenship.

    GW’s curriculum change suggests that its history department, like many other departments in many prestigious universities, has decided to pursue one of those goals at the expense of the other. How that came to pass is, I think, more complicated than Mehta suggests. For this critic, at least, it’s precisely because the humanities are so valuable that GW’s decision is unfortunate.
    What all this says to me is that, like other realms such as economic policy, world affairs and religious freedom, there is no substitute for bringing to bear the courage and intellectual rigor  required to save what is good and true about the study of philosophy, literature, music and history.

    A world inhabited by real human beings - who have depth, wisdom, humility and sharp powers of discernment - depends on it.

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    What disturbs me about DJT's full-throated enthusiasts

    The new administration is, on balance, off to a good start. The department and agency appointments are uniformly great, and their confirmation hearings have been an exemplary glimpse of the cornered-animal mode the Left has assumed since November (which, of course, was on full display in Friday's riots and Saturday's marches). The rollback of regulations has begun.

    Not that there aren't wince-inducing developments on the con side of the ledger.

    Rich Galen gets into that in his Townhall column today:

    That was some opening act for the 45th President's term.
    The most frequent question I got on Friday was: "What did you think of the speech?"
    My answer was the same to all:

    "It wasn't the speech I would have written, but it was the speech President Trump wanted to give. That's why I didn't vote for him."
    If his speech had been one of soaring Sorensonian rhetoric or Noonanesque oratory, no one would have believed that Donald Trump had believed a single word he had uttered.
    He goes on to talk about the following day's speech, at CIA headquarters, which I posted about yesterday. He makes basically the same point: that it once again squandered the profundity of the moment.

    Here's how the first commenter in the thread underneath the column responded:

    You still don't seem to get it, Galen. The p**ssies like YOU, who refused to FIGHT the Marxist enemy WITHIN by anything other than the "Queensbury Rules" are the ones who brought us candidate McCain,
    candidate Romney - and two terms of ideological Marxist Barack Hussein Obama.
    So - step aside and let men who are not afraid to get their hands dirty finish the job that Reagan started.
    For if it had been up to those emasculated specimens like YOU, we would now be genuflecting before "She-who-cannot-be-named" instead of reclaiming our nation.
    (If you still don't get it Galen, here's a historical anecdote you might recall - in another time and place, your ilk were the supporters of the "civilized" Prime Minister Chamberlain - until events showed that
    Winston Churchill was the one who needed to be "called back from the wilderness" to save his nation. This is now a different time and place - but history repeats itself, doesn't it? Always, because of the FOOLS like 
    YOU who forget it. So step aside and let Sir Winston's American spiritual successor do the job your ilk was incapable of doing). 
    Five instances of all caps. Ad hominem attacks ("fools" . . . "pussies").

    The accusation that Galen would have cheered Chamberlain.

    The view that anything less than Trump's modus operandi constitutes fighting the Left by "Marquess of Queensbury rules."

    This is the tone of all such chimings-in by the MAGA brigade since July 2015.

    It is no less shrill, and no less lacking consistency than what we saw from the Pussy Hat people on Saturday.

    This is why my delight in the encouraging signs I cite above is tempered.

    Two main dangers: One, that Leftists have the opportunity to paint Squirrel-Hair's antics as emblematic of conservatism, which they decidedly are not. Two, that, due to the vociferousness of the Leftists and the populists, conservatism gets drowned out.

    Actually, make that three dangers. The vociferousness of the two currently most prominent players is the stuff of ever-ratcheting tension, tension that inevitably goes kaboom at some point.

    Its could have been so different.


    Sunday, January 22, 2017

    The Langley speech: vintage Squirrel-Hair

    The tone has been set:

    If you thought the purpose of the visit was to build bridges, ensure common goals, etc. you would be mostly disappointed. There was some of that:
    And I want to just let you know: I am so behind you. And I know, maybe sometimes, you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted. And you’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’re going to say “please don’t give us so much backing”. [laughter] “Mr President, please, we don’t need that much backing”.
    But you’re going to have that. And I think everybody in this room knows it.
    If one had say there was a focus in the speech it would be that he pointed out to the CIA in detail why the press is the enemy of both he and the CIA and to make common cause in not trusting the media. The main theme he employed was disputing the crowd estimates for the inaugural versus the “Women’s March” today. Subsidiary attacks were on a TIME reporter who, without bothering to check, had claimed that Trump had removed the Martin Luther King, Jr. bust from the White House to make way for the Churchill bust. He issued a correction but the fact that he made a race based attack on Trump without bothering to even check speaks volumes for his intent.
    Trump’s main applause line was probably this:
    So I can only say that I am with you 1000%. And the reason you’re my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. [laughter, applause]
    And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the Intelligence Community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number 1 stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that too.
    This indicates the message was received.

    "I am so behind you."

    Can't you just hear his first State of the Union address?

    "So I am calling on Congress to send me a beautiful budget, a budget that is a tremendous deal. A budget that is all action, no talk.  A budget that is a win for the American people. A budget that our failing papers and networks in this country can't lie about."

    And in his commentary afterward, Sean Hannity will deem it Lincolnesque.

    Saturday, January 21, 2017

    Scenes from today's nationwide feminist rant

    Ashley Judd keeps it classy:

    Judd said, “I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege. I’m not as nasty as using little girls like Pokemon before their bodies have even developed. I am not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes. But, yeah, I’m a nasty woman, a loud, vulgar proud woman. I’m not nasty, like the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth. I’m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth. I’m nasty, like the fight for wage equality. Scarlett Johansson, why were the female actors paid less than half of what the male actors earned last year? See, even when we do go into higher paying jobs, our wages are still cut with blades sharpened by testosterone.”
    "Cut with blades sharpened by testosterone."


    Lisa Belkin, the national correspondent for Yahoo News, accompanied a busload of gals from Louisville out to Washington .

    The plan was to drive on Friday in order to ignore the inauguration. “Counterprogramming,” joked Bridget Pitcock, chief of staff at a managed care company in Louisville. This trip was her idea. Reading about early plans for the march soon after Election Day, she called her wife of three years, Meg Hancock, and announced they would need to rent a van and fill it with others who were “outraged and in despair.”
    Now they had, and once the van was filled to bursting with people, luggage and hand-drawn signs, Hancock, an assistant professor of sports administration at the University of Louisville, paused before taking the driver’s seat to offer a prayer she’d written a few days before.
    “Let’s take a moment of silence for the world we knew,” she said. “If you march to say ‘f*** you’ to Trump, I get that. But if you march to say ‘f*** yeah’ for women, for people of color, for the disenfranchised, I’ll be the first to hand you a megaphone. The fact is, today we know our world changes, but it’s not because Donald Trump says it does. It’s because we say it does. And we say how it does.
    “Because today,” Hancock continued, “is a demonstration of our commitment to each other, to our LGBT brothers and sisters. To our our black and brown brothers and sisters. To our Muslim brothers, but especially our sisters. To our Syrian refugees, to our immigrants. To our homeless, our poor, our hungry. We commit to listen, to seek to understand, to stand up, to rise up, to educate, to advocate. Our world changes today not because of Donald Trump. Our world changes today because of us. And it is an honor to be a part of that change with you.”
    A nineteen-year-old engages in some vicarious gushing, and granny is gratified:

    “My nana fangirled over Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis,” said Blair Wilson, a 19-year-old college student who was traveling to the march with her grandmother, Linda Wilhelms. A veteran of marches — her first protest, in 1969, was against the Vietnam War — Wilhelms was excited to introduce her only granddaughter to this world. “Having her there, experiencing the emotions and energy of the event, was my motivation to attend,” Wilhelms said. “She is an amazingly strong-willed, opinionated young woman. I have worked hard to help her develop a sense of right and wrong, and she is all I ever hoped she would be. She is my hero!”
    If you're not cool with the extermination of fetal Americans, your group isn't welcome at these rallies:

    Thursday, New Wave Feminists applied for and were granted status as an event partner.

    They provided the Women’s March with a biography, a link to their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and contact information on two board members. “It’s not like we snuck in there and they didn’t know we were pro-life,” said New Wave Feminsit’s Founder and President Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa said. In fact, she made it clear, saying on the application “while we are a pro-life group, our main goal is not to make abortion illegal, we want to make it unthinkable and unnecessary by supporting women.” So, while they didn’t agree on abortion, they agreed on most things and, not being an event about abortion, there was no reason these women shouldn’t be included. Harmony amongst women was achieved.

    Then, the Altantic ran an article yesterday which reported on the inclusion of pro-life feminists and the internet immediately melted down. “A differing opinion on one facet of feminism! Quel horreur!” Fainting couches were put into use and smelling salts were brought into the safest of spaces to protect the fairer sex to the affront of hearing a different opinion.
    Herndon-De La Rosa said that the response on social media was unbelievable “Twitter exploded and everyone (was saying) ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe someone else has a different opinion on something than me, I can’t handle it.'” she recalled, shocked at the reaction to diversity of thought. “It was the most asinine thing. This is a march for women. Guess what? We all thinks different things, and that’s ok and you’re not so fragile that you can’t handle me marching next to you because I support women in a different way than you do when they’re facing crisis pregnancies.”
    Then, their name disappeared from the Women’s March website. No communication, no explanation (although the Women’s March did later tweet that New Wave Feminists were only ever added as an error, but the timing is questionable), just poof. Gone.  
    Madonna speaks of "blowing up the White House." 

    Plus she drops F-bombs faster than the TV networks can hit their mute buttons.

    This being 2017, "mainstream" news outlets have to take note of the racial makeup of crowds like these, and whaddya know, The Washington Post finds they are mostly white.



    Another excellent appointment

    I'm one of those people who was #NeverTrump to the bitter end, but now must be reconciled to reality. I'm not the first such person to say that the task for real conservatives now is to point out his bad moves and cheer his good decisions.

    Pretty much to a person, his department and agency head appointments have been fantastic.

    And that pattern continues with his appointment of John Gore to head the DoJ's civil rights division:

    John Gore is the guy who has led the defense of North Carolina’s law that is aimed at keeping sexual predators in the bathroom frequented by their own sex.
    He defended the University of North Carolina in the matter, standing firm that people need to do their eliminating in restrooms designated for their DNA, not some notion of their "gender identity."

    And he'll report to the great Jeff Sessions.

    This is getting exciting.

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    For LITD's money, this afternoon's two most significant developments

    1.) The White House website now sports a list of the new administration's policy pledges. One in particular involves the deliciously conspicuous removal of any mention of something the regime that just left considered an actual issue, which of course it wasn't:

    the climate change web page that existed under Obama was immediately scrubbed, with no mention of climate change under Trump's energy plan.
    Instead, he vowed to eliminate "harmful and unnecessary policies" such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. The first represents a variety of efforts President Obama pursued to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while the second is a rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect not only the largest waterways but smaller tributaries that others believe should fall under the jurisdiction of states rather than the federal government.

    This is so beautiful and glorious it makes me tear up a bit.

    The climate jackboots no longer have a seat at the table.

    2.) The destruction of a Starbucks and a McDonalds and the smashing of a multitude of car windows in downtown DC by a mob of the Left's worst. Will be keeping an eye out for reports re: what organizations were behind this and how they went about putting the rent-a-thug types up to it.

    DJT's inaugural speech - liveblogged first thoughts

    He started out so well.

    If he'd stayed on the plane he established with his first statement - about Washington's relevance diminishing in proportion to the restored sovereignty of the individual - he'd have gone a long way to reassuring conservatives.

    But it was apparently too much too ask. He quickly went pedestrian, talking about roads and bridges, drugs and gangs, shuttered factories and other such ephemeral concerns.

    Since he did so, I have not heard anything I'd call soaring rhetoric.

    And he quickly got into rank protectionism, sending his customary veiled threat to companies that have their own reasons for moving operations out of the country.

    And rank populism and nationalism. And a combative word for "politicians." It really started to take on the tone of his campaign speeches.

    That's Squirrel-Hair. He does not approach the world from a set of ideological premises.

    Yes, I'm grateful that we dodged the bullet of another round of totalitarian socialism.

    I'm glad that identity politics, wealth redistribution, US decline on the world stage, and policy driven by the utter fiction of a global climate in some kind of trouble are fading fast.

    But for the three pillars of actual conservatism

    • Free-market economics
    • An understanding of how and why Western civilization has been a unique blessing to humankind
    • A foreign policy based on having our allies' backs and our enemies fearing us
    to flourish, the heads of cabinet-level departments and federal agencies, and really more importantly, Congress, are going to have to assert themselves robustly.

    I really don't mean to be a wet blanket at such a historic moment, but I cannot refrain from taking note of the touch of yee-haw-ism that sullied it.

    So to end these first thoughts on a positive note, it does my heart good to know that, S-H's unfortunate rough edges notwithstanding, conservatism has a shot at prevailing.

    Looks like government is getting out of the arts-funding business - and that's a fine thing

    Roger L. Simon at PJ Media makes the case cogently. For one thing, he has the credentials to do so:

    As someone who has made his living in the arts for decades, writing novels and feature films, and was a former officer of PEN, I should be appalled. I'm not.  In fact, I'm supportive.  And not just because it saves taxpayer money.  Government sponsorship of the arts is fundamentally undemocratic and ultimately dangerous.
    That's because, as with business, it puts the entity in society with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in charge of picking winners and losers:

    State-sponsorship of the arts also creates what we could call a "Solyndra Effect," after the failed solar company whose financing was aided by the Obama administration.  Picking winners and losers in the arts is even more difficult than in business, with the government prone to choosing Salieri over Mozart even more frequently than it does a Solyndra over a more worthy company. This selection is better done by the public because art should really be for the pleasure and edification of the people themselves, not a tool of their rulers. In the arts, it's better for the market to rule.  It also makes for better art in the long run, no matter what some professor might tell you.

    From time to time in my career as a writer and in my activities as a musician, I have had people say to me, "You should look into getting a grant." The idea is utterly foreign to me. Expressing yourself is an occupation like any other. There is either a market for what you are offering or there isn't. Forcibly taking fellow taxpayers' money just to keep yourself in groceries due to your occupational choice is antithetical to the American way.

    Let's hope the new bunch acts on this promptly.

    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    It needs to definitely be about conservatism, not Donald Trump

    Watching the proceedings at the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting on the confirmation hearings of the last week. And the venom and squeals of existential anguish I've had to wade through on social media. And the lies of formerly presumably exemplary leading lights of journalism as a worthy human endeavor, such as the New York Times.

    I can't go all in on some kind of response of disgust or getting my cackles up or whatever with regard to the bulging-eyes-contorted-musculature reaction the Left is having to what is transpiring.

    I share a little of it.

    I still find Donald Trump a loathesome and boneheaded person.

    It could have and should have been Ted Cruz. Or, if one really insists, Marco Rubio.

    But here we are, and, per many recent posts here, there are many developments worthy of cheer, the cabinet and agency appointments chief among them.

    But what arises in my mind in some cases is the truth that all developments in this fallen realm have a taint about them.

    Lefties were having a field day with the now-exposed New York Times lie about Rick Perry not knowing what the Energy Department's basic mission was or the basics of its structure. I haven't seen a lot of it yet, but what it seems to me would have been much lower-hanging fruit were two statements from last year: Perry calling Squirrel-Hair a cancer on conservatism, and him calling for the dismantling of the agency he will now head. (That last one is getting some traction; some lefty paper - I forget which - used the word "contrite" in its headline over the story about his walking that back, something he had to do, given the gravity of his hearing.)

    This kind of thing is not without precedent. It's a rough and tumble world. History is replete with examples of political foes burying the hatchet to ally in pursuit of an end of mutual benefit. The most extreme example may be Churchill and Roosevelt forging an alliance with Stalin.

    But factor in the kiss-Donald's-ring element. Harken back to those days in the last two months of 2016, all the photo ops of various people in the lobby of Trump Tower, waiting on the elevator.

    Perry is a Christian. He also understands free-market economics. I don't think he swallows the hooey about the global climate being in any kind of trouble. Because he is these things, I foresee a day when he may have to respectfully dissent from what his boss wants.

    I can see that with some others as well. It may come up with Mattis re: NATO. It may come up with Tom Price re: "covering everybody."

    But Perry will have the most interesting experience of having such a moment transpire very publicly. He is on record saying things that are not complimentary about the man who is now his boss (things, which, by the way, are exactly how I see Squirrel-Hair), and that will not ever completely fade from public memory.

    Not should it.

    The point for - well- for me, anyway - conservatives is that conservative policy prevail.

    That's what a fitting legacy for the era we are just now embarking on would look like.

    James Madison surely looks down from Heaven and smiles

    That chopping sound you hear is the transition team acting like principled Constitutionalists:

    The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

    Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

    The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.
    Of course, at some point,  some principled people, from Congress or executive-branch advisors, or some combination thereof, will have to engage Squirrel-Hair on the matter of Medicare and Social Security, which he has vowed not to cut, but which are the biggest obstacles to the government clawing its way back to solvency.

    But to make the above moves right out of the gate sets a tone whereby such conversations may be easier to have. It's like the psychological effect of Dave Ramsey's debt snowball: you see the red ink receding, and you get inspired to look at how to accelerate the process.

    Everybody needs to brace themselves for a considerable uptick in the degree of venom from the Left, of course.

    But once the results start manifesting themselves, the viciousness is going to ring pretty hollow.

    The sum-total impact of the confirmation hearings

    There have been some deliciously telling moments from several of them, have there not?

    Betsy DeVos's answer to Bernie Sanders about the efficacy of a policy of making public universities tuition-free, in which she said that while that was an "interesting idea," we must remember that nothing is actually free.

    James Mattis's response to a question about people with unorthodox sex lives in the military being made to feel validated, in which he said that his one and only concern was making sure that the United States had a fighting force of such lethality that it could defeat any threat.

    Mike Pompeo's responso to Kamala Harris's idiotic line of questioning, embedded within a preening diatribe, about his views on "climate change," in which he said that his focus would be on his agency finding out what America's enemies didn't want it to know.

    Scott Pruitt's forthright assertions that he looks askance at the federal waiver that lets California have tighter car emission standards than the nation as a whole.

    In each case and in all the others, it is clear that the Freedom-Haters are in full cornered animal mode.

    It's not just the specific scenarios they have posed to the appointees.

    They know their era has come to an end, that this is a shift of historic proportions, like 1824, or 1960, or 1932, or 1980.

    One way to put it is that they speak of these people heading departments and agencies that they would actually like to see dismantled as if it's a bad thing.

    Readers of this site know I am no fan of Squirrel-Hair. A scroll-through of posts in the "Donald Trump" category makes that quite clear.

    But the one thing he has got right so far is these picks.

    Whoever has his ear about this needs to stick real close to him.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    About that 20 million figure the Freedom-Haters trot out as the number who will lose coverage when the "A"CA is jettisoned

    It's a crock, as Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation explains:

    The Obama administration claims 20 million more Americans today have health care due to Obamacare. The reality is that when you look at the actual net gains over the past two years since the program was fully implemented, the number is 14 million, and of that, 11.8 million (84 percent) were people given the “gift” of Medicaid.
    And new research shows that even fewer people will be left without insurance after the repeal of Obamacare. Numbers are still being crunched, but between statistics released by the Congressional Budget Office and one of the infamous architects of Obamacare, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Jonathan Gruber, it’s estimated that anywhere from 2 to 7 million people now on Medicaid would have qualified for the program even without Obamacare.
    That further discredits the administration’s claim of 20 million more Americans having health insurance because of Obamacare.
    Multiple studies have also shown that even those who are uninsured often have better outcomes than those with Medicaid. A University of Virginia study found that for eight different surgical procedures, Medicaid patients were more likely to die than privately insured or uninsured patients. They were also more likely to suffer complications.
    And it is important to note that this study focused on procedures done from 2003-2007, prior to the geniuses in Washington deciding it was a good idea to put even more people on the already overburdened Medicaid system.
    Additionally, despite what proponents of the law promised, there is little evidence to show that the use of emergency rooms, which have a higher level of medical errors, has decreased due to Obamacare.

    Another narrative busted.

    The Manning pardon

    Eleventh-hour presidential pardons are the kind of Oval Office act about which the figure doing the acting generally doesn't feel any compulsion to comment. Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, for instance and then pretty much went mum.

    Such seems to be the case with the Most Equal Comrade's commutation of the sentence of "Chelsea" Manning, who will walk out of Leavenworth in May.

    This one will be parsed by historians for decades to come.

    It has one MEC administration official, SecDef Ashton Carter, angered, as well as a prominent Dem senator, Robert Menendez.

    Is this merely of a piece with other MEC interim-period moves, such as putting Arctic oil fields off-limits and ramping up coal-industry regs, in which he just lets 'er rip, almost eager to show his true colors as never before? Or is there some behind-the-scenes explanation that won't become clear for years due to strategic considerations?

    I'm betting on the former.

    UPDATE: The MEC's commutation of the sentence of FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera would seem to bolster my inclination.

    Squirrel-Hair is not some kind of economic wunderkind

    Two pieces I've come across this morning that illustrate this.

    A Bloomberg editorial looks at his unsettling picks for trade-policy positions:

    Trump's nominee for commerce secretary . . . appears to believe in the top-down management of trade: "We should treat ourselves as the world's biggest customer and treat nations that are selling to us as suppliers to us," Wilbur Ross told the Financial Times. The global economy, according to this thinking, is not about myriad firms competing across borders to give consumers everywhere the best products at the lowest cost; it's a zero-sum battle between two monolithic collectives: us and them.
    Trump's other trade appointments aren't reassuring. Peter Navarro, named as head of the new National Trade Council, seems opposed to imports on principle. He says they subtract from economic growth, which is nonsense. The nominee for U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, brings his experience as an advocate for restrictions on imports of cars and steel -- restrictions that made U.S. consumers worse off and impeded the ability of U.S. manufacturers to compete.
    David Leach at RedState  looks at the tweets S-H has issued bragging - with his characteristic vulgarity on steroids -  about keeping jobs in the US and debunks the claim that it was his doing in each case. The Ford plant in Louisville? Ford wasn't going to move those jobs in the first place. The Fiat-Chrysler expansions in Michigan and Ohio? Negotiated during 2015 contract talks with the UAW. GM's billion-dollar investment in US facilities ostensibly in response to S-H's threat to slap a 35% border tax on Chevy Cruzes made in Mexico? Made "well before Trump's tweet."

    I don't care how giddy his slobbering slavish devotees like the New York Post's Michael Goodwin say he is. (He entitles his latest column "Don't Believe the Tweets - Trump Is One Cool Customer"; who the hell does Goodwin think puts those tweets out there? They are the clearest glimpse into S-H's true nature we have.) He is still the same S-H we have been documenting here at LITD since he descended the escalator in July 2015.

    And, no, lefties, don't get your hopes up. Where I'm coming from is the deep sadness stemming from the inescapable and haunting thought that we could have had Ted Cruz.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Tuesday roundup

    Jay Nordlinger at NRO has a great piece on the politics of pronouns. A taste:

    In Davos one year, I moderated a panel, and asked that each participant “say a few words about himself.” It crossed my mind to add “or herself,” but, in that split second, I thought, “No, everyone is grown up here. This is not Smith College. They know about English.” I was wrong. The first panelist was a woman — an anthropology professor — who said, “To begin with, I am not a ‘himself,’ I am a person.” The woman next to her — her partner, I believe — applauded, loudly, angrily, and alone. It was the sound of two hands clapping, so to speak. An incredibly awkward moment. And it taught me, or reaffirmed, that standard, or once-standard, English can be risky.
    Dennis Prager's Townhall column today is called "A Guide to Basic Differences Between Left and Right". A Taste:

    Economic GoalLeft: equality
    Right: prosperity
    Primary Role of the StateLeft: increase and protect equality
    Right: increase and protect liberty
    GovernmentLeft: as large as possible
    Right: as small as possible
    Family IdealLeft: any loving unit of people
    Right: a married father and mother, and children
    Guiding TrinityLeft: race, gender and class
    Right: liberty, In God We Trust and e pluribus unum
    Good and EvilLeft: relative to individual and/or society
    Right: based on universal absolutes
    Nicholas Pell at Reason on why Hamilton is a crappy musical. A taste:

    Of course, shit music and feels-over-reals weren't the whole problem with America in 2016—and they aren't the biggest deal facing us in 2017, either. No, the worst thing about this present moment in time is the smugness with which zillionaires and their sycophants on the coasts piss all over anyone who does actual work for a living.
    That's not just one of the main reasons that Trump won the election. That attitude makes for garbage art.
    Historically speaking, you've got high art and folk art, each with their own set of aesthetic guidelines and measuring sticks. What's historically anomalous is commercial art—art that exists not due to the patronage of cultured elites or through the unrewarded efforts of the hoi polloi. It's art that exists to make money.
    Art that exists to make money isn't a bad thing. A lot of the best music of the 20th century was commercial art. The Beatles are probably one of a handful of things anyone will remember about the 20th century in 500 years, a stunning example of commercial art as inspired genius. What's irritating, though, is when well-connected millionaires make art for the sake of signaling their moral superiority over the masses on the basis of their correct beliefs. Hamilton has become a sort of avatar of the Lena Dunham Democratic Party against the rest of the world, perhaps best displayed by the cast lecturing Vice President Elect Mike Pence (the closest thing to a Wal-Mart greeter they'll ever be in the same room as) about tolerance.
    Tickets for Hamilton start between $179 and $199, with high-end tickets going for $849. Once they hit the secondary market (A.K.A. scalpers) you're looking at between $650 and $1500 on Stubhub. Is this because it's the best musical on Broadway? Or is it because Hamilton is this season's most fashionable way to signal liberal respectability and status among the One Percenters?
    This isn't speaking truth to power. This is power telling the rest of us what truth is. There's nary a hint of self-awareness as those only vaguely aware of poverty and toil through a sociology textbook deign to lecture us little people about America's 'real values.' That's what's wrong with America in the current year.
    And the Iranian government has put up a huge billboard in Tehran. to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the capture of the US Navy personnel.