Quotulatiousness

February 16, 2018

Trump’s Fake News: Deep Breaths and Fact-Checking Might Just Save America

Filed under: Humour, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ReasonTV
Published on 15 Feb 2018

President Trump labels whatever he dislikes as “fake news,” and makes up his own, but the media is part of the problem. In the latest “Mostly Weekly,” Andrew Heaton provides a solution.

—————-

Donald Trump tends to call whatever he dislikes “fake news,” from inconvenient facts to unfavorable reporting. Even though the President himself is less a font of truth and more a spigot of self-serving exaggeration and insults.

But Trump isn’t all wrong when he labels reporting against him as fictitious or slanted. Reporters have become so enraged with the President that in their hurry to lambast him, they sometimes forget about fact checking and standard quality controls.

The result is that actual “fake news” is slipping into major news outlets. When hit pieces turn out to be false, they bolster Trump’s claims about the media and discredit journalists in the eyes of his supporters.

In the latest “Mostly Weekly” Andrew Heaton explains the relationship between “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” fake news, and a solution for the media.

Mostly Weekly is hosted by Andrew Heaton, with headwriter Sarah Rose Siskind.

Script by Sarah Rose Siskind with writing assistance from Andrew Heaton and Brian Sack.

Special guest appearance by Brian Sack as “TV doctor”

Edited by Austin Bragg and Siskind.

Produced by Meredith and Austin Bragg.

Theme Song: Frozen by Surfer Blood.

February 8, 2018

Dilbert’s Scott Adams Explains How He Knew Trump Would ‘Win Bigly’

Filed under: Books, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 7 Feb 2018

The cartoonist-turned-political-prognisticator talks about Trump, “master persuaders,” and winning arguments in a “world where facts don’t matter.”

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In 2015, Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind the massively popular comic strip Dilbert, boldly predicted that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election.

“The reason I can see it coming is because I have studied this field of persuasion,” says Adams. “I saw this Trump character and he had the full tool set.” The 60-year-old Bay Area resident doesn’t agree with Trump on many political issues, but his prediction was enough for his to receive death threats from embittered Hillary Clinton supporters.

Adam’s new book, Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter, is both a detailed analysis of how Trump reframed political rhetoric during the 2016 campaign and a guide to how all of us can communicate more effectively and persuasively.

Adams sat down with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie in front of a live audience in San Francisco to talk about his book, his “extreme liberal” views, the popularity of his live broadcasts with followers via Twitter, and why Trump is a “master persuader.”

Cameras by Zach Weismueller, Paul Detrick, and Justin Monticello. Edited by Ian Keyser.

February 2, 2018

Trump Diminishes the Power of the State in Our Heads: Wired Co-Founder Louis Rossetto

Filed under: Books, Liberty, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 1 Feb 2018

Louis Rossetto, co-founder of Wired magazine, on politics, the dot-com bubble, and his new novel, Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet.
—————-
“Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy that’s in the White House is another human being,” says Louis Rossetto, the co-founder of Wired and author of the new book Change Is Good: A Story of the Heroic Era of the Internet. “The power of the state is way too exalted [and] bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that’s been going on in the post-war era.”

In 2013, Rossetto was the co-recipient of Reason‘s very first Lanny Friedlander Prize, an award named after the magazine’s founder that’s handed out annually to an individual or group who has created a publication, medium, or distribution platform that vastly expands human freedom. Rossetto is also a longtime libertarian who knew Friedlander personally.

While still an undergraduate at Columbia University, Rossetto co-authored a 1971 cover story in the New York Times Magazine titled “The New Right Credo — Libertarianism,” writing that “[l]iberalism, conservatism, and leftist radicalism are all bankrupt philosophies,” and “refugees from the Old Right, the Old Left and the New Left, they are organizing independently under the New Right banner of libertarianism.”

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Rossetto to talk about his new book (the paper version was lavishly designed and crowdfunded on Kickstarter), the 1990s tech boom, and why Trump “diminishes the power of the state” in our heads.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Paul Detrick, Justin Monticello, Zach Weissmueller.
Machinery by Kai Engel is used under a Creative Commons license.
Photo Credits: Chris Kleponis/ZUMA Press/Newscom – Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Newscom – Abaca Press/Douliery Olivier/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom

“Europeans like the U.S. to be a great St. Bernard dog that takes the risks and does the work, while they hold the leash and give the orders”

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Conrad Black on how the European press in general — and the British press in particular — view the United States:

A week in England has enabled me to see more clearly the absurdity of the depths and length that the political scandal-mongering in the United States has achieved. Most of the British media are anti-American anyway, and, like most of America’s so-called allies, Britain likes weak American presidents who are fluent and courteous, other than when they are themselves in mortal peril, at which point strong American presidents suddenly are appreciated. Generally, the Western European attitude toward the U.S. evolved from fervent and almost worshipful hope for rescue by Roosevelt, to appreciative, even grateful recognition for Truman and Marshall’s military and economic support of non-Communist Europe, while fretting whether America would “stay the course” (Mr. Churchill’s concern), to complacent patronization in the post-Suez Eisenhower-Dulles era. Europe, like most of the world, swooned over John F. Kennedy and genuinely mourned his tragic death, but it has been slim pickings since. Johnson was regarded as a boor and an amateur, and, on the left, a war criminal. Richard Nixon was regarded with suspicion and then the customary orchestrated opprobrium, though with grudging respect for his strategic talents. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush were regarded as dolts, though Reagan, whose anti-missile defense plan was regarded with shrieks of derision and fear, was seen, long after he left office, as possibly useful. Clinton was likeable but déclassé, and Obama was greatly welcomed but ultimately a disappointment. The Europeans like the U.S. to be a great St. Bernard dog that takes the risks and does the work, while they hold the leash and give the orders.

With Donald Trump, the British and most Western Europeans have the coruscation of their dreams that the United States is a vulgar, completely materialistic, cultureless Darwinian contest of the most tasteless and unsavory elements, elevating people in their public life who excel at the country’s least attractive national characteristics. In the British national media there is almost never a remotely insightful or fair commentary on anything to do with President Trump. At one point last week, Ambassador John Bolton had what amounted to a debate with some academic British supporter of the Paris climate accord, and of feeble responses to all international crises, from Ukraine to Syria to North Korea. Both participants were speaking from remote locations and were on large screens, and the moderator’s questions were posed in such a provoking and tendentious manner to John Bolton that he began his last several responses with the stated assumption that the management of Britain’s national television network presumably approved of framing questions on such serious subjects in a deliberately dishonest way, and then answered effectively. The BBC correspondent in Washington uniformly referred to “Donald Trump” or just “Trump” and never to “President Trump” or to “the president,” as normal professional usage requires. The Economist, a distinguished magazine for many decades, follows the same route, referring to Mr. Trump as a “bad” or “poor” president, as if this were an indisputable and universally agreed fact.

The British, and to a large degree the major continental powers, slavishly repeat the Trumpophobic feed from the American national media and justify “Trump’s” view that most of the media propagate lies as a matter of policy, and that America’s allies are largely freeloaders — passengers of the Pentagon with no loyalty to the country that liberated them from Nazism and protected them from Soviet Communism. Senator McCain’s editorial criticism of the president in the New York Times two weeks ago, that his attacks on the press weakened democracy by demeaning a free press, is bunk. The president was closer, though, as is his wont, was slightly carried away, when he called the primal-scream newscasters and writers “enemies of the people.” They are even worse abroad.

January 12, 2018

President Oprah?

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I didn’t watch the TV or movie awards show that Oprah used to launch her presidential campaign test balloon, but many others did. Those who watched it generally came away very impressed, based on mentions in my various social media feeds. Those who read it later include skeptics like Colby Cosh:

The Oprah for President boomlet didn’t last long, did it? Oprah Winfrey is somebody who has been discussed occasionally as a semi-serious presidential candidate since the early 1990s. The talk-show hostess accumulated so much cultural and financial capital so quickly, once she became a national television figure, that the thought has always been universal: if she really wanted to run, it is hard to see how she could be stopped.

Indeed, if the Americans elected her, she would undoubtedly turn out to have the same sort of presidential “pre-history” that Donald Trump did. People had been making “President Trump” jokes for ages, although we never noticed quite how many of those jokes there were until they all came true and weren’t jokes anymore.

On Sunday night, Oprah give an acceptance speech for a lifetime-achievement award at the Golden Globes, and people found it so stirring that it started a mini-wave of “Oprah 2020” references and remarks on social media. What was most interesting about the speech was not its intensity or its profundity, but the fact that it was, self-evidently, designed as a political candidate’s address.

[…]

If you would like a Hollywood liberal president, or any president other than the one the United States has, criticizing Oprah goes against your immediate partisan interests. (At least it probably does. Is anyone really too sure about the character of her personal core politics?) There is no sense denying it: if she did run, she probably could win. In 2016 we all got a stark lesson in just how much televisual familiarity, a large personal fortune, and control of media attention can accomplish in a presidential election.

And, of course, she has enormous charisma. Even those of us who think her influence on American culture has been baleful must acknowledge there is something magnificent and stately about her, and that she represents the American dream about as well as any individual human could. Financially, Donald Trump can only dream of having her track record — and, probably, her fortune.

It doesn’t mean she should be president. One almost suspects that the Oprah 2020 trial balloon might have enjoyed more success if it had been launched six months ago. Amid the tearful liberal trauma that followed the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the Most Qualified Presidential Candidate Of All Time, the despairing temptation to seek a television president even more familiar than Trump was bound to be more powerful. The passage of time, combined with Ms. Clinton’s obnoxious re-litigation of a strategically dumb campaign, may have helped blue America regain its senses. This is, I think, good news. And not just for the liberals.

January 4, 2018

“This is what you get when you touch the Orb”

Filed under: Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Jonah Goldberg thinks he’s identified the moment our timeline went screwy, sorta:

Ever since Donald Trump touched the Orb, praise be upon it, I’ve been making “This is what you get when you touch the Orb” jokes.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll tell you: On his trip to the Middle East in May, President Trump, along with the Saudi king and the president of Egypt, laid his hands on a glowing white orb for two minutes (which strikes me as a long time to touch an orb).

The image was like a mix of J.R.R. Tolkien and 1970s low-budget Canadian sci-fi. It looked like they were calling forth powerful eldritch energies from the chthonic depths or perhaps the forbidden zone.

Ever since then, when things have gotten weird, I’ve credited the Orb. For instance, when the Guardian reported that sex between Japanese snow monkeys and Sika deer may now constitute a new “behavioral tradition,” I tweeted, “the Orb has game, you can’t deny it.” When Roy Moore, the GOP Alabama Senate candidate, was plausibly accused of preying on teenagers and many evangelical leaders rallied to his defense, invoking biblical justifications for groping young girls, I admired the Orb’s cunning. And when the bunkered Moore decided to give one of his only interviews to a 12-year-old girl, I sat back and marveled at the Orb’s dark sense of humor.

But I know in my heart that it’s not the Orb’s fault things have gotten so weird, for the simple reason that rampant weirdness predates the Orb-touching by years.

I have a partial theory as to why, and it doesn’t begin with Trump. It begins with a failure of elites and the institutions they run.

December 29, 2017

2017 wasn’t all doom and gloom and Trump tweet wars

Veronique de Rugy manages to find three things that 2017 produced that somehow didn’t kill millions of Americans (so far, as far as we know):

First, President Donald Trump just signed a historic reduction in the corporate income tax rate, from 35 percent — the highest of all industrialized nations — to 21 percent. And except for a one-time repatriation tax, the U.S. will no longer tax most profits made by businesses overseas.

Both changes should boost economic growth and American workers’ wages. Moreover, the reform removes many of the distortions that discourage companies from investing foreign-earned income in the United States and prompt them to use tax avoidance techniques.

Second, this was a very good year for deregulation. Cutting taxes isn’t the only way to boost growth and raise wages; innovation may matter even more. Getting rid of duplicative and outdated regulatory hurdles to innovation promises to have a real impact on our lives. That’s what the Trump administration, with the help of Congress, seems committed to doing.

When the president first got to the White House, for example, he froze many not-yet-implemented Obama-era regulations. These include the punishing overtime pay regulation, which would have increased the cost of employing workers and ultimately reduced their base compensation to offset the increase in overtime pay.

[…]

Last but not least are the sustained efforts by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to slow down the process that would restore the Export-Import Bank, a bastion of cronyism, to its full and former glory.

Appointing enough board members to give Ex-Im a full quorum would instantly restore the agency’s ability to sign off on deals above $10 million for the benefit of a handful of very large foreign and domestic corporations. By resisting, the two senators are fighting a lonely fight on behalf of the unseen victims of corporate welfare.

December 14, 2017

Cognitive dissonance in action – Net Neutrality partisans want TRUMP to control the internet

Filed under: Government, Politics, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Jon Gabriel on the weird position Net Neutrality fans find themselves in … demanding that Il Donalduce himself, the most hated politician in Liberal America since Richard Nixon be the one to dictate how the internet is run:

If President Trump is some kind of digital facist, he sure has a funny way of going about it.

His FCC chairman is trying to remove government from the Internet, returning it to those dark, authoritarian days of 30 months ago — you know, when pretty much every website, app and online service we use was created.

Bizarrely, these net neutrality alarmists are demanding that Trump maintain control of the Internet, planting his administration firmly between citizens and whatever content they want to view or create.

Even if Democrats were running the show in Washington, how could federal meddling improve the Internet? Do they want the Web run by the bureaucrats who spent $2 billion to build a health care website that didn’t work? Do they want our privacy assured by those behind the National Security Agency?

Nevertheless, progressives insist that Trump regulate the Internet in the name of free speech. Perhaps he can do this between his tweets bashing the press.

[…]

If the FCC approves this new proposal, the worst of federal meddling online will be retired. Instead, the commission will simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their service offerings. That way, tech innovators will have the information they need and consumers will know which plan works best for them.

In other words, Web users and creators will be back in control of the Internet instead of lawyers and bureaucrats. Just as they were for all but the past couple of years.

To ensure transparency, Pai made all his proposals public before the FCC vote Thursday. A big departure from the Obama administration’s methods, which kept its net neutrality rules secret until after they were approved.

Before the FCC’s heavy-handed intervention, we saw the creation of Amazon, Google and Twitter. If Washington removes these unnecessary regulations as expected, we’ll see the Internet continue to blossom.

And my daughters will get to watch their favorite YouTube celebrities complain about net neutrality for years to come.

December 1, 2017

“Maybe Trump’s voters aren’t angry enough yet”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

One of the most disturbing phenomena of modern American political discourse is just how badly Trump’s critics are doing their jobs. It’s almost as though they’re collectively trying to get him another term in office. ESR has a bit of a rant:

I have more and more sympathy these days for the Trump voters who said, in effect, “Burn it all down.” Smash the media. Destroy Hollywood. Drain the DC swamp. We’ve all long suspected these institutions are corrupt. What better proof do we need than their systematic enabling of rape monsters?

As a tribune of the people Trump is deeply flawed. Some of his policy ideas are toxic. His personal style is tacky, ugly, and awful. But increasingly I am wondering if any of that matters. Because if he is good for nothing else, he is good for exposing the corruption, incompetence, and fecklessness of the elites – or, rather in their desperation to take him down before he breaks their rice bowls they expose themselves

Yeah. Is there anyone who thinks all these rocks would be turning over if Hillary the serial rape enabler were in the White House? Nope. With her, or any establishment Republican, it’d be cronyism all they way down, because they’d feel a need to keep the corrupt elites on side. Not Trump – his great virtue, perhaps overriding every flaw, is that he doesn’t give a fuck for elite approval.

Maybe Trump’s voters aren’t angry enough yet. It’s not just a large number of women our elites have raped and victimized, it’s our entire country. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our debt is astronomical, our universities increasingly resemble insane asylums, our largest inner cities are free-fire zones terrorized by a permanent criminal underclass. And what’s the elite response? Oh, look, a squirrel – where the squirrel of the week is carbon emissions, or transgender rights, or railing at “white privilege”, or whatever other form of virtue signaling might serve to hide the fact that, oh, look they put remote-controlled locks on their rape dungeons.

It’s long past time for a cleansing fire.

November 29, 2017

QotD: Exports are costs, not benefits

Filed under: Economics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

You correctly point out that Pres. Trump’s ignorance of trade leads to policies that reduce American exports (“Trump’s Pacific Trade Tear,” Nov. 11). But an even deeper problem with such policies is that they reduce American imports. This truth cannot be too often repeated: exports are costs incurred in order to receive benefits called “imports.”

If Trump were correct that exports are benefits and imports are costs, we Americans could become fabulously wealthy simply by loading all of our production onto ships and then sinking the ships in mid-ocean. Getting nothing from us, foreigners will send nothing to us. In fact, of course, as even a six-year-old child would recognize, such a trade policy would ensure our impoverishment.

Yet the trade policy championed by Trump differs from the sink-all-exports-in-mid-ocean policy only in degree and detail and not in kind. Trump is using his much-ballyhooed bargaining skills to arrange for us Americans to pay more to foreigners and to get less in return. The American president, in other words, is bargaining hard to make foreigners artificially richer by making Americans artificially poorer.

Don Boudreaux, “With Apologies to Bastiat”, Café Hayek, 2017-11-11.

November 23, 2017

If you think your taxes are too low, you can easily give the government more of your money

Filed under: Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

As discussed fairly recently, the government requires you to pay taxes up to a certain point, but there’s nothing stopping you from paying more than they ask. For Canadian federal taxes, Her Majesty in right of Canada would be delighted to accept any additional money you wish to donate. I’m sure your provincial or territorial government has a similar mechanism set up. Equivalent schemes are definitely available in the UK and probably other Commonwealth countries.

In the US, the tax rates are in the news again and the usual (ultra-wealthy) suspects are lining up to demand that the government not lower their taxes:

There’s an amusing ritual that takes place in Washington every time there’s a big debate about tax policy. A bunch of rich leftists will sign a letter or hold a press conference to announce that they should be paying higher taxes rather than lower taxes.

I’ve debated some of these people in the past, pointing out that they are “neurotic” and “guilt-ridden.”

But they apparently didn’t take my criticisms seriously and go into therapy, They’re now back and the Washington Post provides very favorable coverage to their latest exercise in masochism.

    More than 400 American millionaires and billionaires are sending a letter to Congress this week urging Republican lawmakers not to cut their taxes. The wealthy Americans — including doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and chief executive — say the GOP is making a mistake by reducing taxes on the richest families… Instead of petitioning tax cuts for the wealthy, the letter tells Congress to raises taxes on rich people like them. …The letter was put together by Responsible Wealth, a group that advocates progressive causes. Signers include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros… Most of the signers of the letter come from California, New York and Massachusetts.

Earlier in the month, I would have told these “limousine liberals” not to worry because I was pessimistic about the chances of a tax bill getting enacted. But then the Senate GOP unveiled a better-than-expected plan and I’m now semi-hopeful that something will make its way through the process.

That doesn’t mean, however, that these rich leftists should be despondent.

Because I’m a nice guy, today’s column is going to let them know that they don’t have to accept a tax cut. The Treasury Department has a website that they can use to voluntarily send extra money to Washington. It’s called “gifts to reduce the public debt,” and people like George Soros can have their accountants and lawyers calculate the value of any tax cut and then use this form to send that amount of money to D.C.

November 21, 2017

Scaling back the Imperial Presidency

Filed under: Government, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The US government was explicitly set up with clear separation of powers, to ensure that too many powers are not drawn together to create a potential tyranny. For over 100 years, the office of the President has been granted, or taken without challenge, more and more of the powers that the founders had intended to be kept separate. Many Democrats were horrified to discover just over a year ago that those powers could be inherited by a man they believed totally unfit for the job (and even some Republicans agreed). However, Donald Trump may be the first president in living memory to actually devolve power back to Congress:

Donald Trump did not campaign for president as the guy who would reverse the mostly unbroken, century-old trend of the executive power assuming more and more power in the face of an increasingly self-marginalizing Congress. If anything, the imperial presidency looked set to increase given Trump’s braggadocious personality and cavalier approach to constitutional restraints. “Nobody knows the system better than me,” he famously said during his worryingly authoritarian Republican National Convention speech, “which is why I alone can fix it.”

You wouldn’t know it from viewing policy through the prism of the president’s Twitter feed, which is filled with cajoling and insult toward the legislative branch, but Trump has on multiple occasions taken an executive-branch power-grab and kicked the issue back to Congress, where it belongs. As detailed here last month, the president has taken this approach on Iran sanctions, Obamacare subsidies, and the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), at minimum. And notably, his one Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was most famous pre-appointment for rejecting the deference that courts have in recent decades given to executive-branch regulatory agencies interpreting the statutory language of legislators.

Are there any other examples? Sure — the 15 regulatory nullifications this year via the Congressional Review Act (14 more than all previous presidents combined) are definitionally power-transfers from the executive to legislative. And certainly, the sharp decreases in the enactment, proposal, and even page-count of regulations amount to the administration declining to exercise as much power as its predecessors.

Josh Blackman also looks at this unexpected phenomenon:

Our Constitution carefully separates the legislative, executive, and judicial powers into three separate branches of government: Congress enacts laws, which the president enforces and the courts review. However, when all of these powers are accumulated “in the same hands,” James Madison warned in Federalist No. 47, the government “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” The rise of the administrative state over the last century has pushed us closer and closer to the brink. Today, Congress enacts vague laws, the executive branch aggrandizes unbounded discretion, and the courts defer to those dictates. For decades, presidents of both parties have celebrated this ongoing distortion of our constitutional order because it promotes their agenda. The Trump administration, however, is poised to disrupt this status quo.

In a series of significant speeches at the Federalist Society’s national convention, the president’s lawyers have begun to articulate a framework for restoring the separation of powers: First, Congress should cease delegating its legislative power to the executive branch; second, the executive branch will stop using informal “guidance documents” that deprive people of the due process of law without fair notice; and third, courts should stop rubber-stamping diktats that lack the force of law.

Executive power is often described as a one-way ratchet: Each president, Democrat or Republican, augments the authority his predecessor aggrandized. These three planks of the Trumpian Constitution — delegation, due process, and deference — are remarkable, because they do the exact opposite by ratcheting down the president’s authority. If Congress passes more precise statues, the president has less discretion. If federal agencies comply with the cumbersome regulatory process, the president has less latitude. If judges become more engaged and scrutinize federal regulations, the president receives less deference. Each of these actions would weaken the White House but strengthen the rule of law. To the extent that President Trump follows through with this platform, he can accomplish what few (myself included) thought possible: The inexorable creep of the administrative leviathan can be slowed down, if not forced into retreat.

November 7, 2017

“Paying for” tax cuts

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In the latest issue of the Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith explains why he isn’t a fan of the notion that tax cuts need to be “paid for”:

I am not an economist, nor do I play one on TV, but I know a hand-job when I see one. The mindless mutants who are mangling Donald Trump’s tax plans are dragging this nation and the world into a Da-Daesque vortex we may never get out of. (Only a “progressive” Democrat would stomp a man’s legs, break them in a dozen places, and then make fun of him because he can’t walk.) While lowering almost everybody’s taxes, they want a special bracket appended to the deal to punish people with a million dollars or more to “pay for” everybody else’s tax relief. My question, in an era when government takes too much away from us already, why the bloody hell should it be allowed to steal more?

Even from people who are supposedly hated by the “masses”? (I seriously doubt it. “The Democrat Party masses, more likely. Most right-wing masses — if there is such a thing — aspire to become millionaires, themselves.)

Half a century ago, when I was a shiny new Objectivist warrior, jousting with various statist orcs and trolls on the left, a major concern of theirs seemed to be the big, luxurious houses that rich people built for themselves or bought and lived in. Somehow, there was something evil or sinful in that — “conspicuous consumption” one famous comtard called it — and it needed to be stopped. It didn’t ever seem to have occurred to these feeble-minded pickpockets (who had likely never done an honest day’s work in their worthless lives) that the construction of a big, luxurious house (today, we call them McMansions) requires the skilled services of dozens, if not hundreds, of earth-movers, concrete-workers, framers, finish carpenters, glazers, roofers, plumbers, sheet-rock guys, landscapers, etc., most of whom have families to feed, clothe, and house, themselves.

They need rich people to build big, luxurious houses for.

In general, there are few, if any, ways the most malign “malefactor of great wealth” can spend his money without benefitting someone who needs a job. Even cocaine has to be cultivated and processed by somebody. This lesson was learned the hard way back in 1990 when Idiot-in-Chief George 41 Bush broke his “read my lips” promise and allowed a punitive “luxury tax” to be levied on yachts, big, expensive cars, and assorted other keen stuff like that. Hundreds of jobs were lost. Thousands suffered. One company went from 220 workers to 50 overnight. Within two years those who had stirred up class envy the most energetically were calling for repeal of this “hate the rich” tax. In the same way, millionaires’ money would fly overseas in an instant and vanish from our struggling economy.

October 27, 2017

The revival of the paranoid style in social media

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

During the Clinton presidency, the conspiracy theorists were limited to the reach of their printed-and-mailed newsletters and fringe radio to spread the word (because so relatively few people were online yet). By the time George W. Bush was president, the paranoia had gone digital but had switched sides … now it was the left’s turn to fret about shadowy quasi-governmental organizations amassing arms caches and plotting to throw everyone into prison camps. Then Obama was elected, and the far-right conspiracy theorists re-emerged, bringing in the racist fringe to spice up the crazy. Now Trump is president, and both left and right are free to get their total paranoia on. This is a wonderful example of the type:

H/T to Colby Cosh for the link.

October 25, 2017

Climb aboard the invective treadmill!

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle tries to point out the urge to call everyone you don’t like a “racist” or “white supremacist” runs you the same trust risk that the boy who cried wolf did:

It’s the inverse of what Steven Pinker has dubbed “the euphemism treadmill,” where we try to find nicer words for something we don’t think is very nice, and find that the new words quickly take on all the old connotations. So “toilet,” turns into “bathroom,” then migrates onward to “rest room.” Only we still know there’s a toilet behind that door, and whatever words we use about it, our feelings don’t change.

This is why attempting to change how Americans feel about illegal migrants by changing the terms we use to describe them is a project doomed to failure; whether they are “illegal aliens” or “undocumented immigrants,” the political realities remain the same. People who feel negatively toward “illegals” feel just as negatively toward “undocumented immigrants.”

The invective treadmill works in a similar fashion, only in reverse.

[…]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, I found myself confronted by a curious problem: Many of my readers simply didn’t take it seriously when I pointed out that Donald Trump was, if not an outright racist himself, at least happily pandering to people who were.

“The media calls every Republican racist,” my conservative readers replied. “They said it about Mitt Romney, they said it about George Bush, so what’s different about Trump?”

They were right. Other columnists had accused Romney and Bush of being racist and pandering to racists. I pointed out that Trump’s racist appeals were different, and much worse, than anything that earlier Republican presidential candidates had been accused of. But it didn’t do any good. The media had cried wolf to condemn garden-variety Republicans; labels like “racist” had been rendered useless when a true threat emerged. We shouted to no avail as Trump coyly flirted with hardcore white supremacists, something no mainstream party had done for decades.

Indeed, it seems to me that critical race theorists have gone to “white supremacy” precisely because the increasingly broad uses of the word “racism” have made it less effective than it used to be at rallying moral outrage. The term still packs some wallop, but less than it once did, because it is now defined so broadly that a Broadway musical could sing “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” White supremacy, on the other hand, is still clearly understood as beyond the pale.

But if we indiscriminately apply the term to everything from the alt-right white nationalist Richard Spencer, to anyone who thinks that football players should stand for the national anthem … for how long will white supremacy still be considered beyond the pale? What happens if people accused of racism start shrugging off the epithet — or worse, embracing it? And when another Richard Spencer comes along, how will we convey how dangerous he is?

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