This Looney Toon of a presidential election takes me back, gods forbid, to elections past.
It takes me to Nixon-Humphrey, the previous absolute-worst political pairing in my lifetime. Before that, I was political, but only because my mom was political and I took after her. All Democrats were good, all Republicans were Eeeeevil, and John Kennedy was the best Democrat of all because he was handsome and a Democrat and he came to our town campaigning and I almost got to touch him. Life was simple.
I was still too young to v*te when the major parties threw up Nixon and Humphrey. But it was the first time I knew something was rotten on both sides. And Mom’s adoration for the tubby hack from Minnesota merely made me wonder what she’d been smoking (or rather, not smoking, since the smoking people of 1968 were as horrified by Hubie the Mediocre as they were by Milhaus the Whining Retread).
I think I may have even declared my intention to leave the country — years ahead of Alec Baldwin and his ilk, but just as insincerely. The fact that I was too young to get a passport excuses me, right? And shortly after that, there were Libertarians and retreaters (the name back then for prepper-survivalists) and cool non-political newsletters from the heady combo of Rothbard and Hess, and many other things besides politics-as-usual to put hopes in.
But this utterly hope-less election of 2016 — with its likely pairing of two megalomaniacs who use government for incessant personal gain and whose “principles” are light enough to blow wherever the next breeze takes them — also takes me back to the one-and-only national election where I felt an actual stirring of hope.
I owe Dr. Jim an apology. It must be two months now since he sent me a copy of his book for review. I meant to get on it right away. But you know, I just could not bring myself to pick up and read that book.
It’s not that there was anything wrong with it. On the contrary, at a glance it was obviously a solid, professional piece of work. I already knew Dr. Jim, an occasional Commentariat participant, writes clearly with an amazingly light touch given the subject matter. The book is lucid, well laid-out, and easy on the eye.
I just could not force myself to endure a rehash of the hash that politicians are making of what was once (and in some ways still is) the best medical system on the planet.
Once I belatedly opened the cover, I realized I had nothing to dread.
I’ll be doing a little extra blogging this week because I’ve been doing physical labor (drywalling) and need a break from it. Also because … Panama Papers.
I hadn’t heard of the scandal until Monday when jc2k linked to it in comments. By then it was already 24 hours old (ancient in Internet Time) and had been thoroughly clucked over by all the usual suspects.
The collective bottom line seems not only to be, “OMG, gov-o-crats are hiding ill-gotten gains offshore!” (this is a shock to anybody?) but, “Offshore privacy should be done away with!”
Um … yeah. Hasn’t offshore privacy already been curbed a time or three? And don’t gangsters and gov-o-crats and their cronies (but I repeat myself) always find some way to hide ill-gotten gains? And don’t ordinary, innocent people with assets that need to be protected from the above also take advantage of the “loopholes” that are inevitably left for the kleptocrats?
The notion that you can do away with financial hidey-holes — especially financial hidey-holes both controlled and utilized by people who are in charge of the laws and regulations governing said hidey-holes is as tidily moralistic as the notion that you can do away with drugs, guns, liquor, or whatever other bugaboo the moral moment might focus on. And just as untidy in practice.
Most people use offshore corporations for legitimate purposes — like the legitimate need to protect honest gains and assets from thieves in governments.
But that won’t do, will it? So now we’ll see yet another big moral crusade against offshore tax shelters.
Laws, regulations, treaties, and those trendy not-a-treaty-but-just-like-one-only-simpler-to-impose trade agreements will be changed. Everybody will say, “Good job! We’ve foiled the eeeevil plans of kleptocrats and organized crimesters. Decency shall now reign forevermore.” And after a few hiccups, thievery and corruption will go on as usual using some slightly different form of hidey-hole. Preserving wealth will merely become that much harder for those who lack the government connections or the will to break the latest round of laws. (Which reminds me of this study on human sacrifice and social hierarchy that came out this week.)
Bigger questions I haven’t heard anybody asking yet. How to catch and whack the kleptocrats without busting the legitimate privacy of hundreds of thousands of decent human beings (actual, old-fashioned investigation, perhaps — the following of specific suspicions, specific evidence, specific leads)? Why wasn’t Mossack Fonseca, that Panamanian law firm, doing more to protect its clients’ records, since privacy is supposed to be at the core of its business? And how many other ordinary people are at risk of disclosure from similar hacks at similar firms?
But this … once again takes “small-space living” to crazy extremes. Only in San Francisco. Or New York City. Or London. Or other places that have become hellholes for normal people.
Kevin Wilmeth comments on my TZP “constitutional carry” piece and gets it exactly right: “The only downside I can see, honestly, is that celebrating a good thing for what it is, isn’t going to help the sort of prag mindset that still can’t distinguish between long-term strategy and true pre-emptive surrender.”
Reading true-crime stories (yes, one of my secret vices), I’m repeatedly struck by the way victims are often complicit in the horrors committed against them.
I’m not talking about the woman who takes a strange man home from a bar or the family that fails to lock its doors when a burglar is on the loose (though them, too). I’m talking about victims who feel personal loyalty to “friends,” relations, leaders, and professionals who are doing them obvious harm.
Or the followers of a preacher who’s degrading and controlling them for his own sick benefit. Jeffs. Jones.Creffield. The horror stories go back at least to the middle ages and more likely to the dawn of human time.
I’m talking about people who repeatedly believe obvious, manipulative sociopathic liars. (The link is to a Joseph Wambaugh book that details one of the creepiest examples of manipulation and self-deception I’ve ever read about. But obviously it’s just one example of thousands.)
Short version: Court orders Apple to develop new software for the fedgov that will compromise every Apple customer’s security. Fedgov lies and says it wants only to crack one terrorist’s phone. Cook responds like a real privacy advocate. This response is neither altruism nor political activism. It is — finally! — a tech company recognizing who actually pays its bills. Among other things.
Well, this is depressing. Fear of punishment from a vengeful god turns out to produce social good. Not surprising, really. That’s probably why vengeful gods were invented (by those who wanted to define social good for everybody else).
Nicki on government health care as the ultimate sickness. Man, such horror stories should have been left behind in the Soviet Union.
Smart guns, stupid science (and that’s even without addressing their “features” of being hackable and remote shut-offable).
Just five years old and already the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a hotbed of abuse, including race-based corporate shakedowns.
U.S. Capitol cops have to abandon their shooting range after “safety” improvements caused unsafe conditions. (And what’s that about getting a little nick at the corner of your eye, fella? Not wearing your goggles, were you???) (H/T Jim Bovard)
“This was all planned,” says former State Department inspector general, surprising no one but adding damning detail.
Also not surprising: Project Europe is doomed. But did anyone anticipate it would happen this particular way? Do you sometimes feel you’re watching one of history’s major shifts here? Something like the barbarians crossing the frozen Rhine in 406, but in slower motion.
If Bernie Sanders wins, he’d not only be the first Jewish president of the USA, he’d be the first candidate honest enough to admit to not being religious. Unlike, you know, Hillary who’s apparently a devout, lifelong believer in … oh, whatever.
You have to dig through the comments to get the message, but it’s possible the fedgov isn’t aiming to kill the Elio, after all.
The eight worst guns ever made. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of room for debate on these kinds of lists, but I seriously think they might have really nailed it here, especially on their #1 worst choice.
Another flash story via MJR: “Taze.” A few paragraphs; a world of encouragement.
The feds have broken the Oregon standoff with arrests and one killing. A remnant remains. Leaders were apparently lured out on the pretext of attending a community meeting and trapped at a roadblock. Why? Why not wait them out? (H/T db)
I’ve never understood the mentality that official (or family) wrongdoing is fine as long as no one exposes it and that any person exposing the wrongdoing is somehow the problem. I’ve experienced that mentality, God knows (haven’t we all?), but I’ll never understand it as long as I live. Anyhow … sometimes justice eventually prevails. (H/T jed in comments)
Kinda funny. Not surprising, though. The most overconfident students (in one study, at least) are in political science. (Even more interesting where the least confident are — the fields that require hard evidence.)
In the schadenfreude department: Melissa Click, the social-justice pecksniff who shoved one reporter and called for “muscle” to remove another from a public demonstration, has been charged with assault.
Despite using annoying “gun violence” language, this CNN article brings the good news that mental health professionals aren’t likely to sit still for Obama administration attempts to label every mentally ill person as too dangerous to own a firearm. With statistics, even!
If this is accurate in describing how classified material “escapes” from secure servers and ends up on private ones, then Hillary and several of her staffers should already be sitting in jail awaiting trial.
Everybody was so busy panicking over the recent snowpocalypse that they forgot what billions of little kids have known since prehistory: snow can be fun. (Tip o’ hat to PT)
In your cheery dog news for the day: Alabama bloodhound decides on her own to enter a half-marathon; wins ribbon. (H/T ML)