Freedom ain't free Ugliness

Why we should hope the Trump family business thrives

November 23, 2016

There is much silliness abroad in the land, but little is as silly as the outrage on the left over the idea that the Trump family might actually profit in some way from the presidency. This, from the side that saw nothing inappropriate in the Clinton family’s sudden prosperity, from “dead broke” in 2000 to centimillionaires — one of only about 5000 families in the United States with that much wealth — a few short years later.

But never mind that moral cartwheel. The manufactured outrage over Ivanka’s bracelet is all you need to know about how the suddenly powerless chattering classes regard the Trump family. If you are late to the story, Ivanka’s jewelry company advertised the “bangle” that she wore on “60 Minutes” as the bangle that she wore on “60 Minutes.” Cue outrage. Repeat.

Please remind us why selling books and receiving royalties therefor — as Kennedys, Clintons, and Obamas, and many others before have done — is somehow less offensive than the daughter of the president-elect, who is a celebrity in her own right, continuing to promote her business after her father has won the White House? Because books are somehow less, er, deplorable than jewelry? Does not the precedent of Billy Beer amply cover the non-book situation? Jewelry is icky but books and beer aren’t? Some might even call that sexist, but who are we to know what is and is not an intersectionality foul?

The bracelet story had traction because the leftist opposition to Trump is trying to make the case that his presidency will be all about his own financial profit, as if there were anybody who voted for Trump who did not know he was a billionaire with sprawling business interests dependent on the glory, or gaudiness, of his name. The basic idea is that Trump will some how make a ton of money because of all the people willing to walk through the demonstrations surrounding his properties just to be seen spending money there. Or something like that. It is all very confusing, perhaps because most of the people who write such drivel haven’t the first clue how business owners and executives make decisions.

No matter. Our broader point is this: We should all hope that President Trump will try to increase the economic value of his business.

Yeah, we just wrote that.

Apart from the obvious point — that leveraged real estate assets are a lot more valuable in a vibrant economy than in a foundering one, and even lefties claim they want a vibrant economy — do the people who are denouncing Trump for this reason (as opposed to other reasons) really think that resorts and hotels and branded consumer goods thrive when half the country is in full-on boycott mode? Remember the liberal laughter back in September when stories emerged that Trump’s businesses were suffering because of the controversy over his campaign? See the comments at the end of this story if you missed that unifying moment.

Trump needs to put an end to the demonstrations and the boycotts before he has a chance of building value in his business. And there is only one way to do that: Tack hard to the center, actually govern as a moderate, and — this is the most important — act neutrally and even inclusively toward the groups who most resent the tone and rhetoric of his campaign. Will he do that? We have no idea, but if you believe that Trump will use the presidency to “profit” in his business, then you also have to believe he will at least try to stop offending and enraging his customers. And who other than an unreconstructed partisan wouldn’t be grateful for that?


Ugly linkage

June 8, 2016

We’re sitting in Newark Airport after a long five days, and it is definitely time for Ugly Linkage. Please remain calm.

She Who Must Be Obeyed Is Not Trump may be poised, careful in her choice of words, and completely free of animosity toward Mexican-American judges, but she has a lot of explaining to do even according to Salon:

Among all the rivers of money that have flowed to the Clinton family, one seems to raise the biggest national security questions of all: the stream of cash that came from 20 foreign governments who relied on weapons export approvals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Federal law designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In practice, that meant that Clinton was charged with rejecting or approving weapons deals — and when it came to Clinton Foundation donors, Hillary Clinton’s State Department did a whole lot of approving.

While Clinton was secretary of state, her department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors. That figure from Clinton’s three full fiscal years in office is almost double the value of arms sales to those countries during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

Hillary’s defense: “One or two” donations “may have slipped through the cracks.” We shit you not.
All of which reminds of this beautiful Austin moment:

El Arroyo

Credit: Somebody random on Facebook.

Speaking of which, egads:

We increasingly believe that when it comes down to it, so to speak, we will #FeelTheJohnson (if you search that on Twitter, by the way, your results will be surprisingly clean and uplifting…).

As others have said, Troll Level: Grandmaster.

Also from Glenn, the “most epic correction of the decade.” No, really. It makes one wonder why we allow our tax money to go to social science research at all.

As a Cubs fan, we are not happy to see hype like this:

We also note that the ’27 Yankees really did not become the ’27 Yankees until well in to the summer of that year. (No, we are not “the baseball guy,” but we did read listen to Bill Bryson’s awesome book “One Summer: America, 1927”, which we recommend without reservation.)

That is all.

Freedom ain't free Ugliness

Gender identity’s crucible

June 6, 2016

We have found ourselves in a couple of touchy conversations about bathroom rules lately, specifically with regard to the sturm und drang over the apparently widely feared presence of trans women in the ladies room, especially in schools. We have been called upon by cis-normative conservatives (yeah, we wrote that just to misbehave) in our circle to defend the honor of our women — don’t we fear for our daughters? — but when we polled our women they were quite clear they needed no defense and agreed with the substance of President Obama’s intervention, cranky federalism qualifications to one side. The prevailing view in the hep ‘n’ cool circles in which our wife and daughters run is that trans people are far more likely to be victims of abuse than perpetrators, so diminishing that risk is a good thing even at the cost of some discomfort (or even the occasional assault by a trans person).

Anyway, our purpose is not to litigate the bathroom issue, which does not much interest us personally, but to put this story in to context. It seems that a former young man now identifying as a young woman has qualified for the 100 and 200 meter events in the Alaska state track and field finals. The competitor — yes, a dodge, but we’re trying not to go down a rabbit hole here — who rejoices in the name Nattaphon Wangyot, is no muscle-bound sprinter looking for an easy gold. wangyot

Wangyot may, however, have an advantage that girls who are born girls do not have. Who really knows in any given case? But who can prove otherwise? (We should say that this question of gender identity in sports is not entirely new to your Editor. Fifteen years ago he played on a company softball team that rounded out its required number of females with a trans woman who was not nearly so, er, lithe as Ms. Wangyot. It being New Jersey, the other teams were not entirely silent on the question of fairness, but justice prevailed basically because nobody gave a rat’s ass about the local corporate softball league.)

And therein lies the rub. While Americans can and will get comfortable with revisions to public restroom admission protocols (and we think Republicans are again shooting themselves in the foot on the issue), high school sports are freaking sacred. Reflect, if you will, on the many times you have witnessed the faintest shadow of a hint of “unfairness” in the sport of children leveraged in to a foam-speckled shouting match, figuratively or even literally. The chattering classes, who mostly got that way by sucking at high school sports, have literally no idea how big this issue will become, and what pressure it will put on the position of trans athletes, even in the otherwise forgiving hearts of northeastern suburban soccer moms and Little League dads. OK, there are very few forgiving Little League dads, but you get our point.

The only saving grace here is that this issue will not affect Texas high school football, at least as a question of fairness. But girls basketball in Iowa? Hmm…


We hait to complain about typos, but…

June 2, 2016

From the web site of the Austin Independent School District, a self-beclowning typo…

AISD spelling

We flirted with clicking through the link to complain about it — sort of a meta complaint — but then thought better of entangling with school cops, who as a class are not known for their happy-go-lucky approach to sarcasm. Who knows what crazy zero tolerance policy we might run afoul of?


Ugly linkage, Austin edition

May 31, 2016

Ugly linkage disclaimer here.

For the last two years, one or more bags of douche have been throwing rocks down on cars from bridges or elevated positions over Interstate 35 in Austin. More than eighty vehicles have been hit, and five people have been injured only in the last month. The police have not caught anybody, notwithstanding lots of high tech surveillance and political pressure. Regardless, if they do catch a rock-thrower it would seem that stoning would be the right punishment. Yeah, we hate to borrow from Islamic law as much as the next person, but if we don’t deter these bastards quickly it will become a thing, like graffiti and cutting, and that will suck large.

Austin’s government has imposed a moratorium on new street events in downtown Austin because congestion, or something like that. The moratorium is now set to expire, and the city is surveying its peeps to see if they support an extension. We love street events so our opposition to the street-event moratorium is self-interested, but there is a bigger issue at stake. The moratorium freezes the status quo, privileging — we used that word just to troll the lefties — incumbent events and denying access to newcomers. This strikes us as very much of a piece with killing Uber and Lyft by regulation or clamping down on short-term rentals. Austin’s current city government just loves the status quo. Don’t they realize that will kill the goose the lays the golden eggs?

The Austin cops arrested an activist who was filming them on dirty 6th. Allegedly, the dude was too close. We struggle with cases such as these, because we are a First Amendment absolutist, or as close as one can reasonably get without being a complete lunatic, and we are not big fans of either police or activists. Both have a strong busybody streak, and we do not like busybodies.

Surprising exactly nobody who is not an economic retard, black market ridesharing has popped up to replace Uber and Lyft, which famously quit Austin after voters sustained onerous regulations imposed by the city council. So reasonable regulation and corporate oversight is now eclipsed by no oversight. But we got international humiliation out of it so that’s something.

While the “Texas beer economy is booming,” the Lone Star State ranks only 42nd for breweries per capita. Thankfully, “we’re far from saturated,” or so the article says.


The next move in transportation engineering

May 17, 2016

We all know that ridesharing apps allow for the rating of both drivers and passengers, which system inherently disciplines the behavior of both. Along comes this idea for flying, which I would get behind. Especially if the voting power were amplified according to frequent flyer status.

This would be very bad news for extremely fat people in my row.


Ugly linkage

May 15, 2016

You guys know the drill.

Allegedly, unnamed “Republicans” have approached Mark Cuban about taking on Donald Trump in a third-party bid. This might be a case of learning a lesson too well. Regardless, the only third party bid that matters is one that can take a state or two and throw the election in the House. And if you don’t follow that last point, go read the very clear text of the 12th Amendment and hope for salvation.

Public health experts from Hahvahd strongly advise that Brazil cancel the Olympics because Zika. We know a little bit about public health, and agree with the recommendation. The rationale in the linked article, however, pains us because it in part rests on chattering class moralizing:

Dr. Richard E. Besser, ABC News’s chief health and medical editor, highlighted five things that report author Amir Attaran identifies in defense of such a drastic recommendation: Rio’s proximity to the disease; the dangers associated with this particular strain; the increase in tourism that will risk spreading the Zika virus to other countries; the short amount of time health officials will have to develop control measures; and, finally, what Attaran calls the irresponsibility in placing sports above public health. (Emphasis added.)

Two observations. First, our Western notions of individual rights really date from the antibiotic era. This is no coincidence, because fighting infectious disease involves the elevation of collective interests over the individual. If antibiotics fail or lethal viruses emerge in the West, expect to see us retreat from individual rights. It will take time and plenty of litigation, but it will happen. You read it here first.

Second, since when don’t we “place sports above public health”? Anybody look at the injury rates in football, the social consequences of poor kids chasing the dream of the NBA, the environmental impact of golf courses, or the public health consequences of lying around drinking beer and watching sports on TV? We all put sports above public health, and that is just as well, too. Maximizing life span is not the highest value, or ought not be.

This is apparently real:

Question authority, and resist stereotypes.

Who could have seen this coming?

Besides everyone, we mean. Remember, when a consequence is not only predictable but predicted, it is not unintentional. Punch back twice as hard.

Really revolting people shaking down small businesses in the name of social justice. The combination of virtue-signaling and greed is especially despicable. Don’t invite these people to cocktail parties.

Live free or die.


Ugly linkage

May 10, 2016

We are jealous of our secret identity for many reasons, among them that we often laugh when it is wholly “inappropriate” — we believe that is the word — to do. Please do not condemn us for this. We bet that you also have some ugly vice that you are ashamed of.

Herewith, the evening’s ugly linkage.

So, this absolutely has to be the most laugh-out-loud correction to appear in the New York Times since, well, the invention of corrections.
nyt correction

That, ladies and germs, ain’t a mere typo. Shakespearean as it may be, no cube farm full of monkeys, or Grey Lady interns, could have come up with that randomly banging on their keyboards. The New York Times must have accidentally hired somebody with a great sense of humor and a poor handle on office politics. As so often happens.

New York City has joined San Francisco and Austin in restricting plastic grocery bags. New York has merely required retailers to charge a fee instead of imposing an outright ban, which is just as well considering this handy bit of news:

A whopping 97 percent of consumers don’t regularly wash their bags, according to a report from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. Their researchers swabbed 84 bags for bacteria, and the findings were outright nasty: coliform bacteria in half, E. coli in 12 percent.

When San Francisco banned plastic bags, the number of E. coli infections spiked. Even worse, the number of foodborne-illness deaths rose a whopping 46 percent in the three months after the bag ban began.

We wonder if anybody has done a similar study in Austin, which banned disposable bags in 2013. We did find this report, which found that Austin’s law has not — be sure you are sitting down — produced the expected environmental benefits because of “unintended” consequences. Uh, if a consequence is obvious to a normal person, by which we do not mean a “progressive” activist, it cannot be said to be unintended.

This is totally harsh. But funny.

Context here.

If we needed more evidence that populism of the left and right are not really very different, the prosecution should rest on this bit of polling data: Over four in 10 Sanders voters in West Virginia would vote for Trump. To be fair, these are West Virginian Sanders voters, which are probably not yer usual Sandersnistas, but still…

A couple of San Francisco cops beat the hell out of a suspect for no obvious reason, and the whole thing is caught on surveillance cameras. Video here. The beaten suspect is named “Petrov” and the vicious cop on point rejoices in the name of Luis Santamaria, so the usual narrative fails, but here is my question: How is it that it does not occur to cops in San Francisco in 2016 that they might get caught because, you know, cameras everywhere? Setting aside Santamaria’s apparently defective character, how do you give somebody that transportingly stupid a state-sanctioned monopoly on the lawful use of force?

In the hunt for this suspect, don’t bother checking the dental records.

We can’t decide whether this is more weird than cool, or the reverse.
That is all.