URLs du Jour


Proverbs 17:11 isn't fond of evildoers:

11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
    the messenger of death will be sent against them.

Well, that's very Old Testamenty.

■ In happier news, it's Winter Solstice at 11:28am (EST) today. But—oops—that's not happier news. Because Dec. 21 will be the worst day of 2017, astrologers say.

But this short, little day with the great many names also may be the worst day of the year, according to astrologers. The reason? Saturn.

Apparently, the sun will appear to pass in front of the constellation Capricorn hours after Saturn does likewise. This will cause both of these orbs to line up for the first time time since 1664, according to London astrologer Neil Spencer, who writes for The (London) Observer but first wrote about the alignment on his blog.

Perhaps worst of all, USA Today reports this in its "tech" section.

Nevertheless, here's wishing you all a very Saturnalian Solstice.

■ We try to avoid ghoulishness here at Pun Salad, but there's some Lessons To Be Learned from the fatal Amtrak accident on the Point Defiance Bypass. First, Holman Jenkins, Jr. in the [probably paywalled] WSJ: Fast Rail Goes Awry in Seattle.

Donald Trump tweeted that Monday’s accident on the same line proved the need for infrastructure investment. Actually, the line was a product of infrastructure investment, part of the high-speed rail package in the 2009 “stimulus” bill. Will the president learn to get the facts before he tweets? Of course he will—when pigs fly.

We've heard Progressives endlessly complain that tax reform, net neutrality repeal, Obamacare repeal, etc., etc. will kill people. But when Your Federal Government actually kills people, there's a kind of hush.

■ At Cato, Randal O'Toole piles on with many (he stops counting at six) Questions to Ask About Amtrak 501. Here's number one:

1. Congress required passenger railroads to install positive train control (PTC) by the end of 2015. Why did the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) give money to the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for a new passenger rail line that would not open until after 2015 when the project didn’t guarantee funding for positive train control?

Answer: The Obama administration wanted to distribute high-speed rail funds to as many states as possible in order to build political backing for the program, so it couldn’t be bothered with positive train control. The tracks the train was on are owned by Sound Transit, which says it is installing PTC, but it won’t be finished until spring. Public releases of WSDOT’s application for funds for this train didn’t mention PTC.

O'Toole makes a good case for phasing out Amtrak. Which won't happen, because Congress loves to play with its full-scale train set.

■ Veronique de Rugy is our go-to gal for Export-Import Bank news, and she notes the sad news we've previously reported: The Cronies Vote Down Scott Garett’s Ex-Im Bank Appointment.

That’s disappointing, because Garrett would have restored some accountability and transparency at the Bank while making sure that companies in countries that weren’t allowed to be sponsored by U.S. taxpayers (think about Boeing selling planes to Iran) weren’t getting Ex-Im loans. Make no mistake, a vote against Garrett signals the power of special interests, lobbyists, and the swamp over politicians, both Republicans and Democrats.

Veronique notes that President Trump could give some teeth to his "drain the swamp" rhetoric by refusing to nominate anyone else, and withdrawing his other candidates for the bank.

Or he could nominate me. I'm retired, and it would be a sacrifice for me to take on the job, and (oh, yeah) I'm totally unqualified. But I'm willing.

■ At Reason, Christian Britschgi also notes the obvious: The Senate's Rejection of Export-Import Bank Critic Shows How Entrenched Crony Capitalism is in Washington.

Since 2015, operations of the Export-Import bank have been largely stalled, as empty board seats have left it without the quorum it needs to approve larger deals. The silver lining to Garrett's rejection is that the Bank will continue to be hobbled in conducting many of its ordinary operations.

The Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee were unanimously opposed to Garrett, including Elizabeth Warren, whose railings against big business and a "rigged" system are thereby shown to be bullshit.

■ And Pastor Hans Fiene, at the Federalist, offers A Sneak Peek At Hallmark’s Next Christmas Movie via a leaked script. Beginning:

[Opening Scene]

I can't wait for next Christmas! And if I lived in Channahon, Illinois I would seriously consider attending Pastor Fiene's church. (Missouri Synod?! Well... maybe even so.)