URLs du Jour


  • We are in a heap of trouble. The Reason Foundation (associated with, but not the same as, the magazine) has a set of scary visualizations: Debtor Nation. Here's number one:

    Need some text to go along with that?

    At the end of 2021, the $29.6 trillion debt of the United States federal government was 1.3 times larger than the annual economic output of the country. The U.S. is now reaching federal debt levels, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), that we have not seen since the end of World War II. As of this writing, the national debt is more than $30 trillion. 

    Federal spending is increasingly untethered from fiscal realities. From 1965 to 2022, the federal government ran an annual budget deficit in 52 of the 57 years.

    The annual federal budget deficits during and following the Great Recession of 2007-2009 were dwarfed by the recent federal deficits of 2020 and 2021, however, when annual budget deficits were $3.1 and $2.8 trillion respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdowns and policies sparked the largest spending bills in American history, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020. A year later, in March 2021, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.

    Click over, remembering this quote snippet from The Empire Strikes Back:

    Luke: I'm not afraid.
    Yoda: You will be.

  • Need some good news? Bravery and persistence (sometimes) pays off, and Jack Fowler provides a case study: A Persistent Cook Serves Up a Winning Recipe for the First Amendment.

    Tina Curtis, the lead cook for the New Haven, Conn., Board of Education, may not have figured herself to be a First Amendment warrior. But by prevailing over her government-union bosses in what may prove to be an important Janus-rights case, she has shown herself to be exactly that.

    Curtis’s story is a familiar one. Since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME asserted that the First Amendment protects government employees from compulsory union membership and obligatory dues-paying, many state and municipal public-sector workers have sought to exercise this free-speech right. But too often, union officials have gaslit and baldly lied to these workers, in a desperate attempt to maintain the forced-dues bounty that, for decades, has crammed Big Labor’s coffers.

    In New Haven, the 20-year worker’s union bosses and representatives undeniably understood the message of Janus. And then chose to willfully ignore it.

    Bottom line: after some sane lawyer explained Janus to the union, they folded "like a cheap suit".

    It's NRPLUS, so… you should get NRPLUS.

    And I know "folded like a cheap suit" is a longtime simile, but I just realized I'm not sure what it means. The union folded quickly and completely. Is that how a cheap suit folds?

    Yeah, pretty much. A likely explanation here.

  • Hidden Agenda Watch. Elizabeth Nolan Brown thinks she's found one: Republicans Seek Child Support Payments for Fetuses.

    New legislation would require some fathers to pay child support during pregnancy, beginning in the month of conception. The Unborn Child Support Act—introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R–N.D.) last Wednesday—would amend the Social Security Act "to ensure that child support for unborn children is collected and distributed under the child support enforcement program."

    I'm cool with that. But what about that hidden agenda, Elizabeth?

    Abortion opponents are often accused of not doing much to actually help women with unwanted or difficult pregnancies. Looked at in one light, the Unborn Child Support Act is simply a bid to remedy that.

    "Caring for the well-being of our children begins long before a baby is born," said Cramer in a statement. "It begins at the first moment of life—conception—and fathers have obligations, financial and otherwise, during pregnancy."

    But sponsors of the bill may have a hidden agenda. By amending federal law to say that child support is owed during pregnancy, the Unborn Child Support Act could help establish that legal personhood begins at conception—a change that could have implications far beyond child support.

    Well, she didn't say it was a well hidden agenda.

  • The next time you see someone claim that conservatives are uniquely bad at viral misinformation… you can always point them to Jesse Singal's substack article: An Attempt To Accurately Explain The Viral Controversy Over The Leon County, Florida School System’s Policy On Trans Kids. Warning, it's long.

    A couple weeks ago there was a mass Twitter panic about the Leon County, Florida school system. In a now-deleted tweet (I’ll explain), an actor and TV writer named Benjamin Siemon wrote: “This school board in FL voted that if an LGBTQ child is in a P.E. class or attending an overnight trip that ALL the parents in their class will receive a notification about it, which essentially paints these children as sex offenders that require warnings.” 

    [Deleted tweet image elided]

    Siemon’s tweet linked to a story in the Tallahassee Democrat that covered the school board meeting where the policy was officially passed. That story, in turn, contained a link to a PDF titled “The Leon County School District’s LGBTQ Inclusive Guide with amendments,” which included language like:

    Parent notification example: 

    All students are allowed to access locker rooms and restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodations. A student who is open about their gender identity is in your child's Physical Education class or extra/co-curricular activity. If you are requesting accommodations for your student, please contact school administration to discuss reasonable accommodation options.

    It would be hard to overstate the horror that set in on Twitter as Siemon’s tweet spread, and as others found the Democrat article and the linked document. “[M]an, when I was a kid casual homophobia was absolutely rampant but we never had anything like this,” tweeted Ryan Cooper, managing editor of the liberal American Prospect magazine.

    Many more progressive-Twitter freakouts are provided, and the story filtered up to "respectable" news outlets.

    But, as Singal carefully teases out, the actual reality is a lot different than the self-styled "reality-based community" claimed.

  • In the interests of equal time. Even though there's no Fairness Doctrine any more, let alone one for blogs, I should point out this Mollie Hemingway article NeverTrump's Latest Attempt To Dismiss Election Concerns Is Dishonest. It's a response to "Lost, not Stolen", the comprehensive report rebutting claims by Trump and (some of) his supporters that the 2020 election was stolen. I linked to that report, approvingly, a few days ago. But let's see what Mollie has to say:

    It is not news that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. The report’s strawman-slaying title is intended to suggest that concerns about the integrity of that election are without merit. But the report itself simply goes through court decisions and recounts, listing how they turned out. It focuses on questions about “fraud,” rather than the significant and extremely well-substantiated concerns Republican voters have about the election.

    “Their methodology obscures the vast majority of actual material to consider if one were honestly engaging the problems,” said Capital Research Center President Scott Walter. His group has documented the significant role played by Mark Zuckerberg’s private funding of government election offices, a massive issue that the report almost completely elided.

    Okay. By claiming the report is "strawman-slaying", she implicitly agrees that the election wasn't "stolen".

    So she wishes the authors of the report had talked about something else instead, like ZuckBucks. Uh, fine, I guess, I think Zuckerberg's election antics were bad, but they were above-board and legal. (Maybe they shouldn't have been legal.)

    But I didn't see where she actually disagreed with anything in the report..

    She makes a very big deal that the folks signing the report were Trump-hostile before the election controversy. Also fine.

    But Mollie and the report authors are really talking past each other.

  • At least. Ann Althouse investigates Movies that you have to watch twice to understand. It's a lists of other people's lists, and it's interesting to count up how many I've seen. But here's the bit I was amused by:

    3. "Top 20 Movies That You Have to Watch Twice to Understand" (Mojo). At #2 is “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968):

    Nowadays, when you watch a film that leaves you puzzled, the internet is there to help. But can you imagine watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” back in 1968?

    Not only can I imagine it. I can remember it. I can even remember verbatim what my companion said to me when it ended: "What the hell was that?"

    Yeah, me too. Down to what my companion (Hi, Buffie!) said when it ended.

Last Modified 2024-01-22 9:10 AM EDT