URLs du Jour


  • Oops, I did it again. I typed a snarky tweet in response to our state's junior senator:

    Gee, why didn't she think of that before?

    But seriously. Senator Hassan's self-praising press release has (slightly) more detail about her proposed panacea.

    Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced today that she is introducing a bill to help address New Hampshire’s housing crisis by expanding housing opportunities, which will increase housing options for families and in turn, help businesses attract workers.

    “Investing in housing helps families across the state and boosts local economies that are in need of workforce housing,” said Senator Hassan. “This bill will help expand the housing options available in New Hampshire in order to tackle the housing crisis and ensure that families have access to good housing that they can afford. I have been working on addressing our state’s housing crisis since my time in New Hampshire state government, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill that will help more families and small businesses thrive.”

    Quotes from tame New Hampshire "business leaders" are provided to impress the gullible. Unsurprisingly, her legislative solution to New Hampshire's "housing crisis" is for Uncle Stupid to spend more money on grants and subsidies. (Apparently HUD's $71.9 billion budget just isn't getting the job done.) The congress.gov website has very little information on the actual bill. The bill's text is unavailable as I type, and despite Senator Hassan's claim that the bill is "bipartisan", there are no co-sponsors signed up (again, as I type).

    Housing woes in New Hampshire (and elsewhere) are primarily local. NIMBYism is rife. (I can report that the Facebook page for my little town is filled with disdain and hostility for any new housing development.)

    A recent article from Jason Sorens at the Josiah Bartlett Center website looks at recent proposals by this year's likely gubernatorial candidates, Sununu and Sherman, about housing. His comment about Sununu's scheme:

    The governor’s InvestNH program consists of $60 million in grants for owners and developers, and $40 million in grants for municipalities. In an ideal world, taxpayer dollars wouldn’t be used to subsidize a private industry at all. Yet government has created housing scarcity by strictly regulating home-building, not in the interest of health or safety, but simply with the explicit goal of preventing new people from living in the area. The obvious solution is to remove the unnecessary regulations that limit residential construction. But those regulations rest at the local level, and legislators have proven reluctant to overrule them with state laws. Using financial resources as incentives to work around or relax local regulations is a compromise that attempts to produce quick results while accepting the political reality that no statewide fix is achievable this year.

  • He just wanted to be president. And in the worst way. Charles C. W. Cooke discourses on Biden’s Pointless Presidency.

    President Biden says that he is engaged “in a battle for the soul of this nation.” The trouble is, he doesn’t seem quite sure what that means.

    It is not unfair to ask: What is the Biden administration? What is its purpose? What, besides a haphazard rehashing of Absolutely Everything Progressives Have Ever Thought Of, is its program? Joe Biden became president because the alternative was reelecting Donald Trump, and, much to his detriment, Joe Biden has never managed to transcend that elementary fact. Eighteen months in, his presidency still lacks a theme, a focus, a narrative. The most pressing issues facing the country — inflation, debt, energy — all seem to bore him. His foreign policy is non-existent. His domestic priorities are determined by the transient concerns of Elizabeth Warren’s emissaries to the White House and by the trending bar on Twitter. “Who is really in charge?” Biden’s critics like to ask. The question assumes too much. Nobody is in charge, because there’s nothing to be in charge of. One might as well ask who is in charge of a feather floating in the wind.

    Around and around Biden spins — smiling here, glaring there, emitting sparks without kindling, telling stories without meaning, gesturing without function, striding purposelessly back and forth in search of something, anything, that might reverse his slide toward irrelevance. Rudderless, he motions momentarily toward tackling inflation, and then moves on to something else. Desperate, he forswears responsibility: Gas prices are up? That’s the oil companies’ fault. Hopeful, he snatches responsibility: Gas prices are down? That’s Dark Brandon’s doing! Impotently, he yells and intones and lectures, flitting between ersatz solemnity and peremptory ire with no perceptible loss of vim. We have a crisis in this country, he says, in whispers. What is that crisis? It’s Trump and his friends. Or, maybe, it’s everyone in the Republican Party, or pro-lifers, or apologists for Wall Street, or people with bad policy ideas. It’s something; he just hasn’t quite decided what yet. He’ll get back to you on that.

    His entire raison d'être was getting elected President, something he pursued starting in 1987. But it's that whole dog-chasing-car thing: he didn't know what to do with it when he caught it.

  • It's like asking whether Schrödinger's cat is alive or not. John Kass asks: Just Who Are Those (Semi) Fascists of Yours, Mr. President?

    Did President Joe Biden really pour steaming buckets of official White House hate upon the heads of 75 million American citizens simply for the sin of disagreeing with him?

    Yes, he did.

    With just two months before the most important election in our lifetimes, Biden decided to kick those tens of millions of Americans to the margins of society. He branded pro Trump MAGA Republicans as hateful fascists, or “semi-fascists” (whatever that means).

    Well, good luck finding out what Biden means. Because he doesn't seem to know himself. See Dan McLaughlin: Joe Biden Can’t Decide What ‘MAGA Republican’ Means.

    But here’s a thing Joe Biden is not so sure of: who exactly these “MAGA Republicans” are, or what makes them so extreme. As Charlie and I noted of last week’s Philadelphia speech, Biden couldn’t keep straight even within the speech whether he was denouncing the refusal to accept election results, the use or threat of political violence, or more common Republican policy proposals such as opposing abortion. He’s been doing this for months. At a Pride Month event in June, Biden described state laws against age-inappropriate sex and gender education and transgender drugs and surgeries on children as “ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms.”

    The problem with this, of course, is that throwing everybody in the party or in support of its agenda (such as the Florida sex-education bill, which is supported by a majority of Florida Democrats) dissipates the force of the attack, strengthens Trump’s position within the Republican Party, and gives every Republican in the country good reason to believe that the president of the United States has declared them enemies of the state. It does not even make any sense on its own terms. As I’ve argued in contexts ranging from radical Islam to white supremacy to woke ideology and critical race theory to left-wing street violence, if you want to defeat a radical fringe, you try to give them a distinct name and identity that isolates them from their ideological fellow-travelers and sometime-allies. If MAGA Republicans are just all Republicans, there’s no effort to isolate them.

    Don't press Joe too much on this, because he might challenge you to an IQ test.

  • It's always a Flight 93 election. Jacob Sullum writes his usual long headline: "Biden and Trump Stoke Division While Complaining About It: The Current and Former Presidents Offer Dueling but Equally Apocalyptic Takes on This Fall's Elections".

    Last week in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden gave "the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president," so former President Donald Trump proclaimed at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Saturday before proceeding to outdo Biden.

    The two speeches — one decrying "MAGA Republicans" who "represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," the other condemning "the radical left lunatics" who are "trying to destroy our country" — mirrored each other in ways neither man would be willing to admit. Both portrayed the other side as not just mistaken but malevolent and warned that its victory this fall would doom everything Americans hold dear.

    Biden prefaced his attack on Trump and his followers by drawing a distinction between "MAGA Republicans" and "mainstream Republicans," whom "I've been able to work with." But even as he averred that "not even the majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans," Biden warned that "the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans," who pose "a threat to this country."

    Is it any wonder that people find evidence-free allegations of voting fraud so credible? After all, when the Other Side thinks your candidate is an existential threat to the country, wouldn't they use Any Means Necessary to ensure their guy wins?

  • Here's a "duh" item. It's from Jonah Goldberg: Trump Is Hurting the GOP’s Midterm Prospects. His bottom line:

    More important, the very nature of the scandal around Trump’s egregious mishandling of classified documents elicits a powerful déjà vu effect. The former president is claiming executive privilege—despite the fact that he’s no longer president—and talking like he’s an unjustly deposed king in internal exile. In terms of the national conversation, it feels like the guy never left.

    By making himself the issue that defines a “good” Republican, Trump and his enablers have frittered away their advantage, turning what should be a referendum on the party in power into a choice between the two parties.

    The other day William Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, said about the Mar-a-Lago search: “People say this was unprecedented, well, it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club.”

    It’s a good point with broader applicability. According to precedent, losing presidents go away. This allows their party to reinvent itself as the reasonable alternative to the party in power. That’s a big reason why the midterm curse is such a powerful precedent. The GOP complacently relied on that precedent while ignoring the reasons for its existence.

    Of course, Trump could not care less about the GOP's midterm prospects. His only interest is himself.

  • Let me apologize in advance for posting this. George F. Will observes: In the sandbox also known as academia, it’s the golden age of the grovel.

    Although mediocrity is as rampant as usual, this is at least the golden age of the grovel. And James H. Sweet, the protagonist of academia’s most recent pratfall, is a maestro of self-abasement.

    This history professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and president of the American Historical Association tried to say something sensible, and partially succeeded. It is, however, perilous to deviate even microscopically from progressive orthodoxy, as enforced by today’s censorious professoriate, so he experienced Twitter crucifixion. His “crap” was “white-centric” and advocating “white supremacist Aryan eugenicist” history, etc. Sweet’s critics reduced him to quivering contrition because he had written this:

    “Presentism” — interpreting the past through the lens of the present — has permeated the discipline of teaching and writing history in academia. “Historical questions often emanate out of present concerns” but “Doing history with integrity requires us to interpret elements of the past not through the optics of the present but within the worlds of our historical actors.” As academic historians have focused increasingly on the 20th and 21st centuries, “our interpretations of the recent past collapse into the familiar terms of contemporary debates.” The “allure of political relevance” is intensified by this anxiety: “If we don’t read the past through the prism of contemporary social justice issues — race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, capitalism — are we doing history that matters?”

    Sweet had threatened the fun of progressive vanity, of celebrating oneself by disparaging historical figures: Washington, Lincoln, Churchill — all were the moral inferiors of 21st century professors. Worse, from the perspective of the woke, is Sweet’s skepticism about history as progressivism’s servant, which is history “that matters.”

    GFW speculates that It Is No Coincidence that history majors have become the latest endangered species on campus. (Fortunately, there are still Gen Ed requirements propping up history departments.)