Not Sure Which

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Well, that was kind of a long break for Pun Salad. I blame the weather. But onward:

Eric Boehm takes a look at a recent floated bad idea: Tariffs Targeting Carbon Emissions Would Be a Costly Blow to Free Trade.

Last month, the White House reportedly sent a proposal to the European Union that would see the U.S. and Europe (and presumably other countries like Canada and the United Kingdom) form a consortium that would agree to impose high tariffs on steel and aluminum produced outside the consortium. The goal, according to The New York Times, would be two-fold: "to bolster domestic industries in a way that also mitigated climate change."

The environmental angle is that countries with higher environmental standards for the production of steel and aluminum would make it more expensive for their domestic businesses to import metal made in places like China, where the environmental standards are less strict. The economic angle, of course, is that steel- and aluminum-consuming industries in America and Europe would end up having to pay artificially inflated prices—while steel and aluminum manufacturers would benefit from the added levels of protectionism.

And Congress made it possible for Biden to impose such tariffs "thanks to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which delegates presidential authority over tariffs for issues relating to national security." And "national security" now also includes "climate change".

Briefly noted:

  • Andrew C. McCarthy answers your burning question: Why Biden Consented to an FBI Search.

    Remember the timeline here. The first batch of classified documents was found illegally stored in Biden’s office on November 2—i.e., over two-and-a-half months before the FBI finally conducted Friday’s search. Contrary to Biden’s claim of self-reporting, he did not report that discovery—evidence of a serious crime—to law enforcement. Rather, his private lawyers reported it to the Biden White House, which then notified not the Justice Department but the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It appears Biden was hoping NARA would just return the documents to the files and no one would be any the wiser.

    The discovery, however, came to the attention of NARA’s inspector general—the watchdog official who reports agency wrongdoing to Congress. It was the IG’s office that, on November 4, notified the Biden Justice Department.

    At that point, DOJ had to know that Biden had illegally maintained the documents in at least two unauthorized locations: He removed them at the end of the Obama administration in January 2017, but the Biden Penn Center did not open until February 2018, so the documents had to be kept someplace else in the meantime.


  • In the Pun Salad "It Was Also One Of The Worst Star Trek Movies" department, Kevin D. Williamson reminds us that Nemesis Is a Comedian.

    If you spend any time wading through the incomprehensibilities of right-wing Twitter (I do not recommend it), then you will have noticed how prominent the slur “cuck”—for “cuckold”—is among a certain kind of cartoonish, self-proclaimed “alpha male.” One of the loudest and most histrionic of these was a certain John Goldman, who called himself “Jack Murphy” and was a prominent figure associated with the Claremont Institute for a while. Naturally, he turned out to be a literal cuckold and a performer in amateur homoerotic pornography. “Queer as Volk,” as Rod Dreher summarized the scene. His story is one of the reasons I despair of ever finishing my satirical novel about the American Right—one simply cannot keep up.

    I suppose I should clarify here (since I have been writing about pornography for a long time) that the cuckoldry that provides the natcons’ rhetorical framework isn’t simply Arthur-and-Guinevere stuff, the usual tale of infidelity and an unhappy marriage, but rather a humiliation-oriented subgenre of gay pornography in which the subject of the scene is forced to perform certain homosexual acts as a form of ritual degradation. It ought to tell us something useful—something worth knowing—that one very energetic branch of the right-wing world takes both its rhetoric and its moral analysis from the conventions of homoerotic pornography: The cartoonish “alpha male” posturing bears a very strong resemblance to the hypermasculine Tom of Finland-flavored iconography of the postwar gay subculture not because the world of national conservatives is full of repressed homosexuals (even if Donald Trump seems to have inherited Liberace’s interior decorator and the soundtrack for his wildly popular rallies—showtunes, the Village People, and, invariably, “Memory” from Cats—seems to have been lifted from a campy wake circa 1987) but because both groups are responding in an exaggerated way to insults to their masculinity. Or were, rather: There are a lot more married gay men these days and a lot fewer who dress up like members of a Waffen-SS motorcycle gang.

    Probably more there about right-wing Twitter than you want to know.

  • Eric Boehm (in his second appearance today) notes the vacuous irresponsibility of a couple Republicans: Donald Trump and J.D. Vance Say No Cuts for Social Security. That's Impossible and Unserious..

    As Congress prepares for a fiscal policy fight over raising the federal government's debt ceiling, former President Donald Trump and one of the rising stars of the national conservative movement have issued a sharp demand: Don't touch Social Security.

    "Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security," Trump said in a video message released by his presidential campaign Friday night. Shortly afterward, Sen. J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) posted his agreement, tweeting that "Trump is 100 percent correct."

    Refusing even to consider changes to Social Security might be a tidy way to pander to older Americans, but it's not a functional plan for entitlements. In fact, it's actually an impossible situation.

    I liked Viking Pundit's response to the Hot Air query: So we're doing Social Security reform again? we're not.  The flailing Biden administration is already spreading the well-worn biannual lie to scare Grandma.  Republicans will recoil from any reform effort and nothing will change.  The only way there will ever be any reform is if responsible politicians start with the fact that Social Security is going broke.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 5:01 AM EDT

Chapterhouse: Dune

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Consumer note: I own the original hardcover version of this 464-page book, original retail price $17.95, plucked off a remainder shelf for $4.98. Which I will never get back.

Also not getting back: the time I spent reading it. But this finishes my ill-conceived reading project, Frank Herbert's final entry in the Dune series. Previous reports: here, here, here, here and here. To repeat somewhat from those reports: not much happens until the very end; there are a lot of people talking, pretentiously and portentously, including talking to themselves. Random italics and exclamation points!

I must admit: most of the time I had no clue what was going on. And I didn't care much. I lost interest, not caring what happens to the tediously chattering characters or to their entire freaking universe.

There are bad guys: the Honored Matres have returned from the "Scattering", and they are on a quest to destroy the Bene Gesserit, which involves exterminating billions of people and obliterating their planets. In the last book, the original Dune, Arrakis, was blowed up real good. One subplot involves Sheeana, queen of the sandworms, struggling to desertify the planet Chapterhouse, where the Bene Gesserit survivors are huddled, plotting their counterattack. Will Dune's sandworms find a new home? Oh right: I don't care.

I should mention that the very end of the book has Frank Herbert's moving tribute to his wife, who died while he was writing the book. (And Frank himself passed away a little later.) Pair this up with son Brian Herbert's equally moving introduction to the book, which is not in my copy, but you can read at the book's page at Amazon. Brian has co-written sequels and other entries in the universe; good for him, but I will pass.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 5:00 AM EDT