Today in Great Moments in Senatorial Debate: Senator Mike Lee Edition!

Senator Lee gave a speech delineating his opposition to the Green New Deal today as part of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s attempt to put the Senate Democratic caucus in a bind by making them take a stand either for or against one of the House Democratic caucus’s signature issues. Fortunately for us all, Senator Lee is, well, Senator Lee, which is sort of the Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of Senator Ted Cruzes. Or something… Even more fortuitously, Senator Lee posted a YouTube video of his remarks and posted a transcript of them at his Senate website.  He’s so considerate!

Senator Lee’s major proposal for resolving the problem that is climate change is to have more babies*, because one of them might actually come up with a good idea to resolve the problem at some point in the future.

This, Mr. President, is the real solution to climate change: babies.

Climate change is an engineering problem – not social engineering, but the real kind.
It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity, and technological invention.

And problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans!

More people mean bigger markets for innovation.

More babies mean more forward-looking adults – the sort we need to tackle long-term, large scale problems.

American babies, in particular, are likely going to be wealthier, better educated, and more conservation-minded than children raised in still-industrializing regions.

As economist Tyler Cowen recently wrote on this very point, “by having more children, you are making your nation more populous – thus boosting its capacity to solve [climate change].”

Finally, Mr. President, children are a mark of the kind of personal, communal, and societal optimism that is the true pre-requisite for meeting national and global challenges together.

The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family.

The true heroes of this story aren’t politicians or social media activists.

They are moms and dads, and the little boys and girls they are, at this moment, putting down for naps… helping with their homework… building tree houses… and teaching how to tie their shoes.

The planet does not need us to “think globally, and act locally” so much as it needs us to think family, and act personally.

The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing – the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids.

I yield the floor.

This, however, wasn’t the most batshit insane part of Senator Lee’s audio-visual extravaganza. Pride of place for that honor goes to the graphics and images he used to help make his point.

President Reagan on a velociraptor wielding a machine pistol while the velociraptor carries a tattered American flag – this is apparently big on one of the Chan boards/sites:

A still image from The Empire Strikes Back of Luke Skywalker riding on a tauntaun on the ice planet Hoth:

A still image from the Hannah-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Superfriends of Aquaman on his seahorse Storm from the early 1970s (in the earlier 1960s Filmation Aquaman-Superman Adventures Storm was white with gold ears – do not ask how I know this…):

A picture of a bunch of babies (awww!):

This is stupidity, disingenuousness, and bad faith on par with Kyle Reese’s description of the Terminator:

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

I don’t care if you’re Senator Booker who is claiming one of his key strengths is that he can, because he has in the past, work effectively across the aisle or Howard Schultz who keeps stating that as an independent centrist that he can work with both sides, THERE IS NOTHING HERE TO WORK WITH!!!!! There’s no difference to split here, there’s no accommodation that can be made here, and there is no compromise that can be reached. Right now, whether you agree, partially agree, or disagree with what the Democrats are proposing, you’ve got one party actually proposing solutions that have been thought through and one party that proposes the same four things no matter what is going on: 1) cut taxes, 2) cut regulations, 3) gut the social safety net and undo the New Deal, 4) and allow unlimited amounts of money in politics because money equals speech and corporations equal people. And, if there’s a crisis involving brown people with funny accents: 5) deploy troops to deal with them. The shame that is the United States in 2019 is that there is one party, the Democratic Party, that is dealing with reality, even if you don’t agree with what they’re proposing and then there’s this insanity being peddled by the Republicans.

At this point I’m about two weeks away from declaring myself Sub-Commandante Citizen-Leftenant Zero and storming a radio station… **

Which leads to one of my favorite political cartoons of all time:

Open thread!

* I’m sure at some point this will be rolled into an argument why Roe V. Wade must be overturned and abortion made illegal so we don’t accidentally abort the baby that will save us from the climate change crisis that Senator Lee doesn’t actually believe exists.

** This is SARCASM, lest someone eventually show up or use this to claim I’m advocating the overthrow of the US government or endorsing the use of low intensity warfare and political violence.



Late Night News of the Weird: In Some Areas, 2019 Never Disappoints

Apparently totally free markets are not without their pitfalls! I don’t pretend to fully understand it, but here’s an update from Gizmodo:

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has acknowledged it made a major mistake when it bought Italian blockchain analytics firm Neutrino, whose senior management staff included several members of infamous Italian firm Hacking Team—which has reportedly sold powerful hacking and surveillance tools to oppressive governments.

A 2015 report by Motherboard found that Hacking Team sold software to “Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and many others,” matching the findings of research by Citizen Lab. A cache of documents stolen from Hacking Team servers by hackers and leaked to media showed that it had faced a United Nations inquiry into whether the sale of its Remote Control System spyware to Sudan violated embargoes imposed over its government’s numerous human rights abuses, which include allegations of slavery, child soldiers, persecution of dissidents, and war crimes.

Hacking Team sold its tools stateside to the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI—something also not likely to go down well with the cryptocurrency community, which tends to lean heavily libertarian.

Per Bloomberg, Coinbase users as well as blockchain-focused publication Breaker Mag quickly clued onto the fact that many of Neutrino’s executives were Hacking Team alumni. In a blog post on Medium, Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong said the onboarding of Hacking Team staff was due to a “gap in our due diligence process” and that the decision was not properly evaluated “from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company.” Armstrong added that those individuals will be leaving Coinbase…

According to crypto industry publication CoinDesk, Coinbase director of institutional sales Christine Sandler had previously justified the acquisition of Neutrino by stating their previous analytics provider had been “selling client data to outside sources,” spooking some customers further.

However, on Tuesday, a Coinbase spokesperson told Coindesk it had “never shared our customers’ personally identifiable information with any third-party blockchain analysis vendors.” Some users characterized the Neutrino acquisition as another privacy violation, CoinDesk wrote, with one writing, “It’s really frightening to think who has gained access to Coinbase customer data over the years.” …








All-Too-Thrilling Adventures Read: Crypto-Anarchists, Anarcho-Capitalists, and Old-Fashioned Drug Cartels

I’m surprised there hasn’t been more written about this incident, although it may just be that my dark-web access skillz are less than subpar. As reported here, it sure sounds like an example of the old truism: Just because ‘the cops’ are your enemies doesn’t make ‘the crooks’ your friends. From the Washington Post, last Monday, “An American ‘crypto-anarchist’ fled the country. He was just killed in Mexico’s ‘murder capital’”:

Bathed in the sunlight of Mexico’s dry season, his dreadlocks tumbling down his back, a man who went by the name “John Galton,” an apparent nod to the hero of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” observed almost two years ago, “There’s pockets of freedom all over the world if you’re willing to live in freedom.”

Galton paid a high price for that freedom. He was gunned down Friday by a band of men who stormed his home in Acapulco, where he and his girlfriend had found safe haven from drug charges in the United States, as they explained in a March 2017 video interview with the conspiracy site Press for Truth.

Joining a community of like-minded expatriates, Galton had sought to build a life as a self-made man. He advocated drug liberalization and taught classes on cryptocurrencies. He was set to be featured in a documentary called “Stateless.”…

His girlfriend, Lily Forester, nodded. Defending the once-glamorous Pacific Coast city now considered Mexico’s “murder capital,” she said, “It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve experienced in the States.”

On Friday, she was left pleading for help after the rampage left her boyfriend dead and another man, Jason Henza, injured…

Guerrero State police said in a statement Saturday that the survivors reported armed men showing up at a “cannabis greenhouse” and targeting Galton. The attorney’s office, which confirmed that Galton had been killed, said in a statement Sunday that it had found a marijuana laboratory on the premises, including white lights and gas tanks. No suspects had been named, and a motive for the killing remained unknown.
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Rococo ‘Conservatism’ Open Thread: The Ultimate Ross Doubthat Column

As someone who was actually educated by the Church, Doubthat’s “I’m a devout Catholic, but defend libertarianism, because freedom!” makes as much sense to me as would “I’m a strict vegetarian, but I defend cannibalism, because long pig is so delicious!” But this *particular* divertissement should be preserved under a glass vitrine, as an exemplar of how “American Thought Leadership” collapsed at the beginning of the new millenium:

Like most interesting churches, libertarianism is a diverse and fractious faith, and FreedomFest brings together all its different sects: the think-tankers with their regulatory-reform blueprints, the muckraking journalists taking on government abuses, the charter city backers and Burning Man attendees, the Ayn Rand fans wearing dollar signs on their lapels, the eccentric-genius businessmen and pot legalizers — and the converts eager to tell you how everything changed when I got really into gold.

In principle I am not a libertarian: The teenage nerd enters conservatism through either Atlas Shrugged or Lord of the Rings, and between Tolkienists like myself and the Randians a great gulf is often fixed. But even if libertarianism seems an insufficient philosophy of human flourishing, its defense of individuals and markets can be a crucial practical corrective to all manner of liberal and conservative mistakes…

Just a little while ago journalists were talking about a “libertarian moment” in American politics, with Rand Paul as its avatar — an entitlement-cutting, prison-reforming, drug-legalizing, intervention-opposing, drone-strike-filibustering politics that was supposed to build bridges between Republicans and millennials. But then Paul, like other Republicans, was steamrolled by Trumpism in 2016. So what exactly happened to his moment?…

How could that fun guy, Rand Paul, allow himself to fall under the wheels of some trash-talking newbie like Donald Trump? SAD!

To Ross, politics is just another fantasy role-playing game — a gang of enthusiasts sharing the fun of theoretical world-building and weekend bullshit sessions. There are those who make a nice career out of their chosen fantasy… writing the fanfic, making the cosplay accessories, running the LARPs… even graduating into the professional tier, working for Hollywood or a big gaming company… but the Savvy among the crowds never forget that it’s all just performance. They may resent the ‘mundanes’ who don’t understand how *fun* their little societies can be, but they save their real contempt for the losers who actually believe it makes a difference whether Team Red or Team Blue wins an election, like those sad basement-dwellers who obsess over Boba Fett or ST:OS vs ST:NG.

It’s not as though Ross, or the people Ross socializes with, are ever going to be affected by this ‘politics’ stuff; they’ll never have to worry about getting deported, losing their liberty, being jailed or beaten for the color of their skin or their choice of partners (although they can dream up some very vivid fanfic scenarios). Their version of ‘economic anxiety’ is not being able to find a decent-sized apartment in the “right” zip code. The worst punishment they can imagine is being ostracized on Martha’s Vineyard, and there’s plenty of other places to get a good cocktail on a summer weekend. Why must some people suck all the fun out of the game?, Ross asks his fellow NYT opinioneers, as they nod in agreement…








Lest We Forget Open Thread: Paul Ryan — Bad Man, “Good” German Republican

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)
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Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “A scam of a party says goodbye to its top fraud”:

The proximate cause of Ryan stepping down is that his party looks increasingly likely to suffer an electoral disaster in November’s midterm elections. He is facing an unusually strong challenge from Randy Bryce, the likely Democratic nominee in his Wisconsin district, so he probably calculated that there were two realistic outcomes for him. The worse one would be that he is defeated while his party loses the majority, as happened to then-speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) in 1994. The better one would be that he holds on to his seat while Republicans lose the majority, which might not be better at all. Being speaker may have meant plenty of headaches for Ryan, but being House minority leader is a total drag; you still have to manage your unruly caucus, but you have no real power and can’t make any progress on your agenda…

For years, Ryan has presented himself as someone deeply concerned with fiscal discipline, committed to getting America’s books in order. As anyone with any sense realized, this was a scam: Like all Republicans, he used the deficit as a bludgeon against Democratic presidents, then forgot all about it while a Republican was in office.

At the same time, Ryan — a lifelong admirer of Ayn Rand, the philosopher of selfishness — dreamed of destroying the safety net, eviscerating Medicaid, privatizing Medicare, slashing food stamps, and generally making life in America more cruel and unpleasant for all those who aren’t wealthy.

But as Paul Krugman observed, Ryan failed at both his pretend goal and his real goal. He will leave office after setting the deficit on a path to exceed $1 trillion in 2020, and yet, he failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and didn’t even bother to wage an assault on Medicare, almost certainly because he knew how disastrous it would be for his party.

So what does he mean when he says “I have accomplished much of what I came here to do”? He can only mean the tax cut Republicans passed last year. In other words, engineering a giant giveaway to corporations and the wealthy was enough for Ryan to say “My work here is done.”

Osita Nwanevu, at Slate, on “The Wolf in Wonk’s Clothing”:

[I]t’s worth revisiting now, as Ryan prepares his exit from politics, the thrust of the argument that the tale advanced—that, in general, the 20 million children in this country who receive free lunches have parents who clearly don’t care about them and that in providing food to those children, the government enables bad parenting. That sweeping judgment is impossible unless one considers poverty and economic hardship themselves personal failings. For about a decade now, Ryan has demonstrated that he believes precisely this—that those who have trouble making their way in the world are personally defective, that those immiserated by circumstance have willingly surrendered their lives to dysfunction, and that the best remedy society can offer to those who lack is to deprive them, in cuts to already meager social programs, of even more.

Shaping that dogmatism into pseudo-wonkery has taken years of wild and reckless obfuscation. Most of the analyses of where Trump “came from” have sought and found precedents for his open xenophobia, conspiracymongering, and boorishness in the rhetoric and behavior of Republican politicians in the recent past. But his mendacity and the constant consequence-free dissembling of his administration still baffle all those who’ve wondered aloud, over the past year and a half, how we so suddenly entered a new age of “post-truth” politics. We haven’t, really. Paul Ryan understood, like Trump, the extent to which the norms governing conventional political journalism have always been poorly equipped to handle naked and persistent dishonesty and disingenuousness. His speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention was littered with blatant lies…
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