Never Say It Couldn’t Be Worse

According to a chart made public Tuesday by the White House Council of Economic Advisors—certainly an assemblage of experts in their field, and what field could be more relevant than economics?—the U.S. daily death rate from Covid-19 should be dropping to zero in about a week. How fortunate we are to have Donald Trump as our President—as he explained to the nation at length on Sunday from the Lincoln Memorial. The former owner of the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant clearly feels a special affinity for that stately structure. Before he was even inaugurated he used its steps—from which Martin Luther King once delivered a speech …

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“Darwin’s On Deck…”

In times as terrible as these—the news cycle dominated by daily infomercials featuring a clearly addled mountebank praising his own homicidally ham-fisted response to a lethal pandemic; the global economy wheezing like a chain-smoker in the Tour de France; choruses of ignored scientists chanting a litany of pending but unaddressed environmental catastrophes; and, apparently, no baseball—we must keep our heads, and strive to accomplish whatever good we can. As one small step toward that end, we propose the abolition of the term “intelligent design.” Intelligent design, as we all know, is a weasel-phrase engineered to insinuate religion into our public schools under an assumed name. …

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The Big X-Ray

Last weekend Covid-19 was killing a thousand Americans a day. If the death rate doubles every six days or so, this weekend we’ll say goodbye to 4,000 more. This is, of course, quite terrible. It certainly seems so right now. All things being relative, though, and the laws of mathematics being as they are [the exponential function has a power that Bill Barr can only envy] a month or two from now we may look back and see these as the good old days. Remember the bumper sticker, “Giant Meteor 2016—Just End It Already”? The comet never came, but we got the next-worst thing: umpteen …

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Not To Say We Told You So, But…

One year ago we ran a Rant under the headline, “Are We Our Own Sea People?” It noted that, in the Late Bronze Age, the Eastern Mediterranean was home to a whole array of highly developed civilizations living comfortable, stable lives. Then in 1177 BC, it all fell apart: “Orderly, comfortable cities collapsed without the trade which had made them livable. Essentially, the world ended—granted, with enough survivors to scrape by, generation after generation, until they could knit their society together again. “One theory attributes this havoc to the enigmatic, mysterious Sea Peoples. What little we know about them is derived from a few hieroglyphics. …

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Vulture Capitalism Comes Home to Roost

Friday, April 4, 2014 — Normally we give our paid Digital Subscribers first dibs. Today we’re posting the Rant the same day it hits the streets. Enjoy. — The E.] There are some things that nobody expects, the Spanish Inquisition being only the most obvious example. Another might be a fire extinguisher filled with gasoline. When you buy a product, you expect it to solve a problem, not make it worse. So Gregory M. Jordan was not unreasonable, after re-financing his California home in 2005, to expect that each mortgage payment he made thereafter would reduce the principal that he owed to his lender. Apparently …

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RIP, Super-Gimmick

The Fortnightly Rant for Friday, December 2, 2011, from The New Hampshire Gazette, Volume 256, No. 5, posted online Wednesday, December 21, 2011. The Super Committee,* Congress’s latest gimmick for dodging its responsibilities, announced last week that it had failed to reach an agreement to slash the federal budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Most Republicans promptly blamed the Democrats, citing their refusal to slash spending on social programs — which did not cause the deficit. They also blamed President Obama for not being a part of the negotiations. If he had taken a more active role, they would have complained that …

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