URLs du Jour

2017-10-18

Proverbs 20:30 is the last verse in the chapter, and it is …

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
    and beatings purge the inmost being.

Whoa. Disturbing. Kinky. Sick. I don't want to see the movie.

Today's pic is one of the milder ones displayed when you type in the obvious search term at GettyImages. Stop hitting yourself, Proverbialist!


■ While in the USA, we're busily making up purity tests for historical memorials, @kevinNR relates that, in India, they are wondering: should they Knock Down the Taj Mahal?

Indian architecture is very old — the Mahabodhi Temple, which is still in use, was built around the time of the First Punic War — but the Republic of India is very young: It is, in fact, younger than Donald Trump. Inevitably, most of the historically important architecture and public monuments were built during India’s long period of domination by alien powers, and often built by those alien powers. This is, understandably, a sensitive subject. India also is having a particularly ugly period of Hindu chauvinism, which has manifested itself in ways that are serious — the emergence of violent anti-conversion campaigns targeting Christians and anti-conversion laws in several Indian states — and in ways that are comical, for instance the exclusion of the Taj Mahal from a government-published guide to historical sites in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. About 10 million people a year visit the Taj Majal, but there is an effort under way to read Islam and Islamic rulers out of India’s history.

Knocking down stuff doesn't change history. But it makes certain people feel like they've "done something".


■ Also see Jonah Goldberg on the Arch of Titus:

I keep thinking of the Arch of Titus, the model for similar arches all around the world, including most famously the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. For those who don’t know, Titus — who would later become emperor — led the siege of Jerusalem in the first Jewish-Roman War. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, mostly non-combatants, were slaughtered, and the Second Temple — the holiest site in Judaism — was destroyed. Tens of thousands of Jews were captured and sold into slavery.

So how do Jews react to the Arch of Titus? Sensibly, keeping their dignity and memory intact.


<voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice> Amazon Has a Chance to Redefine Corporate Responsibility! Or so says Virginia Postrel, and she's almost always correct about this stuff.

To be a good corporate citizen requires acting to protect the efficiency and fairness of the system that allows the company to prosper in the first place. True corporate social responsibility prohibits using political influence to undermine competition and erode legal equality. It means not soliciting favors that hurt rivals or offer advantages unavailable to those without connections.

So Amazon has a choice. It can act as a responsible corporate citizen, viewing its headquarters search as a challenge to get cities thinking about how to create better environments for all sorts of enterprises. Or it can ignore ethics and go looking for handouts.

Speaking as an Amazon customer since 1995, I hope Mr. Bezos listens to Ms. Postrel.


■ At the WSJ, William McGurn notes The New York Times’s Double Standard on the NFL. Specifically, the NYT has editorially demanded that NFL players must be allowed to "take a knee" during the National Anthem without employment repercussions. But when it comes to their employees….

Because within three weeks of blasting those who believe NFL players have no First Amendment right to use the football field to make political statements, Mr. Baquet issued a memo about social media warning Times reporters not to use their “vibrant presence” on these platforms to express their own, uh, deeply felt fears and grievances.

Oh well. To steal a cute phrase someone made up: without double standards, the NYT would have no standards at all.


■ But we aren't done with football, because Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column, the one you don't have to like football to enjoy, is out. One of this week's musings concerns, gee, why are Americans so cynical and disillusioned about government. Well, consider…

(Here’s your obligatory “spoiler alert” about the plots of some small-screen shows.) The latest season of Homeland, for instance, wrapped with the CIA dragging away members of the cabinet so traitors in the White House could rip up the Constitution. In the latest iteration of Fox’s 24, the Director of National Intelligence secretly is an Islamist fanatic who cackles about slaughtering innocent Americans. On NBC’s Timeless, America is secretly run by “Rittenhouse,” a Freemason-style plot whose goal is to turn the United States into an absolute dictatorship. Among other things, the show’s protagonists discover that the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes was to erase Richard Nixon discussing his fear of being murdered by the all-powerful Rittenhouse puppet-masters. On ABC’s Designated Survivor, traitors at the top blow up the Capitol during the State of the Union Address, murdering most of America’s government—a government so incompetent that no one noticed thousands of pounds of explosives being placed under the Capitol Dome.

He could have added the invariably evil corporate bigwigs that also show up in movies and TV. But that would make a long column even longer.

It makes for a certain amount of dramatic sense. If you want your protagonists to engage in an epic struggle against powerful foes, the foes' power has to come from somewhere. Government and wealth are the obvious sources. (Or you can play the Stephen King game, and have it spring from the inexhaustible supernatural.)


■ And our LFOD alert rang for an article at CalvinAyre.com, a site "covering the global gambling industry." But they noticed poor little us: New Hampshire online gambling bill springs to life.

New Hampshire legislators have dusted off the state’s online gambling bill after sitting idly in Congress [sic] for months. […] The bill [HB 562-FN] is a stub, seeking only to insert a new subparagraph exempting “gambling done over an internet connection on a website on the internet” from the state’s list of illegal gambling offenses.

There may be something going on behind the scenes involving an online state lottery. Yay! Make it easier for stupid people to throw their money at the state! But anyway:

In the off chance that HB 562-FN makes the grade in the Live Free or Die state, its provisions would take effect January 1, 2018.

A coercively-enforced monopoly to ensure that private citizens are prohibited from doing what the state does? That doesn't sound like LFOD to me.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-17

Proverbs 20:29 shows that the wisdom of the Proverbialist was not confined to musings on God, kings, sins, and virtues. No, sometimes the Proverbialist just wants you to know what he likes:

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
    gray hair the splendor of the old.

So there you have it. But that's not why we have Bernie Sanders in our Pic du Jour. It's because of…


■ … this story in the Concord Monitor: Sanders making second trip to NH in less than two months, fueling 2020 speculation.

The longtime independent senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate will headline the Strafford County Democrats’ Fall Celebration this Sunday at the American Legion Hall in Rollinsford.

I would not mention this otherwise, but the Legion is literally within easy walking distance of Pun Salad Manor. Specifically, I usually walk the dog down that way every morning; we take a loop around the ball field, along the banks of the Salmon Falls River. It's quite nice, and he likes to poop there.

Unfortunately, the Strafford County Democrats are charging a cool $20 for admittance, and that's about $18 more than I'm willing to pay to hear a crazy old statist, even one who has a splendid mane of gray.

But the Monitor article helpfully lists other incoming Threats to Liberty:

Sanders is far from the only potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to pay a visit to New Hampshire so far this year. That list includes former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander, the founder and president of Let America Vote, a newly-created voting rights organization. Kander has made five trips to New Hampshire. Former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has been to the state three times.

Other possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who have already visited New Hampshire this year are former vice president Joe Biden, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressman John Delaney of Maryland (who has already announced he’ll run for the 2020 nomination) and Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who will return to the Granite State early next month to headline a Manchester City Democrats event.

That list raises a lot of questions. Well, two questions: for Biden, it's "Can't he just go away?" And for everyone else, it's "Who?"


■ SF writer Sarah Hoyt writes at PJ Media on Slavery and Freedom. She pulls worthwhile lessons from Heinlein:

In both of Heinlein’s novels dealing with slavery [Citizen of the Galaxy and Friday], the characters finally feel themselves to be free when they realize they are the same as other humans: whatever their history or their mode of birth, they’re just humans like everyone else. Their freedom and their achievements, from then on, depend on themselves alone, and they can’t be enslaved again. No matter how many circumstances are against them, or what others think of them, they are free.

This is a dangerous message. It’s the message encapsulated in one of Heinlein’s other quotes as “You can’t enslave a free man. You can only kill him.”

That's a slightly longer version of "Live Free or Die". But we'll take it.


■ Good News from the Great White North: the Toronto District School Board will remove ‘chief’ from job titles out of respect for Indigenous people. Ryan Bird, apparently a board member, is quoted by the Globe and Mail:

"It may not have originated as an Indigenous word, but the fact is that it is used as a slur in some cases, or in a negative way to describe Indigenous people," he said in an interview Wednesday. "With that in mind, as it has become a slur in some cases, that's the decision the administration has made to be proactive on that."

Pun Salad has always been good at pointing out the obvious, so let's do that: the Toronto District School Board has way too much time on its hands. For other commentary let us defer to NRO's Katherine Timpf for commentary:

I’m sorry; I’m all for sensitivity, but this? This is stupid.

If a word is being used offensively, then of course you should be against that usage. No good person wants to hurt anyone else. But honestly, I just have to ask: What in the hell is the point of stopping people from using a word in a way that is not offensive — seeing as it is, you know, not offensive?

But that's not as much fun as being "proactive".

Ms. Timpf also has some fun with the word "princess", which, come to think of it, is far more problematic.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-16

Boston terrier

Proverbs 20:28 muses on royal security:

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
    through love his throne is made secure.

Yet another Proverb with implications for President Trump. Donald, you need to concentrate more on that love and faithfulness stuff!

Or, you could do what most Presidents do, and just get a dog.


■ Dan McLaughlin, the Baseball Crank, writes at NRO with advice, not to kings or presidents, but to Progressives who (a) exaggerate the influence of the alt-right, and (b) slag conservatives who aren't part of the alt-right at all. Here's How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right:

Efforts to paint such sites as the Federalist and the Daily Wire as alt-right propaganda outlets inevitably devolve into a “marginalize the mainstream” drive, and vividly illustrate why so many conservatives feel that invitations to “national conversations” about race relations are just a plan to sandbag them in bad faith. “They’re going to call you that anyway” is the siren song of the alt-right, and one that seduced all too many on the right into excusing Trump’s sins in the 2016 campaign. It’s why those of us who’d like to seek out common ground and practical solutions on these kinds of issues keep getting drowned out by flag protests and glowing amulets.

Actually, I'd love to see just one Progressive call for a "conversation" that wasn't made in bad faith.


■ Via Instapundit and Granite Grok, here's Derek Hunter at the Daily Caller with a sad but predictable story: Apple VP Of Diversity Apologizes For Suggesting Diversity Of Thought Is Important.

Apple’s Denise Young Smith, the newly minted Vice President of Diversity at the tech giant, has caused outrage in the industry over comments she made in defense of diversity of thought. Silicon Valley has been in an all-out push to bring in more women and minorities, so when Smith said, “I focus on everyone. Diversity is the human experience,” without focusing specifically on race or gender, liberal publications criticized her.

Smith ultimately apologized for the sentiment.

Ms. Smith accidentally tried to speak truth to power. She tried to have a "conversation". It didn't work out, because "diversity" is all about pigeonholing people by DNA. Saying anything outside that narrative framework will get you shot down faster than a drone over the White House. DNA über alles!


■ An interesting article from Shai Shapira at Quillette: Universal Basic Income and the Threat of Tyranny.

There has been criticism of the idea, but so far the debate tends to focus on two issues: the economic reasoning behind a universal basic income, and the ethics of allowing a majority of non-workers to live off the fruits of the labour of a small minority. What is not discussed enough, however, are the political implications–what would a universal basic income do to the relations between citizens and government. Because when we examine historical trends in politics and economics, we can spot a basic pattern: political rights are strongly correlated with economic participation. Societies where the state economy depends on small inputs from many different citizens tend to give their citizens significantly more rights, including the right of participation in the government itself. Societies where the state economy comes from natural resources, or other sources that require only a small, fixed number of people to defend or maintain them, tend to develop autocratic regimes with little concern for the welfare of their citizens.

An intriguing point. Norway is brought up in the comments as a counterexample, but that's arguable.


■ And your tweet du jour from Mark J. Perry:

Unfortunately cut off on the left and right, but you get the gist.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-15

■ Proverbs 20 is kind of an olio, but Proverbs 20:27 is pretty sweet:

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

No further comment.


■ My local paper covers the latest at the University Near Here: UNH takes hard look at cultural misdeeds. Sample:

According to Holly Cashman, a professor in the Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) Department, she and a team of faculty members organized the teach-in after witnessing students celebrate Cinco De Mayo on campus and because of the deadly event in Charlottesville,West Virginia, in August. Cashman said her department has organized events of multicultural appreciation in the past, but this year, they felt they needed to be more direct in their effort to reach students.

Because students looking for a drinking excuse inevitably leads to deadly clashes between demonstrators, I guess.

[Cashman] said her department is interested in incorporating ideas of diversity and inclusion into the required curriculum of classes. “It’s great to have events like these, but often we are preaching to the choir. So we made a real effort to reach out to Residential Life and Greek Life and make them aware of this event. The hope is that we reached more than our usual crowd of students,” she said.

News flash: faculty member hopes that students will be required to take courses that she teaches.

Halloween is only a few weeks away, with the opportunity to further hector the students about their problematic costumes.


■ Eugene Volokh notes that President Trump is not alone in his ignorance/disdain of the First Amendment: Congress members threaten Twitter with regulation if it doesn’t suppress ‘racially divisive communications’ and ‘anti-American sentiments’. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to the Twitter CEO, containing:

[...] we are concerned that insufficient government oversight over your firm is inadvertently leading to deeper racial divisions and threats to our democracy. If Twitter continues to prove unable or hesitant to grasp the seriousness of this threat and combat the racialized climate that is being stimulated on your platforms, we, as Members of Congress, will be left with little option but to demand for increased regulations and government oversight of this industry to address these problems.

What's the bigger "threat to our democracy": Twitter, or Democrat Congresscritters who invariably want to "regulate" speech, or have others do it for them?


@kevinNR writes on fiscal woes: The Black Budget. [The reference being to chairman of the House Budget Committee, Diane Black.]

Representative Black (R., Tenn.) has been chairman of the House Budget Committee for about a year, and she’s enjoyed the experience so much that she’s . . . trying to get the hell out of Washington, hoping to head to Nashville as Tennessee’s next governor. (She declined to comment on the gubernatorial race.) It is difficult to blame her for not wanting to cling to that gavel: Running the House Budget Committee is kind of a stupid job.

Not that it’s an unimportant job — far from it: In fact, it is a critically important post. A few years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of Republicans on the House Budget Committee, and I told them as plainly as I could that the decisions made by their panel and its Senate counterpart over the next several years would very likely mean the difference between a relatively manageable national fiscal crisis at some point in the future and an uncontrollable national fiscal catastrophe with worldwide consequences. I also told them that I was not entirely confident that they’d make the right choices. I wasn’t invited back.

A few years back, Kevin (I call him Kevin) wrote a book titled The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome; now it sounds as if he may have changed his mind about the awesomeness thing. (I left a comment on the article to that effect.)


■ George F. Will writes on The widening gyre that is Trump.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America's premises. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers like Stephen Bannon, although fixated on protecting America from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In “Answering the Alt-Right” in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump's election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence's doctrine of natural rights.

I find it difficult to believe that Trump buys into the alt-right bullshit; for one thing (as Will notes) that would mean that he's thought about it, and there's no sign that he thinks that hard about anything that abstract.

But what Trump almost certainly notices is that alt-right creeps are his most reliable cheerleaders. And he loves that.


[Amazon Link]

■ And our Google LFOD alert buzzed on this article from the Garden City (Kansas) Telegram: Banda sentenced to 12 months probation.

Medical marijuana advocate Shona Banda was sentenced on Friday to 12 months of mail-in probation after being convicted in August of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture, a level-five drug felony, following approval of a plea agreement.

But what's the big LFODing deal with that?

Banda is well-known for her use of cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease. She wrote a book on her healing process using cannabis, titled “Live Free or Die,” where she extensively documented the reasoning behind her lifestyle choices. She also has been featured in numerous YouTube videos and online articles, where she espoused her belief in the medicinal benefits of cannabis oil. The story of her son’s removal from her home in 2015 drew national attention and calls to decriminalize medical marijuana in Kansas.

Ah, I get it. Kansas is one of the few states that hasn't even tried to legalize medical marijuana.


Last Modified 2017-10-15 3:59 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2017-10-14

■ Please, nobody show Proverbs 20:26 to President Trump:

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
    he drives the threshing wheel over them.

I'm especially looking at you, Senator Rubio.


■ With respect to Trump's decision to stop Cost Sharing Reduction payments to insurance companies, you couldn't ask for a wider disparity in commentary between Obamacare fans and foes. But Megan McArdle has always been a straight shooter on this topic: Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits.

Remember how we ended up with the particular version of Obamacare that became law. Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, and a growing sense that they were on the verge of a second New Deal. They thought they didn’t need Republicans, and they thought they couldn’t get Republicans, so they made little effort to involve Republicans in drafting, beyond offering token concessions to a handful of liberal Republicans who might have made nice bipartisan window-dressing at the signing ceremony. Republicans, predictably, spent a year talking down the bill, and by the time it was nearing passage, a majority of the public opposed it.

The resulting creaky mess required continual extralegal executive patch jobs to sputter along. And now we have an executive not really interested in playing that game any more.


@JonahNRO's G-File this week is headlined Binders Full of Asininity. Recalling Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" from the 2012 campaign, widely mocked on the left.

“Virtue signaling” is an over-used term these days. One problem with the concept is that it often implies a touch of cynicism to the signaler: “I want people to believe that I’m as righteous as this symbolic gesture suggests.”

To be sure, there often is cynicism involved. For instance, people who drive Teslas in states in which electricity is predominately coal-generated signal a lot of virtue — but they do nothing about greenhouse-gas emissions because their cars essentially run on coal and condescension. More relevant, Harvey Weinstein, that bloated carbuncle of hormones and insecurity, virtue signaled with cash quite a lot. In his initial statement after the scandal broke, Weinstein tried it again, offering to atone for his transgressions by going after the NRA. Even for Hollywood liberals, that was too pathetic. It wasn’t virtue signaling so much as an attempt to buy an indulgence from the Church of Liberalism.

Bottom line (which I've said before, and will again): if you want to be a member in good standing of the Virtue Police, you can't blind yourself to the sins committed by members of your political tribe.


■ Which brings us to @kevinNR and his comments on Trump vs. the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump’s recent (most recent) testing of the censorship waters is disturbing in a by-now-familiar way, combining the hallmark elements of the president’s political style: ignorance, stupidity, pettiness, and malice.

It's kind of a whipsaw with Trump, combining the correct refusal to spend money that Congress has not appropriated with… well, this. But:

You’d think that Americans would love the First Amendment, which gives every ordinary yokel on Twitter the right to say the president is a fool and the police chief is incompetent and the chairman of the board might profitably be replaced by a not-especially-gifted chimpanzee. But it isn’t very popular at all: Gutting the First Amendment is one of the top priorities of the Democratic party, which seeks to revoke its protection of political speech — i.e., the thing it’s really there to protect — so that they can put restrictions on political activism, which restrictions they call “campaign-finance reform.” They abominate the Supreme Court’s solid First Amendment decision in Citizens United, a case that involved not “money in politics” but the basic free-speech question of whether political activists should be allowed to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the days before an election. (Making a film and distributing it costs money, you see, hence “money in politics.”) They lost that one, but every Democrat in Harry Reid’s Senate — every one of them — voted to repeal the First Amendment.

And—I'm sorry to harp on this, but it really bugs me—we have at the University Near Here a journalism instructor who thinks the First Amendment doesn't apply when someone considers you "ignorant and hurtful".


■ And the (eminently predictable) reaction to left-wing shoutdowns of campus speakers: Trump Supporters Shout Down Liberal Speakers. It happened at Whittier College ("alma mater of Richard Nixon") and the speakers were California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California State Assembly Leader Ian Calderon.

The disruptors, who apparently were not students, shouted slogans like: “Build that wall,” “lock him up,” “respect our president,” and “American first.” Becerra’s question and answer session with Calderon was severely disturbed and cut short as a result.

I'd say "serves 'em right." Except that it doesn't.

And it would be nice if Trump would condemn things like this. But he won't.


■ Our Google LFOD alert rang for an article in (of all places) the San Francisco Chronicle: Governor's panel on regulatory reform holds first meeting. And it's not Jerry Brown, it's Chris Sununu.

A committee aimed at making New Hampshire more business friendly heard about burdensome regulations affecting ski areas, builders, bagpipe makers and more on Thursday.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who called New Hampshire a "regulatory police state" during his campaign, appointed a regulatory reform steering committee last month to conduct in-depth reviews of state regulations and recommend changes.

Though critics note that the state already has a committee tasked with reviewing regulations and call Sununu's efforts a political stunt, he told the committee Thursday that it's time to "clear out the gunk" and return the state to its "Live Free or Die" foundation.

Well, that's excellent. But… bagpipe makers? Isn't that totally illegal? Shouldn't it be totally illegal? Apparently not. And there's an explanation:

Rich Spaulding, operations manager at Gibson Bagpipes in Nashua, told the group he is struggling not with state regulations but international regulations regarding the wood his company uses to make its products. Even if he obtains the necessary federal permit, he said he'd have to drive to New York to have the products inspected before shipping them out of the country.

The wood in question is African Blackwood, and international treaties require that exports containing it be "inspected". But the only US inspection station is at JFK airport in NYC.


■ And have you been wondering why NH won't land Amazon? Fortunately, we have an answer from NH Business Review: Here’s why NH won’t land Amazon. Unsurprisingly, the answer involves our state's unwillingness to pony up corporate subsidies. For example, Tax increment financing (TIF):

This is not unique to New Hampshire. It is used widely around the country, including Vermont. But that state subsidizes the municipality’s share. In exchange, the state must approve each program. In the Live Free Or Die state no such permission is needed, but the towns shoulder the entire cost.

Apparently being paid by the word, the author writes "the Live Free Or Die state" to avoid writing "New Hampshire" again.


■ And here's your Tweet du Jour, leading to one of the best threads ever seen on Twitter:

An impressive use of infographics, and diligent research by Twitterers.

But nobody found any occurrence, anywhere, of "New Hampshire Fried Chicken". Understandably. Although such a restaurant could have the motto "Live Fried or Die".

Blogkeeping

2017-10-13

housekeeping

I've added a new "view" to Pun Salad over there on the right—no, your right: "Geekery" joins the longstanding views "Books" and "Movies".

I use views to separate out posts that might not be of interest to Pun Salad's normal readers: the Geekery view will be used to describe various adventures in scripting, Linux administration, and whatever else that might vaguely fit. It probably won't be high volume; I went back and reclassified some older posts as Geekery, and there were only 21. Over a twelve year span, that's not very many. But now that I have a place for them, I may do more.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-13

Proverbs 20:25 is just plain good advice:

25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly
    and only later to consider one’s vows.

… but do you think it's possible that the Proverbialist didn't always get along well with Mrs. Proverbialist?


■ At FIRE's blog, Zach Greenberg imagines A world without hate speech.

It takes as little as a flyer, a speech, a newspaper article, or a comedian to trigger calls for “hate speech” bans on college campuses. Considering that many college students support the prohibition of hate speech, let’s imagine if the would-be censors got their way — what would our society look like?

First, we must acknowledge that, in the United States, hateful speech is fully protected by the First Amendment. There’s no “hate speech versus free speech” debate raging in our nation’s judiciary. Nor is there a balancing test, an exemption, or a special constitutional provision allowing the government to prohibit it — hateful speech is categorically protected in our nation, including at public colleges and universities, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

Zach's article is a tour de force, and while "read the whole thing" is usually an implied suggestion here, I'll make it an explicit suggestion in this case.


■ For example, even though I'm a generally libertarian sort, I'm prepared to advocate that all college students be required to read Zach's article and pass a test on the content. Because I keep reading about things like this (from Stanley Kurtz at NRO): Campus Chaos: Daily Shout-Downs for a Week. Yes, daily. Just one example:

Tuesday, October 10: Tuesday night, student protesters at Columbia University shouted down and largely stopped a talk via skype by Tommy Robinson, the controversial former leader of the English Defense League. Invited to the event by the Columbia College Republicans, Robinson is not my idea of an ideal speaker. Given their beleaguered state, I can understand why campus conservatives might turn to provocateurs like Robinson. Even so, I don’t think it was a particularly inspired choice. That said, the Columbia College Republicans made it clear that they weren’t endorsing Robinson. And of course they have a perfect right to invite whomever they want. The leftist shut-down of Robinson’s talk was an outrage. Students blocked entrances to the speech, shouted over Robinson, then stormed the stage and forced him to abandon his talk. After it was over, Columbia College Republican President Ari Boosalis told Campus Reform, “I’m very depressed with how the event went. I realize free speech is dead.”

Is it time to invoke anti-Ku Klux Klan laws to restore campus sanity?


■ And, if anyone needs reminding, Trump is still a dangerous Constitution-shredder when he mutters about retaliating against news organizations who write stories he doesn't like.

Ah, but (you say) maybe he wasn't serious. David Harsanyi's answer to that: Even If Trump's Threat Against NBC Isn't Serious, It's Still Destructive. Bottom line:

The entire "fake news" outrage—from Trump's usage of the phrase to the Facebook presidential election scare—is an excuse for someone to limit speech. No, it doesn't matter if most journalists now lecturing you about the First Amendment are a bunch of enormous hypocrites. Nor does it matter that their biased coverage has eroded your trust. There is a bigger marketplace for news now than ever. Don't watch NBC.

But even if you're not idealistic about free expression, it might be worth remembering that any laws or regulations you embrace to inhibit the speech of others, even anchors reporting fake news, could one day be turned on you. This is the lesson big-government Democrats and Republicans never learn.

Why does this lesson continue to need relearning?


■ But not everything Trump does is clumsily authoritarian. Good news on that front from Michael F. Cannon at Cato: Trump Executive Order Could Save Millions from ObamaCare.

President Trump today signed an executive order that urges executive-branch agencies to take steps that could free millions of consumers from ObamaCare’s hidden taxes, bring transparency to that law, and give hundreds of millions of workers greater control over their earnings and health care decisions.

Schadenfreude isn't the noblest emotion, but it's pretty delicious to hear all the whining from the Obamacare cheerleaders.


■ An amusing memory-holing of an embarrassing sponsor: NPR Says Russian Software Company Behind Hacks Is No Longer a Corporate Underwriter

National Public Radio told the Washington Free Beacon that the Moscow-based software company Kaspersky Lab, which was used by hackers to steal classified documents from the National Security Agency, is no longer one of its corporate underwriters.

Gee, does this mean I can't call NPR "Commie Radio" any more?

To its credit, a simple Google search reveals that NPR's news branch has been reporting on Kaspersky's shadiness for years, and has been diligent about mentioning Kaspersky's NPR sponsorship in those reports.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-12

‘Free will’.

Proverbs 20:24 enters, I think, uncharted territory:

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
    How then can anyone understand their own way?

Am I wrong, or is the Proverbialist denying free will here? This really shakes the foundations of his own religion.


■ At NRO, Michael Tanner uses the Fraser Institute's latest Economic Freedom of the World report to muse on Our Halting Progress toward Maximum Economic Freedom. The news for the US is good and bad:

As disappointing as it is to see the U.S., once the model for free-market capitalism, trailing not just countries such as New Zealand and Switzerland, which have long embraced free markets, but also more surprising competitors such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, and even Mauritius, this actually represents a big improvement. Last year we were 16th.

The other (possible) good news is also (possible) bad news: the report reflected 2016, Obama's last year. So Trump has a lot of room to improve things with deregulation, tax reform, etc. But Trump also has a lot of room to wreck things via protectionism, corporate welfare, etc. So who knows?


■ Amidst all the Progressive whinery about Trump's undoing of the Obama Administration's decree that all employers must offer no-copay birth control "coverage", regardless of their religious convictions otherwise, Jeff Jacoby points out the obvious: If you can pay for aspirin, you can pay for birth control. And so:

Religious concerns aside, the new White House rule leaves the birth-control mandate in place. Trump's "tweak won't affect 99.9 percent of women," observes the Wall Street Journal, "and that number could probably have a few more 9s at the end." Washington will continue to compel virtually every employer and insurer in America to supply birth control to any woman who wants one at no out-of-pocket cost.

Yet there is no legitimate rationale for such a mandate. Americans don't expect to get aspirin, bandages, or cold medicine — or condoms — for free; by what logic should birth control pills or diaphragms be handed over at no cost? It is true that a woman's unwanted pregnancy can lead to serious costs, but the same is also true of a diabetic's hyperglycemia. Should insulin be free?

If you can't push around the Little Sisters of the Poor, people will start wondering why they're being pushed around. Can't have that.


■ I don't think I've posted on the controversy over Bruce Gilley's article, "The Case for Colonialism", in (of all places) Third World Quarterly. John Hinderaker at Power Line brings us up to date, with sad news: The Sword is Mightier than the Pen The article has now been memory-holed, due to "serious and credible threats of personal violence" leveled at the journal's editor. Bottom line:

Do our liberal friends want to know what fascism looks like? This is what fascism looks like.

Indeed.


■ But it's not only "our liberal friends" who want to keep from hearing things. President Trump denied an NBC News story that claimed that he "wanted a tenfold increase" in the nuclear warhead stockpile. But, going farther than a denial, he tweeted:

Fortunately, as Matt Welch points out at Reason: FCC Chair [Ajit Pai] Preemptively Rubbishes Trump’s Dumb Tweet About Challenging Media Licenses.

Pai said that he also sees "worrying signs" at the FCC, pointing to Twitter messages in which "people regularly demand that the FCC yank licenses from cable news channels like Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN because they disagree with the opinions expressed on those networks."

"Setting aside the fact that the FCC doesn't license cable channels, these demands are fundamentally at odds with our legal and cultural traditions," Pai said.

As we pointed out a couple days ago, our college students are being told that First Amendment rights "come with responsibilities" and that those rights don't give journalists "a license to be ignorant and hurtful". So it could be that Trump has been paying too much attention to such blitherings.


@kevinNR keys off the recent Trump/Tillerson debate about who's smarter, with Trump suggesting they "compare IQ tests". Kevin says oh yeah: Why Not an IQ Test?

Trump, who cannot spell “honored” or “principles” — or “tap,” “counsel,” “coverage,” “hereby,” “unprecedented,” “ridiculous,” “waste,” “judgment,” “paid,” and much else — likes to talk about his IQ. He assures us it is very high. How high? “One of the highest.” He has challenged Mark Cuban, an actual billionaire, to an IQ contest. He has blasted Chris Matthews as having a low IQ, and has claimed, on separate occasions, that his IQ is higher than those of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Jon Stewart, Jeb Bush, and others. He suggested that Rick Wilson should be given an IQ test before he is allowed to appear on television again.

I really would like to see that. As Kevin says: put up or shut up.

I'm on record with this modest proposal:

A requirement for running [for high elected office] would be to subject yourself to a battery of tests to measure your intelligence (maybe an IQ test); general knowledge and academic achievement (something like the SAT); maybe a quiz on current affairs (where's Aleppo?) or general civic knowledge; maybe specialized queries on economics or science.

You wouldn't disqualify anyone based on test scores, but you would publicize everyone's scores. Would voters pay attention? Maybe enough on the margin to improve results.

Still sounds like a fine idea to me.


■ And our Google LFOD alert rang for the Seacoast Online LTE from Rye's Ronna Flaschner: Republicans make criminals of women and their doctors. Oh no! At issue is the recent passage of a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Where does our Governor stand in our state of live free or die? With women and their doctors or with an inept President and a group of ignorant House Republicans who think they can legislate a way to punish women? Does our Governor stand with a President who has NO respect for women?

Interesting factoid (as claimed by President Trump, and discussed in the WaPo): the US is one of only a handful of nations that currently allow late elective abortions. Jonah Goldberg comments.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-11

■ If you think that stand-up comics have difficulty coming up with fresh material, consider Proverbs 20:23:

23 The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

If you're experiencing déjà vu, there's a good reason: the Proverbialist said the same thing just 13 verses earlier:

10 Differing weights and differing measures—
    the Lord detests them both.

OK, we get it, Mr. Consumer Reports.


■ More University antics: Texas Southern University president storms into student event, shuts down speech. The TSU Federalist Society had invited Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain to speak. The event was initially disrupted by student protesters, but campus cops escorted them out. The speech continued until…

Then [TSU] President [Austin] Lane, accompanied by Democratic state Sen. Boris Miles, entered the room. Rep. Cain, a Republican, then exited the room and president Lane invited the protesters back into the room.

Mission accomplished, speech censors!

President Lane's quoted remarks invoked "time, place, and manner" regulation—at least four times—as an excuse for the shutdown. See if you can fit his reasoning in with this explanation of time/place/matter regulation. And see if you can guess how a court case might come out.


■ So I haven't gotten too excited about the Harvey Weinstein thing, because the hypocritical pervyness lurking behind the thin, shiny veneer of the entertainment industry is not exactly shocking to anyone paying attention. But people, like Roger L. Simon, are making some interesting observations: Harvey Weinstein Has Destroyed Hollywood -- Now What?

Hollywood’s politics have always been a self-serving charade, a liberal masquerade for a rapacious and lubricious lifestyle. But now, thanks to the Weinstein scandal, we see it more clearly than ever. And it couldn't be more repellent. (I had always thought Bill Clinton would have made the greatest studio executive of all time. Now I'm convinced of it.)

But…


@JonahNRO casts a somewhat wider net: The Harvey Weinstein Scandal Leaves a Trail of Hypocrisy. Specifically, after noting the selective courage of stars who "bravely" spoke out about Trump while giving Weinstein a pass:

So far, many right-wing readers are probably nodding along to this column. Well, stop. If you never spoke up about Trump, or if you responded to those accusations with a dismissive, “What about Bill Clinton?” you should probably just sit this one out.

Because if you decry piggish behavior only when it helps your side, or if you think accusers are telling the truth only when they speak up about people you hate (or don’t need professionally), then you don’t actually care about sexual harassment.

Jonah's right: a lot of folks have forfeited their membership in the Morality Police by looking the other way when members of their political tribe misbehaved.


■ At Reason, Jacob Sullum asks: Does Reproductive Freedom Mean Forcing People to Sin?

Last Friday the Trump administration unveiled regulations that let a wider range of employers claim a religious exemption from the Obamacare mandate requiring health plans to cover birth control. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) responded by invoking The Handmaid's Tale, the Margaret Atwood novel, now a Hulu series, set in a patriarchal dystopia where the government controls women's bodies and forbids them to read, write, or work outside the home.

Lowey is not the only critic of the new regulations who conflates freedom from coercion with a right to forcibly extracted subsidies. Such overwrought reactions obscure the real issue raised by religious exceptions to the contraceptive mandate: When does respect for religious freedom require relieving some people of the obligation to obey rules that everyone else has to follow?

Sullum does a fine job delineating the areas of controversy in a short column.


■ And Gregg Easterbrook, the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, didn't watch the games this week. (He has a good excuse.) But he makes a decent argument as to why we should Ban Youth Football. After summarizing recent research:

Such research suggests a bright line. Organized tackle football before age twelve does engage tremendous neurological risk; but don’t start football until middle school and the sport’s neurological hazards are roughly the same as those associated with soccer, diving, and bicycling. Maybe someday soccer, diving, bicycling, and football all will be banned as too dangerous. Based on what’s known today, football is not notably more dangerous—so long as you don’t start until middle school age.

If youth tackle football were abolished by legislation—or if parents and guardians refused to allow young children to join full-pads leagues and endure helmet-to-helmet hits—the societal harm caused by football would decline dramatically.

I find Easterbrook's argument pretty convincing, but see what you think.

URLs du Jour

2017-10-10

Proverbs 20:22 cautions about retaliation:

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.

I wonder if Marco Rubio has ever tweeted this Proverb, and I wonder if he's implicitly aimed it at a certain incumbent President?


■ A belated second-Monday-in-October item from Michael Graham in the Federalist: Why ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ Is Far Worse Than Columbus Day. It's especially aimed at people who equate Columbus with imperialistic genocidal evil, while ignoring…

When thinking of pre-Columbian America, forget what you’ve seen in the Disney movies. Think “slavery, cannibalism and mass human sacrifice.” From the Aztecs to the Iroquois, that was life among the indigenous peoples before Columbus arrived.

For all the talk from the angry and indigenous about European slavery, it turns out that pre-Columbian America was virtually one huge slave camp. According to “Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865,” by Tony Seybert, “Most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America.”

Could it possibly be that the anti-Columbus people don't get the same frisson of self-righteousness in contemplating history through a non-Zinnian lens?

But let's offer equal time to Reason's Nick Gillespie, who's against Depicting Native Americans as Bloodthirsty Savages on Columbus Day.

One of the hallmarks of culture wars is that everything must be reduced to a Manichean struggle of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, left vs. right, you name it vs. you dread it. […] The only way to win at this game is not to play it. Demand a different and better conversation about politics, culture, and ideas, one in which simply mocking and shouting down other people and perspectives isn't the be-all and end-all.

I understand his point here. It's not that Native Americans weren't bloodthirsty savages (they were). It's not that Columbus's journeys didn't start a long string of violence and injustices aimed at Native Americans (they did). It's that posturing about that stuff today is childlishly divisive and unproductive.

I'll try to do better, Nick.


■ A short post from Michael Huemer (via Bryan Caplan) on: What's Killing Us? He observes (a) the leading causes of death in the US, and (b) the fact that political activism/discourse is entirely aimed at things way down on the list.

Hypothesis: We don't much care about the good of society. Refinement: Love of the social good is not the main motivation for (i) political action, and (ii) political discourse. We don't talk about what's good for society because we want to help our fellow humans. We talk about society because we want to align ourselves with a chosen group, to signal that alignment to others, and to tell a story about who we are. There are AIDS activists because there are people who want to express sympathy for gays, to align themselves against conservatives, and thereby to express "who they are". There are no nephritis activists, because there's no salient group you align yourself with (kidney disease sufferers?) by advocating for nephritis research, there's no group you thereby align yourself *against*, and you don't tell any story about what kind of person you are.

There's a lot of wisdom in what Huemer says here.


■ But we got a lot of LFOD action to report. Even some from overseas, like the Guardian, which provides Guardian readers' views on gun control. For example, "David" from North Carolina:

I am sorry to hear about tragic shooting incidents like the one in Las Vegas, but restricting gun rights from the vast majority people who use them properly is not just and is not the answer. We live in a country which was founded on the precept that individual liberty is more important than the collective good – “give me liberty or give me death”, “live free or die”. While tragic, incidents like Las Vegas are the price we pay for individual liberty. Proposed gun restrictions might actually reduce these violent incidents, but at what price?

There are other views as well. Should you need to hear them one more time.


■ My local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, prints a weekly feature from Ron Cole entitled Dover Doin’s. This week, he discussed a recent visit to our state by a delegation from Kyrgyzstan:

Guess what was one of their favorite things about the Granite State? Our motto. One of the fellas on his way to the airport commented that after interacting with so many New Hampshire residents, he really appreciated how we epitomized, “Live Free or Die.”

For the record, Freedom House rates Kyrgyzstan as "partly free"; the Heritage Foundation ranks it, economic-freedomwise, as "moderately free"


■ The Concord Monitor bemoans: In New Hampshire, suicide stressors are abundant. And chief among them are those four little words on the license plates:

When it comes to suicide, New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” attitude may not be helping.

“There’s this mentality that, ‘Hey, I’m not going to ask for help. I can do this myself. And if I can’t, I’m just not going to get someone else involved,’ ” Elaine de Mello, Training and Services Manager of the Connect Suicide Prevention Project, said. “It’s this sense of privacy, like, ‘I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill.’ A struggling person doesn’t know what to do, so they don’t do anything.”

It's expected that some legislator will propose changing the license plate wording from "LIVE FREE OR DIE" to "PLEASE DON'T KILL YOURSELF".

The CDC puts New Hampshire's (2014) suicide rate at 17.8 per 100K. That puts us (by my count) behind 14 other states. Vermont edges us out with an 18.7 rate; what's their excuse?


■ New Hampshire Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough takes to the "New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism" website to advocate Time To Make The Laws, But Please Kill Private School Voucher Bill.

I am always amused by the number of new laws legislators in the Live Free or Die state feel are necessary. One colleague from across the aisle has filed thirty-two, all by himself! So much for smaller government.

Well, Marjorie, it depends on what the bills do, right?

[And I, for one, am always amused at those people who claim to be "always amused" when it's pretty clear they aren't even slightly amused, let alone "always".]

Marjorie's gripe is with SB193, which she calls "the private school voucher bill". Its actual title is Establishing education freedom savings accounts for students. It would funnel state funds to said "accounts", which then could be used to pay for private, or home, schooling.

One potential roadblock is NH's Blaine Amendment, an anti-Catholic measure added to the Constitution in 1877.


■ And LFOD made it to the Irish Independent, in a travel article by Deirdre Conroy: Living free in New Hampshire: A road (and ski) trip to remember.

'Live Free or Die' is the motto on every New Hampshire licence plate - a declaration originally made about the American Revolution by General John Stark. I was inclined to just 'Live and Drive Carefully' - but, even so, was pulled over by a state trooper when just 5mph over the limit. I was sent on my way after a full Homeland Security check. "You keep warm, ma'am."

Ah, another possible license plate replacement for LFOD: "KEEP WARM".


Last Modified 2017-10-11 7:18 AM EDT