URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Charles Sykes ("The Contrarian Conservative") imagines a speech given at some future point in Nashua, NH. But it's A Speech in Search of a Candidate. Excerpt:

    Republicans must make it clear that we reject bigotry, white nationalism, xenophobia, and misogyny. The challenge is both political and moral. Politically, our party cannot survive if it continues to insult and alienate women, young people, and racial minorities. Morally, the embrace or tolerance of hate and inhumanity threatens to be an enduring stain on our character.

    We cannot be the party of character and embrace Donald Trump; we cannot be a party that values the Constitution, and sit by and watch the undermining of the rule of law; we cannot be a party that claims to be fiscally responsible, and then preside over the reckless expansion of our national debt, and we cannot be a party that values education, while joining in the dumbing down of our political dialogue.

    Good speech! It would be neat if someone would pull off a Eugene McCarthy-style ambush of Trump here in New Hampshire.

    You all remember President McCarthy, don't you? Oh, wait.

  • At Reason, Robby Soave notes recent fake news: ABC Makes Patently False Claim About New Title IX Rules. Specifically, ABC claimed that the rules defining sexual harassment "would be significantly more difficult to prove because the victim would have to prove the misconduct prevents them from returning to school."

    No. The new standard does not require victims to show that they can't return to school. Indeed, it doesn't require them to leave school in the first place. What this new standard says is that severe, pervasive, objectively offensive sexual harassment that negatively impacts a student's ability to attend class is a form of discrimination, because it denies the student's right to an education. Sexual conduct that satisfies the severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive threshold—the legal standard for workplace harassment—will be held to violate Title IX, even if the conduct did not literally cause the student to flee campus but merely makes the student's life unpleasant.

    But this mischaracterization is already being repeated uncritically. As some anonymous genius said: A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

  • P. J. O'Rourke writes in American Consequences on Economic Collapse.

    Maybe it’s a sign of the age we live in. I used to daydream about enormous wealth – champagne and caviar. Now I find myself daydreaming about what my family and I would do if the economy collapsed.

    Or maybe it’s just a sign of my age – These days, champagne and caviar give me indigestion…

    Anyway, what would we do? I’m not so worried about us personally going broke. If we personally go broke, we’ll just mooch off other people – about half of America seems to do that already. But what if the entire economic system fails and everybody goes broke and nobody has any money and the money isn’t worth anything anyway? Then what would we do?

    I believe the answer involves a large number of cans of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Throwback Recipe Beef Ravioli.

  • At the WaPo we know, because they keep telling us, that "Democracy Dies in Darkness". So Robert Samuelson writes on The myth of stagnant incomes.

    We aren’t stagnating, after all.

    Unless you’ve been hibernating in the Himalayas, you must know of the recent surge in economic inequality. It’s not just that the rich are getting richer. The rest of us — say politicians, pundits and scholars — are stagnating. The top 1 percent have grabbed most income gains, while average Americans are stuck in the mud.

    Well, it’s not so. That’s the message — perhaps unintended — from the Congressional Budget Office, which reports periodically on the distribution and growth of the nation’s income. It recently found that most Americans had experienced clear-cut income gains since the early 1980s.

    I'm not sure how progressives will handle this news.

    (Although the CBO analysis seems to be based on "quintiles" whose boundaries move with changing incomes. And the people in a given quintile are different people in different years. What people actually experience over the course of their lives seems to be elusive.)

  • At Law and Liberty, John Kekes muses on The Absurdity of Egalitarianism.

    Egalitarians believe that inequality is unjust and justice requires a society to move steadily toward greater equality. This is the aim of proportional taxation, equal opportunity programs, and the various anti-poverty policies of a welfare state. These policies cost money. The egalitarian approach to getting it is to tax those who have more in order to benefit those who have less. The absurdity of this is that egalitarians suppose that justice requires ignoring whether people deserve what they have and whether they are responsible for what they lack. They suppose that it is just to ignore the requirements of justice.

    Here is a consequence of egalitarianism. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, men’s life expectancy is on the average about seven years less than women’s. There is thus an inequality between men and women. If egalitarians really mean that it would be better if everyone enjoyed the same level of social and economic benefits, then they must find the inequality between the life expectancy of men and women unjust. Following their reasoning, it ought to be a requirement of justice to equalize the life expectancy of men and women. This can be done, for instance, by men having more and better healthcare and working shorter hours than women.

    Reductio ad absurdum of course, but it's a good example to use when someone assumes that a given statistical disparity is prima facie evidence of invidious discrimination.

  • And this xkcd is stunning, especially to geezers like me:

    [Airplanes and Spaceships]

    You can check the calendar math here.

    Days between Wright and Gagarin: 20,936.

    Days between Gagarin and today (as I type): 21,401.

    Sheesh. Back then I thought for sure interplanetary travel was going to be ho-hum by now.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At Quillette, Uri Harris writes on The Institutionalization of Social Justice. Uri examines the slow-motion effort of activists to "suppress controversial viewpoints". Examples abound, and they will come as no surprise to folks who have been following the trend. Conclusion:

    But there’s a lot to be concerned about. The extent to which highly progressive universities have become conformist and dogmatic as they have adopted this is troubling. But we can now see why: use of analytic individualization tools to reform people of their privilege combined with a self-governing structure where people internalize the norms of social justice and continually monitor themselves and each other for violations is bound to produce a high level of conformity.

    Yet, even these concerns of conformity and suppression of dissent pale in comparison to what might happen as technology continues to develop. China, which has already instituted a system of social credit combined with wide-ranging surveillance technology, provides a glimpse of this. This could become totalitarian very rapidly, especially as governments continue to work with Google, Facebook, and other technology companies to regulate speech.

    Long, but worth your attention.

  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein writes an obituary: American Civil Liberties Union, RIP.

    In the late 1960s, the ACLU was a small but powerful liberal organization devoted to a civil libertarian agenda composed primarily of devotion to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and the rights of accused criminals. In the early 1970s, the ACLU's membership rose from around 70,000 to almost 300,000. Many new members were attracted by the organization's opposition to the Vietnam War and its high-profile battles with President Nixon, but such members were not committed to the ACLU's broader civil libertarian agenda. However, the organization's defense of the KKK's right to march in Skokie, Illinois, in the late 1970s weeded out some of these fair-weather supporters and attracted some new free speech devotees. But George H. W. Bush's criticisms of the ACLU during the 1988 presidential campaign again attracted many liberal members not especially devoted to civil liberties.

    It has been a slow-motion evolution, but the end result should be sad for actual civil libertarians to behold:

    Meanwhile, yesterday, the Department of Education released a proposed new Title IX regulation that provides for due process rights for accused students that had been prohibited by Obama-era guidance. Shockingly, even to those of us who have followed the ACLU's long, slow decline, the ACLU tweeted in reponse that the proposed regulation "promotes an unfair process, inappropriately favoring the accused." Even longtime ACLU critics are choking on the ACLU, of all organizations, claiming that due proess protections "inappropriately favor the accuse[d]."

    Earlier this year, Joe Lieberman also noted the ACLU's shape-shifting into just "another advocacy group on the left."

  • Power Line's John Hinderaker points out The Ultimate Fake News.

    Fake news is a serious problem in our political life. I’m not referring to a pathetically small number of Facebook ads bought by Russian provocateurs. I’m talking about the fake news that was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee; fabricated by Democratic Party-allied consultants; propagated by the FBI and the CIA; promoted by the broadcast networks, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press; trumpeted by pretty much every senior elected Democrat; and kept alive by the appalling Robert Mueller. The claim that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to “steal” the 2016 presidential election is the great fake news of our time.

    The results, as revealed by a recent poll: two-thirds of Democrats think that the statement "Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President" is either "definitely true" or "probably true".

    An assertion for which there is zero evidence. Russia's apparent goal was to "undermine confidence" in voting; but it's clear the MSM has been far more effective than the Russians in progressing to that goal.

    Will they accept any responsibility for this? Don't hold your breath.

  • Pun Salad considers P. J. "no relation to Beto" O'Rourke to be a primary guru, so his take on the midterm election is highly recommended: Demented Politics, Lunatic Markets.

    We have two political parties in America, each worse than the other.

    One party thinks it’s in favor of business and economic growth. It’s not thinking very hard. The GOP has done nothing about the nation’s burgeoning debt and deficit. If Republicans were financial advisers, they’d take a look at your huge credit-card bills, delinquent car loan, and outsized mortgage debt and tell you to quit making loan payments and go on a spending spree.

    You’d say, “But I’ll lose the house!” And Republicans would say, “Heck, we lost the House. So what?”

    The other party is convinced that everything is free. Health care is free. College tuition is free. Parental leave is free. Not that parents need it, since daycare is also free. Democrats should go into a butcher shop and announce that beef is free… and get clocked on the head by a butcher wielding a frozen rib roast. (Except Democrats will ban meat because animals are free, too.)

    Are we in an era where all we can do is stand athwart history, yelling "Stop!"? I'd like to think not, but…

  • This being Pun Salad, we try to keep you abreast of current thought on that humorous genre. At the hoity-toity Paris Review, James Geary writes In Defense of Puns. Everyone knows that the Fall of Mankind was kicked off when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple. But… wait a minute, who said it was an apple?

    Apples appeared in 382 because that’s when Pope Damasus I asked Saint Jerome to translate the Old Latin Bible into the simpler Latin Vulgate, which became the definitive edition of the text for the next thousand years. In the Vulgate, the adjectival form of evilmalus, is malum, which also happens to be the word for “apple.” The similarity between malum (“evil”) and malum (“apple”) prompted Saint Jerome to pick that word to describe what Eve and Adam ate, thereby ushering sin into the world.

    The truth is, though, the apple is innocent, and this unjustly maligned fruit’s association with original sin comes down to nothing more than a pun.

    Geary's "defense" of puns only goes so far, however. Puns "about German sausage are generally considered the ." (I bet you can fill in the blank yourself.)

  • And, finally, good news from Slashdot: There Is No Link Between Insomnia and Early Death, Study Finds.

    Which allows me to make the cheap joke: that's great, because I was really losing sleep worrying about that.

The Phony Campaign

2018-11-18 Update

[phony baloney]

Welcome to our first update to our phony polling of the 2020 presidential contest. And there's lots of excitement, honest. Predictwise has wised up (or, better, the bettors at the sites Predictwise samples have wised up) and dropped the nomination probabilities of Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Paul Ryan below our 3% criteria for inclusion. But to make up for that, they've brought in John Kasich, Bobby "Beto" O'Rourke, and (oh oh) Hillary Clinton.

Beto is especially impressive, since he has a 14% probability of grabbing the Democratic nomination, higher than any candidate besides Kamala Harris. (In contrast, our other "new" candidates, Hillary and Kasich, are just barely making our cut, each with a 3% probability.)

Our update table shows our current candidate crop, and, for each candidate, today's probability (again, from Predictwise) of getting the nomination of their parties, and the Google result count of searching for their names with "phony" appended. And, for candidates that we looked at in the previous week, the changes in both numbers.

Which (as noted before) is bogus. Look at Bernie: did over a half million pages labeling him a phony really disappear from the Web in a week? No, of course not.

And did nearly three million new web pages appear over the week calling Donald Trump a phony? Well, maybe… Um, probably not.

But we'll keep doing this, because it's fun.

Candidate NomProb Change
Donald Trump 71% -2% 4,990,000 +2,920,000
Beto O'Rourke 14% --- 1,170,000 ---
Nikki Haley 6% +1% 1,160,000 -330,000
Hillary Clinton 3% --- 733,000 ---
Kamala Harris 16% unch 529,000 +23,000
Mike Pence 7% unch 334,000 +137,000
Joe Biden 7% -2% 273,000 +67,000
Bernie Sanders 7% unch 239,000 -537,000
Elizabeth Warren 11% +1% 206,000 +27,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% -1% 150,000 -29,000
Sherrod Brown 3% unch 137,000 +12,000
Amy Klobuchar 4% -1% 99,100 -1,900
Cory Booker 3% -1% 70,600 +6,900
John Kasich 3% --- 43,300 ---

  • Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke probably has a high phony count due to the recent elections, when he was much in the news for losing to America's most-disliked senator, Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz. News stories like this one from NBC are high in the Google rankings, reporting on President Trump's rally in support of Cruz:

    "Ted's opponent in this race is a stone-cold phony named Robert Francis O'Rourke, sometimes referred to as 'Beto,'" Trump told the crowd, mocking the Democrat's nickname, which he has gone by since childhood. "He pretends to be a moderate, but he's actually a radical, open borders left-winger."

    As Business Insider notes, it's only been a few years since Cruz and Trump were going at it, with Trump calling Cruz "lyin' Ted", tweeting out unflattering pictures of Heidi Cruz, etc. Cruz, for his part called Trump a "narcissist" and "serial philanderer", and there was that whole "New York values" thing.

    In all fairness, Trump is a narcissist and (at least used to be) a serial philanderer.

  • I, for one, encourage Hillary to get into the race. We all remember how shocked (shocked!) she was that Trump might not accept the results of the 2016 election. She was "appalled"! She called it "horrifying"! She called it "a direct threat to our democracy"!

    And now

    One year after losing the presidential race, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is still questioning the “legitimacy” of President Trump’s victory, accusing Republicans of voter suppression tactics in swing states and Russians of influencing votes through a “disinformation campaign.”

    “I think that there are lots of questions about its legitimacy,” Clinton said of the election during a video interview posted online Friday by the liberal Mother Jones website.


    “I think [the Russian disinformation campaign] was one of the major contributors to the outcome,” she said. “Propaganda works. Advertising works. It’s a form of propaganda. So the Russians may have started out a little heavy-handed and clumsy about it, but they were clearly getting guided as to where to target a lot of their fraudulent claims and phony news.”

    Hillary, how can we miss you when you won't go away?

  • And President Trump got into the phony act too, complaining about a New York Times story:

    The NYT story by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers is here. Key allegation:

    In recent weeks, with his electoral prospects two years from now much on his mind, Mr. Trump has focused on the person who has most publicly tethered his fortunes to him. In one conversation after another he has asked aides and advisers a pointed question: Is Mike Pence loyal?

    Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers. The president has not openly suggested dropping Mr. Pence from the ticket and picking another running mate, but the advisers say those kinds of questions usually indicate that he has grown irritated with someone.

    Lots of entrail-reading there, based on anonymous sources ("nearly a dozen White House aides and others close to Mr. Trump"). And the story also gives the NYT a chance to resurrect …

    Mr. Trump has never completely forgotten that during the 2016 campaign Mr. Pence issued a disapproving statement the day after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape was made public, on which the president was heard making comments boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.

    You know who else has never completely forgotten that? The New York Times.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Reason's Robby Soave notes the irony: The ACLU Condemns DeVos's Title IX Reforms, Says These Due Process Safeguards 'Inappropriately Favor the Accused'. (At least I think it might be irony. People tell me I am weak on that concept.)

    It's no surprise that victims' rights activists and their allies are furious about the Education Department's proposed changes to Title IX, the federal statute that deals with sex and gender discrimination on campus.

    It is surprising, however, to see the American Civil Liberties Union joining in this chorus. The ACLU has long defended the rights of accused terrorists, criminals, neo-Nazis, and the Westboro Baptist Church. The group works tirelessly to protect due process, even for the least sympathetic among us.

    It is darned odd that the ACLU seems to think that neo-Nazis have more due process rights than students accused of sexual misbehavior.

  • On a related matter, Stuart Reges, a computer science instructor at University of Washington, puts (appropriately for a computer science guy) a self-referential title on his Quillette article: Is It Sexual Harassment to Discuss this Article?.

    Jordan Peterson recently tweeted that, “The STEM fields are next on the SJW hitlist. Beware, engineers.”  I’m convinced that Peterson is correct and I feel that my ongoing case has allowed me to see a likely avenue of attack from those who support the equity agenda. They will characterize any discussion of sex differences, no matter how calm and rational, as a form of gender harassment which in turn constitutes sexual harassment. In other words, if you dare to discuss the science of sex differences—even at a university—there’s a good chance that you’ll be accused of violating US law.

    Dissenting from your employer's theology is a tough course to take, as ex-employees of Google, Facebook, etc. will attest. Reges is a brave guy.

  • Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy has a Thanksgiving metaphor for the Democrats now in legislative/executive council power in New Hampshire: Eat the turkey, not the goose.

    Concord is abuzz with speculation about the newly elected Democratic majority’s legislative agenda. It’s no mystery. At a panel sponsored by The DuPont Group and New England College on Friday, incoming Senate President Donna Soucy reminded the audience that Democrats campaigned on an agenda (called the Granite State Opportunity Plan), and they intend to govern by it.

    The priorities outlined in the plan are clear: Higher state spending on health and social services, education and infrastructure; increased subsidies for favored energy producers; more regulations on businesses; and higher business taxes.

    Fortunately Governor Sununu still has a working veto pen. That's not the strongest bulwark against turning New Hampshire into Maine, but it will have to do for a couple years.

  • At EconLog, Scott Sumner updates an old Goldwater quote: Extremism in the defense of subsidized liberty is a (conservative) vice. When it comes to health care…

    Our current income tax system with deductions for health insurance (contributions are both payroll and income tax free) is actually equivalent to a system with higher taxes and explicit government subsidies to buy health insurance. Thus instead of spending 8% of GDP on public health care, we are likely spending more than 10% of GDP, when tax breaks are added in. The way this distorts our behavior is a huge problem.

    When I talk to conservatives, I often feel like they are too inclined to defend our financial system and our health care system. They see the left criticize these two systems, and they rightly recoil from the socialist arguments used by the left. But just because the left is wrong in their proposed solutions, doesn’t mean that the left has not correctly identified some highly flawed policy regimes. Both regimes seem indefensible to me, not justifiable on either equity or efficiency grounds.

    It's a huge task to legislatively move people off the status quo in any direction. That's why the Obamacare "If you like it, you can keep it" lie was invented.

  • We got the sad news yesterday that William Goldman had passed away. At NR, Kyle Smith bids Farewell to a Hollywood Master.

    A frustrated musician-writer once wrote that the easiest thing in the world was to compose a passage of weird, moody background music, the kind of thing that could play against a scene of creepy suspense at the movies. The hardest thing, by contrast, is to do, even once, what Paul McCartney has done hundreds of times: compose a catchy tune or just a hook.

    So it goes in the screen trade: Coming up with a line that catches hold on the imagination and enters the language is what every screenwriter hopes to do. One who mastered it above virtually all others was William Goldman, who died Thursday at 87.

    “Follow the money.” “You crazy? The fall’ll probably kill you.” “Is that what you call giving cover?” “Who ARE those guys?” “Is it safe?” “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” “Inconceivable!” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Even “follow the money” is Bill Goldman’s line, not WoodStein’s, and so is the most indelible line about Hollywood itself: “Nobody knows anything.”

    I was a devoted fan of Goldman's novels, too. I dearly loved the book version of The Princess Bride. For a long time, I thought less of the movie version because it didn't follow the book more closely.

    But Goldman knew what I didn't: you can't make a good movie that way.

  • A site calling itself besthealthdegrees.com has a neat, if morbid, infographic: Your Chances of Dying.

    Your Chances of Dying

    It suffers somewhat from not reporting risks using the same uniform metrics. For that, see the Wikipedia article on micromorts.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Yeesh, it snowed. Hope the snowblower starts. But first:

  • Eric Boehm reports the sad news at Reason: The Postal Service Lost $3.9 Billion Last Year.

    The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) finished fiscal year 2018 nearly $4 billion in the red—a whopping 44 percent increase in losses from the previous year, despite the fact that the post office saw revenue increase by more than $1 billion at the same time.

    In its annual fiscal report, released Wednesday, the USPS attributed more than $2 billion of the deficit to an "ongoing volume loss"—largely the result of fewer people using the government's mail system for sending letters—of 3.6 percent. The rest was the result of increasing payments for pensions and retiree health benefits.

    It's not a one-time deal, either. Increasing personnel costs are on a trajectory to continue multi-billion dollar losses as far as the eye can see.

    Privatization is the way out. It's been the way out for years, if not decades. But, as Eric notes, it's not in the cards, thanks to our craven politicians.

  • In NR, Michael Brendan Dougherty draws The Election’s Lesson for Democrats: Don’t Nominate Hillary Clinton.

    Political consultant Mark Penn wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Hillary Clinton not only will run for president again, but will prevail. He writes: “Mrs. Clinton has a 75% approval rating among Democrats, an unfinished mission to be the first female president, and a personal grievance against Mr. Trump, whose supporters pilloried her with chants of ‘Lock her up!’ This must be avenged.”

    Actually, it doesn’t. Not if Democrats want to keep winning.

    Michael notes (amusingly) Hillary's long career of blunders, lies, and uniting Republicans of all stripes against her.

    So all the Democrats need to do is avoid the Hill? I think Michael underestimates all the other ways Democrats can mess up. In the last half-century: Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry. And Obama, who did OK for himself, but delivered Democrat carnage that they're only now climbing out of thanks to Trump.

  • Jonah Goldberg's column this week is on Stan Lee.

    Lee grew up professionally in this “Golden Age” of comics, but he also rebelled against it. While a member of the so-called Greatest Generation, Lee better represented the more ironic attitudes of the postwar generation. His superheroes struggled with their powers and their moral responsibilities. Spider-Man, the quintessential Marvel character (at least until the introduction of Wolverine) was a nerdy, angst-ridden teenager who only reluctantly accepted his role and the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Lee’s heroes quarreled with each other, had romantic setbacks and sometimes even struggled to make the rent.

    The baby boomers, Lee’s target audience, were plagued with a great unease about living up to the legacy of their parents’ generation. “We are people of this generation,” begins the Port Huron Statement, the 1962 manifesto that largely launched the ’60s protest era, “bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.” They believed they were special but didn’t know exactly what to do about it.

    My comic book days ended about 45 years ago. But I still like this bit, in the midst of batter:

    Dr. Doom: They don't call me the most dangerous man alive for nothing.

    Daredevil: You mean they pay you?

    (Gene Colan, I believe, but Stan was probably involved.)

  • Philip Greenspun notes: Women suing Dartmouth demanding damages sufficient to send every Dartmouth student to University of New Hampshire. (The women are suing because of alleged sexual improprieties, including rape, by Dartmouth facules.)

    There are approximately 4,300 undergraduates at Dartmouth. In-state tuition at University of New Hampshire is $18,500 per year (source). At rack rates, therefore, 4,300 students would pay $79.5 million at UNH. Assuming only a modest amount of financial aid, then, it would cost less to send all 4,300 of these undergrads to UNH than the amount of damages that was inflicted on these seven women.

    Well, yeah, but just for a year. And UNH would have no place to put them.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At NR, George Will relates Harvard’s Admissions Policy Problem.

    In the hierarchy of pleasures, schadenfreude ranks second only to dry martinis at dusk, so conservatives are enjoying Harvard’s entanglement with two things it has not sufficiently questioned — regulatory government and progressive sentiment. The trial that recently ended in Boston — the judge’s ruling might be months away, and reach the U.S. Supreme Court — concerns whether Harvard’s admissions policy regarding Asian Americans is unjust, and whether the government should respond.

    Practically, the case pertains only to the few highly selective institutions that admit small portions of their applicants. But everyone, and especially conservatives, should think twice — or at least once — before hoping that government will minutely supervise how private institutions shape their student bodies.

    Mr. Will has a point there. Of course, Harvard (and other elite schools) were perfectly happy to support Federal dictation of higher-ed institution policies as long as they supported Progressive goals that they were supporting anyway.

    But what (indeed) is the difference between a college that discriminates against people of African descent and a college that discriminates against people of Asian descent? Does it make any sense to prohibit one and allow the other?

  • At Reason, Peter Suderman ponts out/asks: The Republican Tax Cuts Were a Political Failure. What Does That Mean for a Party That Agrees on Little Else?.

    When Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of last year, they expected it to be the centerpiece of their midterm campaign. "This was a promise made. This is a promise kept," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said at a news conference celebrating the bill's passage. "If we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Judging by last week's midterm results, Republicans may need to update their résumés.

    The tax law permanently cut corporate tax rates and reduced individual income taxes through the middle of the next decade while increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion. Republicans initially talked it up, tying it to a wave of corporate bonuses for workers. But the party quickly abandoned that argument in congressional races across the country. Polls found support dwindling, even among Republicans, while the already strong opposition increased among Democrats. A Gallup survey found that a majority of Americans said they saw no increase in their take-home pay.

    If Republicans can't make a convincing case for tax cuts, they might as well fold up their tents and go sit in a corner. They deserved to lose.

  • At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jacob T. Levy writes on Bombs, rhetorical and otherwise.

    Political speech inspires belief, and action.

    This shouldn’t be controversial, but it is. Assassination attempts against public figures who have been singled out for abuse by President Trump, and the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, have refocused attention on Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. He dismissed the idea that he might have any reason to “tone down” his language amidst the violence, suggesting that he might “tone it up” instead. And he has continued to attack some of those targeted by the mail bombs, including CNN, George Soros, and Tom Steyer. The president’s apologists have duly returned to their mantra that the president’s rhetoric is just a sideshow. Extremist political violence is written off as either radical evil or sociopathy, having no causes, and the president’s language is minimized as having no effects. He can’t possibly have made people so much worse.

    But he can have set out a horrifyingly false vision of calling them to be better.

    Yes, there's been incendiary rhetoric and violence on the other side too. And some of these guys were just ticking bombs waiting to go off anyway. Doesn't excuse Trump from making things worse.

  • Oh, hey, that was pretty somber. Sorry. But someone posted this on Facebook, and I laughed, so here you go:

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At the WaPo, Megan McArdle asks a darn good question: How did America end up raising Generation Paranoia?.

    In an 1827 essay titled “On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth,” English author William Hazlitt noted that “no young man believes he shall ever die . . . to be young is to be as one of the immortal gods.” That glorious fearlessness is the natural inheritance of every generation of youth. Except maybe the current one.

    As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt chronicle in their new book, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” today’s young people tend to be obsessed with safety, troubled by a pervasive sense of threat. Consequently, understandably, they’re anxious and depressed.

    Keyboards have been worn to nubs by young writers fretting that they’ll never be able to pay off student loans, buy a house or retire. And those are their minor worries. In an Atlantic article headlined “College Is Different for the School-Shooting Generation,” Ashley Fetters describes a rising generation that constantly scans rooms for exit points and games out active-shooter scenarios.

    Paranoia driven by moral panic isn't a new thing, but I wonder: Is it worse this time around? Maybe. Gotta read that Lukianoff/Haidt book, I think.

  • But, speaking of driving moral panics, David Harsanyi has some advice for your doctor (hey, there's a switch): Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay In Their Lane’ On Gun Policy.

    What kind of ignorant troglodyte would tell a doctor to mind his own business?

    This was, in essence, the question an incredulous media was asking after the National Rifle Association disparaged the American College of Physicians (ACP) for promoting an array of gun-control regulations last week. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted. “Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

    As Mrs. Salad will tell you, many doctors talk out of their hats on nutrition issues. Harsanyi's conclusion:

    Most of the “appropriate” measures ACP floats were already on the books in California when the Thousand Oaks mass shooting occurred. Yet the ACP report is teeming with long-standing, highly debatable contentions about guns that have as much to with the wounds doctors treat as their angry reaction has to do with effective gun laws. That’s fine as a matter of activism, but there’s nothing rational or unique about this kind of positioning. And the NRA has every right to push back against groups that use science to conceal their political arguments.

    Hey, whatever happened to all those people who yelled that they bleeping loved science? I kind of miss them.

  • Although maybe some medical so-called "professionals" should get out of the lane they've claimed for themselves. According to Bruce Bawer at PJMedia: After Thousand Oaks, It's Time to Dethrone the Mental-Health 'Experts'. He takes particular note that the Thousand Oaks killer was examined by those "experts" who judged that he was "of no danger to himself or others."

    The bottom line here is that all of this so-called mental health expertise is, with a very few exceptions, a scam. The ranks of psychiatrists and psychologists are filled with incompetents who have no business deciding whether or not a mentally ill person should be hospitalized – or, once that person is hospitalized, have no business deciding whether to send him home. Topping off their incompetence is, in all too many instances, an overweening arrogance. You might think that if everyone who is closest to a person thinks he needs help, that fact would carry some weight with the psych professionals. On the contrary, one often gets the impression that these practitioners enjoy, and even pride themselves on, dismissing the pleas of a potential patient's loved ones. Perhaps they resent the idea of family members playing doctor or making diagnoses.

    I'm all for getting charlatans out of the decision-making loop. Bawer seems to think this will tilt the scales in favor of "protecting public safety" at the expense of "patient freedom". I'm uncomfortable with that bit.

  • Kevin D. Williamson recounts (in an "NRPlus Member article", don't know what that means) Florida’s Shame, and Ours.

    Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life.

    So are conspiracies.

    I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains — even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat — who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen attempt to reverse the Republican victories in the state’s Senate, gubernatorial, and (not to be overlooked) agriculture commissioner’s races. I cannot imagine that there is, but it is really quite something to see partisan Democrats — the same people who pretend to believe that the 2016 presidential election was invalid because Boris and Natasha posted something on Facebook — watch not only utterly contented but with joy in their hearts as the rolling crime wave that is Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and her coconspirators try to actually steal an election or three.

    And it gets worse. I haven't been paying enough attention to judge the conspiracy charge; I suspect, however, that a lot of the people demanding ironclad smoking-gun evidence are being intentionally obtuse.

  • Michelle Obama has a book out! Fortunately, some folks are paid to read it, like Joe Setyon of Reason. Here's something he noticed: Michelle Obama Felt 'the Shadow of Affirmative Action' as Princeton Undergrad.

    Michelle Obama felt "the shadow of affirmative action" as an undergraduate student at Princeton University, the former first lady writes in her new book, Becoming.

    Obama, who graduated in 1985, says she sometimes wondered why she had been accepted into Princeton, a majority-white school, in the first place. "It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action," Obama writes. "You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you're here.'" This was often "demoralizing," Obama says, while acknowledging she "was just imagining some of it."

    My guess is that Michelle probably would have gotten into Princeton on color-blind criteria.

  • I'm a longtime Jeopardy! fan, so this Mental Floss article was like catnip: Alex Trebek Knows He Sometimes Sounds Like a 'Disappointed Dad' on Jeopardy.

       If longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek seems disappointed any time a contestant misses a seemingly simple clue, it's because he is. Or at the very least, coming off as stern and perhaps a little smug is part of his television persona.

    As The Ringer once put it, "Trebek has two settings: mildly, politely impressed and Disappointed Dad." Now, in a recent interview with Vulture, Trebek has addressed the perception that he not-so-secretly judges contestants with an air of paternal reproach. As it turns out, he knows exactly what he's doing. "I know that 'You've disappointed daddy' is a tone I'm striking," he said. "It's also, "How can you not get this? This is not rocket science."

    Alex is … Alex, sui generis. Criticizing him for the way he acts? You might as well criticize water for being wet.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • A week after the election, I think it's safe to evaluate the predictions I made.

    As previously noted, I thought that the UNH Survey Center's Granite State Poll was too Democrat-lening on the three races it reported. I was right.

    I also thought Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website was too Democrat-leaning; when I typed, the average of their models predicted a GOP Senate pickup of 0.5 seats; it appears they'll get at least 2, probably 3.

    FiveThirtyEight was pretty close on the House side. Although, in the early AM of Election Day, their average model predicted a gain of 39 House seats for the Democrats. I didn't think they'd do that well. And, although there are a number of races still to be called, the Democrats are +32 at Real Clear Politics, so I'm claiming victory here too.

    So, five for five. Bottom line: you can bet on Republicans to beat the spread, even if they don't win.

  • I really liked this article by Matt Welch in the current print Reason: Mad Genius. It's about the late Lanny Friedlander, who cranked out the first issue of Reason fifty years ago.

    (And when I say "cranked", I mean that literally. On a mimeograph. Youngsters may need to look that technology up.)

    Anyway, Lanny had psychological problems. After selling Reason to Robert Poole, Tibor Machan, and Manuel Klausner, he wound up institutionalized, on and off his anti-schizophrenic medication, losing touch with (a) the magazine he founded and (b> to a certain extent, reality.

    Do you find this as touching as I do?

    Yet so complete was Friedlander's break from his Reason-founding past that even [late-in-life attorney and fiduciary George] Murphy did not believe his friend's account of his own biography. "Lanny was telling me that he was this great graphic artist and he started a magazine and everything, and of course I'm thinking that this was the psychosis, you know. I was all incredulous."

    Interesting throughout.

  • How unprincipled is Donald Trump? Specifically, Thomas Firey of EconLib wonders: Will Trump Join the "Fight for $15?".

    As is now well understood, Trump has few policy interests beyond managing trade and suppressing immigration. Further, he’s an economic populist who has championed plenty of left-wing causes in the past. So he’d have little compunction about abandoning a Republican economic policy and embracing a Democratic one that has blue-collar appeal—and one that would impose hardship on immigrants and minorities to boot.

    That’s why I believe Trump will become a loud proponent of increasing the minimum wage—perhaps all the way to the political left’s ideal of $15 an hour.

    A horrible idea, but as the tariff thing shows, Trump is no friend of free markets.

  • Daniel J. Mitchell writes a longish article with many links describing The Harmful Campaign Against Vaping and E-Cigarettes.

    In an ideal world, the discussion and debate about how (or if) to tax e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn, and other tobacco harm-reduction products would be guided by science. …In the real world, however, politicians are guided by other factors. There are two things to understand… First, this is a battle over tax revenue. Politicians are concerned that they will lose tax revenue if a substantial number of smokers switch to options such as vaping. …Second, this is a quasi-ideological fight. Not about capitalism versus socialism, or big government versus small government. It’s basically a fight over paternalism, or a battle over goals. For all intents and purposes, the question is whether lawmakers should seek to simultaneously discourage both tobacco use and vaping because both carry some risk (and perhaps because both are considered vices for the lower classes)? Or should they welcome vaping since it leads to harm reduction as smokers shift to a dramatically safer way of consuming nicotine?

    I don't vape or smoke anything, but as previously noted, my default position is that the state should not be in the business of telling people what they can and can't imbibe, ingest, inject, or inhale. Unfortunately, that's a very minority position.

  • I still watch Saturday Night Live, mainly out of habit, and it's still funny in spots. The TiVo makes it easy to skip commercials and the (usually not-my-cup-of-tea) musical guests. But last Saturday's was kind of special. At NR, David French The Dan Crenshaw Moment.

    Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a gift from the partisan gods.

    A liberal comic had gone too far. He had mocked a man who was maimed in a horrific IED attack, an attack that had taken the life of his interpreter and nearly blinded him for life. He mocked a courageous man’s pain. And thus Crenshaw had attained the rarest position for a Republican politician: aggrieved-victim status. He was free to swing away.

    But that's not what happened. You can click through for David's description, which I recommend. Here's the clip, though:

    I was moved. Honest.

  • An interesting post at the Volokh Conspiracy, by the head Volokh, Eugene, looking at the recent addition to our state's constitution: N.H. Constitution Now Protects "Right to Live Free from Governmental Intrusion in Private or Personal Information". He asks:

    My question: What do you think this means?

    1. That all governmental searches of private or personal information (and all subpoenas of such information) are now unconstitutional, so that the government can't, for instance, get your e-mail records even with probable cause and a warrant?
    2. That such searches and subpoena require a probable cause and a warrant (language that the provision does not contain, though section 19 of the New Hampshire bill of rights, the existing search and seizure provision, does)?
    3. That such intrusions may be allowed, but only if they are narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest, to borrow a test that has sometimes been used for other facially categorical rights?
    4. That traditionally accepted intrusions are grandfathered in as legitimate, but that ones introduced after the amendment is enacted are not?
    5. That the public is essentially delegating to courts the responsibility and authority to turn this into some meaningful test that accommodates both privacy rights and the need to gather information in order to enforce the laws?
    6. Something else?

    My only observation (as a comment on the post): this is an add-on to the NH Constitution's existing Article 2, in place since 1784: "All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness."

    I'm very much not a lawyer, but I can do arithmetic: The state has somehow managed to muddle through 234 years with this "natural, essential, and inherent" language. I don't know how many times Article 2 has been invoked in court decisions, but the new language shouldn't be any more difficult to interpret than the previous language.

  • Elliot Kaufman writes at the (maybe paywalled) WSJ: Even the Libertarians Get Luckey Sometimes.

    What do you call a Silicon Valley Republican who wants to have friends? A libertarian.

    Ask virtual-reality pioneer Palmer Luckey. Oculus, the company he founded, was acquired by Facebook in 2014. Last year Facebook fired Mr. Luckey amid fallout from his $10,000 donation to a pro-Trump group founded by internet trolls and extremists. The Journal reports that before Mr. Luckey’s firing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hatched a plan to rehabilitate him. Internal emails show Mr. Zuckerberg personally drafted a public statement and pressured Mr. Luckey to use it. The crux was a denial that Mr. Luckey supported Donald Trump. Instead, he was to say he’d be “voting for Gary”—Johnson, the Libertarian nominee.

    I was employed for a long time by the University Near Here, which was about as friendly to dissenting political views as you might expect. Still, it was nowhere near as hostile as the Silicon Valley biggies.

Last Modified 2018-11-14 11:35 AM EST

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson muses on the folks who have nothing better to do than … um … let's say "engage in group activism": The Lonely Mob.

    The age of easy and instantaneous connectivity, globalization, and related phenomena have created a new kind of “lonely crowd,” full of people who feel isolated, inadequate, insignificant — and resentful of being made to feel that way. There are many ways to assuage that loneliness, but many of them — family life, religion — have fallen out of fashion. Ordinary politics provides insufficient drama, as anybody who has observed the real business of government in action knows. Fantasy politics — I’m fighting the Nazis! — offers a lot more emotional oomph.

    It’s a sad spectacle. It’s also a dangerous one.

    I feel isolated, inadequate, and insignificant all the time, but I'm cool with it.

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie has a good idea for Veterans Day (Observed): Instead of Making Today About Trump, Let's Remember the Dead of World War I.

    And take some time to read Rudyard Kipling's Epitaphs of the War, penned between 1914 and 1918. Kipling, who carries a whole hell of a lot of baggage of his own, was originally in favor of the war and helped his son get a commission despite eyesight so poor it was disqualifying. His son was killed, the body never recovered. Kipling wasn't a pacifist by any stretch and he didn't necessarily think World War I was avoidable so much as insanely and incompetently prosecuted. Whatever his thinking, he penned lines that still burn with anger and resentment, including these:

    If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.

    Every leader should read Epitaphs before considering military action.

    … but they probably won't.

  • We've been pointing out a few articles pointing to the New Hampshire's GOP funding disadvantage in the last election. Jon DiPietro dissents at GraniteGrok: Money Is Not the Problem for NH GOP.

    Here is the key question as far as I’m concerned: Did Democrats persuade more people because they spent more money or did Democrats raise more money because they persuaded more people?

    I believe that blaming the spending gap is a dangerous misdiagnosis for Republicans. If the party believes that the answer is simply to figure out a way to raise more money, they will be treating the symptom instead of the disease.

    Jon's column argues, persuasively, that the NH GOP (and probably the GOP nationwide, I'd guess) has failed to adapt sufficiently to a heavily networked world.

  • At EconLog, Bryan Caplan urges us to resist The Siren of Democratic Fundamentalism.

    Almost all economists, regardless of ideology, would scoff at the following argument: “Market decisions are voluntary, so we should respect market outcomes.” But say, “Political decisions are democratic, so we should respect political outcomes,” and even economists salute.

    Every economics textbook explain how market outcomes can go wrong. Externalities. Monopoly. Asymmetric information. Irrationality. Democratic outcomes can easily go wrong for all the same reasons.

    Can, and do. (And I'd argue, far more likely to.)

  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff notes a problem at that college on the other side of the state: Another Dartmouth Disgrace. Specifically, David Horowitz was treated shabbily in an October appearance there; his open letter to Phil Hanlon, Dartmouth's prez:

    On October 23, I spoke at your college. I was invited by members of College Republicans and Students Supporting Israel. They probably wanted to hear what I had to say because I am one of the most prominent conservative intellectuals in America, having published over twenty books, three of which were New York Times best-sellers and one of which was nominated for a National Book Award.

    Despite my credentials, and even though these conservative students pay the same tuition – $75,000 per year – as your leftwing students, I was forced to raise the money to underwrite my visit and lecture. This was particularly galling to the Dartmouth conservatives who invited me, because the previous spring Dartmouth’s “Office of Pluralism and Leadership” sponsored a visit by notorious anti-Semite and terrorist supporter Linda Sarsour – who has no academic credentials to speak of – underwriting her expenses and paying her a reported $10,000 honorarium for her talk.

    Of course, a mob of "progressive" Dartmouth students invaded and disrupted the event; campus "security" officers did nothing. And the student newspaper joined in on the slagging.

The Phony Campaign

2020 Kickoff

[phony baloney]

With the 2020 New Hampshire Presidential Primary only (approximately) 450 days away, we once again fire up our quadrennial analysis of the relative authenticity of the crop of candidates for the office of President of the United States.

Or: how phony are these people, anyway?

Our guidelines:

  • To start, we build our candidate list from PredictWise, David Rothschild's site that aggregates data from betting markets. (Currently it appears he's only looking at Betfair.) Our inclusion criterion: if Predictwise shows someone with a 3% chance or greater to win their party's nomination, they are included in the polling.

  • We then Google each candidate's name (in quotes), adding the word "phony" to the search string.

  • And we scrape off Google's result count at the top of the first page of search results. And that tells us the current level of perceived phoniness for each candidate.

  • We hear you screaming: No, it doesn't! And you're right. We were kidding just then. This is a totally unscientific, meaningless, invalid metric. You might get different results. You probably will get different results.

  • It is kind of fun, through.

  • We will attempt to tabulate and post our results every Sunday from now until November 1, 2020. We'll append a few observations on the pages we find by following the Google links. Probably mostly snark, but there have been grazes with profound insights in past elections.

Without further ado, our initial results, fourteen(!) candidates, sorted in order of decreasing phoniness:

Candidate Nomination
Result Count
Donald Trump 73% 2,070,000
Nikki Haley 5% 1,490,000
Bernie Sanders 7% 776,000
Caroline Kennedy 13% 633,000
Kamala Harris 16% 506,000
Michelle Obama 3% 242,000
Joe Biden 9% 206,000
Paul Ryan 3% 202,000
Mike Pence 7% 197,000
Elizabeth Warren 10% 179,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 5% 179,000
Sherrod Brown 3% 125,000
Amy Klobuchar 5% 101,000
Cory Booker 4% 63,700

  • Okay, first: Caroline Kennedy?! A 13% shot at the Democratic nomination?! Are you kidding?

    I think things are a little hinky there. A delusional bettor at Betfair, maybe.

  • Donald Trump is, of course, the undisputed phony leader. A lot of the recent phony news also involves Senator-elect Mitt Romney. Example, from the New York Post:

    Romney during the 2016 presidential campaign called Trump “a phony, a fraud,” but appeared to moderate his view after Trump became president.

    “President Trump was not the person I wanted to become the nominee of our party, but he’s president now. The policies he’s promoted have been pretty effective. And I support a lot of those policies,” he said during an October Republican rally in Arizona, adding that he would disagree when he felt there was a need.

    Mitt is not (yet) on our candidate list, but I'll dust off (one more time) Jonah Goldberg's quip about what Mitt Romney seems to be saying if you hit the mute button while watching him on TV: What do I have to do to put you in this BMW today?

  • We have a Kamala/Spartacus phony twofer from Matt Lewis at the Daily Beast: Liberals Are Now in Love With Cory Booker and Kamala Harris? That’s What’s Wrong With Liberalism. Matt was unimpressed with their performances at the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings:

    They’re both auditioning of course, but are they auditioning well? In attempting to learn the lessons of Trump’s victory, Democrats are missing some key ingredients. Trump’s appeal wasn’t (solely) about his status as a fighter. It also had to do with the fact that he was (a) authentic and (b) an outsider. Harris and Booker, conversely, are demonstrating the exact opposite attributes. Simply put, they look like phony politicians. (Another thing about Trump is that he is utterly shameless. You can’t fake that, either.)

    When Donald Trump looks more authentic than you, Senators, you've got a phony problem.

  • In second place, Nikki Haley scores … higher than Biden? Higher than Warren? Come on, people. But she recently got a phony bump from the New York Times: Nikki Haley Pokes Fun at Trump, and Herself, at Al Smith Dinner. And here's a good one:

    When the president first learned of her Indian heritage, she said, “He asked me if I was from the same tribe as Elizabeth Warren,” the Democratic senator from Massachusetts who may challenge Mr. Trump in 2020. He has ridiculed Ms. Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry.

    And (remember this is an article from the NYT):

    Ms. Haley also chided The New York Times for an article last month that left the misimpression that the Trump administration had spent more than $52,000 on curtains for her diplomatic residence. The curtains had been ordered by the Obama administration. (The Times corrected the article to make that clear.)

    But Ms. Haley wasn’t satisfied. She joked that the newspaper had merely “changed the headline to ‘Obama Creates High-Paying Jobs in the Curtain Industry.”

    Ms. Haley also complained about other fake headlines, including one that said the rapper Kanye West had been sworn in as her replacement. “Oh wait, that could really happen,” she said.

    I confess I love Nikki Haley. And when I say "love", I mean in a way that's completely inappropriate, given our age difference, our respective marital statuses, our incompatible social circles, geographical separation, and a host of additional irreconcilable differences.

  • I am also unsure that Senator Bernie (who would be 79 on Inauguration Day, 2021) is a viable candidate, but Betsy McCaughey does a phony number on his "Medicare for All" legislation, deeming it a prescription for failure:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders says that because Medicare is “the most popular, successful and cost-effective health insurance in the country,” everyone should have it, regardless of age.

    But watch out for the bait-and-switch. Truth is, Sanders’ “Medicare for All” legislation actually abolishes Medicare and Medicare Advantage, as well as employer-provided coverage, union plans and plans people buy for themselves. Every person, whether they want to or not, would be forced into a government-run system with the phony name “Medicare for All.” The quality of your medical care would plummet.

    Wait, let me finish my thought… our so-far oldest president, Ronald Reagan, was 77 when he left office. Bernie starting when he's 79? I don't think so.