URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Appears to me that Proverbs 15:33 is really two unrelated Proverbs. Can you see any way to relate the first line to the second?

    33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord,
        and humility comes before honor.

    "… except in the dictionary! Ha!" [Waits for bolt of lightning to strike.]

  • Depressed? No? Well, here's something to bring you down, from Rachel Boward at the Federalist: The Next Big Republican Spending Bill Is Packed With Liberal Priorities.

    Republicans may have majorities in the House and Senate, but the only group they seem to care about pleasing are the Democrat minorities. As the next funding deadline approaches, Republicans in Congress are working on a $1.3 trillion spending bill that includes all kinds of provisions that fly in the face of campaign promises, principles, and even their party’s platform.

    Readers, beware: Rachel has compiled a very long list. Among the items is one we've followed on and off over the past few years:

    Restoration of the Export-Import Bank

    The fate of the Ex-Im Bank has been a rare win for conservatives who fought Obama tooth and nail over bank’s corporate welfare. By keeping the bank devoid of the quorum necessary to make million-dollar loans to huge corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar and the like, conservatives have managed to keep the bank’s cronyism largely at bay. Enter the Republican majorities, who are reportedly planning to pass a provision lowering the quorum requirements for the bank to approve loans. Looks like Iran may get those taxpayer funded Boeing jets after all.

    Well, that sucks.

    My problem: who do I gripe to about this? Both my state's senators and my congresscritter are Democrats. They'll just cackle at me.

    I could write to the national GOP and threaten to withhold my heretofore generous contributions. Problem: my contribution to GOP has been $0.00 for a long time. (Wait! Did I contribute to the Rand Paul campaign? Maybe! Oh, wait, that's probably a negative for the rest of the party.)

  • Another item on Rachel's list is also criticized in the WSJ editorial (and perhaps paywalled) page: The GOP’s Internet Tax.

    Republicans have spent the last year cutting taxes and regulations, which hasn’t been easy. But now some Members of Congress want to blunt their handiwork by passing an online sales tax. Yes, they actually believe this would be good policy and politics.

    A large faction of House Republicans are pressing GOP leaders to attach legislation to the omnibus spending bill that would let states collect sales tax from remote online retailers. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem’s legislation, which has 50 co-sponsors, would let some 12,000 jurisdictions conscript out-of-state retailers into collecting sales and use taxes from their customers. A bipartisan companion bill in the Senate has 27 co-sponsors.

    This doesn't directly impact New Hampshire residents, although it's a kick in the teeth for any and all less-than-Amazon-sized businesses with nationwide retail sales.

  • At NR, Jonah Goldberg notes the announced retirement of Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute: The Coming End of an Era.

    Arthur Brooks is a strange creature by Washington standards. Heck he’s a strange creature by bipedal standards. A former French horn player who decided to be an egghead late in life, he is a unique mix of Catholic piety, data obsession, sartorial connoisseurism, physical fitness, old-soul wisdom and basic decency. He reminds me of William F. Buckley in several ways. But at the top of the list: He shares Bill’s commitment to good manners, and, for a guy who seemingly knows everything, he is remarkably interested in the opinions of others. (The Arthur you hear in this podcast I did with him is the Arthur I know).

    Waaay back in 2014 I heard him speak at the NH Freedom Summit; he had the most compelling talk of the day, and that was from a list of speakers that included four then-sitting senators, three congresscritters, an ex-governor, a talk-show host, and … oh yeah, Donald Trump.

    A profoundly decent human being, a true mensch. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

  • Blogger Bruce McQuain observes gun-grabbers' exploitation of the kiddos, and is in agreement with Megan Fox that it resembles the Lord of the Flies reunion tour.

    That characterization struck me for some reason. Lord of the Flies, as I remember it, was all about tribalism. In the case of the kids in the book, it was a reversion to primitive tribalism (even though we recognize that in their former more modern school life, they were members of tribes of sort as well).

    In this case, the tribe in question is the left and they’ve stolen the conch shell and have exploited the anti-gun sentiments of these kids mercilessly. And to their detriment too, I believe. These teens quickly went from “authentic” in their rage and angst to obviously coached and spouting left-wing anti-gun talking points. Whatever [cachet] they owned by being at the scene of the murders and surviving it was quickly squandered by the obvious source of their talking points and the broadening of their protest to anything conservative.

    And Democrat operatives and MSM coverage (but I repeat myself) fall over themselves with paeans to this clown show.

  • But the big news of the day has to be… Democrats Announce All 2020 Candidates Will Forego Armed Security To Protest Gun Violence.

    Democratic National Committee spokesperson Michael Tyler announced Thursday that all candidates who run in the 2020 presidential election as Democrats will completely forego armed security for the entirety of their campaigns, in a clear and bold stance against gun violence in America.

    “We’ve talked to all possible candidates and everyone has agreed. Gun violence is a huge issue in our country, and guns are the problem. So whoever runs for president as a Democrat in 2020—be it Bernie, Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Jerry Brown, and/or whoever else throws their hat in the ring—they will steadfastly refuse to employ security teams who carry scary firearms.”

    Yes, in case you haven't already guessed: the Babylon Bee.

  • Janice Brown announces: Cow Hampshire is 12. No excerpts (Janet disapproves of them) but I encourage you to check it out.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Listening obediently to disciplinarians is a prominent theme in Proverbs, and Proverbs 15:32 hits that baby one more time:

    32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
        but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

    For correction-heeding, I suggest large quantities of BIC Wite-Out, our Amazon Product du Jour.

  • An amusing column from A. Barton Hinkle, reproduced at Reason: A Consumer Report on Donald Trump. Sample:

    Driving and Handling

    On the highway, the Trump's performance is much the same as it is around town: loud, clumsy, and frequently disconcerting. Handling is extremely awkward; the Trump is prone to swerve suddenly to the left or right, and at times even our professional drivers were unable to control it. This certainly makes the Trump brand exciting — something many people are drawn to — but it can become tiresome quickly.

    Over smooth pavement, the Trump can be temperamental; over uneven ground it behaves even worse, reacting volcanically to the slightest bump in the road, and it has been known to throw passengers out of its cabinet at unexpected moments. Braking is erratic; at times the Trump will screech to a sudden stop all by itself, while at other times it is impossible to stop even when heading for the edge of a cliff.

    Acceleration is another matter: The 2018 model, like earlier versions, can go from zero to 60 in under two seconds — shockingly fast for such a heavy vehicle. The FlexFuel system can run on both normal fare and fast food (although it will not accept ethanol blends). Despite claims of having the strongest powertrain in its class, however, our Trump felt underpowered and lacking in traction when we took it around D.C.

    Hinkle has been underappreciated at Pun Salad so far. I'll try to do better.

  • Jennfier Kabbany of the College Fix writes on the new anti-oppression guide posted by the Boston institution I always call "Simmons Beautyrest® College": Saying ‘God bless you’ after sneeze listed as microaggression on college’s anti-oppression guide.

    Suffice to say, it's the usual higher-ed explication of the prevailing Progressive pigeonholing theology. But I hadn't seen this before:

    The guide’s authors explain that they replaced the typical suffix “phobia,” such as Islamophobia, with the term “misia,” because the term “phobia” is offensive to people with phobias.

    “So when we use terms like ‘homophobia,’ we are equating bigotry with a mental health disorder,” the guide states. “Misia (pronounced ‘miz-eeya’) comes from the Greek word for hate or hatred.”

    I'll give them points for (at least trying to) patch up a glaring intellectual contradiction:

    1. A "phobia" implies a mental illness.

    2. But one of the guiding ideas behind "mental illness" is to remove responsibility from its sufferers. It's not your fault if you're sick!

    3. And fault is the major thing Progressives want to assign to the people they see as their oppressors. How can you name, blame, and shame someone who's suffering from a disease?

    So I would expect that "misia" may be a suffix coming soon to a University Near You (although I don't see it yet at the University Near Here).

    Kat Timpf also comments on the guide here.

  • Instead of learning about π yesterday, a bunch of schoolkids "walked out" in support of … something about guns. It didn't make a lot of sense, but was heavy on the feels. At the Federalist, Robert Tracinski explains: The National School Walkout Sums Up Our Middle School Politics.

    The National School Walkout perfectly sums up politics in 2018. It makes total sense to draft school kids as political activists, because all of our politics is already just an inflated version of middle school.

    The most striking fact about this walkout is how it became effectively a school sponsored political event in many areas. Actually, that’s only the second most striking fact. The most striking fact is that it was the brainchild of the Women’s March, an organization founded and still run by fangirls of a rabid anti-Semite. So naturally their initiatives are embraced by the nation’s teachers. I’m glad everybody got the memo about not tolerating bigots.

    Apparently the feelings-based rhetoric favored by your local fifth-graders feeds into the highest reaches of our government, as in this tweet from our state's senior senator:

    Twitter is a write-only media for Senator Jeanne, so replies are pointless and stupid. I made one anyway:

    Politicians are supposed to be smarter than a fifth-grader. Aren't they?

URLs du Jour

π Day 2018

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 15:31 is another fortune cookie:

    31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
        will be at home among the wise.

    And perhaps they will give you Σ π. Ha!

  • The WaPo's Elizabeth Bruenig has made some noise lately advocating for socialism. Steven Horwitz takes her as seriously as possible, and imagines What a Good-Faith Discussion of Socialism Might Really Look Like. He quotes Breunig:

    [C]apitalism…encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws. (As a business-savvy friend once remarked: Nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.) Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.

    Horwitz's rebuttal:

    It takes some chutzpah to define capitalism that way then complain your critics are arguing in bad faith, given what a bad-faith explanation of capitalism that is. I could spend this whole space picking apart that definition claim by claim, especially its ignorance about the nature of exchange. It might be easier to ask folks who have lived under nominally socialist regimes whether that paragraph better describes their lives under socialism or capitalism. I’m pretty sure it’s the former, not the latter.

    Bruenig's problem, Horwitz argues, is that she defines socialism in terms of its goals, not its structure. That's not enough.

  • But we have enough real-life instances of "democratic" socialistic policies here in the US already. At Cato, Chris Edwards describes Federal Fuel Foolishness

    The federal government imposes a mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline. This “Renewable Fuel Standard” harms consumers, damages the economy, and produces negative environmental effects. The mandate has also spawned a bureaucratic trading system in ethanol credits, which the Wall Street Journal reports is bankrupting a refinery in Pennsylvania.

    The rubber hits the road with that “10% Ethanol” sticker you see on the pump when you fill your tank. The sticker signifies that the government is imposing a foolish policy on the nation at the behest of a handful of selfish senators, who are bucking the interests of America’s 220 million motorists.

    Those senators are Republicans from Iowa and Nebraska; so much for the GOP being a reliable friend of capitalism. From the linked WSJ article:

    The core problem is that the federal government has distorted the energy market by using subsidies and mandates to support biofuels. The solution is to end this political favoritism. But if the Trump Administration lacks the political fortitude to stand up to the ethanol lobby, at least it can limit the most destructive effects. When policy is this bad, almost anything is an improvement over the status quo.

    The "almost anything" advocated by the WSJ writer: the EPA should grant waivers to independent oil refiners who can't meet the biofuel mandates.

  • Hillary Clinton made news again by revealing her deep contempt for the folks that voted against her. Michael Brendan Dougherty writes at NR about Hillary’s Bitter Clinging. Quoting HRC:

    I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. . . . So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, “Make America Great Again,” was looking backwards. You know: “You didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs, you don’t want to, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.”

    Yes, of course she was speaking in India. Note the pandering.

    Dougherty comments:

    Although she is not running anymore, Clinton’s comments are in some ways worse than Obama’s ["bitter clingers" comments]. He attributed the bitterness in “small towns in the Midwest” to the policy failures and false promises of the Clinton and Bush years. He prefaced the remark by saying, “Each successive administration has said somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.”

    Clinton’s remarks manage to combine self-pity with contempt. They are unhelpful to Democrats trying to get elected. And they articulate what is becoming the central myth of the liberal elite: We are beautiful and successful because we’re morally superior. Clinton’s remarks connect the expanding GDP of her constituents to their commitment to diversity, and the economic trouble of the red states to their supposed opposition to “women having jobs” and civil rights.

    How do Progressive Democrats reconcile their inequality blather with their "hey, rich people vote for us" blather?

  • We're looking forward to a day of strident moral posturing about gun-grabbing. At Reason, J. D. Tuccille isn't having it: Your Right to Free Speech, Like My Right to Self-Defense, Isn’t Open to Debate.

    Today, some students, teachers, and other Americans who share their views are walking out of classes across the country to call for limits on the right of free assembly. Wait, strike that. They're walking out of classes to call for further restrictions on protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Nope, that's not it either. Wait, I have it: they're protesting for greater regulation of self-defense rights. Yup, there we go.

    Of course, they're exercising their free speech rights in the process, and that's as it should be (although at least some of the kids have been conscripted into exercising somebody else's free speech rights by school officials who expect that their charges will adhere to officially endorsed positions). After all, the exercise of individual rights shouldn't be subject to popular opinion or debate.

    If Progressives get their legislative druthers, their War on Guns will make the War on Drugs look like a minor skirmish.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

Looking forward to another nor'easter today. Accuweather predicts 12 to 24 inches of global warming. And the Red Sox home opener is 23 days away; hope they can get the snow off the field by then.

  • Proverbs 15:30 is surprisingly upbeat:

    30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
        and good news gives health to the bones.

    I'm not going to argue with that. Although I would also recommend calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity.

  • At Cato, Jeffrey A. Singer notes the obvious: The War on Opioids Has Become a War on Patients.

    As Anne Fuqua recently pointed out in the Washington Post, non-medical drug users accessing heroin and fentanyl in the underground drug market are not the only victims in the opioid crisis. Many patients whose only relief from a life sentence of torturing pain are also victims. That is because policymakers continue to base their strategies on the misguided and simplistic notion that the opioid overdose crisis impacting the US, Canada, and Europe, is tied to doctors prescribing opioids to their patients in pain.

    Data point: just last night our local TV station reported on the sentencing of Rekha Luther, convicted of bringing fentanyl and steroids to her workplace, Pembroke Academy, where she was Dean, back in 2016. (She got three months in jail.) And of course:

    She told the court that she got hooked on opioids the way many people do, with prescription painkillers.

    I am skeptical about that. Ms. Luther's then-fiancé, Jonathan Pesa, reportedly died of a drug overdose in 2015.

  • At NR, Jim Geraghty provides Ten Reasons We Can’t, and Shouldn’t, Be Nordic. What, only ten?

    Spoiler alert: the big reason is that our government is largely dysfunctional:

    A lot of progressives seem to think that conservatives distrust the government because of some esoteric philosophical theory, or because we had some weird dream involving Ayn Rand. In reality, it’s because we’ve been told to trust the government before — and we’ve gotten burned, time and time again.

    Government doesn’t louse up everything, but it sure louses up a lot of what it promises to deliver: from the Big Dig to Healthcare.gov; from letting veterans die waiting for health care to failing to prioritize the levees around New Orleans and funding other projects instead; from 9/11 to the failure to see the housing bubble that precipitated the Great Recession; from misconduct in the Secret Service to the IRS targeting conservative groups; from lavish conferences at the General Services Administration to the Solyndra grants; from the runaway costs of California’s high-speed-rail project to Operation Fast and Furious; from the OPM breach to giving Hezbollah a pass on trafficking cocaine.

    The federal government has an abysmal record of abusing the public’s trust, finances, and its own authority. Now some people want it to take on a bigger role? If you want to enact a massive overhaul of America’s economy and government to redistribute wealth, you first have to demonstrate that you can accomplish something smaller, like ensuring every veteran gets adequate care. Until then, if you want to live like a Norwegian, buy a plane ticket.

    That's an impressive list, and I'm sure anyone who's been paying attention for the past few decades could add a number of items to it.

  • Jake Rossen of Mental Floss answers the burning question you didn't realize you needed to ask: What is the Riot Act, and Why Don't I Want It Read to Me?

    The idiom, which has been in use for centuries, is generally thought to mean the admonishment of a person or persons who have committed an error in judgment. But the origin of the term "riot act" concerns a very particular wrongdoing—an unlawful public assembly that peace officers of the 16th century fought with a pre-written warning to disperse or face serious repercussions. Like death.

    Fortunately, the phrase has gotten a lot less literal in the intervening centuries.

  • But there's good news from the Bablyon Bee: Harvard Now Offering Four-Year Degree In Feeling Oppressed.

    Responding to consumer demand, Ivy League bellwether Harvard University announced Monday its new four-year Bachelor’s degree in Feeling Oppressed.

     “For those lucky enough to be able to afford the quarter-million-dollar cost of attending our prestigious school, we are offering a comprehensive program that will prepare you for a lifetime of convincing yourself that you are a perpetual victim and nothing that happens in your life is your own fault,” Harvard president Drew Faust announced in an afternoon press conference.

    Well, that's good, that they're making that official.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 15:29 reminds us that the Lord could hear our prayers, sometimes he doesn't feel like it:

    29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
        but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

    Today's Pic du Jour: a suggested t-shirt for the Lord.

    Hm, that comes off as a tad sacrilegious. Sorry.

  • I'm currently reading Bryan Caplan's The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.

    My credentials: I spent around 20 years as a student, and 22 years working for the University Near Here, 7 of those years as an Instructor in Computer Science. Comparable amounts of time for the wife and kids.

    At this point, about 20% of the way through the book, I am in complete agreement with Bryan Caplan. As Robert Frost points out in another context: "But waste was of the essence of the scheme."

    Or as Mel Brooks put it (in a still different context): "We've got to protect our phony baloney jobs here, gentlemen!"

    That said, I encourage you to read (for free) a couple articles adapted from the book at Reason. The first: Going to College Is Selfish. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but…

    If you've always been a strong student, spending your time and money on education pays well. The evidence is overwhelming. Even after scrupulously correcting for ability bias—the brains, discipline, and other advantages you'd possess with or without school—formal education provides a big career boost. At an individual level, investing in your own education often compares favorably to not just corporate bonds, but long-run stock market returns.

    Since individuals' investment in their own education is personally rewarding, you might infer that government investment in society's education would be socially rewarding. But this is a classic "fallacy of composition." If one person stands up at a concert, he sees better; it does not follow that if everyone stands up at a concert, everyone sees better. The same goes for education. Yes, schooling is selfishly lucrative—at least for strong students. On a societal level, however, it is shockingly wasteful for students weak and strong. Federal, state, and local government spends far too much money educating Americans.

    The second article: A Heretical Plan for Cutting Spending on Education.

    In the U.S., spending on public elementary, secondary, and tertiary schools now amounts to almost $1 trillion a year. Private education also relies on subsidized student loans and other government support. This gives society a nearly foolproof remedy for educational waste: Cut budgets for public education and subsidies for private education. Give schools less taxpayer money. The central question isn't "How?" but "Where do we start?"

    Bryan argues the best education policy would be "no education policy at all: the separation of school and state". He goes on to assure the reader that it isn't necessary to accept his "crazy extremism" in order to acknowledge the overall correctness of his supporting argument.

  • George F. Will points out an area where clarity is demanded: A War without an Objective, 6,000 Days In.

    With metronomic regularity, every thousand days or so, Americans should give some thought to the longest war in their nation’s history. The war in Afghanistan, which is becoming one of the longest in world history, reaches its 6,000th day on Monday, when it will have ground on for substantially more than four times longer than U.S. involvement in World War II from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day (1,346 days).

    Will asks: what's the point, here? Do we have one?

  • Jeff Jacoby tells the story of China's corporate tools. As in: Marriott, Delta, Mercedes-Benz, and Apple. Apple? Apple!

    When Apple CEO Tim Cook accepted the Newseum Free Speech award last spring, he emphatically declared that Apple has no higher value than the promotion of free speech and robust debate. "We work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And . . . we do it by speaking up ourselves," Cook said. "Companies can and should have values."

    But when it comes to China, Apple's values vanish. Last year Apple scrubbed hundreds of virtual private network applications, with which Internet users can bypass government censorship, from its App Store in China. It thereby denied hundreds of millions of Chinese residents their only realistic means of accessing the Internet without restriction. "This App Store purge just created one of the biggest setbacks for the free Internet in China's history," commented TechCrunch, an industry publication.

    Jacoby calls this "nauseating hypocrisy." He's right.

  • And there's another T-shirt in our Tweet du Jour:

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 15:28 is another Proverbialist Mad Lib, and works in his oral fixation as well:

    28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
        but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

    As Horatio Caine might say: Proverbs has a vast amount of wisdom, but some of the verses are …

        ( •_•)>⌐■-■ 
    … half-vast.


    [Classic reference explained, if necessary, here. Thanks to Iowahawk for the graphics.]

  • Reader, did you remember to Spring Forward? Whether or not, you'll want to check out Slashdot's question: Are The Alternatives Even Worse Than Daylight Saving Time? Lots of links. Memorable paragraph:

    The article associates Daylight Saving Time with "a spike in heart attacks, increased numbers of work injuries, automobile accidents, suicides, and more." And in addition, it also blames DST for an increased use of gasoline and air conditioners -- adding that it will also "rob humanity of billions of hours of sleep like an evil spacetime vampire."

    "Other than that, though, it's great."

    Let me link (yet again) a classic Pun Salad Crackpot Proposal from 2013: The Right Number of Time Zones is Zero.

  • In this week's G-File, Jonah Goldberg writes a followup to the column (which appeared in USA Today) that speculated on The Wisdom of Youth. Or lack thereof. Sample:

    This is what I hate about all forms of identity politics. It’s an effort to get credit or authority based upon an accident of birth. The whole point of liberalism (the real kind) is the idea that people are supposed to be judged on the basis of their own merits, not as representatives of some class or category. Of course, one needn’t be absolutist about this. A little pride in your culture or ethnicity won’t do any harm. But reducing individuals simply to some abstract category is the very definition of bigotry.

    Also: the Progressive media cynically exploit these kids in order to advance the Progressive media's agenda.

  • My lefty Facebook friends take every opportunity to fearmonger about imagined "cuts" to entitlement programs. Like Veronique de Rugy at Reason, I want to tell them: don't worry, Fellow ElderlyPersonOnAFixedIncome: Uncle Sam Continues to Stick His Head in the Sand on Entitlements.

    Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest programs driving the growth of our debt. What's more, they provide benefits for senior Americans generally, without regard to need. It's time to change the way we think about these programs.

    It's difficult to overstate how much of our budget goes toward these programs. Numbers from the Congressional Budget Office show that in the past 10 years, 70 percent of real spending increases have gone to Social Security and Medicare. In fiscal 2017, the federal government spent $4 trillion. Of that, 40 percent—$1.5 trillion, or 8 percent of our gross domestic product—went to Social Security and Medicare. These two programs will consume $3 trillion in the next decade, and that doesn't include the interest charged on Uncle Sam's credit card.

    Ms. de Rugy cites an NR article from Brian Riedl, which is behind the paywall. Sad!

  • Probably not going to be a hit movie comparable to When Harry Met Sally, but the great Katherine Mangu-Ward relates, in the NYT When Smug Liberals Met Conservative Trolls.

    Modern American political discourse can seem disjointed to the point of absurdism. But the problem isn’t just filter bubbles, echo chambers or alternative facts. It’s tone: When the loudest voices on the left talk about people on the right as either beyond the pale or dupes of their betters, it is with an air of barely concealed smugness. Right-wingers, for their part, increasingly respond with a churlish “Oh, yeah? Hold my beer,” and then double down on whatever politically incorrect sentiment brought on the disdain in the first place.

    Sensible people—and I am apparently not one of them—will turn off both sides.

  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi debunks a lefty meme: No, Government Isn’t ‘Banned’ From Studying Gun Violence. What's behind the assertion? Not much:

    In 1996, a few years after the Center for Disease Controls had funded a highly controversial study that has since embedded itself into the “scientific” case for gun control, Arkansas Republican Jay Dickey* added an amendment to a funding bill that dictated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control” should be used to “advocate or promote gun control.” That same year, Congress also cut $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the amount it spent on gun control efforts. Bill Clinton signed it into law.

    Absolutely nothing in the amendment prohibits the CDC from studying “gun violence,” even if this narrowly focused topic tells us little. In response to this inconvenient fact, gun controllers will explain that while there isn’t an outright ban, the Dickey amendment has a “chilling” effect on the study of gun violence.

    Something to deploy the next time you see this nonsense on Facebook.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 15:27 screams out for one of Mark J. Perry's Venn diagrams:

    27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
        but the one who hates bribes will live.

    The implied dichotomy seems incomplete. There's no intersection between set A (the greedy) and set B (those "who hate bribes")?

    Anyway, we'll get to a Perry Venn diagram in a bit…

  • At Reason, Declan McCullagh makes a point that should be obvious: Don’t Blame Tech Companies for Russian Election Trolls.

    If Moscow can create cover identities for actual spies living in the United States, it can surely devise an identity for an would-be advertiser or simply impersonate an American citizen online. Identity fraud is no obstacle for a government willing to violate U.S. criminal laws. Silicon Valley companies shouldn't be expected to conduct counterespionage operations of their own.

    Put that way, the Russkie shenanigans around the 2016 election seem woefully amateurish and were relatively easy to unravel. At least that was true of the ones we know about… Hm.

  • As previously noted, Levi, son of Bernie, is in the running for the New Hampshire Congressional District One seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. An amusing article in the HuffPo digs out some of his old Facebook posts: Bernie Sanders’ Son Is Extremely Mad Online. One (small) example from 2015, in a reply to someone noting that Houston, TX had relatively low gas prices:

    I think we all know what he meant, the "o" and "i" keys are right next to each other, after all.

    I seem to remember that Trump got into a little controversy with this sort of language.

    I detect (however) a planted story by some Democrat activist working for a different candidate.

  • And finally, the Mark J. Perry Tweet du Jour:

A Letter I Wrote to Steven Pinker

[Amazon Link]

I recently read Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. My take is here. But something about the book bugged me enough to look up Professor Pinker's email address and dash off a missive. Here it is:

Dear Professor Pinker --

I'm a longtime reader, since The Language Instinct. I lean a bit more (OK, a huge amount more) toward the libertarian/conservative side than you do, but that's OK. Your occasional heresies against Progressive dogmas tell me you're a straight shooter.

So I hope you will consider a minor criticism of an instance where your shot is off-target.

I bought and read Enlightenment Now and mostly enjoyed it, but one thing bothered me enough to spur this mail. On page 343:

"Charge the cockpit or you die!" shrieked a conservative essayist, comparing the country to the hijacked flight on 9/11 that was brought down by a passenger mutiny.

And on page 449:

(Hence Anton's hysterical essay "The Flight 93 Election," mentioned in Chapter 20, which compared the country to the airliner hijacked on 9/11 and called on voters to "charge the cockpit or you die!").

I read the essay when it came out, and found it unconvincing. (I voted for Gary Johnson.) But I didn't recall the hysterical shrieking. So I went back to check...

Here's the problem: the exclamation point you (twice) put in quotes does not appear in the original essay. It's just a plain old period. Your insertion inside the quote marks is unfair and misleading, causing the casual reader to think the essayist you're criticizing was significantly more strident than he actually was.

I hope this is something you'll consider correcting.

In any case, best wishes, I look forward to your future work.

Only response so far has been an auto-reply. Understandable, he's a busy man. I'll update this post if I hear anything substantive.

URLs du Jour


  • Proverbs 15:26 reminds us that the omniscience of the Lord rivals that of Santa:

    26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
        but gracious words are pure in his sight.

    So be good for goodness' sake.

  • As promised, here is Reason's April cover story from Jacob Sullum: America's War on Pain Pills Is Killing Addicts and Leaving Patients in Agony. It is long, detailed, and deserves your attention. Sample:

    […] the truth is that patients who take opioids for pain rarely become addicted. A 2018 study found that just 1 percent of people who took prescription pain medication following surgery showed signs of "opioid misuse," a broader category than addiction. Even when patients take opioids for chronic pain, only a small minority of them become addicted. The risk of fatal poisoning is even lower—on the order of two-hundredths of a percent annually, judging from a 2015 study.

    Despite such reassuring numbers, the government is responding to the "opioid epidemic" as if opioid addiction were a disease caused by exposure to opioids, a simplistic view that ignores the personal, social, and economic factors that make these drugs attractive to some people. Treating pain medication as a disease vector, the government has restricted access to it by monitoring prescriptions, investigating doctors, and imposing new limits on how much can be prescribed, for how long, and under what circumstances. That approach hurts pain patients by depriving them of the analgesics they need to make their lives livable, and it hurts nonmedical users by driving them into a black market where the drugs are deadlier.

    A large majority of opioid-related deaths now involve illicitly produced substances, primarily heroin and fentanyl. As usual, the government's efforts to get between people and the drugs they want have not prevented drug use, but they have made it more dangerous.

    Unsurprisingly, the overall narrative emphasizes scapegoating and prohibition.

  • Jason Brennan, author of Against Democracy, notes the irony of The Anti-Democratic Ethos of Pro-Democracy Academics. Examples are cited. And:

    What these academics and groups have in common are two things: 1. They believe themselves to have strong commitments to democracy. 2. Their commitments to democrat ends are apparently so strong that they license themselves to blatantly violate the democratic ethos. They reject the spirit of free, open-minded, and fair debate, and show little willingness to engage with and reach understanding with contrary points of view. Instead, they straw man and attack others, misrepresent what others believe and why, use epithets like “racist” or “fascist” unfairly and inaccurately, and use violence, power, and discrimination to silence others, often while clutching their pearls and complaining that they are the real victims. The lack of self-awareness is stunning–assuming, of course, that they don’t know what they’re doing.

    Let's throw in some journalists, like Jane Mayer into that pot as well.

  • Jonah Goldberg describes how Youth politics has tainted the gun debate.

    But the simple fact is that young people are not, as a group, better informed, wiser, smarter or even more enlightened than older people. This is a fact of science and social science alike. We are born ignorant of the world we live in and only lose that ignorance over time.

    Think about what you knew and understood at half your current age. Were you smarter then? Wiser? Why assume it works differently for anyone else?

    Spoiler to our younger audience: It does not.

    Jonah also makes a point relevant to our previous item:

    Democracy depends on arguments that are not contingent on your age. Lots of kids don’t understand that, but grown-ups are supposed to.

    "Assuming, of course, that they don't know what they're doing."

  • David Harsanyi notes that some Progressive pundits have been rudely taken to school for their ignorance of firearms, and are now complaining of their butthurt. But: If You’re Trying to Ban Guns, the Least You Could Do Is Learn the Basics.

    The Washington Post recently published an op-ed by writer Adam Weinstein in which he argues that Second Amendment advocates “use jargon to bully gun-control supporters.” “While debating the merits of various gun control proposals,” he contends, “Second Amendment enthusiasts often diminish, or outright dismiss their views if they use imprecise firearms terminology.”

    How dare Second Amendment advocates expect that those passionately arguing to limit their constitutional rights have some rudimentary knowledge of the devices they want to ban? To point out the constant glaring technical and policy “faux pas” of gun controllers is to engage in “gunsplaining,” a bad-faith argument akin to intimidation.

    The gun-grabbers want to rely on panicked emotionalism to win the day. Demanding that they be specific and precise isn't "bullying". But it does get in the way of their preferred mode of argument.

URLs du Jour


  • Proverbs 15:25 is … a little weird:

    25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud,
        but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place.

    Taken literally, the Lord is sort of a vigilante vandal/handyman, dispensing destruction/aid as appropriate. I think we have to look for a more metaphorical interpretation here.

  • At NR, Jonah Goldberg observes: Trumpism Is a Psychology, Not an Ideology.

    Intellectuals and ideologically committed journalists on the left and right have a natural tendency to see events through the prism of ideas. Trump presents an insurmountable challenge to such approaches because, by his own admission, he doesn’t consult any serious and coherent body of ideas for his decisions. He trusts his instincts.

    Trump has said countless times that he thinks his gut is a better guide than the brains of his advisers. He routinely argues that the presidents and policymakers who came before him were all fools and weaklings. That’s narcissism, not ideology, talking.

    Insightful, and … oh yeah, we're in a heap of trouble.

  • Concerned about the assault on the Second Amendment by Progressives? You should be. But as A. Barton Hinkle points out at Reason: Some Progressives Targeting the First Amendment, Too.

    Many progressives have long believed America would be a much better place without the Second Amendment. These days, some of them seem to think we'd also be better off without the First.

    That might sound like an exaggeration. But it's hard to square the First Amendment with a recent proposal in The New Republic: "Ban Facebook Before Elections." And yes, the headline accurately represents the text:

    "If fake news truly poses a crisis for democracy," writes Jeet Heer, "then it calls for a radical response. Instead of merely requiring greater transparency of social media and empowering the courts to ban users and websites... perhaps governments should outright ban Facebook and other platforms ahead of elections.

    Fun! But as Hinkle points out, the principle that bans Facebook under certain circumstances can equally be exteded to The New Republic, National Review, or even The New York Times.

    But Progressives aren't really interested in principles these days, only the power to make people behave the way they want.

  • AEI's James Pethokoukis explains it for you: Why populists of the left and right are soulmates on trade. (We've previously noted the fact that Trump's anti-free trade positions taken during the campaign were similar to Bernie Sanders', and Pethokoukis provides additional examples.)

    Why the common ground? Well, because populists gonna populist, whether they are on the Bernie Bro left or the “drain the swamp” right, although each side may be loathe to admit how much they have in common. But in reality, it’s quite a bit. Both are deeply suspicious of capitalism as a positive force in bringing about a peaceful and prosperous society. Both rhetorically champion “the people” against “the elite” or “the establishment.” And both tend to ignore possible constraints on their actions, which is one reason they dislike markets. (This tends to be true of populists everywhere.) As presidential candidates, Sanders and Trump had the two most implausible economic plans, with both assuming super-fast economic growth to make their numbers work. When you’re a populist politician with big dreams of Medicare for all or mega-tax cuts for all, it’s a real drag to have to worry about debt-to-GDP ratios or what bond investors might think.

    At least back in the good old days of Smoot-Hawley, Congress had to pass actual legislation to screw up the American economy. Today, the President can do that all by his lonesome.

  • And Michael Ramirez comments pictorially:

    Punishing steel exporters by the numbers

    That's regrettably clipped, so please click through.