URLs du Jour

2018-05-26

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:8 sheds no light on the state of current debate. Nor, I would wager, on debate back in Ancient Israel:

    8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
        and one with a warped mind is despised.

    In other words: "We like people who agree with us, and dislike people who don't."


  • I'm currently reading Jonah Goldberg's new book Suicide of the West. One of the more interesting metaphors he employs is that of the "English garden" vs. the "French garden". The French gardener "imposes his vision on nature", generating "ornate, geometric, nature-defying designs". Whereas the English gardener "lets nature take its course", allowing each component to "achieve its own ideal nature".

    The application of this metaphor to political theory is pretty clear.

    Jonah's G-File this week uses a slightly different gardening metaphor: The Hedges of the Garden of Liberty.

    The Constitution is a bit like the blueprint for a hedge maze. It lays out on paper the paths for the travelers who trod through it. But the Constitution itself is not a hedge. Those plants grow from the ground up, rooted in the soil. The blueprint “works” because the hedges do their part. But what if the hedges start to die from lack of care? When big holes in the green walls appear, shortcuts will become all the more tempting. And when the hedges disappear altogether, people will start walking as the crow flies, taking the shortest route to their desired destination.

    The Founders made any number of assumptions about the country that they were imposing their Constitution upon. Among the most significant, however, was that the people themselves were constrained by the requirements of virtue, a fear of shame, and the belief that the fear of an all-knowing, all-seeing God would help regulate the society. These were the hedges of the new garden of liberty that the Founders were constructing.

    What does this have to do with current events? Well, in Jonah's view, the hedges are in dire need of repair, due to our laxity in excusing scandalous behavior, first by the Clintons, now by Trump. See if you don't agree.


  • Or perhaps there's a different problem. It is described at Law & Liberty by Mark Judge: The Donald, Chaos Magician

    Historians are going to be spending decades trying to divine the reasons why Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. But what about divination itself? That’s the explanation given in a new book by occult historian Gary Lachman. Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump argues that the President and his alt-Right followers used positive thinking, magic, and occult practices to defeat Hillary Clinton.

    The idea is that Trump came to power through the use of “New Thought,” which is a generic name for “a variety of different beliefs, philosophies, and practices that have as their central theme the idea that the mind can influence reality directly, that through mental effort alone we can ‘make things happen,” writes Lachman, a musician and the author of critical studies of Karl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, Madame Blavatsky, and other figures in the Western esoteric tradition.

    Uh, sure. I've made Lachman's book our Amazon Product du Jour, so if anyone out there finds it convincing (Judge thinks the "claim does not make rational sense, and many of the facts contradict it.") let me know.

    Or I might see if I can get it via Interlibrary Loan. Surely some wacky nearby university has ordered it.

    A bit of odd trivia I bounced across: Gary Lachman was the bassist for Blondie back in the 1970s.


  • At NR, Wesley J. Smith reports on the Democratic Attack on Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA was passed overwhelmingly in 1993, but Democrats are currently dismayed that religious freedom might be construed to apply to Christians. Or at least the ones who dissent from progressive orthodoxy. And so they've proposed the "Do No Harm Act". Smith quotes and analyzes:

    [The wording of the statute] would effectively eliminate the Hobby Lobby decision and allow federal bureaucrats to compel nuns to provide contraception coverage.

    It would also probably destroy existing medical-conscience protections that prevent discrimination against professionals who refuse to participate in abortion, and would likely be deployed in other areas of health care, compelling doctors to perform medical services with which they are religiously opposed.

    Of course, the bill is especially aimed at eliminating religious-rights defenses in LGBT-involved federal cases, and could certainly eliminate crucial shields against government coercion in other areas of public life, such as education.

    And if you're wondering whether my CongressCritter/Toothache Carol Shea-Porter is a co-sponsor, the answer is: of course she is.


  • And you probably noticed the latest dietary news. As reported (by Ronald Bailey at Reason): New Cancer Report Tries To Scare You Out of Eating Sausage and Bacon.

    "No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe," declares the Daily Mirror. The article is about the latest cancer prevention dietary guidelines from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which isn't actually as alarmist as that sentence sounds. The WCRF report estimates that eating the equivalent of two strips of bacon a day would boost your risk of colorectal cancer by 16 percent. Translation: Eating about 38 pounds of bacon a year—or the equivalent weight in sausages and hot dogs—will raise your lifetime risk of colorectal cancer from about 4.5 percent to 5.2 percent for men and from 4.15 percent to 4.8 percent for women.

    To put that "16 percent" in context, Bailey notes that "the risk that persistent cigarette smokers will develop lung during their lifetimes is 1,100 percent greater than the risk that a nonsmoker will."

    Another observation from the article: another cause of cancer is simply living too long. If you don't croak from something else, your cells will eventually come to botch their regeneration and turn cancerous.

    So cheer up and toss a brat on the grill.


  • And I slagged Randall Munroe and his four-year-old misstep into political issues yesterday. But (you may have noticed) a lot of sites announcing privacy-policy changes, and xkcd is no exception.

    [Privacy Policy]

    Mouseover: "By clicking anywhere, scrolling, or closing this notification, you agree to be legally bound by the witch Sycorax within a cloven pine."

    Yes. This is Pun Salad's Privacy Policy as well. Consider it so.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-25

[Amazon Link]

  • The Proverbialist becomes, I'm afraid, a bit delusional in Proverbs 12:7:

    7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
        but the house of the righteous stands firm.

    This all-is-well spirit lives on in the position of White House Press Secretary. Sarah Huckabee Sanders should open every press briefing by reading Proverbs 12:7.


  • Nicole Gelinas at City Journal writes on the privacy rights of lottery winners: The Big Reveal.

    Do all lottery winners wind up broke? Despite the popular myth, studies that purport to prove that winning the lottery ruins your life aren’t convincing, often relying on small or distorted samples. Some people do suffer after hitting the jackpot: more than a few people have been gruesomely murdered for their money, others have succumbed to drugs or suicide, and some just go bankrupt after making unwise investments or spending too lavishly on themselves, family, and friends.

    Nicole argues for allowing big winners to keep their identities from being disclosed, lest they be endlessly importuned (or, as she notes, murdered). She refers to the recent New Hampshire case where a $560 million winner successfully remained anonymous.

    For the record: I despise state lotteries as a tax on the stupid. Don't they have enough problems?


  • Matthew Hoy offers a does of reality into the mass-shootings issue: A mental health problem, not a gun problem.

    But the fact of the matter is that new laws passed by state legislatures or the congress will only affect law-abiding citizens. Banning “assault weapons” or limiting magazine size won’t stop criminals from getting them.

    The Heller decision made it clear that the only weapons that the government could ban are those that are “unusual or dangerous.” Despite several lower courts flouting this standard, the AR-15 is by no means unusual or dangerous. It’s a very good rifle for self-defense situations because of its versatility (you can make all sorts of ergonomic adjustments to the rifle very easily, along with mounting things like flashlights and lasers for targeting) as well as the number of rounds it can carry.

    Any gun control law that puts the law-abiding at a disadvantage to the criminals they may have to face is a bad one. Limiting me to a 10-round magazine because some nut shot up a school with a 60-round drum magazine and a home invader is likely to have a 30-round magazine is morally wrong.

    The gun-grabbers seem to be infected with a weird kind of animism, attributing a sort of evil, demonic essence to guns. This, I suppose, is easier for some to accept than simply attributing evil to the evildoers.

    It also makes it easier to come up with facile "common sense solutions".


  • Via Instapundit, our Tweet du Jour:

    Wow, has it really been four years since the xkcd guy, Randall Munroe, posted that stupid cartoon? Wonder if he's reconsidered yet?

    Pun Salad comments on the cartoon: here and here.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-24

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:6 looks like a gripping, picturesque metaphor…

    6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
        but the speech of the upright rescues them.

    … sounds like the upright win the debate! Yay!


  • At NR, Ben Shapiro reveals Trump’s Superpower. Spoiler: "He can make Democrats defend anything."

    Democrats have increasingly defined themselves by opposing anything Trump does. Trump, unlike his predecessor, has promulgated a mainstream conservative agenda: He’s cut taxes and regulations and spent more on defense. Most Americans aren’t averse to that agenda, particularly considering the booming economy and a relatively quiet foreign sphere. But Democrats painted Trump during the campaign as an emissary of Cthulhu, and now they’re struggling to justify that depiction.

    If they were smart, they’d stick to Trump’s obvious heresies, of course: his Twitter foolishness, his inane rants. But they can’t muster up that kind of discipline. Instead, they simply oppose anything Trump does, which leads them to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that the worst people on earth are preferable to even temporary alliance with Trump himself.

    Can we count on Democrats to screw up another off-year election? Ben thinks so.


  • Ma belle Michelle Malkin names the Crapweasel of the week: Educrat Arne Duncan. The occasion is Arne's call for parents to yank their kids out of school until (presumably) gun laws to his liking are passed.

    As Obama’s meddling power-hungry education secretary, Duncan attacked “white suburban moms” and their children who turned to homeschooling in protest of the top-down Common Core “standards”/testing/data-mining program. Duncan sneered that he found it “fascinating” that the grass-roots anti-Common Core revolt came from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

    This elitist control freak revealed his fundamental disdain for rabble-rousing parents who’ve taken educational matters in to their own hands. By characterizing the movement against Common Core as “white” and “suburban,” Duncan also exposed his bigotry against countless parents “of color,” like myself, who’ve long opposed Fed Ed’s sabotage of academic excellence, local control and student privacy in school districts across the country.

    Michelle also points out that Arne sends his kids to the exclusive, private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in tony Hyde Park, which a Lab Schools brochure brags is 'patrolled by the University of Chicago Police Department and private security.'"

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is (I am not making any of this up) a song titled "Moon - Prince - Crapweasel Is Fading over the Porch" by the artist 'Studio Danilenko "Koresh"' from his (their?) album "Music Shows. From Ear to Ear. № 39 For Ten Jews". It will set you back 99 cents, and (full disclosure) Pun Salad theoretically gets a cut of that if you use the link.


  • At Cato, Jeffrey A. Singer notes the completely predictable results of the "DO SOMETHING" impulse: plenty of "unintended consequences" which, in this case, includes a lot of death: While Politicians Cut Opioid Prescriptions, Fentanyl—With Help From the “Dark Web” and the USPS— Becomes the Number One Killer.

    With all the evidence that the majority of non-medical users are not patients—with all the evidence that prescription rates have come down while overdose rates keep going up—with all the evidence of fentanyl and heroin flooding the black market and causing those deaths, it is time for policymakers to disabuse themselves of the false narrative to which they’ve been stubbornly clinging. This narrative blames the overdose problem on doctors prescribing pain relievers to their patients. The overdose problem has always been primarily caused by non-medical users accessing drugs in the dangerous black market created by drug prohibition. And our current restrictive policy is only driving up the death rate by pushing these users to more dangerous drugs while making patients suffer in the process.

    What’s the definition of insanity?

    Let's not forget that the "DO SOMETHING" impulse is also directing a lot of tax dollars to ineffective "treatment" and feelgood "programs". The beneficiaries of that green windfall have every motive to keep the cash coming, i.e., not to "solve the problem" (and, if anything, create new problems).


  • And our Google LFOD News Alert rang for a Union Leader story: Proposed ordinance targeting 'nuisance' items sparks debate over property rights in Raymond.

    A battle over property rights is brewing as selectmen consider a town ordinance aimed at cracking down on properties that some residents believe are littered with junk that could attract rodents.

    Town officials have been trying to address concerns initially raised by Pat Couturier, who lives on Regina Avenue in the Green Hills Estates manufactured housing community.

    “There’s people that have been doing this stuff for 10 or 15 years and it’s just continuing. It’s just escalating,” she told selectmen at Monday’s meeting.

    She insisted that New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” motto “doesn’t mean you can do everything that you want.”

    Sigh. Pat's right: it doesn't mean you can do everything that you want. I've checked on that. Fortunately, no criminal indictments or civil suits resulted from my research.

    Further on, Raymond Selectman John “Jack” Barnes is quoted as a counterpoint.

    Barnes said that if the property is posing a health problem, then the town would address it, but selectmen are struggling with the definition of nuisance because something that one person finds to be a nuisance might not be considered a nuisance to someone else.

    “If I want my grass to grow 12 inches high or if I want to have my son or my two sons bring their cars in the yard and park them so they can work on them, that’s not Live Free or Die. That’s my right. I own the property… I don’t need Big Brother telling me I can’t do this and I can’t do that,” he said.

    Jack seems to have a firmer grasp of LFOD than Pat.


  • The Gloucester [MA] Daily Times publishes the "Midweek Musings" of local Rabbi Steven Lewis: The persistence of idolatry and sacrifices to freedom. Rabbi Steve's key paragraph:

    The most challenging and entrenched idolatry is the inappropriate worship of those things that we feel are important or essential. Indeed, a powerful idol has been forged out of one of our highest national values: Freedom. Freedom, as on the New Hampshire license plate: “Live Free Or Die!” is often invoked as being of ultimate importance. Freedom is so important that we who believe in freedom should be willing to die to protect it. But freedom has become an idol. In deference to this god of Freedom, for whom we must be ready to die, we have become powerless to prevent murder. The arguments, made in the name of freedom, against protecting us from being murdered by guns elevate freedom from being a value that serves life, to an idol to which lives must be sacrificed.

    Yes, it's a rabbinical call for freedom-eroding gun laws. He's specifically OK with the freedom-eroding part, because, hey, freedom is just an idol. Because he says so.


  • Writing in the Concord Monitor, Tyler Deaton opines: If he wants to be re-elected, Trump should leave Mueller alone.

    And New Hampshire is still suffering from an unmitigated public health crisis with very little help from the federal government. This past March, more than a year after taking office, Trump took a break from railing against Mueller and his own DOJ to finally announce a drug policy, the crux of which is higher criminal penalties for drug users, including the death penalty for drug dealers. He has named authoritarian Singapore, where people are caned for spitting gum, as a model for solving our crisis. This is not exactly in the spirit of our motto “Live Free or Die.”

    Are people caned for spitting gum in Singapore? No.

    Tyler Deaton is "a Republican activist and former secretary of the New Hampshire Young Republicans." He is not the same Tyler Deaton who probably didn't kill his wife.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-23

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:5 is another good/bad contrast where the parts don't really match up:

    5 The plans of the righteous are just,
        but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

    It follows (I suppose) that the righteous should not take advice from the wicked about plan implementation. Good to know. Because, otherwise, I would totally do that.


  • Slashdot has the big news today: Giant Predatory Worms Are Invading France.

    In a Peer J study published on May 22, "Giant worms chez moi!" zoologist Jean-Lou Justine of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, entomologist colleagues, and Pierre Gros, outline a discovery that "highlights an unexpected blind spot of scientists and authorities facing an invasion by conspicuous large invasive animals."

    "Large", in this case, is "about 10 inches". You may sneer, but that's big for a flatworm. You might want to stock up on Amazon's Product du Jour.

    Needless to say, the French have already surrendered. "Je souhaite la bienvenue à nos seigneurs de vers plats."


  • Geraghty had a good Morning Jolt yesterday. Take home points: (1) if you were bothered by Hillary's flouting of security, you should be bugged by Trump's cellphone shenanigans too; (2) Democrats in Alabama have some weird choices in the upcoming primary; (3) Netflix has signed up Mr. and Mrs. Obama to a production deal. Geraghty has a sneak of one of the new O-series coming to your screen:

    Even Stranger Things: A group of innocent, adorable, bike-riding kids stumble onto a series of sinister government conspiracies — VA hospitals leaving veterans dying waiting for care, the Internal Revenue Service targeting Tea Parties for extra scrutiny and hostile treatment, insufficient security at consulates in hostile countries, massive data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, loan guarantees to solar-panel companies that collapse. The kids learn that because of a nefarious government experiment in the 1980s, all of these programs are invisible to the eyes of anyone of cabinet rank or higher.

    I am a loyal Netflix customer, but (seriously) this is unseemly.


  • At Reason, Matt Welch has a little list: 9 Times John McCain Slams Conservative Media in New Book.

    Today is publication day for John McCain's career-capping book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations, co-written with longtime speechwriter Mark Salter. I have written here previously about the book's surprising (though unsurprisingly unreflective) admission that the Iraq War was a "mistake," and also its unrepentance about accusing Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) last year of "working for Vladimir Putin."

    The combination of the book, the forthcoming Memorial Day HBO documentary John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the busy end-of-life arrangements are producing what Politico media columnist Jack Shafer calls "the last McCain swoon" from America's political journalists. "Not even Derek Jeter and David Ortiz were flurried with as much confetti when they departed," Shafer acidly observes.

    Pun Salad stands by its decade-long evaluation of John McCain: I'm sorry he's dying, I appreciate his military service, I shudder at his POW experiences, but he's an asshole.


  • Via Steve MacDonald at good old Granite Grok, there's a Michael Graham report at NHInsider on a study from the Family Prosperity Initiative: Maine Vs. N.H. Shows “More Government Means More Poverty”

    The annual Family Prosperity Index is out and, while New Hampshire didn’t make the Top 10 (it’s ranked #16), the study’s authors did use the Granite State to make their case for more economic liberty vs. reliance on government. They used the case study of New Hampshire and its neighbor, Maine (FPI ranking: #39).

    Back in 2011, an advocacy piece posing as a "news story" in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, about Maine's allegedly-superior "social services" got me pissed off enough to write a letter to the editor. I think it still holds up. I relied heavily on a 2010 Amity Shlaes article, now tucked away behind the Bloomberg paywall.

    The Family Prosperity Index, by the way, is interesting reading not just for the NH-vs-ME thing. You want some bad news? New Hampshire's demographics are a disaster, a population getting smaller and more wrinkled. NH ranks #47 (!) overall. But the entire Northeast is in bad demographic shape, especially the New England part: MA is #44; RI is #45; CT is #46; ME is #49; and VT brings up the rear in fiftieth place.


  • And the Babylon Bee reports on the Title X controversy: Democrats Warn That Defunding Planned Parenthood Will Reduce Access To Essential Campaign Donations.

    The Republican proposal to withdraw Title X federal funding from Planned Parenthood could cause a dangerous drop in the abortion provider’s campaign contributions to liberal political candidates, Democratic leaders sternly cautioned during a press conference earlier today.

    “Planned Parenthood does much more than perform abortions,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “They provide crucial services to marginalized Democrat candidates, like spending over $30 million to support pro-abortion candidates in the upcoming midterm elections.”

    I suppose the clue-impaired Facebook/Twitter/Snopes/Politifact gang have already labeled this as fake. No, Nancy didn't say that.

    But she was almost certainly thinking that.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-22

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:4 gives the guys advice on spouse-picking:

    4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
        but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

    Whoa. And I'm somewhat surprised that even the more modern translations don't try to bowdlerize the sexism here. Is there any equivalent Proverb cautioning wives about bad husbands? Haven't seen one, but I'll let you know if I do.


  • RIP, Robert Indiana, who in did that "LOVE" thing—see the Amazon Product du Jour—back in the 1970s. According to the Bangor Daily News: "In his later years, he was known for living an increasingly reclusive life 15 miles off the [Maine] mainland on Vinalhaven, where he moved in 1978." Love only goes so far.


  • My local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat published an op-ed from one Jim Fabiano, identified as "a retired Newmarket Jr./Sr. High School teacher and writer living in York, Maine." Warning, it's pretty whiny: It’s time for all teachers to be able to afford a great day. It begins … unpromisingly:

    Teachers across the country can no longer survive on the salaries they are offered to do the most important job of all.

    The median annual salary for high school teachers was $58,030. in 2016. The poverty level for a family of four in 2016 was $24,300 [48 contiguous states, AK and HI slightly higher].

    But Mr. Fabiano's fact-impaired whining is not the only problem.

    On the saying "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.":

    I do get a kick out of this statement because those who can do because they were taught how too [sic].

    Referring to (I assume) student transport:

    The busses [sic] arrive.

    And on the diversity of student achievement:

    Some are better in English than math and vica-versa [sic].

    Trust me, these are just the easy-to-find spelling errors. Punctuation is (to be kind) non-standard, and stylistic blunders abound.

    I've been known to make errors myself, but Foster's did Mr. Fabiano's argument serious damage by not editing his prose before publication.


  • Haven't read Steven Pinker's new book, Enlightenment Now yet? Well, maybe his interview with Reason's Nick Gillespie will nudge you into it: Steven Pinker Loves the Enlightenment. Sample, on nuclear energy:

    [Gillespie:] You talk about how there's a strong argument for nuclear energy if what you care about is how to get the most energy out of the fewest greenhouse gases. How did you come to appreciate nuclear

    [Pinker:] Partly from thinking through that we really do need scalable, abundant, affordable energy, particularly in the developing world. There's a moral imperative to allow India and China and Africa to enjoy the benefits that we've enjoyed from abundant energy. Nuclear energy doesn't involve burning anything, so it doesn't emit carbon, and a lot of our dread of nuclear energy is because it hits all of our cognitive buttons for the fear response: It's novel; we can imagine a catastrophe; it's man-made as opposed to natural. There are a few salient events that lodge in our cultural memory, mainly Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now Fukushima, despite the fact that the human damage in each case was trivial compared to what we tolerate day in and day out from burning coal.

    I hadn't thought about it in these terms, but you mention that only 60 or 100 people died directly in Chernobyl.

    Yeah, and then there probably was a slightly elevated cancer rate, barely detectable.

    So is this a case where we can imagine the disastrous outcome and that overwhelms the cognitive ability to talk about this stuff rationally?

    That's right, because the far greater number of deaths come from fossil fuels—from mining, from transporting, from pollution. It just never happens all at once in a photogenic event. Coal kills, according to one estimate, about a million people a year, but that doesn't make the headlines.

    Also not making the headlines: countries getting out of nuclear energy using fossil fuels instead.


  • Clinton pollster Mark Penn makes some sense at The Hill: Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all.

    The “deep state” is in a deep state of desperation. With little time left before the Justice Department inspector general’s report becomes public, and with special counsel Robert Mueller having failed to bring down Donald Trump after a year of trying, they know a reckoning is coming.

    At this point, there is little doubt that the highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton “matter,” but we can expect the inspector general to document what was done or, more pointedly, not done. It is hard to see how a yearlong investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret “no aides allowed” meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

    An interesting take.


  • Also interesting is David Harsanyi, who has just one more question: Did The Obama Administration Spy On Trump Using Flimsy Evidence? Let’s Find Out.

    If the Justice Department and FBI are, as we’ve been told incessantly over the past year, not merely patriots but consummate professionals incapable of being distracted by partisanship or petty Washington intrigues, why are Donald Trump’s antagonists freaking out over the fact that an inspector general will assess whether political motivation tainted an investigation into the president’s campaign? The American people should get a full accounting of what transpired during 2016. Isn’t that what we’ve been hearing since the election?

    You believe Trump is corrupt. I get it. But surely anyone who alleges to be concerned about the sanctity of our institutions and rule of law would have some cursory curiosity about whether an investigation by the administration of one major party into the presidential campaign of another major party was grounded in direct evidence rather than fabulist rumor-mongering. Otherwise, any administration, including Trump’s, could initiate an investigation for whatever cooked-up superficial reason it wanted.

    I better check the larder to see if we have enough popcorn.


  • The Cato Institute's Daniel J. Ikenson claims, credibly: Trump’s Trade Policy is a Disaster, But Postponing the China Trade War Was Smart.

    This weekend’s announcement, arguably, was the first piece of good trade policy news the Trump administration has delivered during its tumultuous 16-month reign. Yes, the administration’s trade policy has been a comedy of errors from the outset. Trump’s America First policies have betrayed his administration’s utter ignorance of the interdependence of the global economy, divided the country, and strained long-standing relationships with governments, businesses, and people on every continent. Had the president been remotely informed about international trade before taking office—instead of taking his primer courses on our time and on our dime—we might have been spared 16 months of wrenching policy mistakes.

    I also suggest this twitter thread from Ilan Goldenberg:

    It's not a pretty picture, Emily.


Last Modified 2018-05-22 10:53 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2018-05-21

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:3 is definitely above average:

    3 No one can be established through wickedness,
        but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

    The Proverbialist maintains an apt, evocative metaphor in both parts of the proverb, something he didn't always manage to do.

    I'm just not sure how true it is.


  • The University Near Here is (for now) on the side of the angels, but George F. Will's column this week shows that not all institutes of higher education have gotten the message: Battling Campus Oppression of the Freedom of Expression

    On election night 2016, Mark Schlissel, the University of Michigan’s president, addressed more than 1,000 students, declaring that the 90 percent of them who had favored the losing candidate had rejected “hate.” He thereby effectively made those who disagreed with him and with the campus majority eligible to be targets of the university’s “bias response teams.” That his announced contempt for them made him a suitable target of the thought police is a thought that presumably occurred to no one, least of all him.

    Now, however, this leader of a public institution is being sued for constitutional violations. So are some members of Michigan’s archetypal administrative bloat — the ever-thickening layer of social-justice crusaders and orthodoxy enforcers who, nationwide, live parasitically off universities whose actual purpose is scholarship. These include Michigan’s vice-provost for equity and inclusion and the director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. Such bureaucrats have professional stakes in finding inequities to rectify and conflicts to resolve.

    So I'm wondering: if UNH has actually limited the scope of its intrusions into expressive conduct, will there be a proportional decrease in the number of bureaucrats? Fingers crossed.


  • The headline on Robby Soave's Reason post pretty much tells the story: Study: Voters Worried About Political Correctness Flocked to Candidate Trump. But I wanted to quote, as Robby does, the abstract of the study he considered ("Donald Trump as a Cultural Revolt Against Perceived Communication Restriction: Priming Political Correctness Norms Causes More Trump Support"):

    Donald Trump has consistently performed better politically than his negative polling indicators suggested he would. Although there is a tendency to think of Trump support as reflecting ideological conservatism, we argue that part of his support during the election came from a non-ideological source: The preponderant salience of norms restricting communication (Political Correctness – or PC – norms). This perspective suggests that these norms, while successfully reducing the amount of negative communication in the short term, may produce more support for negative communication in the long term. In this framework, support for Donald Trump was in part the result of over-exposure to PC norms. Consistent with this, on a sample of largely politically moderate Americans taken during the General Election in the Fall of 2016, we show that temporarily priming PC norms significantly increased support for Donald Trump (but not Hillary Clinton). We further show that chronic emotional reactance towards restrictive communication norms positively predicted support for Trump (but not Clinton), and that this effect remains significant even when controlling for political ideology. In total, this work provides evidence that norms that are designed to increase the overall amount of positive communication can actually backfire by increasing support for a politician who uses extremely negative language that explicitly violates the norm.

    Preponderant Salience of Norms will be playing a set down at Fury's Publick House in Dover next weekend.


  • The Associated Press's Holly Ramer is a girl after my own heart, looking at the variety of LFOD usage in local politics: Live Free or Die’ motto often invoked, with mixed results

    Written by Revolutionary War Gen. John Stark in 1809 and adopted as the state motto in 1945, the phrase won praise from then-candidate Donald Trump just before the 2016 presidential primary.

    “What a great slogan,” Trump said in a Facebook video. “Congratulations, New Hampshire. Wonderful job.”

    To Trump, the motto stood for everything from free enterprise and border security to “taking care of our vets.”

    Based on this session’s debate, some New Hampshire politicians would add protecting transgender individuals and crime victims, texting at stoplights and growing marijuana.

    Also: car inspections. I missed the comments of state Rep. Glen Dickey, R-New Boston, who sponsored an unsuccessful bill to require inspections only every two years instead of the current annual pain.

    “Do we have a cultural value of aiming for the potholes or the trees? Is there something in the water that makes us extra reckless?” he said on Feb. 15. “You would think if we were that distinct from inhabitants of other regions we would be drowning in sociological studies describing the Live Free or Die gene or the New Hampshire death cult.”

    I wish Glen lived in Rollinsford so I could vote for him.

    Back in March, I noted Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok's post Vehicle Safety Inspections Don’t Increase Safety. There's no excuse for them.


  • And Commie National Public Radio brinks the LFOD snark, which is richly deserved in this instance: N.H. Liquor Stores Are At The Center Of Cross-Border Bootlegging Stings

    New Hampshire may proudly have a libertarian streak, but the Live Free or Die state also boasts about its state-run liquor stores. Alcohol's a big revenue generator for the government - low prices in stores located near the state's borders draw in customers from across the region. As New Hampshire Public Radio's Todd Bookman reports, that convenience is also attracting modern-day bootleggers and prompts a wave of recent arrests.

    A transcript of Todd's report follows, detailing the odyssey of Juncheng Chen from Queens, NY, who bought over 1000 bottles of booze from six NH state stores, "including more than 500 bottles of Hennessy cognac". But he was being tailed by a criminal investigator with the New York State Department of Taxation, and was promptly arrested once he crossed back into NY.

    I, for one, miss the days of Governor Meldrim Thomson, Jr., who ordered NH state troopers to chase away Massachusetts revenooers taking down license plate numbers of their citizens' cars in NH liquor store parking lots.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-20

[Amazon Link]

  • I'm afraid Proverbs 12:2 is yet another one of those good people rule/bad people drool bromides from the Proverbs Fortune Cookie factory:

    2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
        but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

    To quote Hemingway one more time: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"


  • Andrew C. McCarthy analyzes a claim about the 2016 election, peddled by Democrats and the MSM (but I repeat myself), that "Government investigators were savagely public about Clinton’s trifling missteps while keeping mum about the Manchurian candidate’s treasonous conspiracy with Putin." In Politicized Justice, Desperate Times Call for Disparate Measures.

    As we contended in rebuttal on Thursday, the Times’ facts are selective and its narrative theme of disparate treatment is hogwash: Clinton’s bid was saved, not destroyed, by Obama’s law-enforcement agencies, which tanked a criminal case on which she should have been indicted. And the hush-hush approach taken to the counterintelligence case against Donald Trump was not intended to protect the Republican candidate; it was intended to protect the Obama administration from the specter of a Watergate-level scandal had its spying on the opposition party’s presidential campaign been revealed.

    McCarthy is righteously pissed at this narrative, and it shows. The "disparate" treatment was exemplified, for example, by the mother-may-I approach to getting evidence in the Clinton case, versus (say) the predawn no-knock raid on Paul Manafort's house.


  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie asks: What Can Be Done To Stop School Shootings Without Shredding the Constitution? Long and reflective, here's the bottom line:

    A good starting point for famously Vulcan-like libertarians would be to openly acknowledge the pain of survivors and the unspeakable horrors that unfold in locations such as Santa Fe and Parkland. It also makes sense to foreground what is surely common ground with the vast majority of Americans, even "gun-grabbers," which is that we all want a more-peaceful, less-violent America. From there, it is essential to provide arguments and insights that will alleviate rather than inflame concerns about safety, rates of violence, and how guns are used. Conservatives and groups like the NRA are fond of blaming broadly defined "mental illness" for gun violence, along with video games, drug-taking, and Democratic rule in cities such as Chicago. Libertarians should combat those weak arguments and discuss how policies such as the war on drugs intensify and concentrate gun violence in urban communities while also explaining how school, social-service, and law-enforcement authorities routinely shirk their responsibilities to identify and contain true threats (this is perhaps the biggest policy takeaway from Parkland). Reflexively reaching for often-thin arguments simply based on originalism, the Founders' intent, or contempt for any form of gun control isn't going to help very much. "Coming up with something" doesn't need to mean introducing a whole new set of gun laws. It can also mean having meaningful, informed, empathetic conversations with people on the other side of a particularly controversial and fraught issue.

    Not for the first time, I'll note that progressives aren't usually interested in "meaningful, informed, empathetic conversations". They're in favor of getting to the bottom line, which involves pushing people around who haven't done anything wrong.


  • Our Google LFOD alert sends to the Harvard Business School newspaper (the "Harbus") and its incisive report: 3rd Annual Comedy Night Highlights Student Standup Talent.

    The audience remained buoyant throughout the 90-minute show, hosted by New Section D’s Dilan Gomih, and was not disappointed as comics recounted their recruiting travails, lamented interactions with strangers, and dove into life at HBS. New Section E’s Ninad Kulkarni drew laughs as he shared his difficulty discussing sex with his imperious mother, and New Section F president Spencer Fertig brought the house down with his tales of awful aviation consumer experiences. Even the author managed to get few lines in, dropping jokes about his commuter student life that he could then shamelessly quote in his show review.

    “My wife and I live an hour away, because when I got in here we decided we prefer grocery shopping in New Hampshire,” he said. “Live Free or Die, motherf****r.”

    Hilarious? Maybe you had to be there. But that would be an interesting tweak to our state motto.


  • Also down in Massachusetts, the Greenfield Recorder reports: Warrior Writers group creates cathartic experience for veterans.

    The first poem came to him mid-brush stroke, as he painted a house in Worcester five years ago.

    “I was in a dark place in my life when I fell into (writing). It was an accident. I was up on this ladder and I was literally attacked by a poem. I had to write it down,” remembered Eric Wasileski, 46, of Shelburne, while sitting among fellow military veterans at a weekly luncheon hosted by the Greenfield Elks Lodge.

    That was two years after he’d graduated from a master’s program at Andover Newton Theological School, more than a decade since the Iraq War started, and 15 years since he left the Navy.

    The poem, called “Live Free (or die),” which eventually became a book in 2014, contrasts President George Bush’s May 1, 2003 victory announcement in the Iraq War to the subsequent crumbling of New Hampshire’s “Old Man on the Mountain” a few days later. It was the first Wasileski ever wrote.

    Eric's book ($15) is our Amazon Product du Jour. In what is either (a) an enticement for you to buy the book or (b) a blatant violation of copyright, here's his "Live Free (or die)":

    In New Hampshire there was once a sign 
    That God made people 
    Granite chiseled into the side of Cannon 
    Mountain bore the resemblance of a Man in profile 
    The Old Man of the Mountains 
    Magnificent and majestic he stood the long watch 
    
    Live Free or Die is the motto of the land 
    and stands as a marker and guidepost 
    To inspire, both ourselves and our progeny 
    to live a life worth living 
    of bettering ourselves 
    and pursuing happiness 
    as is our unalienable right 
    
    Yet on that May afternoon, back in '03 
    the day after our President announced 
    "mission accomplished" in Iraq 
    The Old Man, knowing it is better to live free or die 
    heard this great lie 
    that our nation was telling 
    And did the only thing he could 
    as one who has granite integrity 
    He died 
        

    Ah. Eric really dislikes Dubya. To be fair, however, "mission accomplished" is one of those things "everybody knows" Bush said, but actually didn't. But, you know, poetic license.

The Highway

[Amazon Link]

Continuing on my C.J. Box-reading project, this brings me up to 2013. I've come to expect decent page-turning thrillers from Mr. Box. But, truth be told, I was somewhat less enthused about plowing through this one; the subject matter was kind of off-putting. But that's me.

The book is a sorta-sequel to Back of Beyond which I read back in 2014. Returning characters are Cody Hoyt, an alcoholic cop; his upright son, Justin; the admirable teenage girl Gracie Sullivan and her slutty older sister Danielle.

Unfortunately, things aren't going well for Cody. As the book opens, he's planting evidence to implicate a drug dealer in a murder; unbeknownst to Cody, this is being witnessed by his current partner, Cassie Dewell. This is not the best way to further your law enforcement career, especially when your boss despises you anyway.

But at the same time, Gracie and Danielle are being stalked by a psychotic truck driver who's developed the persona of the "Lizard King". (Yes: he's a killer on the road, his brain squirming like a toad.) Will Danielle's irresponsible attitudes toward car maintenance and sex land them in deep peril? Well, of course. Will Cody head off to the rescue? Sure.

As indicated above, all the sordid details about the Lizard King's crime spree were a slight turn-off. But Box pulls something surprising mid-book that I totally didn't see coming. (I saw something coming; just not that.) No spoilers, but I'd go so far as to say that it flouts an unwritten rule of the crime/mystery/thriller genre. Box has the ability to pull such things off.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-19

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:1 makes yet another pro-discipline argument:

    1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
        but whoever hates correction is stupid.

    Seems somewhat masochistic, but that's Proverbs.

    [Our Amazon Product du jour is a self-published self-help book about self-discipline. Amazon's "Look Inside" feature will give you a decent taste. If you buy the book, read it, and go on to be a gazillionaire as a result, please remember Pun Salad.]


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week concerns The Tribe’s Useful Idiots. And he's not talking about Cleveland Indians fans.

    I’ve always been fascinated by useful idiots — and I don’t mean interns who are good at fetching coffee or pumicing my feet. I mean “useful idiots” in the Leninist sense (even if Lenin may not have in fact coined the term). Useful idiots, according to lore, were the Western intellectuals who could be counted on to defend or apologize for Bolshevik or Soviet barbarisms and other crimes.

    The Soviet effort to cultivate, feed, and support useful idiots is an absorbing tale in its own right. But the fascinating part is how the real heavy-lifting was done by the Western intellectuals themselves.

    Since human nature is what it is, we have more modern manifestations of useful idiots today, operating with unshakeable cognitive biases.

    Probably including me. Caveat lector.


  • Tom Nichols writes in USA Today: I'm still a Republican, but my party needs to be fumigated.

    Republicans once believed in limited government, fiscal restraint, support for the defense and national security establishments, family values, and a strong American role in maintaining global order. More than that, we were the party that believed in logic and prudence over emotion. Our hearts were perhaps too cold, but never bleeding.

    Today’s Republicans, however, are a party of bellowing drama queens whose elected representatives blow up spending caps, bust the deficit, and attack America’s law enforcement and national security agencies as dangerous conspirators. Their leader expects banana republic parades, coddles the Kremlin, protects violent men in positions of responsibility, and overlooks child molestation. The rank-and-file GOP members who once claimed that liberals were creating a tyrannical monarchy in the Oval Office now applaud the expansion of the presidency into a gigantic cult of personality.

    Somewhat overstated rhetorical carpet-bombing, but close enough to the target. Tom's preferred solution is a sound Republican defeat in November, and for as long after that as it takes to "break the fever" of Trumpism.


  • The new issue of American Consequences is online, and P.J. O'Rourke writes within: My Lousy Education.

    It may say “B.A.” on my diploma, but what I’ve got a degree in is “B.S.”

    I can talk the shingles off a barn roof. Or, as the case actually was, I can talk them back on.

    Yes, I’d be smarter if I had a “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. If I’d studied trigonometry, I would have realized that cutting down a 50-foot pine tree that was 20 feet from my barn might result in certain sine, cosine, tangent, and crushed barn roof problems. And no, I don’t know a hypotenuse from a possum belly.

    But… you should have heard me with the insurance adjuster. Euclid, Archimedes, and Pythagoras put together weren’t a patch on me. (Even less so since they’d be talking to the insurance adjuster in ancient Greek.) By the time I got done, the insurance company had not only paid for a new barn roof, it had paid for a new barn to go under it and a new chainsaw and a new pine tree and three cows to replace the cows that would have been killed when the barn roof collapsed if I’d had any cows.

    I have a B.S. and an M.S., and I can assure P.J. that neither saves you from doing stupidly destructive things around your domicile, with even less excuse than "I don't know trig".


  • KC Johnson writes at Minding the Campus on The Fallout From Weaponizing Title IX.

    In April of 2011, the Obama administration changed Title IX policy, pressuring colleges to adopt procedures that dramatically increased the chances of a guilty finding in sexual misconduct cases. Justice for accused males became so rare that many turned to the courts, filing suit for loss of due process. Since then, universities and colleges have suffered 97 setbacks in these suits, few of them as dramatic as the ruling last Monday in a lawsuit against Johnson & Wales University of Providence, Rhode Island.

    Two observations: (1) It's sad—not to mention expensive and wasteful—when males have to resort to the court system to get a fair shake out of universities; (2) Feminist ideology about "rape culture" has made universities stupidly cling to inherently unfair disciplinary tactics that can't be defended in the real legal world.


  • And our Google LFOD News Alert rang for a press release at Manchester Ink Link: Oracle ramps up, ready to lead Manchester into the high-tech industrial revolution. Oracle bought a Manchester company called Dyn back in 2106. Dean Kamen, Mr. Segway, was invited to speak at the event marking rebranding of the old mill building where Dyn was headquartered.

    “I grew up in the people’s republic of New York, a dense place in many ways,” said Kamen, who delivers remarks with the cadence of a seasoned Long Island comedian.

    “I moved here having never been here, but when I was in Boston I saw New Hampshire license plates all over the place, ‘Live free or die.’ One time I was about to get back on a plane and head back to New York, but I made a turn to the left instead of a turn to the right,” he says. “Instead of sitting in that freaking tunnel, I came up here, and — the rest is history.”

    I've never been an Oracle fan, but I haven't noticed any substantial "Oracle is Evil" stories in recent years. So maybe they've gotten less evil.

URLs du Jour

2018-05-17

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 13:24 is a famous—albeit often misquoted—one:

    24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
        but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

    This is the NIV translation, our default; other, wimpier, translations leave out the explicit reference to the rod.


  • While I cheered the Green Light Free Speech Rating given to the University of New Hampshire by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, I was simultaneously wondering: "Wow, how did that happen?" The College Fix has details: Public university gets stellar free-speech rating by reining in its bias response team.

    “Conduct that is protected by the First Amendment is not actionable under law, or the UNH Student Code of Conduct.”

    This reining in of the bias response team at the University of New Hampshire helped the taxpayer-funded institution earn a “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

    The university’s policies have been judged to “nominally protect free speech” with the revision of the “bias incident protocol,” demonstration and posting regulations, the civility code and a residence hall policy, FIRE wrote in a blog post Monday.

    UNH has admirably talked the First Amendment talk; it is to be hoped they prove they can walk the walk as well.


  • A little bit of thought-control totalitarianism from Daniel DeNicola, professor and chair of philosophy at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania: You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to.

    Do we have the right to believe whatever we want to believe? This supposed right is often claimed as the last resort of the wilfully ignorant, the person who is cornered by evidence and mounting opinion: ‘I believe climate change is a hoax whatever anyone else says, and I have a right to believe it!’ But is there such a right?

    Spoiler: Professor Dan concludes the answer is "no".

    Professor Dan does not venture much beyond that conclusion, but (for the rest of us) the interesting part is: once you've identified an individual with heretical, "dangerous", beliefs, what then? Presumably, since the victim has no right to such beliefs, anything is fair game: imprisonment, involuntary "therapy", execution?

    Non-professor Jonah Goldberg defends "the right to be wrong" here. Quote:

    People are growing intolerant of any dissent from their idea of what everyone should believe. Agree with me and you’re one of the good guys; disagree with me and you’re not just wrong, you’re my enemy, a heretic, a traitor, a bigot. Opportunists recognize that exacerbating this polarization redounds to their own benefit, because at least for now, doing so helps raise money, ratings, clicks, and poll numbers.

    We are a long way off from putting beliefs of the mind to the judgment of the sword, but that is the logical destination of the path we are on, because we have lost faith in the utility of upholding the right to be wrong.


  • Sarah Hoyt has a response to writers like Sarah MacLean who are … altering … their fiction in the Age of Trump: Note to Those Politicizing Fiction Against Trump: Shut Up and Write

    This is me groaning audibly. Look, guys, I’ll read just about anything. Any genre, or lack of genre.

    Let me tell you something. You know what traditional publishing isn’t short on? Leftist propaganda.

    Unless you're Ayn Rand—and sometimes even if you are Ayn Rand—putting political lectures in your fiction is, at best, a sure way to turn off readers.


  • Veronique de Rugy is a little too kind on Seattle when she discusses Seattle's Idiotic Tax on Amazon.

    The tyranny of local government was on full display this week. The culprits are some greedy members of the Seattle City Council. Backed by their union friends, they just voted to impose a "head tax" on large employers, such as Amazon and Starbucks. The real victims, of course, will be the companies' employees.

    Thanks to Seattle's many thriving businesses, its revenue base has been growing much faster than its population. Unfortunately, the City Council is doing what it does best and, rather than look into streamlining and cutting its ineffective spending programs in order to combat Seattle's homeless problem, is looking for fresh cash. Seeing as large companies have it, the council set out to take it.

    Today's progressives do not worry themselves with airy theories of tax fairness. Their underlying justification is

    1. I want money.
    2. You have money.
    3. Therefore, give me your money.


  • Dan Mitchell takes another Political Compass Test. And is slightly bemused at the "somewhat crazy" examples. (Was Benito Mussolini really "far right for economic policy"? No.)

    For what it's worth, my result is here. About the same as Dan's.


  • And are you in the mood for The 50 Funniest Jokes About All 50 States? From Reader's Digest? Well, OK. Here's the Granite State:

    The state motto is "Live Free or Die," which appears on license plates made by prisoners.

    Credited to "Jon Stewart on The Daily Show". Is it true? Yes. Funny? Well…

    New Hampshire is also mentioned in a couple of other jokes, and for what it's worth, I found this classic still amusing:

    After surveying property along the New Hampshire and Maine border, some engineers decided the boundaries needed to be changed. So they stopped to tell a farmer that he was no longer in Maine but in New Hampshire. "Good," said the farmer. "I couldn't take another one of those Maine winters."

    It may help if you imagine that punchline delivered in a broad Yankee accent.


Last Modified 2018-05-18 5:30 AM EDT