URLs du Jour

2017-10-12

‘Free will’.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Indeed.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I'm on record with this modest proposal:

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

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

Still sounds like a fine idea to me.


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

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

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