URLs du Jour

2018-05-30

[Amazon Link]

  • As Proverbs 12:10 notes, the righteous and the wicked differ in all things, even down to matters of animal husbandry:

    10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
        but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

    It's difficult not to be impressed with the wicked, who aren't even nice to their dogs. At least they're consistent.


  • Speaking of cruelty, Eric Boehm has the bad news at Reason: Trump Will Hit Americans With $50 Billion in Import Taxes After All.

    Little more than a week after backing away from the threat of a trade war with China, the Trump administration on Tuesday reversed course and announced plans to impose tariffs on some 1,300 Chinese-made goods.

    "The United States will impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology," the White House announced Tuesday. A final list of covered imports will be announced on June 15—the preliminary list released in April included everything from biscuit ovens to airplane parts, and from flamethrowers to cash registers—and the tariffs will actually be imposed "shortly thereafter," the White House said.

    This amounts to a $50 billion tax increase on American consumers and businesses.

    OK, so just a bad idea due to the direct impact? No, wait, there's more!

    "How are U.S. businesses to innovate and create more value for consumers when policymakers bring so much uncertainty to trade?" asks Nathan Nascimento, vice president of Freedom Partners, a pro-trade group. "While some have speculated that this routine of announcing future tariffs is a mere negotiating ploy, the reality is that they have immediate and lasting, negative impacts on millions of Americans."

    Yes, it's difficult enough to run a business, even without Your Mercurial President's day-to-day implementation of his whim-based trade policy.


  • David French is (to put it mildly) no Trump fan. But, at NRO, he finds that A Twitter Fail Reveals That Media Narratives about Obama Still Trump the Truth. His subject is the recent viral pictures of "immigrant children" in chain-link pens and a "prison bus for babies". Not to mention the "lost" 1,475 "migrant children".

    All debunked, to much less hoopla than the original outrage-inducing yarns. And when it turns out some of the images and the horror stories happened on Obama's watch… cue the snores and chirping crickets.

    Yes, I know that much of the nation is in the grips of Trump Derangement Syndrome, but does that fully explain the gullibility on display here? After all, while some of the images and stories were shared by activist hacks, some of those who jumped on the outrage train were smart and careful people who ordinarily know better.

    This is what happens when narrative trumps truth: Even responsible people are primed to believe lies. We see this all the time in the wars over our current president. We’re forgetting, however, the extent to which narrative still trumps the truth about the Obama administration. This is particularly true when the dominant narrative serves both sides of our ideological divide.

    Good guideline: always be skeptical of the "narrative".


  • Just when you thought free speech about political candidates was safe… it wasn't. Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens plead at Cato: FEC, Please Don’t Make Social Media Worse Than It Already Is.

    Online election ads are the hot topic in Washington these days. From Russian Facebook ads featuring Jesus and Satan arm-wrestling or a multicolored, many muscled Bernie Sanders, to Cambridge Analytica’s probably bogus claims of dastardly psychological manipulation, there is great consternation as to whether social media is being abused to the detriment of democracy. These concerns are not limited to our shores: see, for instance, Facebook and Google’s controversial recent decision to remove ads related to Ireland’s constitutional referendum on abortion.

    Into the fray now steps the Federal Election Commission, which proposes to define for the first time how election ads on social media and other internet platforms will be regulated under the campaign finance laws. The FEC has put forward a pair of options, one of which would require as a default that online ads ahead to the same strictures as radio, TV, and newspaper ads, with very limited wiggle room to adapt disclaimers to the nature of internet platforms. An alternative proposal would allow more adaptation but still take up as much as 10% of a given ad as a default. Cato has submitted a comment, expressing our view that the FEC should give special weight to the burden on First Amendment rights imposed by excessive disclaimer requirements. As Justice William Brennan (no right-wing extremist) explained, “compelling the publication of detailed … information that would fill far more space than the advertisement itself would chill the publication of protected … speech and would be entirely out of proportion to the State’s legitimate interest in preventing potential deception.”

    All premised on the fundamentally undemocratic and paternalistic idea that individual voters cannot be trusted to view and evaluate political advertisements without extensive government-mandated disclaimers and notices. Instead of figuring out how to impose regulation on the Internet, the FEC should roll back its regulations to those compatible with a free country.


  • Allyn Ann McLerie passed away last week, at 91. She had a long and impressive career, acting and dancing on stage, movies, and televison. She played Arthur Carlson's wife Carmen on WKRP in Cincinnati. But to me she will always be Miss Janet Reubner from the vastly underrated (and underwatched) Tony Randall Show in the mid-1970s.

    Some diligent YouTuber put together a Miss Reubner highlight reel. I had a lot of laughs and smiles while watching:

    While I'm at it: The show also featured Zane Lasky as Mario Lanza. I think the first sixteen seconds of this clip, where his character is introduced, is one of the funniest gags I've seen on network television:

    And if you need an explanation of Tony Randall's followup quip, see here.