URLs du Jour

2018-06-01

[Amazon Link]

  • To (my) modern ears, Proverbs 12:12 doesn't make a lot of sense:

    12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
        but the root of the righteous endures.

    I do get that things are supposed to work out better for the righteous than the wicked. I'm just not picking up on the specifics.


  • David Brooks offers (modestly) One Reform to Save America. What's the problem? Our "rigified and ossified" two-party system.

    Partisans’ chief interest is in proving that the other party is despicable — in ramping up fear, hatred and the negative polarization that is the central feature of contemporary American politics.

    The result is that people, especially the young, lose faith in democratic norms altogether. There are over 6,000 breweries in America, but when it comes to our politics, we get to choose between Soviet Refrigerator Factory A and Soviet Refrigerator Factory B.

    Heh. I like that last bit.

    Brooks recommends "multimember districts and ranked-choice voting" for Congressional districts. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But I still prefer my crackpot proposal for (essentially) fractional Congresspeople.


  • Continuing our electoral fairness theme, Jonathan S. Tobin offers The Truth about Gerrymandering at NRO.

    A 1986 Supreme Court ruling banning racial gerrymandering has played a crucial role in Republican victories, but this is generally ignored when liberals bewail the way district boundaries have worked against them. In a New York Times article that might have upset the paper’s liberal readership, former correspondent Clyde Haberman reminded Democrats that even if they win in court in June, the legacy of that 1986 case, Thornburg v. Gingles, will continue to haunt them.

    As Haberman pointed out, the focus on partisanship has obscured the fact that the high court’s opinion that the historic underrepresentation of minorities must be compensated for when drawing districts has had a far greater impact on elections than any computer model. The odd shape of many districts has fueled Democratic resentment about their electoral hard luck, but the impetus for making such districts was a desire to increase the number of black and Hispanic members of Congress, not Republicans.

    The Haberman article is right here. He's right that the current handwaving "fairness" arguments now before the Supreme Court tend to ignore the previous arguments about diluting minority electoral strength that got us here in the first place.


  • I am a longtime Consumer Reports subscriber, even though their politics are stridently, abhorrently, paternalistically, pro-regulation. Their latest issue (July 2018, page 5) advocates for "preserving fuel-economy standards". Specifically, keeping the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards the Obama administration promulgated. An online version of their advocacy is here: Fuel Economy & Clean Cars. This jumped out:

    Americans support strong standardsFuel economy is the number one attribute that vehicle owners would like to see improved in their next vehicle. And 73% of Americans support the government setting and enforcing strong fuel economy standards.

    Uh huh. You know what? This evidence shows that you don't need government-imposed fuel economy standards. If Americans are so overwhelmingly well-disposed toward cars that get 50 mpg, they'll buy them, and reward the savvy automakers that produce them.

    But of course, the Consumer Reports people don't really believe that. The survey result is an example of social desirability bias.

    I would have more respect if Consumer Reports would be honest about where they're coming from. Something like: "We think consumers will make the wrong choices, so we support using coercive state power to make sure those choices are taken off the table."


  • And another automotive item, from David Harsanyi: Why Aren’t Liberals Celebrating Higher Gas Prices? It’s What They Want. (Spoiler: phony populist posturing.)

    With consumer confidence at a 17-year high and economic prospects looking relatively strong, congressional Democrats have taken to grousing about the gas pump as a midterm strategy. “These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “something we know disproportionately hurts middle- and lower-income people.”

    If this is true, then why have Democrats spent the past two decades advocating for policies that artificially spike fossil fuel prices? If higher energy costs hurt Americans — and thank you, senator, for conceding this point — why have liberals favored increasing gas taxes, inhibiting exploration for fossil fuels (including, in a number of places, banning fracking for less environmentally damaging gas) and capping imports? If higher gas prices disproportionately impact the working class and poor, then why do Democrats push for national schemes designed to create false demand through a fabricated marketplace?

    I eagerly await the D-folks running for Congress in New Hampshire District One to tell us how they're going to give us all cheap gas. They seem to uniformly be pushing "Medicare for All"; maybe "Gasicare for All"?


  • And LFOD news from Manchester Airport: At the airport, nicotine cravings give way to nature's call.

    Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is converting its lone indoor smoking lounge into a potty area for service animals and traveling pets.

    “I just think it’s ironic in the 'Live Free or Die' state it’s the dogs that have more freedom than smokers,” said Connie Townsend, a smoker and dog owner from Wilmington, Mass., traveling through the airport this week.

    There's only so much LFODing you can do in a building with space and security restrictions.


  • Let's welcome (via embedded Tweet from someone else) cartoonist Lisa Benson on the Trumpian trade war: