URLs du Jour

2018-08-29

[Amazon Link]

  • A belated link to the latest G-File from Jonah Goldberg, a look at our weird social political psychology:

    Much of the stuff that liberals hate about conservatives — and vice versa — is driven by similar coalitional dynamics. It helps explain so much of the seeming (and real) hypocrisy of our time. Bill Clinton was the Big Man of his coalition back in the day, and so feminists and other liberals who had spent so much time denouncing sexual harassment abandoned, bent, or suspended their principles in order to defend his behavior. Today is almost a mirror image of those days. Trump is the Big Man of his coalition. His sexual behavior — proven and alleged — is as inconvenient for the virtuecrat and “Character Counts” Right as Bill Clinton’s was for the feminist Left. The people who once defended — even celebrated — Clinton’s sexual escapades are now horrified by Trump’s, and the people once horrified by Clinton’s behavior are now insisting that King Solomon got a lot of tail on the side, too. The people who once hitched their wagons to petty legalisms are now waxing poetic about norms and the spirit of democracy and the people who once espoused commitment to higher authorities and deeper morality over the mere letter of the law are excusing behavior they wouldn’t tolerate from their plumber.

    You won't want to miss the anecdote that ends with "[Greta] Van Susteren refused to ever look me in the eye or speak to me after I wrote that essay."


  • At PJMedia, Tyler O'Neil asks the musical question: Is It a Conspiracy Theory to Suggest Google Is Biased Against Conservatives? Working off a Trumpian Tweet:

    It is, of course, just like Trump to (a) put this as petulantly and self-centeredly as possible, (b) imply imminent and arbitrary coercion against Google.

    On the other hand…

    That 96 percent figure came directly from PJ Media's supervising editor, Paula Bolyard. Using different laptops, she performed multiple Google News searches for the word "Trump," and found pervasive bias in favor of left-leaning news outlets. She also noted that PJ Media's Google traffic decreased after a May 2017 Google algorithm change, and has not recovered.

    While Bolyard admitted her study was far from scientific, she also cited a far more in-depth study performed by SEO company "Can I Rank," which found "that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a 'Left' or 'Far Left' slant the they were pages from the right." Tellingly, the study found that "16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results."

    Certainly, that matches up with my informal impressions when searching for information on an issue: I get a lot of left/progressive links up front, needing to scroll down or go to subsequent result pages to get conservative/libertarian links.

    Maybe the lefties are just better at SEO? I'm skeptical about that.


  • But that brings up the more important issue, as noted by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek: You Can’t Be Both For and Against Big Government. Don reacts to a comment by Lynnette Hardaway ("Diamond" of "Diamond and Silk") on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show, on the same subject of Google bias.

    “I am not for big government, but I really do believe that the government should step in and really check this out,” Hardaway told Dobbs in the interview.

    Don:

    Being against big government – really being against it – includes being against violating this rule simply because you think that a private company should treat you better. Anyone without evidence that a private company is violating any contractual agreements with him or her or that that company is violating any commercial norms, but who nevertheless calls on the state to unleash its power against company, is not someone who is really against big government.

    Such a person has no principles.

    And for all of you Trump supporters out there, I’ve a question: Suppose that, say, Pres. H. Clinton or Pres B. Obama had threatened Google as Pres. D. Trump did today. Would you excuse such a threat? If not, why do so many of you excuse this appalling demonstration of authoritarian instincts by Pres. D. Trump?

    This goes back to the original point from Jonah Goldberg above: if your outrage about (either) Trump or Google would be muted if they were part of your political coalition, then you're the problem, pal.


  • And Reason's Jacob Sullum outlines the perfect presidential legal defense against campaign finance law violations: Ignorance Is Trump’s Excuse.

    Donald Trump's critics say his defense of hush payments to women who claim to have had sex with him betrays a misunderstanding of campaign finance law. If so, it is hard to see how the president could have "knowingly and willfully" violated the law, as required for a criminal conviction.

    Mens rea isn't always a solid defense, but it apparently applies to this area of the law. Especially when experts disagree whether Michael Cohen, Trump's ex-lawyer, was really guilty of the charges to which he pled guilty.


  • And, finally, Michael Ramirez comments on a major political party's newfound infatuation with "Democratic Socialism"

    Venezuelaan bolivars and inflated socialism

    I encourage you to click through for the full-size unclipped version. Some of the little details Mr. Ramirez sneaks in are hilarious.