URLs du Jour


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  • Being old and unhip, I am only just now starting to listen to podcasts. One of my weeklies is Russ Roberts' EconTalk, which I highly recommend if you have the time and inclination. Russ comes at things from a libertarian perspective, but has an open mind, and treats his guests (and hence his listeners) with respect.

    Anyway, one of his recent episodes was with Yoram Hazony discussing his recent book, The Virtue of Nationalism (today's Amazon Product du Jour). Interesting take, and I've stuck it on my Library-get list.

    If you'd like a taste, here's an article from Prof Harzony at National Review: Liberalism as Imperialism.

    My liberal friends and colleagues do not seem to understand that the advancing liberal construction is a form of imperialism. But to anyone already immersed in the new order, the resemblance is easy to see. Much like the pharaohs and the Babylonian kings, the Roman emperors and the Roman Catholic Church until well into the modern period, as well as the Marxists of the last century, liberals, too, have their grand theory about how they are going to bring peace and economic prosperity to the world by pulling down all the borders and uniting mankind under their own universal rule. Infatuated with the clarity and intellectual rigor of this vision, they disdain the laborious process of consulting with the multitude of nations they believe should embrace their view of what is right. And like other imperialists, they are quick to express disgust, contempt, and anger when their vision of peace and prosperity meets with opposition from those who they are sure would benefit immensely by simply submitting.

    I remember one of my unexpected takeaways from Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature was that the development of the modern "leviathan" nation-state moderated tribal violence to a fraction of the historical rate. (Yes, even counting the blood-soaked 20th century.) Will subsuming nation-states into sovereignty-eroding "unions" undo that? It will probably be a few months before I read Harzony, but I'll let you know what he says about that.

  • Richard A. Epstein writes on The Intellectual Poverty Of The New Socialists.

    Changes in the language of self-identification give us enormous information about changes in political thought. Consider how the American left labels itself today compared to fifty years ago. Back then, American liberalism stood for the dominance of a mixed economy in which market institutions provided growth: deregulation of the airlines in the 1970s, for example, was no sin. At the same time, the liberal vision promoted political institutions that provided a safety net for Americans in the form of social security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. The term “progressive” came to the fore recently with the rise of Barack Obama, signaling a rising dissatisfaction with the status quo ante because of the liberal mainstream’s inability to reduce inequalities of wealth and income while empowering marginalized groups like women and minorities. Yet somehow the sought-after progressive utopia never quite emerged in the Obama years. Slow economic growth and rising inequality were combined with tense race relations, exemplified by the high profile 2009 arrest of Henry Louis Gates, and the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and Michael Brown in 2014.

    These events have put establishment Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton on the defensive. Spurred on by that old socialist warhorse, Senator Bernie Sanders, young socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, both rising political stars likely to join Congress next year. These new wave socialists will push the Democratic party further to the left with their constant calls for free and universal healthcare, free college tuition, and guaranteed jobs for all Americans—all paid for in ways yet to be determined.

    Epstein's bottom line: Whether you call it "old" or "new", socialism has no chance at success at "curing" the perceived "failures" of free markets. "You may as well try to cure diabetes by administering extra-large doses of government-subsidized sugar."

  • At Cato, Michael Tanner urges us to Beware the Politics of Fear.

    The poets may say that love is the great motivator, but politicians know it is fear that turns out the vote.

    With the post-Labor Day start of the campaign season upon us, we can look forward to two months of hearing about all the horrors awaiting us if the other guy is elected. Most of this is just standard negative campaigning. Though “my opponent’s economic plan will turn this country into a barren wasteland” may be hyperbolic, it’s largely unobjectionable — and if you are running against someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it could even be true.

    But sometimes negative campaigning can cross a line into something more insidious, something that plays on atavistic emotions and tears at our social fabric. That type of fearmongering needs to be guarded against.

    No, my fellow right-wingers: as horrific as crime and terrorism are, the stats say it's pretty unlikely you'll be a victim. Let alone crime/terrorism perpetrated by illegal immigrants.

    (That's not to say that there aren't good arguments against open borders. Just stop trying to scare us.)

    And: no, left wingers: we're not all going to be killed by assault weapons, health care costs, lack of ISP regulation, or Justice Kavanaugh.

    Thank goodness for the commercial-skip feature on TiVo. I'll be wearing out that button in the next couple months.

  • Speaking of Justice Kavanaugh, Jacob Sullum noted an interesting thing in the confirmation hearings: Dianne Feinstein Wants Brett Kavanaugh to 'Reconcile' His Second Amendment Reasoning With 'Hundreds of School Shootings' That Never Happened.

    Yesterday Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who wrote the federal "assault weapon" ban that expired in 2004 and in recent years has been pushing a new, broader version of that law, asked Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to explain why he concluded that such legislation is unconstitutional. After Kavanaugh recapped his reasoning (more on that in a minute), Feinstein replied, "How do you reconcile what you've just said with the hundreds of school shootings using assault weapons that have taken place in recent history?"

    Feinstein's response was striking for two reasons. First, there have been nothing like "hundreds of school shootings using assault weapons," whether you look at "recent history" or go back half a century. Second, the shootings are irrelevant to the question of whether banning so-called assault weapons is consistent with the Second Amendment.

    I'm old enough to remember when the Left preened itself as the Reality-based community. Good times.

  • And finally, colorful commentary on the Kavanaugh hearings Michael Ramirez:

    Senate Confirmation Tantrum

    Standard Ramirez note: click through for an uncropped full-size version. You won't be sorry.

Last Modified 2018-12-26 12:28 PM EDT