URLs du Jour

2018-09-20

[Amazon Link]

  • The WSJ editorialists write sagely on Politicizing the FBI. Probably paywalled, but an excerpt:

    Under the Constitution, the Senate is the ultimate judge of the fitness of a nominee appointed by the President. In this case Senators must assess whether they think Ms. Ford’s allegations are credible enough to disqualify Judge Kavanaugh. The Senate can’t abdicate that task to the FBI, much less order an executive branch agency to do its own advising and consenting.

    Chairman Chuck Grassley has established a process under which the Senators and their staff can ask the two parties directly about the events, judge their credibility, and then decide how to vote. This is the essence of political accountability.

    Both my state's senators have already announced their plans to vote no on Kavanaugh's confirmation. That doesn't stop them from demanding that the Senate outsource its judgment to the FBI.


  • At NR, David French has a modest proposal: Make Sex Crimes Criminal Again.

    But here’s the strange thing. Even as the culture began to wake up to the sheer scale of the problem, important institutions responded by essentially decriminalizing crime. We took some of the worst crimes in the criminal-justice system — not just rape but also sexual assault — and urged women to avoid the law entirely. From campus to the workplace to the military, institutions constructed parallel tracks of “adjudication” of terrible allegations — imposing consequences without due process while also contributing to a culture of impunity for the worst predators.

    Whether you’re a college student, a young accountant, or a corporal in the Marine Corps, turning to law enforcement has often become the last resort in the process of addressing sexual assault. You can now make confidential reports, start confidential processes, and impose confidential punishments that don’t look much like justice at all.

    Colleges (especially) have not demonstrated that their methods of handling sexual assault work better, in any sense, than those of the legal system.

    And what did we expect? Any "system" involving flawed humans is going to be imperfect and deliver the occasional miscarriage. But, given the choice between (a) a system has been developed over centuries of trial and error, with participants experienced in the details of investigation; and (b) a system imposed top-down with ideological biases and vague and inconsistent procedues, carried out in secret… I know which way I'd bet.


  • Steve MacDonald at Granite Grok notes a Union Leader story: Southern New Hampshire University Wants Campus Groups’ Social Media Passwords.

    The lead in today’s Manchester Union Leader is SNHU requires all clubs to reveal passwords. That sounds Orwellian.

    SNHU says it is to protect the continuity of the communities. There are a number of approved campus groups that have languished since the page administrators have graduated. By collecting the login credentials they can ensure that new admins have access to keep the groups updated. And this sounds reasonable until you get to this bit.

    Oh oh. What's the bit? Well, SNHU spokesdroid Lauren Keane left the door open to using the credentials to "remediate posts that are deemed to contain discriminatory, obscene, unlawful, threatening, harassing, or defamatory language, images, and video."

    Yeah. The College Republicans are (especially) skeptical about SNHU administrators using the shared credentials for censorship/monitoring purposes.

    Commenters at Granite Grok maintain that SNHU routinely engages in blatant viewpoint discrimination when it comes to political groups. I submitted a comment to the effect that such was blatantly unconstitutional, and provided a pointer to the relevant Foundation for Individual Rights in Education page.

    It sounds as if the SNHU Young Republicans are starting to get a clue about this, however. What college administrators are really averse to is bad publicity, like the Union Leader story.


  • At Reason, Veronique "Intrepid" de Rugy summarizes a recent Cato study: State Migration Increasingly Driven by Taxes.

    That new study on Tax Reform and Interstate Migration is from Chris Edwards, a tax expert at the Cato Institute. Using 2016 data from the Internal Revenue Service, he finds that 578,269 people moved, on net, from the 25 highest-tax states to the 25 lowest-tax states. That's a loss of $33 billion in aggregate income for these vacated states. In that year, 24 of the 25 highest-tax states suffered from net out-migration. The only high-tax state that saw in-migration was Maine.

    No matter how one views and dissects the data, Edwards shows that state tax levels and net migration flows are highly correlated. The relationship is even more pronounced with households headed by a person age 65 or older and households with income higher than $200,000. It might not come as a surprise that some of the states both seniors and high earners are leaving are Alaska, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The top 12 destinations for these taxpayers are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.

    The PDF Cato study is here. Low-tax New Hampshire, like Maine, is a slight in-migration state.


  • And (as a one-time data cruncher) I got a chuckle out of xkcd's Curve-Fitting Methods and the Messages They Send:

    [Curve Fitting]

    Mouseover: "Cauchy-Lorentz: "Something alarmingly mathematical is happening, and you should probably pause to Google my name and check what field I originally worked in.""