URLs du Jour

2018-10-06

[Amazon Link]

  • Gosh, we will really, probably, start winding down these Kavanaugh-related links someday. But Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week talks about The Price of Victory. And that's probably important enough for your attention.

    One of the articles of faith of my personal definition of conservatism is to be deeply distrustful of enthusiasm. Chalk it up to misanthropy or enochlophobia if you like, but whenever crowds — real or figurative — get worked up, I grow suspicious. It’s why I don’t like populism or pep rallies; the worst political sins are almost always accompanied by the cheers of one mob or another.

    That is one of the reasons I have been so appalled by the riot of anti-Kavanaugh hysteria that has spread these last few weeks. But it is also why I have misgivings about the price of victory.

    I believe that confirming Brett Kavanaugh is vital, but I also believe it is the least bad option before us. Herewith, a screed-y walkthrough of my thinking.

    Summary: we're about to enter a new phase of the cultural war. Can I be a conscientious objector?

    Oh, and "enochlophobia"? Look it up, if necessary. (I had to.) And our Amazon Product du Jour may help, and it's only $0.89.


  • A good, relevant, catch from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who watched a CNN interview with Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. In which Elena wondered: Will The Supreme Court Have A Middle Any More?.

    JUSTICE KAGAN: Starting with Justice O’Connor and continuing with Justice Kennedy, there has been a person who, er, found the center, who people couldn’t predict in that sort of way. … It’s not so clear that, you know, I think going forward, that sort of middle position — you know, it’s not so clear whether we’ll have it.

    Ed comments:

    And on that note, it’s rather revealing in this clip that Kagan never considers herself for the role of the unpredictable jurist — or Sonia Sotomayor, who’s sitting next to her and never bothers to interject either. Kagan’s argument is that it should always be conservative jurists who go towards Kagan’s wing of the court, and not the other direction. Why should that be the case? Why shouldn’t Kagan take her own advice?

    It’s also amusing that Kagan almost explicitly assigns herself and the other three liberal justices to the roles of predictable jurist in this statement. It’s undeniably true, but one would expect a Supreme Court justice to at least argue that she’s independent. Give Kagan one cheer for honesty, I guess, and a half-cheer to Sotomayor for not objecting to it.

    It's easy to observe that Sotomayor/Kagan/Breyer/Ginsburg rarely, if ever, show the independence of mind necessary to stray off the Predictable Progressive Reservation. It's interesting when one of them essentially admits that, yeah, that's never gonna happen.


  • Just in case you're not particularly plugged into the tech news, this Bloomberg Businessweek story is getting a lot of discussion: The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies. It's about servers manufactured by Supermicro, distributed by a company named Elemental Technologies, some of which…

    Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

    The assertion is that this is an operation masterminded via a unit of China's People’s Liberation Army. All sources anonymous, but you would kind of expect that…


  • Reactions are starting to come out, for example from Tech Crunch author Zack Whittaker: Bloomberg’s spy chip story reveals the murky world of national security reporting.

    Naturally, people are skeptical of this “spy chip” story. On one side you have Bloomberg’s decades-long stellar reputation and reporting acumen, a thoroughly researched story citing more than a dozen sources — some inside the government and out — and presenting enough evidence to present a convincing case.

    On the other, the sources are anonymous — likely because the information they shared wasn’t theirs to share or it was classified, putting sources in risk of legal jeopardy. But that makes accountability difficult. No reporter wants to say “a source familiar with the matter” because it weakens the story. It’s the reason reporters will tag names to spokespeople or officials so that it holds the powers accountable for their words. And, the denials from the companies themselves — though transparently published in full by Bloomberg — are not bulletproof in outright rejection of the story’s claims. These statements go through legal counsel and are subject to government regulation. These statements become a counterbalance — turning the story from an evidence-based report into a “he said, she said” situation.

    So there's plenty of room for skepticism. There's also plenty of room to get out the wirecutters and snip your connection to the Internet.


  • But how about another skeptic-feeding article, this one in Buzzfeed from John Paczkowski and Charlie Warzel: Apple Insiders Say Nobody Internally Knows What’s Going On With Bloomberg’s China Hack Story.

    Reached by BuzzFeed News, multiple Apple sources — three of them very senior executives who work on the security and legal teams — said that they are at a loss as to how to explain the allegations. These people described a massive, granular, and siloed investigation into not just the claims made in the story, but into unrelated incidents that might have inspired them.

    “We tried to figure out if there was anything, anything, that transpired that’s even remotely close to this,” a senior Apple security executive told BuzzFeed News. “We found nothing.”

    Of course, the voices that somehow manage to penetrate through the multiple layers of tinfoil around my head are saying: Yeah, that's just what you would expect them to say.


  • And finally, we haven't had a Ramireztoon lately. Here's one (unfortunately clipped, click on through for the big beautiful entire thing) on Trump's Trade War: Apocalypse Now.

    Apocalypse Now

    Back in the day, Vermont Senator George Aiken commented about Vietnam: "Declare victory and go home." I wasn't a fan of surrendering in the face of Communist aggression, but …

    When it comes to the Trade War, however, that's a really good idea.