URLs du Jour

2018-10-31

  • Happy Halloween! (I guess. I hate Halloween.) But here's a day-appropriate, perceptive article from Charles C. W. Cooke, detailing a little-acknowledged truth about American politics: Everyone Wants You to Be Scared. It is based off this tweet from a CNN Droid:

    It is not, of course, untrue that President Trump wants Republican voters to be scared when voting. He does, and how. But — and this is the bit that Cillizza misses — so does every other politician in the United States. “Fear,” it seems, conjugates in much the same way as do “politics” and “divisiveness”: I run on hope, you run on fear; I do what’s right, you do what’s political; If we all agreed with my plan we’d be united; that you want us to agree with yours makes you divisive. And so on.

    Examples abound, should one be clear-eyed enough to see them, and Charles' eyes are clearer than most. Certainly a lot clearer than Cillizza's.


  • [Amazon Link]

    Trump made a particularly dumb move when he threatened to curb birthright citizenship via executive order. Eminently predictable reaction: Fourteenth Amendment, Trump hates the Constitution, aieee, what parts of the Constitution will he try to override next?

    And just about every honest Republican (there are a few) who (correctly) derided Obama's immigration EOs, made because Congress "failed to act", as a travesty must realize that it's equally lousy for Trump to do the same.

    But lost in the shuffle is the actual argument about the relevant language of the Fourteenth Amendment, especially to us original public meaning fans. At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin does a fine job of laying out the issues of Birthright Citizenship and the Constitution.

    In a recent interview, President Donald Trump claimed that he can issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States. The proposed order might also prevent US-born children of foreigners here on temporary visas from getting citizenship. Can Trump legally do that? The short answer is no. The Fourteenth Amendment gives birthright citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants and visa holders, if they are born on US soil. Even if that were not the case, the power to grant citizenship is a congressional power, not an executive one. I have some reservations about the morality and policy of birthright citizenship. But the constitutional issue is clear: Trump does not have the power to end birthright citizenship at all, and certainly not by an executive order issued without congressional authorization.

    Although Ilya makes his position clear, he also provides (and rebuts) arguments for the other side.


  • [Amazon Link]

    This Slashdot article is pretty brutal for Governor Scott Walker, who wants to be re-elected: Wisconsin's $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle.

    The details of the deal were famously written on the back of a napkin when [Foxconn chairman Terry Gou] and the Republican governor first met: a $3 billion state subsidy in return for Foxconn's $10 billion investment in a Generation 10.5 LCD manufacturing plant that would create 13,000 jobs. [...] But what seemed so simple on a napkin has turned out to be far more complicated and messy in real life. As the size of the subsidy has steadily increased to a jaw-dropping $4.1 billion, Foxconn has repeatedly changed what it plans to do, raising doubts about the number of jobs it will create. Instead of the promised Generation 10.5 plant, Foxconn now says it will build a much smaller Gen 6 plant, which would require one-third of the promised investment, although the company insists it will eventually hit the $10 billion investment target. And instead of a factory of workers building panels for 75-inch TVs, Foxconn executives now say the goal is to build "ecosystem" of buzzwords called "AI 8K+5G" with most of the manufacturing done by robots.

    As Reason noted back in June, another "feature" of crony capitalism was heavily involved: the abuse of eminent domain to transfer residents' property to a private company. We knew that President Trump was a fan, but it's sad to see Republicans like Walker (and also Paul Ryan) as cheerleaders for it as well.


  • [Amazon Link]

    At Forbes, Paul Hsieh notes the perils When Government-Backed 'Nudgers' Go Bad.

    When medical researchers commit academic fraud, patients pay the price. A “star surgeon” at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden performed experimental implantations of synthetic tracheas (windpipes) on sick patients, based on his fraudulent research. Three patients died. Harvard Medical School recently called for the retraction of 31 papers by a former faculty member working with cardiac stem cells, because those papers “included falsified and/or fabricated data.” At least one patient died due to an invasive heart biopsy during a clinical trial based in part on that fraudulent work.

    The latest fraudster is Dr. Brian Wansink, famous ex-Cornell nutrition professor, whose heavily-publicized and self-promoted "research" led to numerous regulatory changes at the Federal level. And now much of that research has been—"never mind"—retracted.


  • [Amazon Link]

    Writing at AIER, Donald J. Boudreaux notes: Say What You Will about Markets, They Give You a Genuine Say. As opposed to, say, the "say" you get at the ballot box:

    Peter Earle eloquently exploded the notion that voting in political elections is an exalted means of self-expression. Few myths are more lethal to liberty than that which equates freedom with majoritarian democracy - and no fallacy does more to fuel this myth than that which declares the essence of freedom to be the right to vote.

    In reality, voting is an extraordinarily skimpy and muted means of giving voice to your individual values, hopes, concerns, and preferences. And the right to vote is certainly no great bulwark to protect your liberty.

    Don goes on to contrast voting with your simple, unglamorous, revealed market preferences, which have a far greater impact than what you'll be doing (or not) next Tuesday.

    (Yes, I'm still voting. But without illusions.)