URLs du Jour

2018-11-02

[Amazon Link]

  • It has been few days since the atrocity in Pittsburgh. Are we ready for NR's Kevin D. Williamson to talk about Priorities? It's a long article, but a perceptive one, and here's a long excerpt:

    One of the ironies of the English language is the relationship between the words humanity and inhumanity, human and inhuman, humane and inhumane. We witness acts of horror, or we read about them in the news, and we say: “That’s not human.” We talk about “humanizing” history’s great villains, or the dangers of “humanizing” contemporary malefactors. One can imagine the easy-to-mock headline in some fuzzy-headed magazine: “The Human Side of Osama bin Laden.” (His successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in fact eulogized him in just such terms.) But we saw the human side of Osama bin Laden — that his atrocities were somehow “inhuman” is a bedtime story we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. The emergence of murderous tyrants is as predictable as the seasons, as is the emergence of murderous non-tyrants. This isn’t something that is subject to control through public policy. There’s a fair-minded and honest debate to be had about firearms regulation (the problem is a shortage of fair-minded and honest debaters), but Americans — not weird cultists overseas, but Americans, us — were carrying out school massacres a generation before Eugene Stoner and Mikhail Kalashnikov made their contributions to the history of engineering. The hideous blots on our history — slavery, all those massacres from Napituca to Wounded Knee — were not the result of anything inhuman. That’s what humans do, God forgive us.

    There are not any lessons to be drawn from the massacre in Pittsburgh. There isn’t any political lesson, no public-policy takeaway. There is only unthinkable pain and loss, suffering that must be something close to unendurable, and revulsion for the 21st-century American man who did this. That revulsion weighs on us — and it is suffocating — not because his crimes are alien or unfamiliar, but because they are ordinary and familiar, not because they are unexpected but because they are expected, not because they are unimaginable but because the absence of them is unimaginable. The killer isn’t an alien visitor or an atavistic throwback — he is one of us. That is a truth that is prior to politics. And that he is one of us is the problem that all of our schemes and plans and mere politics must confront, the blast of interstellar cold jolting us awake from our “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”


  • In the "Irony Can Be Pretty Ironic Sometimes" Department, we offer Eric Boehm at Reason: Elizabeth Warren Challenges Trump's Protectionist Tariffs for Not Being Protectionist Enough.

    Artificially hiking the price of steel and aluminum is bad enough, but one of the really galling parts of the Trump administration's tariff policy is the Commerce Department's process for determining which businesses are exempt from paying these import taxes. As I've written before, the so-called "tariff exclusion process" is opaque, confusing, completely lacking in due process, and infested with cronyism.

    It's good to see some members of Congress calling out the administration for this mess. That's what Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) does in a letter sent Wednesday to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the guy who is supposed to be overseeing the tariff exemptions.

    Unfortunately, a significant part of Warren's letter makes the argument that what's needed is more protectionism, not less.

    Oops, I'm sorry, that's not actually irony. That's stupidity. Apologies.

    But when the best serious argument Democrats have against protectionism is "We would do it better. By which we mean, worse.", we're in deep, deep trouble.


  • New Jersey ain't exactly Libertopia, but at NJBIZ, Jarrett Dieterle and Shoshana Weissmann (follow her on Twitter, she's a hoot) warn about an effort to nudge it even further away: New Jersey trying to make dietary advice illegal.

    New Jersey has long been recognized as one of the healthiest states in the country. It has relatively few smokers, low numbers of diabetics and low rates of adult obesity. Not coincidentally, New Jersey is also in the top 10 states (it sits at No. 3) when it comes to job openings for personal trainers and dietitians.

    While New Jersey has much to be proud of with its healthiness ratings and robust personal-fitness industry, a recent bill gaining steam in the state Legislature threatens to upend its legal regime when it comes to health and nutrition.

    A committee in the Legislature recently advanced a proposal that would significantly restrict who can provide dietary advice in New Jersey. The bill would require a state-issued license for anyone who attempts to offer nutritional advice, counseling or education to clients.

    This is a mistake New Hampshire has already made (although you can still call yourself a "nutritionist" without a license). Thanks, I must admit, partly due to the efforts of Mrs. Salad. (I love her very much, but…)


  • At the Washington Examiner, Ryan Ellis notices: Trump surrenders to the socialists on drug price controls.

    Late last week, President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a plan to deal with the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. relative to the price of the same drugs in other developed countries. The reason for this disparity is well-known: Other countries impose socialized medicine price controls on prescription medicines, while here in the U.S. the price charged is closer to the true market price of the product.

    Unfortunately, rather than fighting the socialists, the president has decided to become one with them — at least when it comes to prescription drugs. After spending most of this year rightly condemning governments in Europe and elsewhere for ripping off Americans by imposing below-market price controls on drugs, Trump and Azar basically surrendered to the price controls and announced we would be adopting them ourselves.

    RTWT for a description of what we have to look forward to. But I suspect it will be a classic Bastiat seen/unseen problem: We won't see the lives that would have been saved or improved by a healthy drug marketplace.


  • As Election Day approaches, the Google LFOD News Alert has been buzzing. Today's crop:

    • The Keene Sentinel on one of the proposed amendments to the NH Constitution on the ballot:

      Supporters of a proposed amendment to the state constitution argue that “Live Free or Die” is merely a license plate slogan if Granite Staters cannot sue their own government over public spending. […]

    • The Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal on a local's efforts to keep the state's nose out of his septic system:

      I’m starting to wonder what George Ferebee has stashed in his septic tank that he’s trying so desperately and obsessively to keep from having it inspected. The county government decision that septic tanks should be inspected is not a “don’t tread on me; live free or die” moment.

    • My own local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat, an LTE advocating for Eddie Edwards, who wants to represent us in the US Congress:

      We have seen the results of intimidation in pursuit of political power practiced by Bolsheviks in Russia, the Fascists in Italy, the Nazis in Germany, the Castros in Cuba and Chavez in Venezuela. Left-wing policies produce disasters for their people. Our New Hampshire “live free or die” heritage encourages dialog and rejects harassment of political opponents.

    • The Washington Times, on the legal turmoil around recently-enacted NH voting laws:

      “Where the law threatens to disenfranchise an individual’s right to vote, the only viable remedy is to enjoin its enforcement,” wrote Presiding Superior Justice Kenneth C. Brown. Who knew the minor inconvenience of handing over a utility bill containing a home address would flummox the descendants of New Hampshire patriots who vowed to “Live free or die”?

    • And finally, an article at the (United Kingdom's) The Spectator with the provocative title "In New Hampshire, smoking saved my life".

      The day before all this happened my wife was buying a drink for our daughter and made the terrible mistake of requesting a straw. You’d have thought she’d demanded the stringing up of all black folk from the filthy look on the little SJW barmaid’s face. ‘We are in the process of banning straws from this state for the environmental damage they cause,’ she instructed, with all the refulgent sanctimony and humorlessness of a holy imbecile. I think New Hampshire — which is indeed lovely — should perhaps change its motto from ‘Live Free Or Die’ to ‘Don’t Do Anything At All, You Fascist’. But it was in the end cheering to have one’s life saved by a cigarette.

      You'll have to click through to find out how the author's life was saved by a cigarette. And (for the record) most of the restaurants around here are more relaxed about straws, either (1) providing them unasked; (2) asking if you want them; (3) cheerfully providing them if asked.

      In case (3), I never ask. I am a grown-ass man who doesn't need a straw.


    And finally, Mr. Michael Ramirez.

    I'm actually OK with the "Space Force" thing, but I love that cartoon.