URLs du Jour

2018-11-21

[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum looks at the latest in government nannyism: FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb Says He Has to Restrict E-Cigarettes in Order to Save Them.

    FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says he still believes that e-cigarettes offer "a tremendous public health opportunity" to reduce the harm caused by smoking but felt compelled to impose restrictions on them because of a surprising surge in underage vaping. Had the FDA not acted, he said in an interview with Reason today, political pressure could have led Congress to intervene, presenting "an existential threat" to the vaping industry.

    This sounds like bullshit to me. But see what you think.


  • Kevin D. Williamson (National Review, duh) doesn't think much of arguments about people "voting against their own interests". Such arguments come from left and right, but are poor whites really on The White Plantation?

    The locus classicus of the “poor conservatives vote against their own interests” analysis — the white plantation theory — is Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas?, which stands alongside Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom and the tragically disfigured film American History X in the annals of failed attempts to depict conservative thinking and conservative habits of mind. The journey from cliché to red flag of intellectual laziness is short: The most recent example to cause me to wince is in Monday’s New York Times, in which Alex Kotlowitz invokes the cliché — not only the same ignorant thought, but the same familiar words in the same banal order — in his review of Storm Lake, the memoir of a small-town newspaper editor recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize, writing of “white men and white women who are rabid Trump supporters” who “seem to vote against their own interests.”

    Implied in the assertion that poor whites do not understand their own interests is the assumption that affluent white progressives such as Alex Kotlowitz, a journalist and filmmaker who writes for the New York Times like his father before him, or Thomas Frank of Mission Hills — Kansas, yes, and 97 percent white and the third-wealthiest municipality in the United States — do. There is some reason to be skeptical of that proposition, in much the same way as there is to be skeptical of Republicans’ insistence that black voters would come over to the GOP if they just really gave Sean Hannity a good fair listen.

    Mea culpa, I've used the "plantation" word in the past, but in reference to the ire shown by lefties toward African Americans who dissent from progressive theology. Latest example, Kanye West, who was hailed as a genius right up until he started saying nice things about Trump; then he became a stupid and insane Uncle Tom.


  • Daniel J. Mitchell has more on the issue we touched on yesterday: Income Mobility and Middle Class Prosperity.

    I generally don’t write much about the distribution of income (most-recent example from 2017), largely because that feeds into the false notion that the economy is a fixed pie and that politicians should have the power to re-slice if they think incomes aren’t sufficiently equal.

    I think growth is far more important, especially for poor people, which is what I said (using the amazing data from China) in a recent debate at Pomona College in California.

    But some people don’t accept the growth argument.

    Or, to be more exact, they may acknowledge that there is growth but they think the rich wind up with all the gains when the economy prospers.

    That's certainly been gospel among my lefty Facebook friends. But Dan does a great job bringing together evidence to the contrary.


  • Libby Emmons ("writer and theatre maker in New York") tells how Writing for Quillette Ended My Theater Project.

    At issue was an article I’d written for Quillette, entitled “The Transhumanism Revolution,” about three undercurrents of transhumanism presently circulating beneath Western culture: bio-hacking or grinding, AI, and trans gender ideology. I’d brought the article to the attention of my theater collective when it was published in July 2018, and to everyone else I knew via my social media feeds. However, it wasn’t until two weeks prior to what would be our final meeting, in October 2018, that the article made a modest splash in the downtown indie theater community of which we were a part. When it did, I let the collective know that some people were taking issue with my views on transhumanism, and that they should let me know if they wished to discuss it. The members of the collective were confused. Transhumanism isn’t exactly a household proto-philosophical concept. Instead of knocking me down, the women I worked with tried to reassure me. I waited.

    Ms. Emmons was unapologetic, and that doomed her project.


  • The Google LFOD Alert rang for a rare bit of good election news: Winning elections and having fun: Young liberty-minded campaign volunteers want to change politics as we know it. The "fun" was organized by Young Americans for Liberty, and their volunteers knocked on doors for pro-liberty candidates.

    YAL secured the majority of its victories in the “live free or die” state of New Hampshire, gaining 25 seats for ideologically principled candidates. This represents a tremendous win for the liberty movement, with the goal of backing candidates of any party grounded in constitutional ideals.

    A listing of the candidates YAL supported is here.


  • Also on the LFOD front, the Union Leader reports: Granite Staters head south to Mass. for freedom to buy first legal recreational marijuana on East Coast. Intrepid reporter Todd Feathers followed the crowd down to Leicester, Massachusetts (just west of Worcester) to report on the first day of sales at "Cultivate", one of the dispensaries selling "recreational cannabis".

    Like the vast majority of the crowd that descended on a normally peaceful stretch of Massachusetts’ Route 9, Darren, from Rockingham County, had other ways to buy marijuana without driving for several hours only to wait in line several more. So why do it?

    “Why not?” Darren said. “It’s the first day. Everyone who’s here doesn’t need to be here.”

    It was the spectacle of the occasion that drew him, Darren said, and his belief that New Hampshire — the Live Free or Die state — is very likely to be the last New England state to legalize recreational marijuana.

    Legal note: New Hampshire residents who transport their purchases back home are at least technically breaking the law.

    I really don't know how I feel about that "recreational" adjective. To quote myself:

    Like you should at least be playing badminton or something, concurrently with consuming. Will use be regulated by towns' Recreation Departments? I swear, you don't have to be stoned to ask these questions!


  • Cartoonist Matthew Inman is an acquired taste, but his comic take on NASA's InSight Mars probe (due to land—fingers crossed!—on Monday) is very funny and informative, and even somewhat poetic. Check it out.