She's Funny That Way

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Why yes, we did watch two screwball comedies in a row. Good catch. This one's from 2014, and it languished in my Netflix queue for a few years due to Netflix's algorithm's prediction that I might not like it much. But I have a little script that tells me, in essence, among other things: "Either bump this movie to the top of the queue, or delete it." And I did the former.

Anyway: it was directed and co-written by Peter Bogdonovich, who made some great films in the 70s.

Director Arnold Albertson (Owen Wilson) checks into a fancy hotel under a fake name, and immediately makes arrangements for an "escort", Isabella Patterson (Imogen Poots), who turns out to be a hooker with a heart of gold, and acting aspirations as well.

Without going into detail (because the details are ludicrous), the plot quickly involves more and more goofy characters: an actor in Albertson's play (Rhys Ifans); Albertson's wife (Kathryn Hahn); Isabella's totally unqualified shrink (Jennifer Aniston); an Isabella-infatuated judge (Austin Pendleton); the playwright (Will Forte). Unexpected and surprising relationships between characters are revealed as the movie progresses. There are a lot of slamming hotel room doors and suspicious looks.

I had a good time watching. One neat bit for me: a lot of actors from Bogdonovich's old movies have roles here: Austin Pendleton, Tatum O'Neal, Colleen Camp, Cybill Shepherd, Joanna Lumley, and maybe others I've missed. Bogdonovich must be a good guy to work with.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-10

[Amazon Link]

  • I was pointed to this David Bahnsen article at Forbes thanks to a tweet by National Review publisher Jack Fowler, who said "I wish to hell [National Review Online] published this." High praise! But on to the show: Amazon Has Teed Up A Generation Of Conservative Electoral Success, And We Apparently Don't Want It.

    It may seem that there has been ample conservative opposition to the recent announcement of Amazon’s sweetheart deals to open an office expansion in Queens, NY and Arlington, VA, but the fact of the matter is that the opposition has been grossly inadequate, unless conservatives are content to let Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez grab the mantle of principled opposition to corporate welfare.  At National Review, Jim Geraghty did a stellar job whacking the announcements for what they were – a celebration of crony capitalism.  Other writers took on the issue here and there, but the national press coverage of opposition to the deal was overwhelmingly from the left, and virtually no high profile public elected officials on the right took it on at all.

    David's right, of course. And he doesn't even mention Wisconsin soon-to-be-ex-Governor Scott Walker's Foxconn deal, which probably lost him the election. As many wise people have said over the years: there's a huge distinction between being pro-market and pro-business. If Republicans can't learn that, they really are the stupid party.


  • Two Brit university professors, Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann, write at Quillette: What Happened When We Tried to Debate Immigration.

    Immigration and diversity politics dominate our political and public debates. Disagreements about these issues lie behind the rise of populist politics on the left and the right, as well as the growing polarization of our societies more widely. Unless we find a way of side-stepping the extremes and debating these issues in an evidence-led, analytical way then the moderate, pluralistic middle will buckle and give way.

    This is why, as two university professors who work on these issues, we decided to help organize and join a public debate about immigration and ethnic change. The debate, held in London on December 6, was a great success, featuring a nuanced and evidence-based discussion attended by 400 people. It was initially titled, “Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat to the West?” This was certainly a provocative title, designed to draw in a large audience who might hold strong views on the topic but who would nonetheless be exposed to a moderated and evidence-led debate. Though we would later change the title, we couldn’t escape its powerful logic: On the night itself, we repeatedly returned to this phrasing because it is the clearest way of distinguishing competing positions.

    "… and you won't believe what happened next!" Or, actually, if you've been following this stuff for awhile, you will be able to predict what happened next. Slanders and slurs about "white nationalism", "nativism", "racism", … Activists made no effort was made to engage with the issue because that would "normalise far-right hate."


  • [Amazon Link]
    I read Jason Brennan's Against Democracy (link at right) a couple years back, and liked it quite a bit. He's now a contributor to Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and his most recent article attempts to discover the purpose of political philosophy. And the answer is… The Purpose of Political Philosophy Is to Rationalize Evil. He imagines a hyper-logical Vulcan, T’Luminareth, to whom he gives the standard answer: "The purpose of political philosophy is to determine the standards by which we judge institutions good or bad, just or unjust.”

    She shook her head. “No, that’s not right. Perhaps that’s what Earthling political philosophy aspires to do. But that’s not what it does. Rather, for the most part, Earthling political philosophy attempts to justify holding government agents and political actors to absurdly low moral standards. Nearly all of your philosophers—from Plato to Aristotle to Hobbes to Rousseau to Marx to Mill to Rawls to Habermas—spent most of their time trying to prove that governments and their agents are exempt from normal, commonsense moral obligations. You Earthlings seem to think your governments and their agents are magical, as if they’re surrounded by force field that both relieves them of their basic moral duties and requires you to treat them as if they have a privileged moral status over the rest of you. Hundreds of years ago, you believed in the divine right of kings. You Earthlings realized that was a mistake. Yet rather than reject the idea altogether, you’ve imbued all government agents, including yourselves as when you vote, with a magical and majestic exemption from normal standards of right and wrong.”

    Provocative! Jason has a new book coming out in a couple days, and I've put it on the things-to-read list.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi writes In Defense Of 'Dark Money'.

    Although the term “dark money” sounds ominous and unsavory, it’s just a misleading neologism adopted by activist journalists to make completely legal contributions to political causes they disagree with sound creepy and illegitimate. It’s become dogma among journalists to treat “dark money” as an attack on democracy. It’s not.

    The use of the phrase “dark money” reminds me of words like “loophole,” which, in its new political parlance, means “any act, although wholly legitimate, that Democrats have yet to figure out how to regulate or tax.” It’s a rhetorical shortcut meant to intimate wrongdoing.

    David notes that the spooky term is deployed asymmetrically in the press against groups leaning conservative/libertarian.

    But the general principal holds: people can (or at least should be able to) judge the quality of arguments without knowing the identity or funding source of the people making it. Yes, sometimes it's interesting information. But it's never necessary.

    If you find yourself reading an argument against your position and wondering "who paid for this?", it's maybe because you can't otherwise refute it.


  • A print-Reason article by Matt Welch is released from behind the paywall, and it's a sobering look at the election results: The Libertarian Party Future, Perennially Out of Reach.

    "He's going to finish certainly no worse than second, and maybe first," Libertarian Party (L.P.) 2016 vice presidential nominee Bill Weld enthused about Massachusetts state auditor candidate Dan Fishman in mid-October. And once Fishman grabs all those votes, Weld declared, "[We're going] to make a list of every campaign for whatever office this year that Libertarians fare no worse than second, and then we're going to take that and publicize it strongly. I think that's going to be a crevasse in the two-party monopoly."

    It looked like Weld might be onto something two weeks later when The Boston Globe took the highly unusual step of endorsing the L.P. candidate for a job that's been held, in all living memory, by Democrats. "Fishman would bring a sorely needed independent streak to the office," the region's dominant newspaper proclaimed. "Give this Libertarian a shot."

    Massachusetts voters declined the advice. When the smoke cleared on November 6, the would-be Libertarian auditor for the government of Taxachusetts finished not first, not second, but a distant third place, with a desultory 4.2 percent of the vote. The effort was enough to give the party automatic statewide ballot access for 2020—no small achievement—but not enough to stave off the national wave of nausea that afflicted many libertarians on election day.

    Matt also points out that incumbent New Hampshire Libertarian state representatives Brandon Phinney and Caleb Dyer lost badly. He could have, but doesn't, note that the LPNH lost the automatic ballot access that it won in 2016, when its gubernatorial candidate didn't come close to meeting the 4% vote requirement. Sigh.


  • And at Inside Sources, Michael Graham piles on the woes for Senator Fauxcahontas: Elizabeth Warren's 2020 "Tribe" Troubles Don't End With DNA Debacle.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s struggles to overcome the impact of her unproven—and likely incorrect—claims of Native American ancestry are well known. This week the New York Times reported that Warren and her close aides are finally realizing what many political observers have long known, that her strategy to use a DNA test to resolve the controversy was a fiasco.

    But Warren’s been working on another effort to burnish her Native American bona fides that could be just as problematic: H­­elping the Massachusetts-based Mashpee Wampanoag tribe secure a $1 billion casino project in southeastern Massachusetts. As a result, Warren is making a strange bedfellow of a scandal-plagued, billion-dollar multi-national corporation–exactly the sort of company she has railed against at an outspoken economic populist.

    Casinos are designed to encourage people to make bad choices with their money. You'd think that might be something Elizabeth Warren would be against. Is she sacrificing her principles in order to curry favor with Native American constituents? Or is there something even more corrupt going on?

The Phony Campaign

2018-12-09 Update

[phony baloney]

This week, Hillary Clinton has dropped below our inclusion criterion (3% or better nomination probability according to Predictwise), and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, for some reason, has (barely) met it. So: still 16 candidates, with a more bipartisan split: 9 donkeys, 7 elephants. But President Trump widened his phony lead on the field this week:

Candidate NomProb Change
Since
12/2
Phony
Results
Change
Since
12/2
Donald Trump 67% unch 3,210,000 +890,000
Nikki Haley 5% unch 1,340,000 +310,000
Beto O'Rourke 18% unch 724,000 -127,000
Kamala Harris 18% +1% 583,000 +24,000
Sherrod Brown 4% +1% 290,000 +134,000
Bernie Sanders 7% unch 239,000 +1,000
Mitt Romney 3% unch 221,000 -18,000
Joe Biden 9% -1% 211,000 -7,000
Elizabeth Warren 5% -1% 201,000 +7,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% unch 198,000 +7,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 187,000 -406,000
Mike Pence 8% unch 165,000 -3,000
Amy Klobuchar 4% -2% 87,900 -4,400
Cory Booker 4% unch 62,900 -3,100
John Kasich 4% unch 60,900 -4,400
Tom Cotton 3% --- 21,100 ---

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At Inside Sources, Michael Graham gives his view of the Democratic nomination horse race: Beto’s Up, Warren’s Down and Avenatti’s Out. We've managed to ignore the so-called "creepy porn lawyer" up until now, but apparently …

    Lots of 2020 news for New Hampshire, starting with the departure of 2018’s Summer Superstar, Michael Avenatti.  The L.A. lawyer had an electric effect on the crowds at Democratic events in New Hampshire, and some longtime Granite State politicos had high praise for him.

    Alas, we'll have to make do, for now, with more conventional pols. And Trump.


  • Fox News reporter Lukas Mikelionis put his ear to the ground and noticed: New York Democrat Gillibrand mocked for saying future is 'female' and 'intersectional'. The New York senator tweeted, she thought inspirationally:

    If we could only somehow harness the renewable energy of millions of eyeballs rolling skyward when reading Senator Gillibrand's tweets, our climate change problems would be solved. Among Lukas's tweet harvest:

    That's… not bad, actually. In a saner world, the president would delegate his tweeting to Junior.


  • We gave up on following Andrew Sullivan years back, when he was obsessing over Sarah Palin's uterus. But he's on target in pinpointing America’s New Religions.

    Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society.

    Maybe I like that because I've said the same damned thing hundreds of times myself. (I'd like to know what Sean Carroll says about it though.)

    Anyway, Andrew gets around to commenting on Senator Gillibrand's tweet:

    I get the point: Women are succeeding more than ever before, are poised to do even better, and this is a great thing. But why express this as if men are also not part of the future? And “intersectional”? It’s telling that, in Democratic circles, this is such a mainstream word now that she doesn’t have to explain it to anyone.

    Gillibrand’s evolution, of course, has been long in the works — and reveals, I’d say, where the Democrats are going. When Gillibrand was a member of Congress, she identified as a Blue Dog conservative Democrat. She once campaigned in defense of gun rights, was in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration, voted against the 2008 bank bailout, and opposed marriage equality. Fast-forward a decade and look at the change.

    "Evolution" is, for our pols, a shorthand for "changing positions to maximize electability".

    I would wager that the senator not only feels that she doesn't have to explain her use of "intersectional" to anyone, I bet she couldn't explain it to anyone without sounding ridiculous.


  • The staid NYT casts a cold eye on Senator Fauxcahontas: Elizabeth Warren Stands by DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

    The plan was straightforward: After years of being challenged by President Trump and others about a decades-old claim of Native American ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would take a DNA test to prove her stated family origins in the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.

    But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.

    Apparently (according to the last link) it's standard Native American dogma to eschew genetic tests. So the senator is in a tad of trouble from them, too.


  • But James Freeman of the (maybe paywalled) WSJ asks: Too Soon for Democrats To Dump Elizabeth Warren?.

    President Donald Trump has famously ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage. Perhaps more damaging to the Massachusetts leftist as she considers running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, many natural allies aren’t buying her story either. But before Democrats reject her as a potential leader of their party, they ought to consider the alternatives. She is not the first and won’t be the last politician to make phony autobiographical claims.

    For example, Freeman notes, compared to Senator-Non-Elect Beto O'Rourke (quoting Alfredo Corchado in the Dallas Morning News):

    O’Rourke was born in prestige, lived a charmed life, raised in an upper-class lifestyle by people accustomed to power -- a sharp contrast to that of a mostly Mexican-American, hardscrabble city where workers still barely make ends meet...

    In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke.

    We can only hope that this who's-phoniest issue gets brought up in debates.


  • At NR, Jonathan S. Tobin notes a side effect of the truth-challenged current president: Donald Trump Makes Joe Biden Plausible.

    Also like Trump, Biden has a famously loose relationship with the truth. When asked in Montana about the accusations of law-school plagiarism that helped derail his 1988 bid for the presidency, he said, “It all came out in the wash — I never did plagiarize, I never did — and it all was proven that that never happened.”

    That, of course, was a brazen lie. Biden even admitted to his guilt at the time. And even setting aside that particular incidence of plagiarism, the sum of his conduct in 1988 speaks for itself. He embarrassed himself over and over again during that campaign. He was found to have blatantly stolen the stump speech of another politician, British Labour-party leader Neil Kinnock, and to have lifted passages from speeches by JFK, RFK, and Hubert Humphrey. He was also found to have lied about his college grades and the degrees he had earned while campaigning.

    Tobin further notes that Biden is the "only likely Democratic contender who is capable of competing with the president when it comes to wild, exaggerated accusations and rhetorical excess."

    Professional fact-checkers would have guaranteed job security if it came down to Trump vs. Biden.


  • In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby dares to recommend that the country Break the Iowa/New Hampshire duopoly. The criticisms are the ones we've heard for years: Iowa and New Hampshire are too white, too old, etc. And the rest of the country is shut out from participating in the inevitable winnowing of the field that happens after (and sometimes before) the Iowa/NH action.

    The problem being that his recommended method…

    Here’s a better system:

    Every four years, the Republican and Democratic parties should hold a drawing to choose two different states to go to the head of the line. Limiting the drawing to, say, the 15 smallest states would preserve the traditional “retail” campaigning that voters and candidates prize in Iowa and New Hampshire. But — this is the crucial reform — the drawing should not take place until Jan. 1 of the presidential election year.

    At least in New Hampshire, the Secretary of State is empowered to set the primary date "7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election". So the "parties" can do whatever they want, but they can't stop us from voting when the SoS says.

    (Well, they could say: "we won't recognize the delegates from your state at our conventions." But see how well that goes over.)

    So: Neener neener, Jeff.



Last Modified 2018-12-10 4:56 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2018-12-08

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Federalist, Jesse Kelly explains Why The Right Should Start Taking Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Seriously. He's talking to me, I think.

    Do not underestimate this woman, and do not think your savage mockery of her stupidity will be an effective tool to stop her. It won’t. It will instead be personalized by her supporters, creating an army that will lay down and die for her (or at least vote for her), just like the army Trump has. You should be afraid of Ocasio-Cortez. Be much more afraid than you are.

    Through thick and thin, up and down, one thing about elections in America has never changed: you cannot win them without non-political people. It is the undecided masses who decide elections. They do not watch YouTube videos of Milton Friedman breaking down economics, and they’re unimpressed that you graduated summa cum laude. They may only glance at the nightly news for a few minutes, but they will get on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    So: point out when she says stupid, false, and/or hypocritical things, but for goodness' sake, don't make fun of her.

    But…


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week is a slight pun: Climate Change Frenzy Clouds Our Judgment.

    So, as often happens, a weasel crawls up your tailpipe (I mean of your car, sicko). It then gets caught in the doohickey connecting the thing to thing that goes mmmm-chicka. And now your car is busted. The mechanic says it will cost $5,000 to de-weasel your diesel engine.

    But you don’t have five grand lying around. So what do you do?

    Obviously, you ask the mechanic how to raise $5,000. I mean, he’s an expert on how to fix your car, he must also be an expert on how to pay for it. Right?

    You see the analogy, I assume. Except the analogy is flawed: because you really should imagine the mechanic is also in the business of making payday loans…


  • I subscribed to the Weekly Standard for a bit back in the 90's, thanks to a generous introductory offer. But then bailed, because subscribing was expensive. But now (you may have heard) the never-Trump conservative magazine is in peril, and Megan McArdle has some praise: The Weekly Standard may be teetering, but its anti-Trumpism is a model of standing firm on principle.

    In fact, ideological magazines always do better when their party is out of power and readers are fired up with outrage. But even if it’s true that the Weekly Standard’s troubles reflect the way Trump has divided the movement, there’s a more appropriate reaction than solemn finger-wagging about the true nature of conservatism. Instead, spare a moment to admire how many of the movement’s leading intellectuals held their ground, even as a substantial portion of the conservative base moved away.

    Those conservatives opposed Trump early and often — earlier, in fact, than many liberals. When the Republican nomination was still contested, plenty of left-leaning public intellectuals argued that he was preferable to supposedly more extreme candidates such as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In fairness, many of those people later admitted that they’d been wrong, although many also implausibly tried to suggest that they’d been unaware of Trump’s character flaws when they praised him.

    At some point, you have to be satisfied merely with being right about everything, all the time.


  • Daniel J. Mitchell offers up his candidate for The World’s Most Depressing Tweet. And here 'tis:

    You'll recognize these counties by their geographical proximity to … guess where?

    The D.C. metropolitan region is unjustly rich because of everyone else who has figured out how to divert taxpayer money into their pockets. That includes disgusting examples of Democrat sleaze and Republican sleaze.

    I'm pretty sure I've made this point before, but: the people who deride "trickle-down economics" when objecting to policies that keep more money in the private sector never seem to mind the cash flowing to Our Federal Government that tends not to trickle down, but to stay right around the Washington D.C. area.


  • Our Google LFOD alert rang for a Providence Journal story from Rhode Island Poet Laureate Tina Cane: This 'toxic' year gives humanity a stark choice.

    As 2018 draws to a close, it seems appropriate to note that the Oxford Word of the Year is toxic. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, since I hear and read this word every day in news articles and commentary. An apt adjective for our current cultural climate, toxic is widely used to characterize anything from political discourse to types of femininity and masculinity. That toxic’s most common usage is no longer relegated to medical waste or that cheesy Britney Spears song may not shock most of us, but it should sadden all of us. And that might be a good thing, for sadness is actually a more productive emotion than the ones that have brought us here.

    You'd think the Poet Laureate could and should write at least some doggerel for the paper about this instead of turgid prose. But no. She quotes a poem, but it's not ever hers, it's Auden, the one with the line "We must love one another or die." And…

    It’s said that Auden, disillusioned by the horrors that unfolded, changed the last line of his poem from We must love one another and die — a move which was effectively a commentary on the ineffectiveness of poetry to impact the state of the world. Still, Auden thought that this shift from “or” to “and” lacked rhetorical power and he removed the line altogether. When it was found years later in his drafts, Auden was convinced to include it as he had originally written it — perhaps because enough time had passed, perhaps because he wanted to preserve the poem’s integrity in accordance with his intention, rather than with the world’s ugly reality.

    I prefer the “or,” even if the “and” is true. Either way, “We must love one another or die” is a directive for our times — an antidote to the toxic tone we’ve managed to cultivate. It brings to mind New Hampshire’s state motto, “Live free or die,” in which Gen. John Stark, who led a charge in the Battle of Bunker Hill, captures America’s revolutionary spirit of independence. Times have changed, but America is still a democracy.

    We are free to decide how we treat one another — regardless of our persuasions — and we should exercise our freedom responsibly and with humanity. We can choose love, as Auden would advise, if we wish to. While love as a solution may sound simplistic, it’s a lot harder than it seems. Perhaps, we can start by putting toxic back in its box and by refusing to take the easy — angry — way out. Maybe then, next year’s Word of the Year can be something closer to respect or the gratitude emoji. That would be a mark of real independence.

    You know, I'm trying to find something to disagree with here, and … failing.


  • But on a lighter note, Seacoast Online gets spooky on us: 'Ghost Ship' docked at state pier. In Portsmouth, NH!

    The stealth and “supercapivating” [sic] water craft “Ghost Ship” has a new home on the state pier, next to the Piscataqua River, where it’s been docked for marketing purposes, explained Greg Sancoff, Juliet Marine Systems chief executive officer, who self-funded the Ghost Ship project.

    The ship has been described as being like a helicopter on water because it travels across water like a boat, but through a tunnel of gas below the surface. The significance of the technology means Ghost Ship moves through a gas instead of water, which has 900 times more drag.

    It looks very cool:

    And, for a bonus:

    On the back of Ghost Ship its home port is noted as Portsmouth, N.H. Over the rear door is the state’s slogan, “Live Free or Die.”

URLs du Jour

2018-12-07

[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie asks the musical question: Are You Ready for the 'Inevitable' Clampdown on Tech and the Media?.

    One of the most remarkable statements ever made by the CEO of a major corporation generated relatively little notice or pushback. But just a couple of weeks ago, there was Tim Cook, the head of Apple, spitting in the eye of the very economy that made his company the highest valued corporation on the planet.

    "I am not a big fan of regulation," Cook told Axios in an interview. "I'm a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here. I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation... I think the Congress and the administration at some point will pass something."

    Nick is pissed, understandably so. And Nick writes like an angel when he's pissed.

    As always "the free market is not working" is Progressive-speak for "the free market isn't producing the results I want".


  • Neal Pollack, The Greatest Living American Writer, tells all at the Federalist: I Used To Be A Conservative, But I'm Not Anymore.

    I hereby disavow my conservatism, which I disavowed after disavowing my liberalism, which I disavowed after being conservative after being liberal. While I realize my many readers, who have followed me faithfully throughout my tortured ideological voyage, will find this latest about-face disappointing, I have no choice given our current political climate.

    As I write in my new book, “I Used To Be Conservative: Confessions Of A Conservative Who Used To Be A Conservative Who Used To Be A Liberal,” “I could no longer be a conservative, because being a conservative could no longer be an option.” How true that is.

    It helps if you have been paying attention to recent ideological stylings of (among others) Max Boot.


  • At NR, Jacob Huebert advocates Leveling the Campaign-Contribution Field.

    Can the government pass laws that effectively silence groups on one side of a political debate but not the other?

    You might think not. After all, under the Constitution, the government is supposed to treat everyone equally — especially when it comes to our participation in politics.

    Unfortunately, under the guise of “campaign-finance reform,” some states have enacted laws that muzzle some groups but not others. Massachusetts, for example, has completely banned for-profit businesses from giving money to political candidates and committees. But it allows unions to give candidates and committees up to $15,000. The state also lets unions — but not businesses — create their own political-action committees, which they can use to give even more money.

    Jacob is a lawyer with the Goldwater Institute, and is helping out on a lawsuit challenging the Massachusetts law.


  • Good news from David Brooks, the Concord Monitor geek-in-residence: More young adults are moving to New Hampshire. Hooray, says New Hampshire.

    The state’s demographics guru, Ken Johnson of the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy, regularly crunches census data to give big-picture looks at our population. A report out today is good news for this aged state: More young adults are moving here from other states. (Note to pearl-clutching white nationalists: In this case the word “migrants” covers anybody who moves across a state border, regardless of background.)

    I like the image of "pearl-clutching white nationalists', although "pearl-clutching" was considered to be a cliché by Slate even back in 2012.

    The Carsey report is here. Interestingly, older people (over 50) are (on net) getting the heck out.


  • And our Google LFOD alert rang for this story at mg ("the premier resource for everyone involved in the cannabis business sector"): Why Cannabis and Alcohol Sales Should Never, Ever be Co-located.

    A recent article in the Staten Island Advance newspaper started with a seemingly random Billy Joel reference: “A bottle of red. A baggie of weed.” As New York state moves ever closer to legalizing adult-use marijuana, this scene from a cannabis-infused Italian restaurant represents a more modern New York state of mind, indeed. But what follows this tongue-in-cheek lede is a disturbing trend we’re starting to see more and more as the commercial cannabis industry continues to expand.

    As the Advance reported: “As lawmakers in Albany draft a bill to legalize adult use of marijuana, a coalition of wine and liquor store owners is campaigning for the right to stock their shelves with the product. Organizers of The Last Store on Main Street (LSMS), which recently fought to keep wine out of grocery stores, said the effort is motivated in part by the fear of losing business.”

    Liquor stores wanting a piece of the legal marijuana pie are nothing new. From the live-free-or-die beauty of northeastern New Hampshire to the laid-back chill of California’s southwestern-most city San Diego, the conversation about liquor stores retailing adult-use cannabis is common. In fact, the same debate rocked Canada more than a year ago. […]

    OK, saying this discussion is happening in northeastern New Hampshire is a little weird. It depends on how you define things, of course, and the state is kind of funny-shaped, but at first glance there's nothing up there.

    As near as I can tell, the author's case against mixing marijuana and liquor sales is esthetic. Roughly paraphrasing: "Man, alcohol is a poison, man, and nobody ever died from smoking too much weed, man."

    But (in any case), the most recent legal-pot bill here specified that the New Hampshire Liquor Commission be the relevant body to regulate sales to the citizenry. Like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, though, I don't care.

The Complacent Class

The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream

[Amazon Link]

A pretty good book from Tyler Cowen bemoaning the decreasing dynamism in America, and (worse) that the people who should care about it, don't. A book actually owned by the University Near Here, and (finally) the faculty member who had it out (due date 4/19/2019) returned it early.

If you were pretty happy about your job, home, educational opportunities for you and your kids, and America in general, Tyler's book should be like a big slap in the face with a wet fish. Not only shouldn't you be happy; it's that your happiness is actually a major part of the problem. Tyler thinks we should be a little more on edge.

Chapter by chapter, he picks at the troubling currents in American society. We are a lot less mobile, tending to stick in our communities when we could (theoretically) do better elsewhere. And those communities are increasingly segregated, not just on racial characteristics, but also by economic status, education, class, etc. Our companies are increasingly staid, investing less in R&D, content with maintaining the status quo, lacking innovation, stifling competition. (Even companies like Apple; when was the last time they came out with an actually revolutionary product? The IPhone, over a decade ago?)

Some social innovations have improved matching in all areas of life; music sites, for example, will provide you with an effectively infinite supply of music you are nearly guaranteed to like. Which is wonderful, but will you ever discover anything new?

And of course, pot is nearly totally legal. Talk about guaranteed complacency.

It's an adage that something that can't go on forever, won't. And (true enough) the decline in American dynamism has to stop at some point. Will we like the results when it all hashes out? Probably not, but at least we won't be complacent about it.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-06

[Amazon Link]

  • At Cato, Gene Healy (author of, not coincidentally, The Cult of the Presidency) bemoans the ongoing Imperial Rites for George H.W. Bush.

    The president described in the Federalist was to have “no particle of spiritual jurisdiction.” Yet there’s an unsettling, quasi-mystical orientation toward government at work in much of the ritual. While lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the president’s body is placed atop the Lincoln Catafalque: the funeral bier constructed for our 16th president–one of the holy relics of the American civil religion. Above him hangs the cathedral-like ceiling, which features the fresco “The Apotheosis of Washington,” painted by Constantino Brumidi in 1865. It depicts the first president “sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god.” I generally find the so-called “New Atheists” insufferable, but we could use a little of their militant impiety when it comes to our presidential cult.

    Unfortunately, it seems there's no easy path of retreat. Now that we've made all this fuss over Republican GHWB, are we going to say no to (likely to be next, sorry) Democrat Jimmy Carter?


  • Megan McArdle leaps into the fray with a semi-clickbait headline: The incredibly unpopular idea that could stem opioid deaths. Well, what is it?

    […] you don’t free slaves by killing them, and as long as fentanyl suffuses the illicit drug markets, that’s what a “tough love” policy amounts to. The drug naloxone can counter the effects of an opioid overdose, but death tolls have continued to rise even as public-health workers have made naloxone much more widely available. What about detox? About half of addicts who go through treatment are using again within six months, according to Sally Satel, a drug policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

    That leaves two options: Keep doing what we’re doing and let addicts keep dying as they’re dying, until the opioid epidemic burns itself out. Or start talking about ways to make safe, reliable doses of opiates available to addicts who aren’t ready to stop. That would mean opening more methadone clinics and making it less onerous for doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, a relatively mild opioid that’s difficult to overdose on. But lowering the death toll may well require a more drastic step: legalizing prescriptions of stronger opiates.

    I'm for complete decriminalization of all drugs, but Megan's idea is fine too. Neither of our proposals are likely to go anywhere, because the "compassionate" politicians would essentially prefer that people keep dying instead.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi makes a scientific observation: Climate Change Alarmism Is The World’s Leading Cause Of Hot Gas.

    Even as anti-gas tax riots raged in France this week, the naturalist David Attenborough warned a crowd at a United Nations climate change summit in Poland that the “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” UN General Assembly President Maria Espinosa told the media that “mankind” was “in danger of disappearing” if climate change is allowed to progress at its current rate.

    David recounts the long history of aieee!-we're-all-gonna-die doomsayers. It's not pretty, but they ought to reread that fable about the boy who cried wolf.


  • At NR, Michael Tanner asks a deceptively simple question: Why Are People Poor?.

    Too often, government policies help make or keep people poor. Rather than having another sterile debate over whether this program should be increased by $X billion or that program should be cut by $Y billion, we should strive for fundamental reform of those areas of government that most harm the poor…

    Michael outlines possible areas of anti-poverty action: reforming policies on criminal justice, education, housing, savings, and growth.

    Could it be that actually fixing things would but scads of government bureaucrats out of jobs?


  • 'Tis the season for year-end compilations, and you do not want to miss The Babylon Bee's Top Ten Books Of 2018. It is difficult, for example, to disagree with their number 10 pick:

    10.) Stop Browsing Facebook and Go Read A Friggin' Book You Morons — Karen Swallow Prior: Prior may be a little harsh here, but we like her overall message: log off Facebook and go read a friggin' book. Most of the book is written in all-caps as she yells at the reader to stop going on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks and just read some classic literature. Point taken, Karen!

    Many of these books can be read in one sitting, due to their non-existence. (There's at least one exception, though…)


  • And finally, the Google LFOD alert rang for a story in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat about a citizen of Pun Salad's hometown: Rollinsford man wins big on ‘Price is Right’.

    Lee Norton of Rollinsford won $43,390 in prizes to be precise — including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, an SUV and a trip to Winnipeg, Canada — during a recent appearance on the popular game show “The Price Is Right.” The episode on which Norton appeared aired Tuesday morning on CBS.

    What was second prize? Two trips to Winnipeg? But anyway, where's the LFOD? Ah, here:

    “The Price Is Right” contestants are chosen from the audience with the iconic slogan “Come on down!” Norton was the first contestant selected on Tuesday’s show. He and Savannah, who was shown cheering from the audience, both wore green shirts that read “NH live free or die,” the state slogan.

    Live free or die? I choose ‘live free,’” host Drew Carey said, reacting to Norton’s shirt.

    Good for Lee. And Drew.


Last Modified 2018-12-06 2:05 PM EST

URLs du Jour

2018-12-05

[Amazon Link]

  • I've been harping on Progressivism being a secular religion, especially evident in its attitude toward blasphemers and heretics that disagree. Another confirming data point is noted by Bre Payton in the Federalist: Apple CEO Tim Cook: It’s A ‘Sin’ To Not Ban Bad People From Tech Platform.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook said Monday night that not using one’s judgement to kick certain people off of tech platforms is a sin. While accepting the first-ever “Courage Against Hate” award from the Anti-Defamation League in New York City, Cook said that Apple is proud of exercising its judgement to kick certain people off of its platforms.

    “At Apple, we’re not afraid to say our values drive our curation decisions,” he said. “And why should we be?”

    As usual, the nice-sounding "I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person" has the understood small print: "Except you, bigot."


  • OK, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But by now everyone should expect stories like this (from Peter Wood at the Federalist): Springfield College Attempts To Ruin Professor’s Life For Teaching About Male Writers. It's yet another example of how "it became dramatically easier to threaten and to intimidate anyone who crossed the invisible and often imaginary lines" in 21st Century Institutions of American Higher Education.

    The case of Professor Dennis Gouws at Springfield College in Massachusetts provides the best-documented instance of how this works. Gouws first came to national attention in spring 2016, when his department cancelled his popular undergraduate course, “Men in Literature,” which paralleled another offering in the English department, “Women in Literature.”

    The course on men in literature had been offered for many years and wasn’t controversial, but all at once the dean of the college, Anne Herzog, decided Gouws’s interest in teaching about men was, as we now say, problematic. Gouws had ventured onto thin ice by agreeing to co-edit a book on maleness; missing a “sexual harassment prevention” training session in 2013; and organizing a Springfield College “men’s group.” Herzog seized on a complaint from one student in “Men in Literature” to demand that he revise the course.

    There's plenty of back and forth, including some impressively nasty letters sent between Herzog and Gouws.


  • Drew Cline notes a birthday: “I, Pencil” turns 60.

    The Foundation for Economic Education is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Leonard Read’s famous essay “I, Pencil” with a series of essays about the essay that are worth reading for anyone who isn’t familiar with the groundbreaking original work.

    If you haven’t read “I, Pencil,” you must. It is a short, simple essay that makes profound points about market economics — points that are overlooked every day by millions of people whose lives are enriched by the market economy that we all take for granted.

    A click on the link above will take you to "I, Pencil".


  • Twitchy posts a tutorial on how to tweet JUST like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sample:

    Too mean? Well, there's more at the link.


  • But in the meantime, CongressCritter-elect Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:

    As I said just the other day: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Democrat politician found to be lying by even Politifact and the WaPo must really be lying. And sure enough, Politico said: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrong on scale of Pentagon accounting errors. ("The comparison is specious." Rating: False)

    And the WaPo: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion mistake. (Four Pinocchios, "It’s badly flawed.")

    AOC has trumpeted her econ degree from Boston College, but they might want to see about rescinding that.

  • And finally, my own Tweet having some fun with a bit of recent PETA silliness:

URLs du Jour

2018-12-04

[Amazon Link]

  • Virginia Postrel writes at the Library of Economics and Liberty: Culture Matters.

    Libertarian intellectuals and activists know that culture matters. If I had a hundred bucks for every time I’d heard someone chalk up poverty to a black box called “culture” or demand that we “change the culture” or complain that Hollywood or the universities or the media or women in general are culturally biased against markets I could buy a vacation home. And not a cheap one, either.

    That culture matters isn’t controversial. The real issue is that most libertarians simply aren’t terribly curious about how culture works. They treat it as an instrument—a tool for promoting or hampering the advancement of their political ideas—rather than a phenomenon worthy of its own careful observation and analysis.

    Ms. Postrel has sharp eyes and insightful observations. I wish she were more prolific, because we could use more of that sort of thing nowadays.


  • At Quillette, Colin Wright has a bone to pick with The New Evolution Deniers.

    Counterintuitively, the social justice stance on human evolution closely resembles that of the Catholic Church. The Catholic view of evolution generally accepts biological evolution for all organisms, yet holds that the human soul (however defined) had been specially created and thus has no evolutionary precursor. Similarly, the social justice view has no problem with evolutionary explanations for shaping the bodies and minds of all organisms both between and within a species regarding sex, yet insists that humans are special in that evolution has played no role in shaping observed sex-linked behavioral differences. Why the biological forces that shape all of life should be uniquely suspended for humans is unclear. What is clear is that both the Catholic Church and well-intentioned social justice activists are guilty of gerrymandering evolutionary biology to make humans special, and keep the universal acid at bay.

    Also counterintuitively, the social justice league wrapped itself around the "I [Bleeping] Love Science" slogan. They should have added an asterisk: "* except where it conflicts with our religion."


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File discussed The Wars to Come.

    Dear Reader: The quickening is upon us. What I mean is that, while few people really have any clue what is going on, many are certain that It’s About to Go Down.

    And so the Great Loin-Girding has begun.

    In Green Rooms, in Editorial Rooms, in Conference Rooms of every hue and shape, and even in bathrooms where stewed bowels are uncorked like a confused drunk opening the emergency exit at 35,000 feet, people are preparing for what can only be described as the Mother of All Shinola Shows, only it won’t be shinola on the main stage. Reporters are rereading ten-year-old New Yorker profiles of bit players just so they can be ready to drop an obscure reference about a Russian oligarch. A striver at Breitbart is researching Robert Mueller’s family tree going back to the Duchy of Pomeria. Behind the scenes at Fox & Friends, things are more somber: There are a lot of prayer circles and quiet moments of solitude, as various hosts and producers stare out the window onto Sixth Avenue and ask themselves if they are ready for what is to come.

    I, for one, desperately want it to be over. In the possibly forlorn hope that Saturday Night Live will Move On to something funnier.

    But, like Jonah, I have no dog in this fight.


  • Hey, did you hear that George H.W. Bush died? Nick Gillespie soberly eulogizes at Reason: George H.W. Bush's Legacy Holds Little, Nothing for Libertarians To Celebrate.

    Former President George H.W. Bush, who served one term in office from 1989 through 1993, is dead at the age of 94. By all accounts, he was an exceptionally kind, decent, and thoughtful individual and his service as a Navy pilot in World War II—he was awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross and shot down over the Pacific—reminds us of a time when seemingly casual, superhuman heroism by young twentysomethings was the order of the day.

    Yet from a specifically libertarian view, there is little to celebrate and much to criticize regarding his presidency. With at least one notable exception, he did nothing to reduce the size, scope, and spending of government or to expand the ability of people to live however they wanted. If he was not as harshly ideological and dogmatic (especially on culture war issues) as contemporary conservatives, neither did he espouse any philosophical commitment to anything approaching "Free Minds and Free Markets." There's a reason he did not elicit strong negative responses or inspire enthusiasm: He lacked what he called "the vision thing." He had no overarching theory of the future, no organizing principle to guide his policymaking. That's not necessarily the worst thing in a president—we don't need a maximum leader, after all—but it also means he squandered an opportunity to set the coordinates for a post-Cold War world in the direction of maximum freedom.

    I don't remember specifically, but I probably voted for Jack Kemp over Bush in the 1988 New Hampshire Primary. And went for Bush in the general election, because even back then I thought Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party nominee, was a flake.

    1992? Probably went for Bush in the NH Primary (against Buchanan), and then Libertarian Andre Marrou in the general. Didn't like Bush breaking his "read my lips" promise.


  • Ex-presidents don't die very often, but I'm always amazed by the hoopla involved, treating a retired government employee as if he were a demigod. But, like Kurt Schlicter at Town Hall, I'm especially amazed at the MSM, who hated GHWB while he was politically active. But, for them, The Only Good Republican Is A Dead Republican.

    The death of President George H. W. Bush provided liberals and their Fredocon houseboys yet another opportunity to lament the fact that all Republicans aren’t dead. Their feigned amnesia about what libs were saying while Bush 41 was still in the arena, and their latest hack attempt to tsk tsk tsk tsk about how the Bad Orange Man isn’t like [Insert Name of Dead Republican Here] serves to justify the prophylactic cynicism that we Normals should strive to cultivate.

    I'm probably what Kurt would consider a "Fredocon", but he's pretty on target.


  • OK, this tweet is really all I need to mourn his passing:

    That's "Sully", GHWB's service dog. Mental Floss has more on Sully.

The Awful Truth

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A fine screwball comedy from 1937 that somehow I've managed to miss up until now.

Noted screwballer Cary Grant and Irene Dunne play upperclass socialites Jerry and Lucy Warriner. Jerry fibs to Lucy about his recent whereabouts (I don't know where he went, but it wasn't Florida) and Lucy shows up after being out all night with a suave male companion. Mutual suspicion breeds mutual distrust, and before you can say "can't we discuss this as adults", there is mutual agreement on a divorce. The only issue is who gets the cute doggie, Mr. Smith. (After some shenanigans, Mr. Smith goes to Lucy, with visiting rights to Jerry.)

But there's a 90-day wait before the divorce becomes final, and the remainder of the movie chronicles the misadventures of the (obviously still in love) couple as they struggle to come up with new partners and lives. Will they concede the obvious and get back together? Spoiler: yup.

Just about all the characters are very very rich, and this was in the midst of the Great Depression. Audiences didn't seem to mind, though; it won an Oscar for Best Director (Leo McCarey), and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture.

URLs du Jour

2018-12-03

[Amazon Link]

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson writes on Twitter Magic. (An "NRPLUS Member Article, I still don't know what that means as far as visibility.) The issue is Twitter's decision to make so-called "deadnaming", calling trans people by the old names they've forsaken, an offense which can get your account suspended or yanked. Bottom line:

    This is only secondarily a political question. At its roots this is an issue of superstition, an irrational — antirational — belief that words and things as intrinsically linked in a mystical way, and that the right incantation at the right time can create — or undo — reality itself. It is necessary to understand that the dynamic here is not that of a political disagreement. Trying to respond to this fanaticism as though one were moderating the terms of a political debate is to miss the point. This isn’t the authoritarianism of a Stalin or a Pinochet, but the authoritarianism of a Calvin or a Luther, laundered through the oddball sexual obsessions of our time.

    And why the authoritarianism?

    It takes a very tall and sturdy wall to protect a house of cards.

    Apparently, a subset of self-described feminists are upset when guys decide are actually female. (We've previously mentioned Meghan Murphy, who got Twitter-suspended for her heretical tweets.) Nobody much cares about the gals who decide they're dudes.


  • At Reason, Baylen Linnekin informs us that Maine’s Food Sovereignty Law Is a Hit.

    One year after Maine's groundbreaking food sovereignty law took effect, the capital city of Augusta has become the latest municipality to set food freedom in stone.

    Maine's first-in-the-nation food sovereignty law, An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, allows local governments in the state to pass ordinances that exempt many direct-to-consumer food sales within city limits from burdensome state licensing and inspection requirements.

    I'm ignorant about what the relevant law is in New Hampshire. I do see a number of direct-to-consumer farmstands, including one in my own town selling (eek!) raw milk. So it may be that we just bypassed the regulatory nonsense that Maine is trying to undo.


  • Scott Morefield of the Daily Caller asks the musical questions: What Is ‘Ballot Harvesting,’ And How Did California Dems Use It To Nuke The GOP?. The symptoms are ominous:

    As the polls closed on election day last month, six California Republican House candidates, including Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Knight, and Mimi Walters, were ahead in their respective races. However, as the absentee and provisional ballots rolled in over the intervening weeks, all six lost to their Democratic opponents.

    At issue is the recently-legalized practice of allowing anyone to collect "vote by mail" ballots and submit them for counting, without a lot of checking for fraud. Orange County had a quarter-million such ballots, and it's pretty clear the Democrats out-maneuvered the Republicans on that score.

    Democrats keep claiming that there's "no evidence" of widespread voting fraud; they conveniently ignore the fact that the system is set up so that voting fraud is undetectable.


  • Philosopher Michael Huemer has started a blog titled Fake Nous (heh), and I've added it to my blogroll. Sample post, where Michael admits that he's Tired of arguing. Specifically, with "Christian proselytizers, subjectivists, Randian objectivists, Marxists, positivists, other victims of scientism." A couple of his reasons:

    1. I’m not going to learn anything. I know these ideologies. It is highly unlikely that the next Marxist I meet is going to say something importantly different from all the other Marxists. If they do, it’s still highly unlikely that I’m going to find it interesting or illuminating. I’ll probably just find it confused or irrational. Unless they’re an established scholar, there’s a pretty good chance that I will actually know more than they do about their own ideology, and I’ll have to teach them what ridiculous thing they’re supposed to say at a given point in the conversation.
    2. They’re not going to learn anything either. I have a fair chance of being able to tell, say, the positivist subjectivist something relevant that they don’t yet know. But it is extremely unlikely that they’re going to use it to improve their belief system. They’ll just try to make up an excuse for disregarding it.
    3. I find it tedious to struggle with people to convince them to open their mind.

    I occasionally get into it with some of my lefty Facebook friends. Maybe my unacknowledged motives for doing so are ignoble? I'll try to check that next time.


  • I am not sure whether the Intersectionality Score Calculator is a joke or not.

    You may have heard of intersectionality - "the theory that the overlap of various social identities, such as race, gender, and sexuality, contributes to the systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual" - but don't know how to compare your level of oppression with others. Now, you can!

    Just move the sliders—there are 13 of them: White/Person of Color, Straight/Gay, Male/Female, etc. And you get a score at the end.

    I got a 5% ("You are more privileged than 94% of others!") Take that, haters!

The Phony Campaign

2018-12-02 Update

[phony baloney]

Our 3% nomination probability threshold (according to Predictwise) is more of a semi-permeable membrane at this point of the phony campaign. This week saw John Hickenlooper go under 3%, but (hey!) somebody named "Mitt Romney" has popped above it. So we still have a healthy field of 16, six Republicans (if you count Donald Trump) and 10 Democrats (if you count Bernie Sanders).

And (of course) Trump leads the pack by far in phoniness, as judged by Google result counts:

Candidate NomProb Change
Since
11/25
Phony
Results
Change
Since
11/25
Donald Trump 67% -4% 2,320,000 -100,000
Nikki Haley 5% unch 1,030,000 0
Hillary Clinton 3% -1% 880,000 -40,000
Beto O'Rourke 18% +3% 851,000 -239,000
Paul Ryan 3% unch 593,000 +390,000
Kamala Harris 17% unch 559,000 +5,000
Mitt Romney 3% --- 239,000 ---
Bernie Sanders 7% unch 238,000 +15,000
Joe Biden 10% +3% 218,000 -21,000
Elizabeth Warren 6% -4% 194,000 +15,000
Kirsten Gillibrand 4% unch 191,000 +26,000
Mike Pence 8% unch 168,000 -18,000
Sherrod Brown 3% unch 156,000 +5,000
Amy Klobuchar 6% +2% 92,300 -6,400
Cory Booker 4% +1% 66,000 0
John Kasich 4% unch 65,300 +24,100

Standard disclaimer: Google result counts are bogus.

  • [Amazon Link]
    Bernie has a new book out (Amazon link at right), and his promotion efforts were noticed by Newsweek: Bernie Sanders Slams Donald Trump As a ‘Total Phony’ Who’s Only An ‘Extreme Right-Winger’ To Get Votes.

    President Donald Trump’s conservative agenda is not grounded in any real beliefs held by the president but is based solely on Trump’s pandering for votes, according to independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday.

    Sanders blasted Trump as a political leader with no true beliefs and who previously held far more left-wing views well before he ever entered politics.

    “Look he has no political belief. He is a total phony and a political opportunist,” Sanders said of the president to CNN while promoting his new book Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance. The progressive movement leader also detailed how Democrats can form a message to appeal to voters in the Midwest and around the country.

    Bernie, of course, is no stranger to changing positions in order to pander for votes.

    I agree with Bernie (however) that Trump's political positions are stuck on "inchoate", but his analysis is facile. He exemplifies the standard Progressive view about non-Progressives: they're either (a) being paid off by plutocrats; or (b) in the grip of some combination of stupid/ignorant/insane/evil/pathetic psychological dysfunction.

    Data point: WaPo article from November 29: How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood.

    Another example:

    Former President Barack Obama listed "mommy issues" as one explanation why U.S. has failed to make progress addressing policy problems ranging from education to the environment.

    "The reason we don't do it because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues," Obama said, specifically using the possibility of decreasing carbon emissions by 30 percent with available technology as an example.

    The guy who talked about "bitter clingers" … is still bitterly clinging to his simplistic views of his opponents.


  • You've heard of people singing from the same hymn sheet. A recent example had a CBS "journalist" singing a lovely duet with Bernie: Gayle King Finishes Bernie Sanders’ Sentences During CBS Interview.

    "As we talk about Black Friday and people shopping, we should remember that millions of workers who are out there now who are selling us products in department stores are making what I consider to be starvation wages," Sanders said.

    "Yeah," King said.

    "And I think we have got to finally make it clear that if you work 40 hours a week in America, you know what?" Sanders said.

    "You should not be poor. Yeah," King said.

    Alternate theory: Bernie's so utterly predictable in his stale tropes that an impatient interviewer might want to finish his sentences just to move things along, in hopes that he'll go on to say something new.


  • American Greatness, as its name implies, is a little too Trumpian-cheerleader for me to visit regularly, but Brit journalist Christopher Gage has an agreeably nasty article there: Brutal Truths for ‘Beto’ Believers.

    Only in the Current Year could an Irishman married to a billionaire pretend to be a Latino progressive fighting for the little guy. The title for biggest phony threatens to desert Rachel Dolezal.

    Beto O’Rourke, who is about as Hispanic as a penchant for California rolls makes me Emperor Hirohito, is running for president.

    It's not bad, and even has a Nathaniel Branden mention later in the article to appeal to us libertarians.


  • As our table shows, the betting markets show Beto with the current best shot (18%) at the Democratic nomination, edging out Kamala Harris (17%). Kamala can give Beto a run for his money on phoniness, though. It's not recent, but Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown took on The Phony Feminism of Kamala Harris.

    Kamala Harris has long positioned herself as a feminist crusader. But both as attorney general of California and now as a member of the U.S. Senate, she has actively championed policies that deny women's agency, ratchet up female incarceration, and endanger those most vulnerable to sexual abuse. Along the way, she has shown an utter disregard for civil liberties and constitutional law—a tendency she will now get to take to the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Note that this was written back in January, long before the Kavanaugh hearings, where Kamala beclowned herself by:

    California Sen. Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats distorted Brett Kavanaugh's statements on birth control in widely shared warnings that the Supreme Court nominee is a woman-hating religious extremist. Harris' comments about Kavanaugh have been deemed whoppers by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler and ruled as false by the lie detectors at Politifact.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Democrat politician found to be lying by even Politifact and the WaPo must really be lying.


  • Bad news for the "Hillary, but younger" candidate: Franken Fallout Continues to Hurt 2020 Hopeful Gillibrand Among Donors.

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) might have thought she helped Democrats put former Sen. Al Franken’s groping scandal behind them, but big-money donors are keeping the issue alive.

    The donors preoccupied with the scandal are predominately in Franken’s corner, according to a report from Politico declaring that the matter "haunts Gillibrand’s 2020 chances." The report comes after Gillibrand was blackballed by mega-donor George Soros, who accused the New York senator of stabbing Franken in the back to improve her 2020 chances.

    An older story on Senator G from Paul Bois at the Daily Wire: Kirsten Gillibrand Is A Shape-Shifting Phony. Here Are 10 Times She Flip-Flopped Positions.


  • And we have a Trump/Pence/Hillary three-for-one phony bonus in this Politico story from Rebecca Morin, apparently one of the staffers assigned the sorry task of monitoring and analyzing presidential retweets: Trump retweets fake Pence account giving thanks for Clinton's 2016 loss.

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday shared a post from a parody account of Vice President Mike Pence giving thanks “for every day Hillary Clinton is not president.”

    The post was originally shared by @MikePenceVP, a profile that uses the same photo as one of Pence’s verified accounts but describes itself as a “fan account. My Goal is to expose liberal hypocrisy and Fake News Bias.” The vice president’s official Twitter accounts are @VP and @Mike_Pence.

    Here's the tweet in question:

    The issue in the Politico writer's mind seems to be whether Trump knew it was from a fan account (not really a "parody" account), and not the real veep. And she admits she doesn't know.

    Hmph. Without even so much as a "sorry I wasted the time that you spent reading this."

URLs du Jour

2018-12-01

[Amazon Link]

Happy December to all!

  • When I was a young 'un, I remember reading Frank Meyer's book In Defense of Freedom, which set forth his "fusionist" philosophy attempting to reconcile mostly-libertarian conservatism and mostly-traditionalist conservatism. And I was favorably impressed. But (a) I was a kid; (b) I probably wanted to believe it. Still, as someone who subscribes to both Reason and National Reivew, I'm still kind of in his corner, over fifty years later.

    So I was interested in Jonah Goldberg's retrospective look at Meyer: Fusionism Today.

    Fusionism was an idea championed most forcefully by Frank Meyer, the longtime literary editor of National Review. He argued that libertarianism — then often called “individualism” — and traditionalism are the twin pillars of conservatism and, more broadly, of a just and free society. The chief obligation of the state is to protect individual liberty, but the chief obligation of the individual is to live virtuously. Coerced virtue is tyrannical: Virtue not freely chosen is not virtuous. Or as Meyer himself put it: “Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny.”

    Now I largely agree with this. But as both a philosophical and a prudential matter, we understand — just as Meyer did to some extent — that freedom is a concept with limits, that each principle must be circumscribed at the extremes by other important principles. A society where literally everything is permitted isn’t free except according to some quasi-Hobbesian or fully Rousseauian or Randian theory about the freedom inherent in a state of nature or an anarcho-capitalist utopia. Some forms of authority must be morally permissible, even to the lover of liberty.

    Doesn't seem too tough. But see Jonah's caveats.


  • Pierre Lemieux, at the Library of Economics and Liberty, asks the musical question: Does the Chicken Tax Imply Prices Lower for Domestic than for Foreign Pickups?. Short answer: are you kidding?

    The tariff on light trucks—the so-called Chicken Tax, which I discussed in a previous post—cannot be avoided by buying domestic. In the general case, as I explained in another blog, a tariff equally increases the price the imported good and of its domestically-produced equivalent. Domestic producers want the tariff precisely in order to be able to increase their prices and sales. They will charge what the market will bear, that is, as much as the sellers of the imported good charge tariff included.

    In other words, a "protective" tariff screws consumers even worse than is commonly believed. Good point.


  • Speaking of getting screwed … Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center notes the fallout from the Supreme Court's Wayfair ruling: The sales tax invasion has begun.

    In zombie movies, unsuspecting innocents often fail to recognize that the zombie apocalypse has begun. The first of the undead stumble through the village or city unnoticed or mistaken for drunks. Only when it’s too late do the living realize they’re surrounded.

    This horror movie cliche came to mind when Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan released a letter on Wednesday urging Congress to pass a one-year moratorium on internet sales tax collections that were allowed by this year’s Wayfair ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court.

    “Some states have established implementation dates as soon as January 1, 2019,” they wrote jointly with Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeffrey Merkley.

    In zombie movies, as in real life, politicians are usually the last to know.

    Vendors are already getting "you may have already lost" letters from states looking to collect from them. Aieee!


  • At the Federalist, Dean Clancy has a good idea that won't happen: The Government Needs To Stop Subsidizing Tesla Owners And Start Taxing Them.

    Is there anything so permanent as a “temporary” government program? To test that question, consider the “Tesla Tax Credit,” the federal subsidy program for cars that don’t use gasoline. Created in 2005 as a way to jumpstart a market for pure-electric plug-ins, the Tesla credit allows taxpayers to take up to $7,500 off their taxes for purchasing one.

    This regressive subsidy primarily benefits Americans earning more than $100,000 a year. Happily, it’s fading away, as the market for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) matures. But the “green” car industry, led by Tesla Motor’s eccentric CEO Elon Musk, is lobbying Congress to make the gravy train permanent — and more generous.

    I like Elon a lot, but he (and other EV makers) should put on his free-market big boy pants.

    (The "tax" part is making sure EV owners cough up some dough to pay for their road use, something normal-car drivers do through the gas tax.)


  • I found this Motherboard story via Slashdot, and it tickled my long-dormant physics geek: This New Atomic Clock Is So Precise Our Ability to Measure Gravity Constrains Its Accuracy.

    Researchers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed an atomic clock that is so precise that our models of Earth’s gravity aren’t accurate enough to keep up with it. As detailed in a paper published this week in Nature , the atomic clock could pave the way for creating an unprecedented map of the way the Earth’s gravity distorts spacetime and even shed light on the development of the early universe.

    Very cool. If I were elected (oxymoronically) Libertarian Dictator, I'd start terminating scads of government bureaus. But I'd definitely keep the NIST.


Last Modified 2018-12-02 5:23 AM EST