URLs du Jour

2019-03-13

[Amazon Link]

  • At Quillette, Blake J. Harris is interviewed by Clay Routledge, and they take us Down the Rabbit Hole of Political Intolerance in Silicon Valley. Executive summary: could it be worse than higher ed? It is mostly the story of Palmer Luckey, who invented Oculus, sold out to Facebook for big bucks, but had the temerity to…

    [Harris:…] here’s a quick recap of what happened: in September 2016, Palmer donated about $10k to a pro-Trump organization called Nimble America whose mission was to “Develop and advocate for legislation, regulations, and government programs to promote America first, improve legal immigration, fight corruption and stimulate the economy” and, to accomplish this mission, planned to put up snappy, meme-like billboards in swing states.

    On September 13, Nimble America filed the paperwork to officially become a 501(c)(4) organization (which was a designation for nonprofits dedicated to “promoting social welfare.”). Nine days later—on September 22—The Daily Beast published an article with the following headline: “The Facebook Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine: Palmer Luckey—founder of Oculus—is funding a Trump group that circulates dirty memes about Hillary Clinton.”

    And you won't believe what happened next. Or, if you've been paying attention, you will.


  • Bryan Caplan (who believes, correctly, that taxpayer-funded education is extremely wasteful) writes wisely on Hypocrisy and Hyperbole.

    I teach at a public university.  Am I a hypocrite?  Bernie Sanders’ net worth is about $2M.  Is he a hypocrite?  How about vegetarians who regularly eat meat?

    You'll have to click through for the answers, but (spoiler): of course Bernie's a hypocrite.


  • At National Review, Wesley J. Smith describes why Medicare-for-All Plan [is] an Authoritarian, Centralized Mess.

    The newly filed 120-page “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” authored by Pramila Jayapal (D, Wash.), already has 106 co-sponsors — nearly half of the Democratic caucus — and it seeks to yank America hard toward the port side of the political spectrum. The bill — which resembles Medicaid more than it does Medicare — would transform our entire health-care system into an iron-fisted centralized technocracy, with government bureaucrats and bioethicists controlling virtually every aspect of American health care from the delivery of medical treatment, to the payment of doctors, to even, perhaps, the building of hospitals. It would obliterate the health-insurance industry and legalize government seizure of pharmaceutical manufacturers’ patents if they refuse to yield to government drug-price controls.

    "Other than that, though, it's fine."

    Local note: as dreadful as New Hampshire's congresscritters are, they are not listed as cosponsors, at least not yet.


  • Ah, but my own Congresscritter was downright smug in his support for a different piece of liberty-degrading legislation. Read about it at Cato: House Passes Political-Omnibus Bill H.R. 1.

    H.R. 1, the political regulation omnibus bill, contains “provisions that unconstitutionally infringe the freedoms of speech and association,” and which “will have the effect of harming our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day.” Don’t just take my word for it; that’s the view of the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed in this March 1 letter (more). For example, the bill would apply speech-chilling new restrictions to issue ads by cause organizations, should they happen to mention individual lawmakers.

    The ACLU isn't exactly liberty-friendly these days, but it's nice to see them recognize (at least partially) a bad bill, even if my Congresscritter can't.


  • The new issue of American Consequences has the theme of drug legalization. Editor-in-Chief P.J. O'Rourke is an expert, and he reminisces as much as he can: Grass Roots.

    “If you can remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there” is a quote variously attributed to Grace Slick, Dennis Hopper, Robin Williams, and a bunch of other people because – you guessed it – nobody from back then can remember anything.

    I’m a veteran of the ‘60s drug culture. At least I suppose so. I was there – a 19-year-old college kid during the Summer of Love. And I wasn’t some Student Senate, frat boy, ROTC, squaresville college kid. I was fully onboard the Magical Mystery Tour. It’s just that I don’t recall much about it. Where were we going in the “bong bus”? What did we do when we got there? Who else was along for the ride? And why, when I try to think of their names, do they all seem to have been called “Groovy” and “Sunshine”? Oh my gosh, I hope I wasn’t driving…

    Fifty-two years later, everything is a purple haze – so to speak. But today there’s another “drug culture” in progress.

    In an attempt to learn from the past, we should be thinking about this new drug culture… Although maybe not the way I was half a century ago, when I was thinking, “Wow! This is great f***ing s**t!” (Notice that my thoughts were so fuzzy that I was thinking in asterisks.)

    [Which reminds me: See today's Amazon Product du Jour.]