URLs du Jour

2019-03-14

[Amazon Link]

Happy π Day!

  • P.J. O'Rourke in American Consequences writes A Libertarian Looks at Legalization.

    What should politics, government, and law have to do with people taking drugs for fun?

    Sitting on my shoulder is a libertarian angel saying, “Nothing!”

    Sitting on my butt is me… parent, property owner, concerned citizen.

    One thing I’m concerned about is this libertarian angel on my shoulder… What’s up with that? Does it have something to do with the drugs I took for fun when I was in college? Am I having an Ayn-Rand-on-acid flashback?

    P.J.'s internal debate is entertaining, insightful, and mirrors a lot of my own thought.

    Part of the anti-legalization argument relies on status quo bias. Change would usher in … some differences. Maybe bad!

    A related thing to think about: the incommensurability of problems (not the greatest of terms, but I can't think of anything better). Our current situation has problems. A society without drug prohibition would too. Way different problems on dozens of diverse dimensions, in fact. Even Utilitarians would go nuts trying to figure out which was "better".

    So, I dunno for sure. But I know which way I'd bet, if I had to bet.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi lists 5 Reasons Warren's Plan To Break Up Big Tech Is Bad For America. What, just five? Too many to excerpt here, but here's a biggie:

    5. A Transparent Attempt to Control Free Expression

    “Curious why I think FB has too much power?” Warren recently asked on Twitter. “Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.” Even her conservative colleague Ted Cruz agrees: “Big Tech has way too much power to silence Free Speech. They shouldn’t be censoring Warren, or anybody else. A serious threat to our democracy.”

    A person doesn’t need to be exceptionally perceptive to notice that Warren’s grievance regarding a “single censor” shutting down debate on social media is weakened by the fact that she went to a competing social media platform to perpetuate the debate. Nor did it take much work to find out that virtually every major news site had thoroughly covered her plan to break up Big Tech. Her own tweet debunks the notion that a sole social media site can dominate news coverage or a national debate.

    You'd expect Warren to demand that private companies host content that calls for their own destruction. Cruz's comments are … disappointing. Must be that beard.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson has notes on the College Admissions Bribery Scandal: Elite Outrage Deeply Revealing.

    The American ruling class has been scandalized by the revelation of a bribery ring that fixed admissions into elite colleges on behalf of wealthy and well-connected celebrities. Listen, and you can hear: “Oh, of course we care about the poor people in . . . Venezuela, or wherever — but this is a big deal!”

    You can tell what the ruling class really values, and it isn’t money.

    God forbid that Lori Loughlin's kid go to … I dunno, UNH?

    Certainly the best headline I've seen on the issue: "Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade was aboard USC official's yacht in Bahamas when mom was charged"


  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Keith E. Whittington laments the fate of efforts of legislation aiming to claw back "emergency" powers tossed over to the executive branch: Madison Wept.

    Sen. Mike Lee came up with a quite reasonable bill to curb presidential discretion to declare national emergencies and make Congress more affirmatively responsible for the actions that might be pursued during such emergencies. It might not be perfect, but it would be a significant improvement to the current statutory framework, a reasonable check on presidential abuse of emergency powers, and a step toward having Congress assume its proper constitutional responsibilities. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Andy Biggs. Such a reform should have been passed long ago, but it often takes an abuse of power to generate the political will to curb power. And sometimes that isn't even enough.

    The prospects look dim. For this particular issue, and for the system of checks and balances generally.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article in "Ozy": Will the 'Live Free or Die' State Usher in Ranked-Choice Voting?

    In this case, "the LFOD State" is just an alternate way of saying "New Hampshire". Why do they bother?

    Ellen Read is a state representative, a college professor, a public bus driver — actually, she was fired from that last gig recently for trying to unionize. But today, the 39-year-old is most certainly an activist. “Man, this is a hike,” she says, after parking with the cars lined up a half-mile away. A volunteer shovels snow as she enters the house party where more than a hundred New Hampshire residents are gabbing ahead of the main event: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

    Read also wants to see Klobuchar, but she wants to convince the presidential contender to back her ranked-choice bill, a law that could make voting more democratic and have significant ramifications for the Granite State (and the nation) next year. So Read takes a strategic seat, so close to the New Hampshire pine box pulpit that she could tug the Senator’s jacket from behind. Uncomfortably close. It’s the type of positioning lobbyists pay thousands for. That’s how much is at stake.

    I'm not sure where Ellen Read is a "college professor". A search at UNH turns up nothing (she is one of the Newmarket representatives).

    I have no strong feelings about ranked-choice voting. Mainly because my politics are such that I view most of the candidates as varying shades of awful. But, hey, maybe.