URLs du Jour

2019-03-19

[Amazon Link]

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson notes an Obviously True Fact: Lawsuit against Remington over Sandy Hook Massacre Is Bogus. You can click through for the facts of the case and the tortured logic of the Connecticut Supreme Court. But here's the kicker:

    The use of commercial litigation and regulatory law to achieve progressive political goals is by now familiar: If an oil company opposes global-warming initiatives, that isn’t politics but “securities fraud,” as far as Democrats are concerned; if conservative activists want to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the lead-up to a presidential election, that isn’t politics but a “campaign-finance violation,” as far as Democrats are concerned.

    This lawsuit happens against the background of progressive demands that certain political views be criminalized.

    Using the courts to achieve goals you can't get via the legislative process isn't a new thing. I can even think of cases where it's proper. But this is just attempted legal extortion with a political motive.


  • Jacob Sullum notes the latest anti-Constitutional musings from our thin-skinned Commander in Chief: Trump Keeps Wondering Why People Are Allowed to Make Fun of Him on TV.

    Although Donald Trump describes Saturday Night Live as "unwatchable," he keeps watching it, and he keeps wondering why the show is allowed to make fun of him. While Trump is no doubt trolling his opponents with these tweets, he also seems genuinely confused about regulation of broadcast television—in particular, the "equal time" rule, which he erroneously views as a general requirement of balance or fairness.

    On Saturday, NBC re-aired an SNL episode from last December that includes a parody of It's a Wonderful Life in which Alec Baldwin, playing Trump, sees what would have happened if he had never been elected president. Trump did not like the sketch when it first aired. "A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live," he tweeted at the time. "It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can't be legal? Only defame & belittle!"

    Did I mention I was disgusted by attempted extortion? Add attempted censorship too.

    It is true that SNL and much other network content seem like paid ads from the Democratic National Committee. That can be tedious, no question.

    But I still watch, because I Am Easily Amused.

    But I Am Not Amused by Trump's ignorant musings on censorship.


  • Philip Greenspun wonders: Immigration is the Reverse Black Death?.

    Let’s consider the political goals of righteous Americans today:

    • higher wages for the average person
    • an improved environment with less human impact on the land
    • less concentration of wealth in the hands of real property owners
    • more affordable housing for the working class

    While listening to An Economic History of the World since 1400 by Professor Donald J. Harreld, I learned that all of the above goals were achieved in the 14th century via the Black Death, which reduced the European population by approximately one third.

    Unfortunately, I can imagine some Progressives reading that, stroking their chins, and saying "Hmmm…"


  • Jeff Jacoby offers an idea I can get behind: Lower the voting age? Let's raise it instead. Considering the recent testimony of MA State Representative Ayanna Pressley (D, of course) advocating a voting age of 16:

    In her floor remarks before the roll call, Pressley claimed that 16- and 17-year-old kids are qualified to vote by virtue of the "wisdom" and "maturity" that comes from being alive and confronting the "challenges, hardships, and threats" of 2019. "Some have questioned the maturity of our youth," she told her colleagues. "I don't." If that was her best argument for lowering the voting age, it's no wonder 70 percent of House members weren't persuaded.

    Then again, if Pressley has such unquestioning faith in the maturity of high school sophomores, why seek merely to give them the vote? To be consistent, she should push as well to lower the legal drinking age to 16. And the minimum age for buying cigarettes, handguns, and recreational marijuana. And the age at which one can adopt a child. And at which a criminal offender is automatically prosecuted as an adult. Come to think of it, Pressley should also want to lower the age of enlistment in the military to 16, and to require everyone reaching that age to register with the Selective Service System. After all, if the wisdom and maturity of 16-year-olds qualifies them to vote, why shouldn't it qualify them to be treated as adults in every other way?

    The science is clear (as Jacoby points out): human brains aren't fully functional until age 25 or so. and even then…


  • We probably don't have a lot of readers who are prospective college students, but others outside that demographic might find Richard Vedder of Minding the Campus useful in revealing The Four Unspoken Rules for Getting Into College. Actually they are more observations about institutions of higher ed in general. Here's number…

    4. The Absurdity of the Role of Athletics Plays in Admissions Is a National Embarrassment.

    The notion that American colleges and universities are really quasi-country club/finishing school institutions providing a gap period between secondary school and the Real World rather than places where intellectual exploration and discovery is Job One is reinforced by the ridiculous emphasis put on proficiency in using balls – tennis balls, basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, soccer balls, etc. We see kids getting into schools like the University of Southern California on the basis of their alleged ability to handle balls. Nowhere else in the world is that an important or usually even any consideration in evaluating a student for admissions.

    Uh, yeah. What he said.

    There should be only one collegiate sport. And that sport is: crew.


  • Cornerstone is a New Hampshire political group, weighing in on the conservative side. Christopher Jay, their Policy Analyst, has useful thoughts on the desire of some legislators to prey on a common character flaw in order to get more state government revenue: Gambling with Our People.

    Christopher's article is prompted by an upcoming event at the UNH Law school to “discuss the future of regulated sports betting.” Which (oh oh) "is being funded by Spectrum Gaming Group, and “ICE North America,” an extension of Clarion Gaming, a London-based firm specializing in organizing live events for commercialized gambling interests."

    Americans were expected to lose $118 billion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling in 2018.  Over the next eight years, the American people are on a collision course to lose more than $1 trillion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling.  If approved, commercialized sports betting will make these financial losses even worse. Saving is the road to wealth creation yet around 50% of the U.S. population has zero or negative net wealth. More than 60% of citizens don’t have enough savings to cover a $1000 emergency expense. This is a critical issue because saving money is the direct opposite of commercialized gambling.

    I'm probably less paternalistic than Cornerstone on this issue. Sports betting should just be legal, period. But encouraged by the state? A thousand times no.

    And don't get me started on those TV ads for the various lotteries, that play up the wonderful happiness of big winners. They make me want to shoot my TV, and that would be bad.