URLs du Jour

2019-05-24

[Amazon Link]

  • At Cato, Derek Bonett asks Wherefore the Freedom Caucus? I believe that "wherefore" is used here in the sense of "What's the point of".

    In a column for Reason Magazine yesterday, Matt Welch asks “What’s the point of a ‘limited government’ bloc that doesn’t limit government?” Indeed, in the Trump era some of the President’s most strident defenders can be found amongst the ranks of the Freedom Caucus, and, as my colleague Chris Edwards points out, they seem every bit as comfortable with big deficits as the other fiscal-conservatives-cum-spendthrifts in the GOP.

    But, to my knowledge, nobody has yet performed a systematic analysis of the Freedom Caucus’ voting behavior vis-a-vis other Republicans in the House. Do they, as a caucus, even vote cohesively? If so, are they at all differentiable from generic Republican House members? I set out to test this using the NOMINATE methodology to assign an “ideal-point” estimate for each member of the House during the modern era of Republican dominance (2011-2018). […]

    What follows is an interesting use of software and visualization to investigate Freedom Caucus voting behavior. Marred somewhat by the time period chosen, 2011-2018; Matt Welch was pretty clearly bashing them for their behavior under Trump, so 2017-2018 would have been more appropriate.


  • Charles Sykes writes at the Bulwark on those In Pursuit of Fiscal Unicorns.

    Pollsters want to know: Would you like to make the world a better place and help plants, animals, and small children? How about a program to save the earth from imminent destruction that won’t really cost you anything, cuz it’s free?

    I mean who wouldn’t? And why wouldn’t progressives in places like Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. think they are massive political winners?

    All we need is a Fiscal Unicorn –a magical source of cash that makes the desired object – universal child care, health care, and Green New Deals – pain free. The national debt now tops $22 trillion, but we live in an age that is more than willing to suspend disbelief and mathematics alike.

    Charles goes on to note that a recent poll that claiming "that more than 80 percent of the public supported the Green New Deal" was "basically a push poll." Which brings us to, coincidentally, …


  • … the Union Leader reporting that Survey finds wide support for NH commuter rail.

    A new poll indicates a large percentage of Granite State residents favor passenger train service between Boston and southern New Hampshire.

    The Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll found 75.5% of residents surveyed said they are in support of expanding passenger rail service to Boston from Manchester and Nashua, according to a release Monday from New Hampshire Businesses for Rail Expansion, a statewide, nonpartisan business coalition that launched in January 2018.

    Is this another poll in favor of making the world a better place and helping plants, animals, and small children? Probably.

    Could it have been a push poll, where all sorts of benefits were rattled off to the pollees, with no mention of costs? Possibly. I can't find any report of the actual question asked. The poll was commissioned by a "coalition" calling itself the "New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion". Cynics (like your blogger) might read this as "New Hampshire Businesses Who Stand to Reap Rent-Seeking Profits From Rail Expansion".

    [Update 2019-05-29: Actual question asked was pretty bare-bones: “Would you support or oppose commuter rail connecting Manchester or Nashua with Boston?” No costs mentioned, but no rosy benefits either.]

    The group's website lists theoretical benefits that might have been pre-fed to the pollees. "5,600 permanent jobs supporting 3,600 new residential units"! "1,730 jobs would be created every year beginning in 2030"! And the like.

    More cynicism: rail projects traditionally are sold by lowballing costs, and wildly inflating benefits. Unpleasant surprises inevitably are revealed once things are in motion.

    And even taking those rosy numbers at face value, it's an object lesson in Bastiat's Seen/Unseen. What we don't see when all that money is "invested" in rail: to what other uses could that have gone to?


  • Michael Graham of NH Insider interviews Marianne Williamson, Tea Party Progressive?. This bit was, um, "interesting":

    But perhaps Williamson’s most progressive position is her call for up to $500 billion in cash payments for slavery reparations, which she says “is not some black agenda. It’s an American agenda.”

    “My campaign is based on the idea of moral and spiritual regeneration,” Williamson told NHJournal. “Lincoln said a nation must confess its sins. A nation, like a person, must take a serious moral inventory. We simply can’t have the future we want if we don’t clean up the past.”

    According to a statement from her campaign, “Marianne supports reparations in the form of establishing a commission or council which would direct investment in economic and educational revitalization and renewal, not cash payments.”

    Hm. Calls for "up to $500 billion in cash payments" in the first paragraph. Followed by a "not cash payments" clarification in the third.


  • So let's go to Marianne's website. The relevant page is titled: Racial Reconciliation & Healing.

    For that reason, I propose a $200 billion - $500 billion plan of reparations for slavery, the money to be disbursed over a period of twenty years. An esteemed council of African-American leaders would determine the educational and economic projects to which the money would be given.

    "Esteemed". Well, all righty, then!


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for an article in Yes! Weekly, a publication from down in North Carolina: Greensboro Roller Derby to celebrate LGBTQIA Pride month with themed bout.

    Greensboro Roller Derby (GSORD) is excited to announce its third home team bout of the season, the Mad Dollies versus the Battleground Betties! These two teams will face off for the first time this season in a Pride-themed bout, as June is national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) Pride month. Spectators are encouraged to wear rainbow to show support for LGBTQIA rights, culture and communities while watching exciting derby action as these two rival teams square off.

    Greensboro Roller Derby strives to be a place of acceptance to all of our skaters and volunteers, and our skaters are excited to come together in our first ever Pride-themed bout to celebrate Pride month. Battleground Betties Co-Captain Live Free or Die (aka FOD) remarked, “I’m beyond excited that GSORD is hosting our first Pride-themed bout. I’ve seen other derby leagues do it before and I think it’s such a wonderful concept to celebrate our community of Queer skaters and help them feel heard or seen, whether they are out or not. Although I don’t look forward to hitting my amazing derby wife, Queenie, the Dollies are always such an amazing and fun team to play against! It’s going to be a great bout!”

    I have… no additional comment. Except to wish everyone involved good luck.


Last Modified 2019-05-29 4:37 AM EST