URLs du Jour

2019-06-05

[Amazon Link]

Still in catch-up mode… My goodness, you'd think people would have the common courtesy to refrain from putting content on the Web while I was out of town.

Still we have some good URLs, if not all are exactly "du Jour":

  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson makes an excellent point about Elizabeth Warren's Corporatism.

    Corporatism is a concept closely associated with the fascist government of Benito Mussolini. The word “fascism” surely has earned the stink attached to it, but it, too, is widely misunderstood as a body of policies. As George Orwell wrote back when fascism was still something of a going concern, the word “fascist” is used as very little more than a term of denigration.

    But the corporazioni of the Italian fascist model were not the profit-oriented private concerns we now call “corporations.” They were something closer to consultative associations, in which the interests of business owners, workers and workers’ organizations, and the Italian state were, in theory, all represented. The concept, which is a variation on socialist central planning, was that privately owned businesses were entitled to a profit, but not too much profit; that the workers were entitled to as much compensation and to such working conditions as were consistent with the overall health of the Italian economy and state; and that the state was entitled to coordinate these calculations and negotiate the related interests, and also entitled to have its interests trump those of either the business owners or the workers.

    Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism wasn't meant to be a how-to! But Senator Warren's ideas are straight out of Mussolini's playbook.


  • Looking for some reason to be encouraged about the future? At the Daily Signal, Daniel Davis offers a reason Why Conservatives Should Take Heart Despite Socialist Upsurge.

    As it turns out, Americans define “socialism” in quite different ways. Traditionally, socialism has meant government ownership of the means of production—businesses, factories, etc. But today, only 17% of Americans hold that definition, according to Gallup. Meanwhile, 23% equate socialism with vague notions of social equality. Another 23% have no opinion on the matter.

    So, the public meaning of “socialism” today is indeterminate, meaning that public opinion toward “socialism” doesn’t tell us very much about people’s policy preferences.

    You may derive some comfort from an argument that claims Americans have incoherent and contradictory ideas about what socialism entails. I'm less than impressed.


  • At Real Clear Politics, David Harsanyi offers comfort of a different kind: Sorry, Democrats, There Is No Climate Chaos. You've heard the dire warnings, if you've been unfortunate enough to sit for more than a few minutes in an airport terminal with CNN on the overhead TVs. But:

    Even if we pretend that passing a bazillion-dollar authoritarian Green New Deal would do anything to change the climate, there is no real-world evidence that today's weather is increasingly threatening to human lives. By every quantifiable measure, in fact, we're much safer despite the cataclysmal framing of every weather-related event.

    How many of those taken in by alarmism realize that deaths from extreme weather have dropped somewhere around 99.9 percent since the 1920s? Heat and cold can still be killer, but thanks to increasingly reliable and affordable heating and cooling systems, and others luxuries of the age, the vast majority of Americans will never have to fear the climate in any genuine way.

    Good news, everyone! Fiscal disaster will strike long before climate disaster! Oh, wait, that's not good news.


  • While I was away, the long-simmering dust-up between National Review conservatives and First Things conservatives escalated a few notches. At the Bulwark, Robert Tracinski has a good introduction: Sohrab Ahmari and the Futile Rage of the Illiberal Conservatives.

    The right-of-center Internet has been lit up for the last few days because of an assault by Sohrab Ahmari on David French and something Ahmari improbably calls “David French-ism.”

    Supposedly, this is about how French, a lawyer and senior writer at National Review, is too weak-kneed and polite because he is interested in using persuasion to try to promote his political views. Ahmari, on the other hand, has taken up the Trumpian “But He Fights” credo and declares that “there is no polite, David French-ian third way around the cultural civil war.”

    There is actually a much deeper rift here, and it isn’t about politeness or civility. What looks like a debate over how we fight for our political goals is actually a fight over what our political goals should be. Ahmari is advocating the purging of advocates of freedom from the right, in favor of a conservatism that consists of—well, what it consists of is not entirely clear, but it seems to be a new program for vaguely collectivist coercion in the name of religious values.

    Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover Frank S. Meyer again.


  • So my state's junior senator jumped on the latest horror:

    Which irritated me enough to suggest that she read Jacob Sullum's latest: Mass Shooting Delusions. (Sub-headline: "We must act now" is not a gun control policy, let alone an argument.)

    If you are the sort of person who feels compelled to demand new gun control laws after a mass shooting, you have several options. You can keep your recommendations vague, letting your audience fill in the blanks; push the policies you always push, regardless of whether they have anything to do with the latest outrage; or latch onto a detail of that crime, inflating its importance to support a seemingly germane solution.

    All three of those strategies were on display after a gunman murdered 12 people at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on Friday. None of them reflected well on the persuasive powers of leading gun control advocates, who long ago abandoned logic in favor of emotional appeals and moral posturing.

    Maggie's all about emotional appeals and moral posturing.


  • And Mr. Ramirez does it again:

    [Cheers]

    Is that an eye roll I see there, elephants?

    Only quibble: a lot of—too many—elephants are cheering along with the Donald.


Last Modified 2019-06-14 6:31 AM EDT

The Social Media Upheaval

[Amazon Link]

I bought the Kindle version of this short book after listening to Nick Gillespie's podcast interview with the author, Instapundit and Blogfather Glenn Reynolds. Glenn's a good guy. So's Nick.

Let me come into it this way: one of the core principles of classical liberal democracy is that the populace is best served by a robust climate of free expression. The more the merrier! People can use their reasoning faculties to evaluate outside ideas, concepts, and values. And (generally) make decent decisions about political questions: the scope and powers of government, qualities they desire in their representatives, and the like.

But what if that is becoming less true? Glenn analogizes to the very earliest cities, which sprang up and subsequently self-destructed, because "we" didn't know how easily illnesses can spread in an urban environment.

Glenn argues that the current environment is exhibiting signs of increasing mental illness (or at least dysfunction): increased suicide rates, substance abuse, alienation, and general lack of bonhomie. (A theme echoed in recent books by Jonah Goldberg, Ben Sasse, Arthur C. Brooks, and many others.) He blames, primarily social media for this, specifically Twitter, Facebook, and Google. (I think he leaves Amazon out.)

As a result, we're headed for a sad crack-up of the foundations of American political life, probably presaging a future of authoritarianism and immiseration.

He could be right, of course. I'm not so sure.

His argument is not typically libertarian: use existing antitrust laws to break up those nasty companies. To his libertarian credit, he neatly debunks other regulatory solutions. I don't know whether a breakup would solve anything, though, and it seems like it would involve a lot of wealth destruction.

It's a very short book, and a very quick read. I got the Kindle version; Amazon claims the print version is 68 pages. I think the type must be large and the margins wide.

Misery Bay

[Amazon Link]

After a brief hiatus, Steve Hamilton returned to his Alex McKnight series in 2011 with this entry. Alex remains an ex-ballplayer, ex-cop, ex-PI… But wait a minute! As it turns out, he didn't actually let his private eye license expire. And so…

He's still morose, understandably so, about the events in the previous book. (He's usually morose, this just adds on.) But his sometime-nemesis, Police Chief Roy Maven, asks for a favor: would Alex please investigate the suicide of the son of Maven's friend and ex-partner from the Michigan State Police? It happened up in (see title) Misery Bay an actual place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Which might be nice in mid-summer, or what passes for summer in the UP, but this is in the bleak midwinter, and it's cold, lonely, and … well, bleak.

Alex finds out some stuff, but things seem off. He can't put his finger on it. But when he returns to report back his findings, he discovers a grisly murder. Coincidence? I think not. And there's more on the way.

A good page-turner. Alex remains morose throughout, and (eventually) finds himself in deadly peril, but he does meet an attractive lady FBI agent. I'm betting she'll return in the next book. Which is on the way from Amazon.

Consumer note: I don't think the scene depicted on the cover has any counterpart in the book.