URLs du Jour

2019-09-04

[Amazon Link]

  • In our occasional "Because Of Course They Did" Department, Reason's Matt Welch notes that Republicans Choose Trumpism Over Property Rights and the Rule of Law.

    In more placid times, news that the president of the United States was encouraging aides to break the law by seizing swaths of private property along the southwestern border to build a wall might have caused more than a day's ripple.

    After all, legitimate controversy over the promiscuous threat of eminent domain (as well as illegitimate fears of a NAFTA Superhighway) dogged former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a full decade, prompting him to eventually abandon his dreams of a Trans-Texas Corridor tollroad. And Perry wasn't out there dangling pardons and barking "take the land" to his staff.

    All I need? Some Republican who isn't worse.

    The Amazon Product du Jour comes up when searching for property rights. It has nothing to do with property rights, but I chuckled anyway.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson muses on the Texas Shooting -- Gun-Control Proposals That Would Not Reduce Gun Crime.

    What might a serious proposal look like?

    For one thing, a serious proposal would not carry the hallmark of the unserious proposal — i.e., it would not be focused, as progressives’ proposals almost exclusively are, on creating additional restrictions for federally licensed firearms dealers and the people who do business with them, people who constitute one of the statistically least criminally inclined demographics in these United States. It is difficult to become a licensed firearms dealer, and doing business with one — which is the exercise of a constitutional right — requires a lot more scrutiny than does, say, voting: valid photo identification from a small list of approved sources, background check, copious paperwork, etc.

    The so-called assault rifles that make up a large part of the dealers’ inventories — because they are the most popular sporting firearms in the United States, owned by millions and millions of Americans — are used in crime so rarely that the FBI doesn’t even bother keeping statistics on them. Yes, they are sometimes used in the theatrical public shootings that sometimes command our national attention — which is what these acts of theater are intended to do — but those acts constitute a vanishingly small portion of violent crime in the United States. All “long guns” together — all rifles, shotguns, etc. — account for about 3 percent of murder weapons. For perspective: People who are beaten to death with the bare hands of their assailants are about double that percentage of all murder victims.

    Another key quote from the article: "There is not very much cause for panic, and there is not very much cause for a panicked crackdown on the legal sale of firearms through firearms dealers. But demagogues benefit from panic. Demagogues love nothing better than a population that is ignorant and terrified, one that needs only someone to blame."

    That's an observation that can be more widely applied outside this particular area.


  • At the Federalist, Willis L. Krumholz demands that The Right Needs To Adopt This Revolutionary Higher Ed Reform Plan Now. Ooh! What is it? Well, here's the first plank:

    Require every college that receives subsidized student loans to disclose the average income earned by graduates in each major, at least three years after graduating, and the percentage of graduates in that major who work in a field related to that major. The “personal responsibility” crowd says if you took out substantial student loans, its your own fault. But 18-year-olds shouldn’t be trusted with much, let alone picking a school and a major, while understanding the real cost of the loans they are taking out and their employment prospects after — when everyone is telling them to go to college.

    I'm more of a [Bryan] Caplanite than is Mr. Krumholz. There wouldn't be a need for additional regulation of higher ed if the government just minimized (or zeroed out) its role in the first place.

    Still, if you're not on board with that, Krumholz's ideas are worth a look.


  • The Bulwark can get sort of tedious with that anti-Trump shtick. But they write on other stuff too, for example Robert Tracinski with a debunking of the latest environmental hysteria of the hour, fires in the Amazon: The Problem Isn't the "Lungs of the Earth." It's the Brains of the Earth..

    A normal cycle of seasonal fires in the Amazon region touched off an international hysteria, with celebrities and politicians screaming that “the lungs of the Earth are in flames.”

    My favorite over-reaction is lefty writer Franklin Foer proposing a kind of eco-imperialism. Because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has “presided over the incineration of the world’s storehouse of oxygen,” Foer argues that “inherited ideas about the sovereignty of states no longer hold in the face of climate change.” So we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, but we should invade Brazil: “The destruction of the Amazon is arguably far more dangerous than the weapons of mass destruction that have triggered a robust response.”

    All that this demonstrates is the enormous contempt for science among those who loudly proclaim themselves to be on the side of science.

    They're on the side of science as long as they can use it as a tool to support increasing statism. Other than that, who cares?


  • And an evergreen topic is covered by David Harsanyi: Democrats Continue To Turn On The Constitution. Here's his column-length effort at Constitutionalism 101:

    The state isn’t here to give you everything you want—not even if what you want is extraordinarily popular with your fellow Americans.

    This is, no doubt, disorientating for voters who grew up believing they live in a “democracy.” In reality, our un-democratic constitutional bulwarks temper the vagaries of the majority. “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates,” James Madison quipped, “every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”

    The left will mock you for making this obvious observation. Yet many progressives don’t seem to understand the distinction between united states and a united state. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, for instance, recently took some heat from conservatives for claiming that the “weirdest thing about the electoral college is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”

    Of course, there’s nothing “weird” about diffused democratic institutions. There is nothing weird about arguing for federalism. These should be the foundation for every policy debate. Every governing institution in the country, to some degree, is counter-majoritarian. Quite often, the counter-majoritarianism is the entire point. Hayes is under the impression that “one man, one vote” means every ballot needs to be plugged into a direct democracy, which is absurd.

    "Democracy" is a magic word to today's statists, but it's not in the Constitution. Neither is "equality" for that matter.


Last Modified 2019-09-04 3:35 PM EDT