URLs du Jour

2019-10-30

[Amazon Link]

  • Some good stories at Michael Graham's Inside Sources New Hampshire's POTUS Filing Period Is Now Open, So Grab Your Gorilla!

    New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner is the political guard dog of the Granite State’s First In The Nation primary. In his tireless defense of the state’s unique place in presidential politics, he’s faced off against big states, powerful political parties and scheming politicians.

    Plus, a gorilla.

    “This guy showed up with a gorilla in his truck, and he came into the office to file the paperwork for the gorilla to run for president,” Garnder told NHJournal on Tuesday. “The guy came in with a monkey wearing a white tuxedo on his arm, and the monkey was holding the check [to file as a candidate]. He said the Constitution didn’t say that you had to be a human to run for president, you just had to be 35-years-old and that the gorilla met the requirements and he wanted his name on the ballot. I said no.”

    Why?

    “I just didn’t feel like it,” Gardner told NHJournal.

    Or maybe he thought that the gorilla might win, which would have been … problematic. The article does not say in which party's primary the ape would have been running.

    [This was 1980, with Teddy Kennedy losing against Jimmy Carter on the D side, Ronald Reagan beating George H. W. Bush, Howard Baker, John Anderson, etc., for the Rs. An ape might have altered the course of history!]


  • Jonah Goldberg gives the President free advice (which I fearlessly predict will be ignored): Trump's best option for avoiding impeachment is to do something he loathes — apologize.

    As former federal prosecutor (and my old National Review colleague) Andrew McCarthy argues, by insisting there was no quid pro quo, the president made things much easier for the Democrats. The implicit concession in Trump’s position is that if the charges were true, it would be impeachable. That is a burden of proof that no doubt warms the cockles of Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s heart. The smarter course is to admit it happened, but as McCarthy writes, “no harm no foul.”

    I would go one step further. Rather than take the Mick Mulvaney line and shout “get over it” — now a Trump campaign T-shirt — I think the president should apologize. Trump’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing imperils GOP senators who are already reluctant to defend him on the merits. Once the process complaints evaporate, they’ll be left with no defense at all. Bill Clinton fended off removal in the Senate in no small part because he admitted wrongdoing and asked the country for forgiveness. Once he did that, he and his supporters were liberated to say the country should “move on.” It’s worth recalling that the first existential crisis of Trump’s 2016 campaign — his talk about groping women on the Access Hollywood tape — was averted by the first, and last, meaningful apology anyone can remember from him.

    Amusingly, the "Move On" organization, founded in 1998 to derail Bill Clinton's impeachment ("Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation"), is now forthrightly against moving on. Lock! Him! Up!

    Is that irony? I can never tell.


  • [Amazon Link]
    There's a new book out arguing for (let's not mince words) censorship. Link at right. At NR, Nicholas Phillips checks out Andrew Marantz's 'Antisocial' and the Folly of the New Gatekeepers. Phillips makes a lot of on-target observations, here's one I liked:

    Marantz doesn’t think that the formation of an overtly punitive intersectional leftism organized around racial and gender identity, hegemonic in high-prestige cultural spaces but widely despised outside them, has any relevance to identity politics on the right. Which is odd, first because the far Right is called “reactionary” for a reason, and second because the intersectional Left seems to have supplied just the kind of new “moral vocabulary” that Marantz calls for, and it doesn’t seem to have gone over very well.

    One senses Marantz’s fear of any angle that could be seen to soft-pedal or both-sides the problem of the far Right — the author repeatedly frets about being morally compromised by merely covering them. The sole time the online Left appears in Marantz’s book is, I kid you not, when he contrasts the Left’s “sincere aspirations to virtue” with the Right’s cynicism — as if being progressive made you immune to social-media outrage incentives.

    Is it just me, or have censorship calls protections gotten much, much more prevalent lately? Another prominent advocate, Richard Stengel, got an op-ed in the WaPo: "Why America needs a hate speech law".

    Which I probably would not have noticed, except for Charles C. W. Cooke tweeting about it:

    "Indeed."


  • Every time I make the mistake of watching TV news or reading my local paper, it seems there's a another scare-story about vaping. Matt Ridley describes how Britain (yes, Britain) has avoided the moral panic, and also lung damage: Why Britain has embraced vaping.

    There are now 3.6 million vapers in the U.K. and 5.9 million smokers (some people are in both categories). Many British smokers have switched entirely to vaping, encouraged by the government, whose official position is that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, an assertion now backed by early studies of disease incidence. The organizations that have signed a statement saying that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking include Public Health England, the Association of Directors of Public Health, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society for Public Health.

    There have been no deaths and few if any cases of lung illness directly attributed to vaping in the U.K. A recent study has concluded that vaping is now helping up to 70,000 people stop smoking every year by reaching those who failed to quit smoking by other means. “The British public have voted with their feet and are choosing to use e-cigarettes. This is a positive choice, and we should promote it,” says Prof. Linda Bauld of Cancer Research U.K.

    Somewhat uncomfortably for this libertarian, Ridley notes that the main reason for differences in illness/death is due to Britain's stricter government regulations on e-cigs.


  • But here in the US, a big problem is (according to Jacob Sullum in Reason): Anti-Vaping Propaganda in Schools Undermines Critical Thinking and Spreads Dangerous Misinformation.

    In response to the "epidemic" of underage e-cigarette use, public schools are deploying the tried-and-true method of lying to children about the hazards of drug use, because how could that possibly backfire? A misinformation sheet about vaping, published by the Florida-based Nemours Foundation and distributed to eighth-graders at my daughter's school in Dallas, illustrates this approach, making scary claims that can easily be debunked by anyone with an internet connection.

    The handout, written by Florida physician Lonna Gordon, repeatedly conflates legal, nicotine-delivering e-cigarettes with the black-market cannabis products that have figured prominently in the recent outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries. After incorrectly defining e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco and do not burn anything, as "battery-powered smoking devices" (emphasis added), Gordon says they use "cartridges filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine."

    In the next paragraph, Gordon warns that "experts are reporting serious lung damage in people who vape, including some deaths." Later she says "e-cigarettes…may cause serious lung damage and even death" and reiterates that "recent studies report serious lung damage in people who vape, and even some deaths." There is no evidence to support such claims with regard to legal nicotine products.

    I have enough bad habits (plonkish red wine, Diet Dr. Pepper, Folgers, crossword puzzles, Spider solitaire, …). So I don't need another involving nicotine.

    But sometimes, you have to wonder why the voices of sanity are ignored on so many issues. This is just one.


  • Man, I loved the original headline on this Wired story (still preserved in the URL): "The Glorious Victories of Trans Athletes Are Shaking Up Sports."

    It's since been toned down: "Trans Athletes Are Posting Victories and Shaking Up Sports". I suppose some Wired higher-up realized that the adjective was a little too reminiscent of Chinese and Russian Communist propaganda ("May 1 greetings to glorious athletes of our motherland!")

    The author, Christie Aschwanden, is gleeful and (to me) hilarious:

    Transgender athletes are having a moment. At all levels of sport, they’re stepping onto the podium and into the headlines. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard won two gold medals at the Pacific Games, and college senior CeCé Telfer became the NCAA Division II national champion in the 400-meter run. Another senior, June Eastwood, has been instrumental to her cross-country team’s success. At the high school level, Terry Miller won the girls’ 200-meter dash at Connecticut’s state open championship track meet.

    These recent performances are inherently praiseworthy—shining examples of what humans can accomplish with training and effort. But as more transgender athletes rise to the top of their fields, some vocal opponents are also expressing outrage at what they see as transgender athletes ruining sports for cisgendered girls and women.

    Things can get pretty bizarre, and as Orwell noted, language can be corrupted in the service of Higher Goals.

    So which approach is most fair? “Fair is a very subjective word,” says Joanna Harper, a transgender woman, distance runner, and researcher who served on the IOC committee that developed that organization’s current rules. It boils down to whom you’re trying to be fair to, Harper says. “To billions of typical women who cannot compete with men at high levels of sport?” Or “a very repressed minority in transgender people who only want to enjoy the same things that everybody else does, including participation in sports?”

    Bottom line: Too bad, bio-ladies.


  • But what about Rachel McKinnon, “world champion” of women’s track cycling? At NR, Madeleine Kearns pulls no punches: Rachel McKinnon Is a Cheat and a Bully.

    Rachel McKinnon — the so-called defending “world champion” of women’s track cycling — is a man. I’ll repeat that so my meaning cannot be misconstrued. He is a man.

    Maybe my kind-hearted reader is offended by this blunt phrasing. Why am I calling McKinnon a man — when, perhaps for complicated reasons, he would rather be called a woman? Why don’t I compromise and call him a “trans woman,” as others do? Or be polite and address him by “she/her” pronouns, like everyone else in the media?

    Well, I’ll tell you why, since you asked. This is precisely the well-meant, tragically naïve logic that has enabled a structure of lies and tyranny to be erected around us, a structure that most cannot opt out of without incurring an enormous social cost. It is a structure in which cheating and viciousness are rewarded while civility and truth-telling are punished. Rachel McKinnon is the perfect example of how this structure works and operates, as well as why we should resist it.

    For some reason, Madeleine's article made me dig out my copy of Stephen Vizinczey's Truth and Lies in Literature. From the same-titled essay:

    There are two basic kinds of literature. One helps you to understand, the other helps you to forget; the first helps you to be a free person and a free citizen, the other helps people to manipulate you. One is like astronomy, the other is like astrology.

    May we have the wisdom to know, detect, and appreciate the difference.