URLs du Jour

2020-01-22

  • I was amused by this article in the Bulwark. See if you can guess the author: The Values We Share (or Why I Am A Republican).

    I’ve been a Republican since I was 18-years-old. I hardly recognize the party today—at least, the party in Washington, D.C. But even in the distressed state it’s in, I would rather fix the Republican party than leave it.

    The Republican party I joined on the eve of the Reagan era brought different people and ideas together. That was the secret of its widespread support. But although it was diverse, it was not unprincipled. When Republicans remember the good old days, we remember the values we share.

    And what follows is pretty standard political boilerplate, nothing too objectionable. So what's the funny part?

    Well, the author is Bill Weld.

    And the word "Libertarian" does not appear in the article. You would think that Weld would provide a slight nod to his appearance on the 2016 ballot as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

    You know, the nomination he wangled by promising:

    As I think I indicated earlier in my remarks, I'm a Libertarian for life. […] "Libertarian for life" means not go back to any other party, just for the sake of clarity.

    I looked around to see if he had any excuse for this pledge-breaking. The best I could find is an NHPR interview:

    Given your 2016 pledge that you are a “libertarian for life,” why are you choosing to run in 2020 as a Republican?  

    Weld: I've self-identified as a small “l” libertarian since I was in law school and discovered Friedrich Hayek. After I decided to challenge President Trump directly, run as an “R,” rather than a capital “L,” most of my friends in the Libertarian Party said we're with you all the way, we know your principles and we know they haven't changed.

    Uh huh. How many "friends" does he have in the LP these days? Three?


  • Over at National Review, Kevin D. Williamson notes: Democracy No Defense against Authoritarianism.

    ‘Living in a democracy is no longer protection from authoritarianism,” Joshua Keating argues in Slate. One quibble: Living in a democracy never offered protection from authoritarianism — democracy has as often been the handmaiden of authoritarianism.

    For more than a century, we have used “democracy” as a shorthand for good and decent government, and also to indicate a distinctly progressive American view of good government. The founding father of American progressivism, Woodrow Wilson, demanded a war, because, as he said, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” When the American Left speaks about its desire to exercise power over businesses or private life, it says that it wishes to “democratize” this or that enterprise. Bernie Sanders calls his proposal to plunder his political enemies his plan for “Corporate Accountability and Democracy.” The more clever kind of Marxist speaks about “economic democracy.” Yet in spite of all this, the word “democracy” retains its positive connotations.

    Constitutional safeguards won't protect us from an electorate that's been persuaded to turn its back on liberty. At best such safeguards slow down the inevitable.

    Woo, got kind of gloomy there, didn't I?


  • At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Pierre Lemieux provides A Simple Argument Against Ex-Im.

    If Ex-Im increases American exports and if that is good, why not boost the agency’s subsidies enough for exports to increase until the whole American GDP is exported? (Whatever Americans needed for subsistence or more would be imported.) If the answer to this question is that subsidizing exports is only good up to a certain point, the question becomes: How are politicians and government bureaucrats as central planners capable of determining that nirvana threshold, as opposed to just laissez-faire the interplay of the decentralized actions of producers and consumers? Can Nancy Pelosi or Mike McConnell find the nirvana threshold?

    I assume he means Mitch. But no, there's no reason to assume Ex-Im will somehow help us hit a Goldilocks, just right, level of exports.


  • There was a anti-guncontrol rally down south on Monday. J.D. Tuccille was unimpressed when Virginia Gov. Northam Smears Gun Control Opponents to Frighten His Base.

    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is misusing a regularly scheduled political rally to frighten his base and gin up support for his troubled administration. Flinging scare-mongering language, the Democratic governor has portrayed a grassroots lobbying effort against gun restrictions as a potential source of "violent extremism" and declared a state of emergency.

    It's a cheap attempt to build support by delegitimizing opposition to his policies. On the way to declaring a state of emergency, Northam breathlessly warned:

    Credible intelligence gathered by Virginia's law enforcement agencies indicates that tens of thousands of advocates plan to converge on Capitol Square for events culminating on January 20, 2020. Available information suggests that a substantial number of these demonstrators are expected to come from outside the Commonwealth, may be armed, and have as their purpose not peaceful assembly but violence, rioting, and insurrection.

    And, as we know, the "substantial number" turned out to be zero, give or take.


  • Ann Althouse muses on stealing signs in baseball.

    Signs are made out in the open. Why can’t you read them?

    How is it “stealing”?

    It’s looking and seeing.

    I put "stealing" in quotes because stealing usually sounds bad, but in baseball stealing bases is a celebrated skill. The easiest solution to this "existential crisis" is just to accept sign stealing as part of the game, no more unethical than stealing a base. Since that route is possible, isn't the real dispute about the balance of advantages between pitcher and batter? Is the hand-wringing about ethics pro-pitcher propaganda?

    Good stuff in the comments. Also not so good stuff in the comments.

    I suppose eventually there will be encrypted radio technology employed between the coaches and players. ("Roger, throwing anything in the strike zone would be cool here.")

Lady Bird

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Still nothing new on TV, so we dip into the Amazon Prime streamers and … hey, this looks pretty good, Nominated for five Oscars (Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay), winning zero, but still. It's pretty good.

The titular Lady Bird nearly begs for non-sympathy. She lies, cheats, and steals. She's disloyal to her friends, unappreciative to her family, and relentlessly self-centered. Still I found her likeable and rooted for her. Maybe I was in an unusually good mood, or maybe it's due to the movie making skills of those involved. Anyway, it passed the test that Woody Allen's Café Society flunked: I cared about the characters, and wanted to see what happened to them.

The movie covers about a year in her life. A senior at a Catholic high school, she's desperate to get out of hometown Sacramento for college, preferably out of California. (She mentions New Hampshire as a possibility. Kid, let me tell you: I think UC Davis has more going on for a young girl.)

Unfortunately, her family is on the hairy edge financially. Her mom is well-meaning, but (understandably) patience-impaired. Dad is depressed. Her romantic life goes awry.

And ... whoa, that was Lois Smith playing an old nun? Crap, I'm old.