URLs du Jour

2020-03-14

Happy π day, folks. Wish we had something along that line to blog about, but…

  • Kevin D. Williamson at NR: MEOW, They Roared. (MEOW == "Moral Equivalent of War")

    One detects a pattern in American politics: Every challenge is a crisis, every crisis is the Moral Equivalent of War, and winning that war, we are told, means giving the Left everything it demands, without opposition and generally with no regard for the Constitution, process, or democratic norms. “Never let a good crisis to go waste,” as Rahm Emanuel famously put it.

    And so it is with COVID-19.

    The novel coronavirus outbreak — a genuine crisis and a real emergency — already is being exploited by Democrats with an eye on the upcoming presidential campaign and political contests beyond that. The emergency demonstrates, they say, the necessity of everything progressives have been demanding for the past 20 years.

    Time to dig out Robert Higgs' Crisis and Leviathan I guess.


  • The intrepid Veronique de Rugy writes at AIER: Sorry, But Stimulus Policies Will Not Work. (OK, but is she really sorry?) Click through for her debunking of payroll tax holidays and spending stimuli. But:

    First, we should give up the fantasy that the government can ‘stimulate’ the economy out of this particular crisis. Second, Congress, the Administration, their advisors, pundits and journalists should not exploit this crisis to subsidize special interests or hand out favors to those seeking to achieve policy aims unrelated to the outbreak. No one should try to get their pet policy preferences implemented either; I am thinking of you, “Medicare for All,” “a hike to the Medicaid matching rate” and “pass a permanent and universal government funded paid leave program.”

    The best that the government can now do, if it wishes not to act either pointlessly or destructively, is to help the most vulnerable Americans by tweaking some existing spending programs. It can, for example, help lower-income workers with temporary and targeted funding, such as to pay for sick leave for the relatively few workers who don’t now have access to this fringe benefit.

    Fortunately, my default behavior these days is "stay at home".


  • We did need groceries, however. And we thought we'd be real smart and avoid the crowds by hitting Hannaford when it opened at 7am.

    Exactly the same thought occurred to approximately everyone else in the Dover/Rollinsford/Somersworth NH area.

    "This is my nightmare," Mrs. Salad said as we were in a very long line for the register.

    I reassured her: "If this were a nightmare, there'd be zombies too."

    I hope Reason's Nick Gillespie, who experienced similar crowds at his Whole Foods is right: Coronavirus. We Got This.

    The most surprising thing about the scene last night at Whole Foods in New York wasn't that it was so crowded. (Like I said, it's always crowded.) It's how chill people were, how polite and respectful. These are the first days of a health crisis that will unfold over weeks and maybe even months, so I'm cautious about loading too much significance into any early indicators. A month down the road, perhaps we'll be at each other's throats like warring factions in a zombie-apocalypse flick. More likely, we'll have minimized the spread of the disease thanks to changes in our behavior, increased the effectiveness of our institutional responses, and learned how to get along a little better than before.

    I can also report chill at the Dover Hannaford.


  • Jonah Goldberg writes on nomenclature at the Displatch: Fighting Over What to Call Coronavirus Is a Silly Waste of Time.

    In his address to the country Wednesday night, Trump said, “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.” The response played out along the same lines as the virus-name controversy, with opponents decrying xenophobic bigotry and defenders noting that the statement is literally true.

    The defenders are right, but the same problem applies. Why call it a “foreign virus”? Have we gone to greater lengths to defeat “domestic” viruses? Would we act differently if this wasn’t some invasive plague?

    The need to troll China or piggyback an anti-China agenda (whatever its merits) as well as the need to decry the “real problem” of racism both strike me as desperate efforts to exploit a crisis or find comfort in more familiar arguments.

    And it’s a spectacular waste of time and energy.

    A theory I've seen floated: Trump isn't particularly xenophobic himself. But he thinks a significant number of his fans are. So he likes to throw them little bits of rhetorical red meat, as above.


  • And Peggy Noonan at the WSJ has a delightfully contrarian take: ‘Don’t Panic’ Is Rotten Advice.

    Now it’s time to lose the two most famous phrases of the moment. One is “Don’t panic!” The other is “an abundance of caution.”

    “Don’t panic” is what nervous, defensive people say when someone warns of coming trouble. They don’t want to hear it, so their message is “Don’t worry like a coward, be blithely unconcerned like a brave person.”

    One way or another we’ve heard it a lot from administration people.

    “Captain, that appears to be an iceberg.” “Don’t panic, officer, full steam ahead.”

    “Admiral, concentrating our entire fleet in one port seems tempting fate.” “We don’t need your alarmist fantasies, ensign.”

    “We’re picking up increased chatter about an al Qaeda action.” “Your hand-wringing is duly noted.”

    “Don’t panic,” in the current atmosphere, is a way of shutting up people who are using their imaginations as a protective tool. It’s an implication of cowardice by cowards.

    I'm tired of hearing "Don't panic." Every. Time. I. Watch. The. News.

Heaven, My Home

[Amazon Link]

Although this book was on the WSJ's list of The Best Mystery Books of 2019, I didn't care for it that much. Anyway, I'm at the halfway point on that list: five down, five to go.

A major part of the problem: it's the second book of the "Highway 59 series" by Attica Locke. This doesn't have to be a problem, but in this case it is: a major part of the book is a continuation of the plot of (I assume) the previous book.

By the way, not that it matters, but the little Iowa town in which I spent my early years was on US Highway 59 too. This didn't assist me in enjoying the book.

The politics is pretty strident, too. Ms. Locke is political, despises Trump, and much of the plot here revolves around various manifestations of his malignant influence, giving cover to various flavors of white supremacist ideology. That's pretty tedious.

Anyway, the book is set in east Texas, near the Louisiana border. The part that's not carried over from the first book involves a missing 9-year-old white kid who's been abducted from treacherous Caddo Lake. He's the son of an Aryan Brotherhood moron in jail for killing an African American; suspicion falls on the black guy who claims to have been the last to have seen the kid alive.

The protagonist is Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, who's got his problems hanging over him from the first book. And nobody really wants him snooping around this case either. And he's not particularly sympathetic: a drinking problem, a very dysfunctional family, an infatuation with a lady not his wife (again, from the first book), suspicions that his wife may have been unfaithful with his old (white) college buddy who's now in the FBI. And said Fed looking to make a name for himself by pinning the (presumed) murder of the missing white kid as a hate crime committed by the previously mentioned black guy.

Lots of characters, difficult to keep straight, including cartoonish rich white people up to no good by screwing over the oppressed.

Ah, well. As I said, five down, five to go.