URLs du Jour


  • It's not all bad. Some things have become more obvious. Like, as Eric Boehm points out at Reason, Most Politicians Are Disingenuous Opportunists. The Coronavirus Outbreak Only Makes That More Obvious. Trump, of course. Sen. Richard Burr (R–N.C.) fer sure. But also:

    With millions of Americans out of work and the country facing the prospect of a recession unlike any in recorded history, Congress got to work on a stimulus package that was supposed to tide workers over until the virus passed and the economy reopened. Partisan disagreement sank a Senate coronavirus bailout bill on Monday, so Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) rode to the rescue with a $2.5 trillion spending plan that included such pandemic essentials as $35 million in funding for a performing arts center in Washington, D.C., new rules requiring more diversity on corporate boards, and new emissions requirements for airplanes.

    Pelosi withdrew that proposal on Tuesday afternoon. But the $2 trillion spending bill that appears ready to pass the Senate on Wednesday contains a few questionable provisions of its own, like codifying regulations that limit arbitration agreements, a huge giveaway to trial lawyers.

    Yup, can't wait to be stimulated. I only hope Netflix keeps sending us DVDs.

  • It's late Thursday afternoon as I type, so I'd better point you to The Tuesday from Kevin D. Williamson. And it's mostly not about Covid-19.

    Here is some news that may not exactly rock conservative circles: Several versions of the Toyota Prius hybrid automobile have been discontinued, and there are rumors that Toyota is considering the discontinuation of the model as a whole. Prius sales have been in decline for some time — down by 23 percent in 2018 — and the 2020 facelift may not be enough to revive the O.G. mass-market hybrid, first sold in 1997.

    The Prius is one of those cultural totems — right up there with Birkenstocks, organic kale, and yoga classes — that conservatives associate with a certain especially obnoxious brand of well-heeled consumerist progressivism. In Texas, where I live, you don’t need a “Beto for Senate” bumper sticker on your Prius: “Prius” may as well be Latin for “Beto for Senate.” (The hardcore true believers in my very lefty neighborhood still have “Beto for Senate” signs in their yards, not “Beto for President” signs. These political hipsters were into Beto before he went mainstream.) You can recite the litany of abuse: “Prius-drivin’, soy-latte-drinkin’, Sanders-votin’ wastes of space.”

    I share the contempt for Robert Francis O’Rourke. But the Prius is a work of genius, a genuine landmark, and, almost inevitably, a victim of its own success: The Prius has been so successful that its hybrid technology has been mainstreamed. The Prius C will be replaced by an updated version of the . . . Toyota Corolla, a car that has been with us since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. There are hybrid models up and down the lineups of Toyota and Honda and other economy-minded marques, but also available from makers ranging from Jaguar to BMW to Porsche, which offered a monster hybrid supercar at a price of just under $1 million as well as hybrid versions of many of its less exotic vehicles. A great many things are up in the air right now for American businesses, but Ford is even planning to introduce a hybrid version of the F-150 — the anti-Prius — using those electric motors to increase its torque and towing capacity.

    And there's more, so get on over there. Prius, we hardly knew ye.

  • Back to the Coronavirus: At Commentary, Christine Rosen notes: Public Anxiety over COVID-19 Will Increase Without Straight Talk, brought to us via the Google LFOD News Alert:

    As state and local governments enforce “shelter in place” edicts and President Donald Trump publicly mulls how long people should halt all non-essential activities, it is worth revisiting what we know about authority, responsibility, and obedience in times of crisis. Are we the country of “Live Free or Die” and “Don’t Tread on Me,” or are we able to temporarily suspend essential liberties to accommodate restrictions on our behavior for the common good?

    False choice, Christine. (And how do suspend an essential liberty, anyway?) Everything beyond the first two paragaphs is paywalled, and … eh, that's OK. If someone looks, let me know how it goes.

  • Sensible Sally Satel wonders at the Dispatch: Amid Coronavirus, What Are the Risks to Vapers?

    Does coronavirus present an incremental risk to people who vape? The notion is by no means irrational. While the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains vastly fewer toxins and carcinogens than cigarette smoke and those present exist at much lower levels, vapor is not comparable to fresh air. 

    However, early media coverage seems to be trending toward the kind of distortion that we saw with the vaping “epidemic” last fall. At that time, the frightening rash of lung disease and deaths were not due to commercial nicotine vaping products, as was alleged for months, but rather to contaminated THC.

    Consider the headlines now. “Doctors Say Vaping Could Make Coronavirus Worse for Young People,” warned a headline in the New York Post last weekend. A Morning Joe health column written by two physicians echoed the threat, “Vaping: One of the Best Ways to Trash Your Lungs and Maybe Die if you Catch Coronavirus.” Even the surgeon general weighed in on the Today Show on Monday, saying that, “we don’t know if [vaping] is the only cause” among younger people who are stricken with COVID-19.

    Sally recommends Snus, if you must.