URLs du Jour


  • As I've mentioned many times, I have a Google News Alert set for the phrase "Live Free or Die". (With an exception set to ignore occurrences of "Live Free or Die Hard", because that mediocre flick gets more news mentions than you might think.)

    So this morning's mail brought in not one, not two, … but forty-two occurrences of LFOD in world news media since the last check. Nearly all (of course) refer to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the various protests demanding that we get back to business as usual, stat. And a number of folks (as with the comely lass in our Getty Image du Jour) come to the protests with LFOD on signs, flags, and facemasks.

    Most LFOD references are scornful. Here's a typical example, an editorial from the LA Times: 'Live Free or Die' isn't a hypothetical choice.

    One sign spotted in Huntington Beach on Friday during a gathering of 100 or so protesters summed it up pretty well: “Live free or die.” The signmaker might have invoked the slogan, which happens to be the unironic state motto of New Hampshire (a state currently on lockdown), as a statement of principle. But in this pandemic a more apt slogan might be “Live free and die.”

    No, I won't bore you with the other 41 in today's crop. Would-be protesters: when designing your signs, maybe you should come up with phraseology that the anti-freedom crowd won't be so eager to deride.

  • Mike Dater of Portsmouth has a LTE published in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat. This made me wince:

    Walking around town I am alarmed at the number of people I see or encounter who do not to wear protective face masks in public. According The Guardian, “The CDC now recommends all Americans wear a face mask in public.” If that isn’t clear, what is?

    Note: the name is "Mike", not "Karen". And Mike goes on to Mikesplain his alarm that people aren't behaving as he would like.

    But here's my problem: the CDC's mask advice (dated April 3, I think the latest) is here. And here is the relevant bit:

    CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

    Emphasis added, which makes the CDC's actual recommendation a lot less draconian than Mike is claiming.

    I suppose Foster's isn't responsible for their letter-writers' fearmongering misstatements. But (somehow) I would bet that misstatements on the other side of the question are less likely to get published.

    (I should add that the NH Department of Health and Human Services' latest weekly summary says that about 28% of the cases in New Hampshire are due to "Community Transmission". That means: wear a mask in Walmart.)

  • On a related note, Rich Lowry points out in the NYPost that there's No evidence outdoor activities pose coronavirus risks. Noting the opprobrium dished out in the MSM to the news reports of Jacksonville, FL beaches being reopened to the joy of surfers:

    As the CNN report put it, “the scene at Jacksonville Beach wasn’t one of caution in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Crowds cheered and flooded the beach when police took the barriers down. People were seen swimming, biking, surfing, running and fishing.”

    None of these activities has been shown to be vectors for the spread of COVID-19. In fact, no outdoors activities have been shown to be dangerous at all. A recent study examined hundreds of outbreaks and traced only one to an outdoor environment.

    Surfers and bikers are the least of our worries. Yet there is a segment of American opinion that takes it as its responsibility to scold and shame anyone who dares to go out to get a little fresh air.

    Rich notes "lockdown zealotry" is a real thing. And as Mike from Portsmouth above demonstrates, it's even in the Live Free or Die state.

  • In National Review, Veronique de Rugy looks at Economic Karens, and finds that the US has No Prudent Policymakers in Sight.

    Senator Marco Rubio had a piece in the New York Times yesterday headlined “We Need a More Resilient American Economy” in which he again called for industrial policy.

    There’s a lot that’s wrong with it, but I will not go over all that here. I will note one irony, one that would be laughable if it weren’t taken seriously by so many people — namely, the senator’s assertion that “there is a clear need for a sweeping pro-American industrial policy,” meaning more top-down central planning at least in some industries on the theory that government is more attentive to the long run and to creating a resilient economy than a private sector that is, we are told, mostly preoccupied with efficiency.

    As Don Boudreaux explains here, the popular myth — repeated by Rubio — about corporate short-termism is simply wrong. The facts contradict it. Businesses and investors in private markets, with rare exception, plan well and effectively for the long run. If they don’t, they’re out-competed by businesses and investors who do.

    Rubio thinks that "we" (by which he means: politicians) can do a better job of figuring this stuff out than the folks who have skin in the game. He's doing a fine job of making sure that I will never, ever, vote for Marco Rubio for anything.

  • And back at the NYPost, Jacob Sullum challenges Betteridge's law of headlines: Will leaders really look at science to figure out when lockdowns end?

    When she announced the startling results of a new COVID-19 study on Monday, Los Angeles County’s top public-health official, Barbara Ferrer, emphasized that the number of infections far exceeds the official count of confirmed cases. Yet Ferrer underplayed another important implication of the new study: COVID-19 seems to be far less deadly than many people initially feared.

    Ferrer’s framing of the study’s results — especially her eschewing of its implications on fatality rates — raises a question that policymakers across the country will confront as they consider when and how to loosen sweeping restrictions aimed at curtailing the COVID-19 epidemic. The question is: Will they be guided by emerging evidence, or will they use it to support the policies they already favored?

    I know which way I'm betting. And a side bet: Marco Rubio won't apply the lessons of politicians mishandling public safety issues to his advocacy of industrial policy.