URLs du Jour

2020-06-06

[Amazon Link]

  • At AIER, Robert E. Wright speculates that we have become A Nation of True Believers.

    After the Great War, the Great Depression, and the Holocaust, many thinkers tried to figure out what was wrong with the world. I’ve discussed some of their work in earlier posts, especially “The Idiocracy Experiment,” but have been saving The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements for when the uprisings, which I predicted in the middle of March, began. It’s not clear these widespread agitations will coalesce into broader rebellion or civil war but in any event, The True Believer is worth considering.

    This little book, first published in 1951, made a big splash by taking an interdisciplinary look at the root causes of fascism and communism. Its author, Eric Hoffer (1898-1983), was a longshoreman and autodidact. Between unloading and loading ships and frequenting brothels, he eventually managed to write enough books to teach at Berkeley, albeit “only” as an adjunct.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is … you know what. You know, I really ought to read that.


  • I usually dislike when people argue that their ideological opponents are "scared" of some aspect of the future. (Hey, remember when Jimmy Carter disparaged Americans' inordinate feer of Communism?)

    It boils down to: "Those people are fearful, hence irrational, hence we don't have to listen to them."

    However, I'll make an exception for Matt Welch's take on a recent controversy: New York Times Journalists Scared To Have an Op-Ed Page

    Last night, The New York Times, which has long maintained the pretentions of being the serious journalistic institution in the United States, published an article about how its own employees were scared—not just irritated, or "deeply ashamed," but terrified—that the publication in its pages of an op-ed from a sitting U.S. senator would threaten their very lives.

    The purportedly dangerous piece, by the reliably authoritarian Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), called for President Donald Trump to send military personnel, using the Insurrection Act of 1807, to help put down the rioting that has sometimes broken out at demonstrations against abusing policing.

    "His message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our Black staff members in danger, promotes hate, and is likely to encourage further violence," alleges the News Guild of New York, the union that represents Times staffers. "Invariably, invoking state violence disproportionately hurts Black and brown people. It also jeopardizes our journalists' ability to work in the field safely and effectively."

    Why, yes, these "journalists" are, by their own admission, fearful of what mere words can do.

    They don't seem to consider how seriously this line of argument negates the case for a free press. I guess they think this could never be turned around to bite them in the ass.


  • David R. Henderson, writing from the Hoover Institution, encourages us to Just Say No To State & Local Bailouts.

    In May, the House of Representatives passed the $3.2 trillion HEROES [Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions] Act by a vote of 208 to 199. Fourteen Democrats and one Independent voted against and only one Republican in favor. The Act would give $1.077 trillion to state and local governments. To put that number in perspective, total state tax revenue in Fiscal Year 2019 was $1.08 trillion. In short, the proposed subsidy to state governments is huge.

    The most vocal advocates of the subsidy are members of Congress and/or governors of states with big budget deficits, such as California, Illinois and New York. Their budgets are in shambles. Do they have an argument beyond “we need it” and “it's a moral obligation”? California’s governor Gavin Newsom, for one, doesn’t.

    I'd like to say our state is immune, but … no, as this self-promoting press release from My Own CongressCritter shows: Pappas Delivers Over $1.3 Billion for NH in House Transportation and Infrastructure Package.

    New Hampshire is a rich state. (For example, on this list of States and territories ranked by per capita income, it's number 6.)

    We have no right to (essentially) demand that the states lower on that list pay for our roads and bridges.

    Of course, it's silly to make that argument, because we live in the reality-denying world that pretends we can all get rich by picking each others' pockets.


  • At the Josiah Bartlett Center, Drew Cline has a good idea. (Which stands out from all the bad ones flying around.) Police accountability starts with fixing 'qualified immunity'.

    Sometimes, answers to local municipal issues are found not in our communities, but in bad law handed down in Washington, D.C. When it comes to police accountability, many improvements can and must be made at the state and local levels. But the first and most obvious step is to correct a U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted officers broad immunity from civil lawsuits. 

    New Hampshire’s congressional delegation can play a vital role in this necessary effort by supporting reform of court-invented ‘qualified immunity’ for government officials who violate Americans’ civil rights.

    I'm generally dismayed by our overly litigious society. On the other hand, the courts are a traditional tool for redress of rights violations. So (at least today) I'm with Drew: go for it.


  • And in case you were wondering if your peanut butter label was kosher, here's a handy link to the relevant section of the Code of Federal Regulations

    (d) If peanut butter is prepared from unblanched peanuts as specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the name shall show that fact by some such statement as “prepared from unblanched peanuts (skins left on).” Such statement shall appear prominently and conspicuously and shall be in type of the same style and not less than half of the point size of that used for the words “peanut butter.” This statement shall immediately precede or follow the words “peanut butter,” without intervening written, printed, or graphic matter.

    So there. Thank goodness we have well-paid bureaucrats in Washington who are well paid to write such pellucid prose, shepherd it through the approval process, place it lovingly into "Title 21 → Chapter I → Subchapter B → Part 164 → Subpart B → §164.150".

    I mean, if there were intervening written, printed, or graphic matter" between "peanut butter" and “prepared from unblanched peanuts (skins left on)”, then whatever would we do?


Last Modified 2020-06-06 1:38 PM EDT