URLs du Jour


  • AEI's Mark J. Perry celebrates the birthday of John Venn with (what else) a collection of his best Venn Diagrams. And provides our Eye Candy du Jour:

    [Lack of Consistency]

    "But that's different!" Is it, really?

  • I have previously written that I think the Libertarian Party's "End the Fed" position comes off as a little wacky. I am considerably less confident of that position after reading Richard M. Ebeling at AIER on Paul Krugman’s Ad Hominem Defense of Central Banking. (On the other hand, I'm much more confident in my previous belief that Paul Krugman is kind of a nasty piece of work.)

    One of the sorriest aspects of almost all political discussions nowadays is how often they seem to degenerate into rude ad hominem attacks rather than more reasoned arguments over the pros and cons of what public policies might be most conducive to achieving various social and economic goals. 

    An example of this is an opinion piece by economist Paul Krugman in The New York Times (July 13, 2020), in which he asserts that those who question the current system of central banking and wide discretion by the monetary central planners are all reduced to the name calling of being, “Goldbugs for Trump”

    He starts out by emphasizing that being a “real” and successful economist requires hard work, creative originality, and rigor with using “the facts.” Many are called, but few are chosen, he basically implies. So, what are the mediocre second and third best to do? Well, they can accept their mediocrity, and leave it at that. Like most other things in life, they, too, will pass without leaving much of a trace. 

    But what if you do not want to accept this lesser state within the economics profession compared to some like, well, Paul Krugman, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008? How might the mediocre make a name for themselves? According to Krugman, the path to fame and fortune for the intellectually underprivileged is to become a charlatan, the economist huckster, advocating kooky and crazy ideas that no reputable economist would be caught dead believing. 

    This is all about Judy Shelton, nominated by Trump to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She has said nice things about the gold standard, an unforgivable sin against the memory of FDR.

    Ebeling goes through the history of the gold standard and central banking. Arguably, the demise of the former and the ascendency of the latter have not issued in the promised economic nirvana.

    This is a specific example of a more general tenet of Progressive theology: Government institutions are judged by the wonderful imagined results they could (but never actually do) achieve. While laissez faire policies and private institutions are graded on a much harsher scale.

  • Kevin D. Williamson weighs in on Trump Critics and 'Burn It Down' Debate. It's an excellent overview of the various conservadroids' arguments about the future of the GOP.

    The question is, “Burn It Down, or No?”

    Or, to put it another way: “What’s the more pleasing way to march Republicans onto ice floes and shove their sorry asses out to sea — one at a time, or all at once?”

    “Burn It Down!” has become a shorthand for the less easygoing kind of anti-Trump conservative. (Apologies, Millennials and nitwits: I do not think or write in hashtags, and if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.) For members of the Burning faction, to see Donald Trump lose in 2020 would be insufficient — their view is that the Republican Party as a whole must be punished for its energetic embrace of Trump and Trumpism. For some, such as the gentlemen of the Lincoln Project, that means not only actively supporting Joe Biden’s presidential campaign but also working to pick off congressional Republicans, especially vulnerable senators — some make the case for voting straight-ticket Democrat as a matter of civic hygiene.

    The Not For Burning faction argues that this is an overreaction and that it is counterproductive, inasmuch as taking down Lincoln Project targets such as Senator Susan Collins of Maine would leave the Republican Party not only smaller but also Trumpier — it would be easier to knock off the last New England moderate than it would be to take down Ted Cruz or Jim Inhofe. Surely, the Not For Burning faction argues, the answer cannot be a Republican Party that is both politically weaker and politically worse than it already is?

    Allow me to climb up on my soapbox: the problem isn't the politicians. It's the voters. Bumping off (say) Susan Collins will only replace her with someone worse. Probably much worse, and for the subsequent six years (barring indictment, health issues, or the like).

    And it's not as if Maine's GOP voters will come up with a better GOP candidate in 2026.

  • At Patterico's Pontifications, JVW analyzes Biden's Veepstakes, and puts in a plug for his Little Aloha Sweetie.

    With putative Democrat Presidential nominee Joe Biden zeroing in on his Vice-Presidential pick — and believe me, the leaked names under consideration are indeed a bunch of zeros — it’s time to make the argument for a bold, refreshing, unconventional pick that would establish Slow Joe as something other than a dinosaur who has spent a half-century mucking around Washington, DC and who is in complete thrall to the power players and elite opinion makers which sadly dominate his party. Various names have been bandied about over the past few months: Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, and now Karen Bass. They each have something to offer the elderly white male Establishment figure around whom party pooh-bahs rallied during that harrowing point last winter when a nutty old socialist nearly stormed the gates and threw out everyone who wore a tailored suit.

    But none of them offer the advantages that Mr. Biden stands to reap if he takes the bold step of naming the fourth-term Congresswoman from the islands of Hawai’i to his ticket. She matches and/or surpasses any of the strengths of the other potential candidates, and at worst her liabilities are no more troublesome than those of the rest of the field. Don’t believe me? Let’s consider:

    What follows is a good summary of the so-called top tier of Veep candidates. Sample:

    Karen Bass
    Pros: Apparently she and Biden get along well together, though Biden might have mistaken her for his nurse.
    Cons: As late as 2016 still thought Fidel Castro had done a bang-up job in Cuba. Her only major accomplishment as Speaker of the California Assembly, a budget deal with Governor Schwarzenegger, was overwhelmingly rejected by the state’s voters, hardly an endorsement of her ability to sell her fellow Democrats on compromise.

    Tulsi's efforts to revive the stupid Fairness Doctrine make her a non-starter for me, but JVW might be right that she's the best pick for Joe.

    But "little"? I should point out that Tulsi is 5'8", whereas the average American woman is slightly under 5'4".

  • OK, back to serious and sensible. At Reason, Jacob Sullum asserts Trump’s Warnings About Voting by Mail Mix Reasonable Concerns With Fanciful Conspiracy Theories.

    Donald Trump's main beef against wide use of mail-in ballots is that it creates "a great Voter Fraud scenario," allowing Democrats to "cheat in elections" and deprive Republicans such as himself of their just victories. While the evidence of such a scheme is hard to find, the president recently has voiced a more realistic concern: that a flood of mail-in ballots from Americans worried about visiting polling places in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic will overwhelm vote counters, delay the announcement of results, and create lingering uncertainty about who won.

    The experience with the recent primary elections in New York City, which was woefully unprepared to tabulate mail-in ballots, shows this danger is more than a figment of the president's imagination. Six weeks after those elections, the votes are still being counted.

    New York Times story about the fiasco, which it says has fed fears of a "November Nightmare," identifies several problems. Notwithstanding the likelihood that COVID-19 anxiety would result in an unusually large number of mail-in ballots—about 400,000, it turned out—the city's Board of Elections did not have enough workers. Some 34,000 ballots were sent to New Yorkers the day before the June 23 primary, giving them insufficient time to vote. Thousands of ballots were discarded because of "minor errors." Thousands more were not counted because the U.S. Postal Service did a haphazard job of postmarking the prepaid envelopes, which was required to document that ballots were cast before the deadline.

    Total government ineptitude, in a state where government is the secular religion.

    Jacob is copacetic on the fraud front, though. He says that evidence is hard to find, ignoring that the system is designed to make such evidence hard to find.

  • And <voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice>. Portland (Oregon) has been protected against the menace of Kindergarten Cop. The movie, that is.

    A film center in Portland cancelled its screening of Kindergarten Cop after a local author complained about the movie’s portrayal of police in schools and compared it to The Birth of a Nation, a 1915 film that romanticized the Ku Klux Klan.

    Northwest Film Center, an organization supporting local filmmakers, had planned to show Kindergarten Cop as the first movie in its summertime drive-in movie series until author Lois Leveen said a movie showing cops in schools wasn’t "entertaining."

    "There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools," Leveen tweeted. "5- and 6-year-olds are handcuffed and hauled off to jail routinely in this country. And this criminalizing of children increases dramatically when cops are assigned to work in schools."


    Kindergarten Cop has one of my favorite movie quotes, although it doesn't work as well on the pixelled page.