URLs du Jour


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  • Need a break from politics? Check out Rob Long at Commentary on The Beauty Parton. Notable for how incomprehensible Dolly Parton's brain is to politics-obsessed New York City podcasters:

    For one thing, she resists labels. When the podcast producers cheerfully suggest that she’s a “feminist,” Dolly hesitates. She doesn’t like that word and wouldn’t use it to describe herself. This reaction sends the producers into a deeply confused state. They love Dolly and they love feminism, so by the Transitive Property of Politically Aligned Entertainment, Dolly must also love feminism. An entire episode ensues wherein the producers—who are genial and thoughtful and utterly ingenuous—interview as many women as they can who identify as feminists and Dolly fans, and then they present this evidence to Dolly as if to say, See? You’re a feminist!

    Dolly laughs and sighs. Okay, she says, I guess if it’s that important to you, maybe I am. But you can hear the half-hearted tone in her voice. Dolly refuses to be claimed.

    I'm not sure how the Commentary paywall works, but if you have problems, you might have better luck following the link found here.

  • Cato's Walter Olson asks whether it's appropriate to Dissolve The National Rifle Association.

    Earlier this month New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil action over alleged insider self‐​dealing against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and some of its top officers. Policing charity misconduct is among the longstanding powers of the New York Attorney General, and James advanced a substantial narrative of misconduct by high officials. Had she contented herself with seeking such lesser but potent sanctions as restitution of ill‐​gotten money and court orders barring wrongdoers from managing non‐​profits in the future, few outside NRA circles would pay much heed. (The case is not a criminal prosecution.)

    Instead James grabbed nationwide headlines by asking the court to dissolve the nation’s best‐​known gun rights organization in its entirety. Some of those praising her action were openly gleeful at the prospect that government action might shut down what is, from their perspective, a major opposition political group. For the very same reason, James’s demand has drawn deserved fire from a range of commentators who themselves can’t stand the NRA as a group, disagree with its view of Second Amendment rights, or both (a “violation of key democratic and rule‐​of‐​law norms [that] should be troubling …no matter one’s place on the political spectrum.”)

    Walter notes:

    There’s all the difference in the world between dropping a legal anvil on NRA insiders because you want to vindicate the interests of the organization’s donors and members, and demanding the group’s dissolution precisely because you don’t.

    I'm not an NRA member, but this is pretty clearly an effort to silence Second Amendment advocacy. And is therefore also an assault on the First Amendment.

  • Josiah Bartlett notes: Without a mask mandate, N.H.'s COVID-19 cases fell sharply this summer.

    For months, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky have criticized Gov. Chris Sununu for not issuing an emergency order mandating that people wear face masks.

    As new cases have declined, the Democratic primary rivals have continued to press for a mandate, with Volinsky even hinting at masses of infected outsiders streaming over the border and spreading the virus in New Hampshire.

    “As Gov. Chris Sununu has chosen to open our malls, with hordes of Massachusetts shoppers coming from areas of concentrated contagion, we need to be even more careful to limit the spread of the virus. It is the cost of doing business. No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” Volinsky wrote in May.

    Yet state data tracking the dates people contracted the illness show a steady decline in new COVID-19 cases since early May, when shopping malls reopened. Though restaurants reopened for indoor dining a month later, new confirmed cases continued to fall.

    Statists love the words "mandatory" and "mandate". It's their Pavlovian bell, gets them salivating.

    Since I love state-by-state comparisons, I've been going to the New York Times Covid-19 page daily to see how the little laboratories of democracy are doing. The visualizations are apples-to-apples comparisons, and it's pretty gratifying to notice how well we're doing on the cases-per-capita measure, despite being uncomfortably close to Massachusetts.

  • Gosh, an article at the Bulwark that doesn't contain a single mention of Donald Trump! It's by Andy Smarick: Protecting the Products of Liberty.

    A brilliant mind could study the rules of football and never predict that the I formation would end up as a classic arrangement for offensive players before the snap. That same genius could study the rules of chess and never predict that the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian Defense would become an essential opening. Only when millions of plays are run from scrimmage, and when billions of games of chess are played, do these sound strategies emerge. To be clear, those strategies are found nowhere in the rules. It’s when real people act inside of established parameters time and time and time again that robust solutions are discovered.

    A version of this insight is found in game theory. The rules of the “prisoner’s dilemma” seem to inevitably lead to a permanently suboptimal result. But play that game thousands of times in a tournament with other participants, and the unintuitive but optimaltit-for-tatstrategy is revealed. Such “iterated” games show that it is through activity inside of rules over time that we accumulate the wisdom necessary to succeed inside of those rules. We can call such strategies “emergent,” “spontaneous,” “unplanned,” or something else. But we must recognize them for what they are: evolved, experience-based responses to established conditions.

    Andy's argument is that certain outcomes are the "products of liberty". And it sounds very Hayekian, emergent order and all that, and Hayek is even referenced. Fine.

    But what are Andy's examples of "products of liberty"?

    People living in liberty learn lessons about family formation, theft, vandalism, homelessness, land use, professional licensing, alcohol sales, taxation, gambling, and much more.

    And I say: whoa. Some of those things are not like the others.

    For example: professional licensing. In real life, is that really an example of a community coming together to a consensus, saying that (for example) a Maine wood scaler needs to convince "the State Sealer that he is competent to measure wood using one or more authorized systems of measurement and successfully complete an examination as established by the State Sealer"?

    Or is that just an example of entrenched Maine wood scalers convincing the state to "cut down" (heh) competition?

Last Modified 2023-09-08 4:12 AM EDT