URLs du Jour

2020-09-03

[Amazon Link]

  • Cato's Walter Olson has news of the latest depredation: Citing Public Health Authority, Feds Decree Nationwide Eviction Moratorium.

    Yesterday the Trump administration published an emergency edict purporting to ban a wide range of residential evictions for nonpayment of rent nationwide through the end of the year (and well past Election Day). [AP, Reuters] Under what claimed authority, you may ask, and if so, how constitutional is that claimed authority?

    It’s one thing for the feds to attach strings regarding evictions to housing they’re involved with financially. That has already been part of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new measure, far broader, dispenses with that nexus.

    It's claimed the power is granted by this statute, but I'm not sure what hallucinogens you have to be taking to believe that. At National Review, David Harsanyi is blunt and accurate: Trump's 'Eviction Moratorium' Is State-Sanctioned Theft.

    It’s difficult to comprehend how this kind of intrusion could be constitutional. But let’s set aside the legal concerns. Fiscal conservatives have rightly mocked Democrats and socialists who favor magically wiping out student debt while ignoring the economic and legal repercussions. Student loans are, regrettably, backed by moral-hazardy government guarantees. Rent, though, isn’t even owed to the state or secured by a government agency. It is owed to private citizens who have entered into legal contracts with tenants. Property rights and the sanctity of those contracts are vital in a lawful society. The latter are now being torn up by government decree.

    Limited government: an idea whose time has… gone.


  • The latest issue of Reason has a bunch of good ideas on a single theme, introduced by Katherine Mangu-Ward: If You Want to Fix Policing, Listen to the Pragmatists.

    In that moment of optimism, Reason asked writers who have been on the criminal justice beat for years to lay out serious proposals for reforms with a fighting chance of being implemented in the coming months or years. The result is a robust list that includes calls to abolish qualified immunity (page 18), bust the police unions (page 22), better regulate the use of police force (page 25), rethink crisis response (page 28), end the drug war (page 32), release body cam footage (page 35), stop overpolicing (page 37), and restrict asset forfeiture (page 40). Each article begins with a quote from Reason's archives, some from issues dating all the way back to the 1960s. Reason has been carrying this torch for a long time, in preparation for the moment when mainstream political culture and elected officials were ready to hear us out.

    I'm not sure how many of those links work for non-subscribers right now, but if/when they do, they're all worth our attention and advocacy.


  • At the WSJ, Jason L. Riley has a simple request: Spare Us More of the Arrogance of ‘Expertise’.

    A troubling trend in recent decades has been the transfer of decision-making authority to expert intellectuals. Environmental regulations and health-care mandates are two obvious examples. But there’s also the more general nanny state mentality emanating from liberals who tell you that politicians, bureaucrats and academics know better than you do how to live your life and raise your children. The result is fewer decisions made through democratic processes, and more choices determined by an intelligentsia that suffers few if any consequences for being wrong.

    Experience tells us that the best way to raise children is with a mother and father in the home, and the most effective anti-poverty program in existence is getting married before having kids. Yet prominent commentators like David Brooks insist that the nuclear family is now passé and that the black underclass needs slavery reparations, not fewer fatherless households. Increases in violent crime have brought calls from the public for more policing, while professional activists call for decarceration and reduced funding for law enforcement. Low-income minorities want to choose where their children are educated, but elite organizations like the NAACP oppose charter schools.

    The co-pandemic of elite arrogance is certain to outlast Covid-19. I consider New Hampshire State Representative Judith Spang a prototypical example: taken to haranguing shoppers in the local supermarket parking lot about their overuse of plastic bags. If she were a normal citizen, that could be chalked up to cranky busybodyism. Unfortunately, she's got power, and she wants to use it.


  • Out on the Left Coast, things continue to slide downhill, as reported by the Free Beacon: Judge Rules University of California Cannot Use Standardized Tests in Admissions.

    The University of California school system is no longer allowed to use SAT and ACT test scores as part of its admissions process after a California judge ruled that the tests give an unfair advantage to non-disabled students.

    The university system has not required students to submit standardized test scores as part of their college applications since May when the university board of regents voted to phase out the test requirements. Applicants could still voluntarily submit their test scores, however, which, according to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman's Tuesday ruling, gave some students an "inherent advantage" over others.

    Leave it to David Friedman to immediately spot the inherent disadvantage the judge's decision imposes:

    That means that they are eliminating the only way in which home schooled kids, lacking the usual high school grades and teacher recommendations, can demonstrate their academic qualifications to a university.

    Are we fast approaching a time where Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron" will seem like a documentary?


  • And I managed to give a good healthy snort to this Slashdot story: The FBI Botches Its DNC Hack Warning In 2016 -- But Says It Won't Next Time. Quoting a report from Wired:

    On April 28, 2016, an IT tech staffer for the Democratic National Committee named Yared Tamene made a sickening discovery: A notorious Russian hacker group known as Fancy Bear had penetrated a DNC server "at the heart of the network," as he would later tell the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. By this point the intruders already had the ability, he said, to delete, alter, or steal data from the network at will. And somehow this breach had come as a terrible surprise -- despite an FBI agent's warning to Tamene of potential Russian hacking over a series of phone calls that had begun fully nine months earlier. The FBI agent's warnings had "never used alarming language," Tamene would tell the Senate committee, and never reached higher than the DNC's IT director, who dismissed them after a cursory search of the network for signs of foul play. That miscommunication would result in the success of the Kremlin-sponsored hack-and-leak operation that would ultimately contribute to the election of Donald Trump.

    Read that again: It's the FBI's fault that the IT Director of the Democratic National Committee dismissed its warnings.

    Because the FBI didn't use alarming language.

    I'm sure there are at least a few FBI folks who are chafing for being held even slightly responsible for the DNC's compromise.


Last Modified 2020-09-04 7:29 AM EDT