URLs du Jour

2020-11-04

As I did in 2016, I intentionally avoided watching election coverage last night. Sounds as if that was a good call. Mr. Ramirez, if you please:

[Thelma and Sam]

  • So let's do at least one thing not directly about the election. Mark J. Perry has an all chart post at AEI's Carpe Diem. Many are classified as "narrative destabilizing", and if you need to know what that means (or even if you don't) click over. Here's a goodie:

    And in related good news: in 2019, the "USA had the single-largest reduction in CO2 of any country in the world".


  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff wonders: Is Kamala Harris a Marxist or just incoherent? I'll go with "Incoherent Marxist". At issue is the tweet we blogged about yesterday.

    On the one hand, Harris seems to want everyone to have equal resources and support so they can compete on an equal footing, which is how she views equity. At the same time, she defines equitable treatment as everyone ending up at the same place. But if there is competition, then everyone will not end up at the same place. There will be winners and losers. Will another massive transfer of resources be required?

    Just what is Harris’ vision of an equitable society? Is it one in which there is a massive redistribution not just of wealth but of “support,” so that everyone starts out equally, followed by competition? Or is it one in which everyone ends up at the same place?

    Both visions are harrowing, of course. Both entail totalitarianism.

    More analysis at the link, but Paul's probably trying too hard to tease out something sensible enough to refute from Kamala's meandering mental squiggles.

    Just a non-libertarian thought: We should require Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron" be read monthly, in all classrooms, in all schools, public, private, and home. Audio version read aloud by Kamala Harris; she'd be required to do this by appropriate legislation.


  • A still-possible scenario is floated by Kyle Smith at the NYPost: If Biden is dragged over the finish line, Dems will quickly drop him.

    Relax, young woke-tivists: You carried Joe to Nov. 3, and according to most pollsters, a thundering victory awaits you. If Biden concludes his inaugural address with the memorable words, “Now can I go back to my basement and watch ‘Matlock’?,” everyone around him will be happy to oblige.

    Biden has been envisioning this day since he was a boy, but no one is under any illusions that this election boils down to much more than the question of which candidate is Donald Trump and which one is not. Biden is not “Hope and Change II: Electric Boogaloo,” he’s simply Generic Democrat. Generic Democrat has been beating Trump in the polls for nearly two years, and even this Geriatric Generic Democrat may therefore prevail.

    I'll simply observe that, as I type, "most pollsters" will need (yet again) to figure out why they screwed up so badly.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson points out a big problem: Fiscal and Financial Crises Unaddressed.

    We probably are not facing another financial crisis like the one of 2008–09. But our situation is a lot like it was in 2008 in one way: We are carrying a lot of risks that we do not understand very well. The crisis doesn’t have to look like 2009 — it can be its own thing. Driving a few million small-time residential landlords into foreclosure and penury is going to ripple throughout the economy for the simple reason that they owe a lot of money to banks and other creditors, and the current relationship between Washington and Wall Street means that we all carry that risk together, whether we want to or not. We have had for a generation a bipartisan consensus against serious action on either the taxing or spending side of the ledger, and the Trump-era Republican Party is at least as hostile to entitlement reform as the Democrats are. But: More than half of federal spending is Social Security and medical entitlements, another 20 percent or so is national security, and the next biggest chunk is interest on the debt we’ve already piled up. That adds up to something just short of the whole federal enchilada, more than 80 percent of spending. Even if we froze everything else in place, there would be no way to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path without touching those sensitive interests and/or substantially raising taxes — and we can’t keep everything else frozen in place. We have an unpredictable epidemic on our hands, a financial system still in need of wide-ranging reform, and a fiscal time bomb ticking away in Washington.

    And no matter how hard you look at your ballot today, you will not see on it a solution for that compound mess of messes.

    I'm trying to resist apologizing to my kids every time I see them for the fiscal mess we're dumping in their laps.


  • Rational Optimist Matt Ridley is not too optimistic about the near future: Six reasons the new lockdown is a deadly mistake. (He's writing as a Brit, but I'm pretty sure we're making the same blunder.) The first two:

    Covid is not a very dangerous disease for most people. The death rate is probably around 0.2 per cent of those infected, and most who die are elderly and suffering from other medical conditions. The mortality of those in hospital with Covid has almost halved for the over 80s since the start of the epidemic as treatment has improved.

    Lockdowns are lethal. They cause more deaths from cancer, heart disease and suicide as well as job losses, bankruptcies, social disintegration and mental illness especially among the young, who are at least risk from the virus. In April sunshine, many people and firms could cope for a short period – once. Today, in November rain, the pain will be far worse. I will be all right, living in a rural area and able to work online, but what of those who started restaurants or live alone in small flats?

    The people making the decisions in Britain, Matt points out, do not have skin in the game. Same here.


  • Jonah Goldberg has a sensible suggestion: One thing America needs is a lot less politics.

    What vexes me most about … stories of families being torn apart by partisan politics is the underlying assumption shared by both sides. It’s a worldview that elevates politics — national politics — to the primary source of meaning in people’s lives. It reminds me less of the 1850s in America than of the 1860s in England. Catholics felt that a Protestant on the throne would overturn everything they believed about their country, and vice versa. Today, we talk about a Republican or Democrat in office as if they were monarchs with control over the nation’s soul.

    I’m a conservative, so I’m enamored with smaller and more limited government anyway. But even accounting for that bias, I still think the answer is devaluing the currency of national politics. If you want stronger, more ambitious government, fine. Advocate for it at the local level, where the powers that be are more connected to the reality on the ground, and where political winners and losers have to look each other in the eye.

    Alternating between parties that want to unify a vast and diverse country under “one best way” is a recipe for perpetual strife. Politics should be about solving the specific problems government is suited to solve — not defining our souls.

    If only there was a good way to get from here to there. Both major parties need to present themselves as the only thing standing between you and some imaginary dystopia. One where pre-existing conditions are never, ever, covered.


Last Modified 2020-11-05 6:27 AM EST