URLs du Jour

2020-11-20

  • Geraghty's Morning Jolt takes what should be an uncontroversial stand: Americans Deserve the Truth, Even If It’s Unpleasant. After some extensive quoting:

    If you put your faith in President Trump’s claim of a presidential election stolen through massive alteration of votes through the use of voting software, and in the legal skills of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, I am sorry to tell you that you have been conned. Whether or not Rudy Giuliani wants $20,000 per day as the New York Times reported, it is safe to conclude he expects to be well compensated for his work for the Trump campaign. He has a financial interest in dragging out proceedings for as long as possible.

    I am saddened by the otherwise sensible folks, often on my side, who are convinced by the Trump/Giuliani/Powell smoke and mirrors.


  • So yesterday I shared an item (on LFOD grounds) from Religion Dispatches by John Stoehr, In Order to Move Forward We Must Believe the Unbelievable: Some Choose Death Over Democracy. Who, with the Christian charity typical of the progressive left, found "millions" of Trump voters "favor or tolerate organic homegrown fascism."

    I didn't quote the "evidence" that prompted this screed:

    There’s probably no better illustration of this than Jodi Doering’s interview on CNN this morning. Doering is a nurse in South Dakota. These days, she sees a lot of death. She said nearly all of her small town is now dead from the new coronavirus. She sees patients denying the reality of Covid-19 even as they’re immobile and dying from it.

    No silliness from Nurse Doering about patient confidentiality! And of course she got on CNN via "viral" tweets that just happened to fit a certain narrative. And of course she "proves" to people like Stoehr that Trump voters are a bunch of reality-denying fascists.

    But some are saying waitaminnit. For example, Ryan Mills at National Review: Nurse Goes Viral Claiming Dying Patients Deny COVID.

    Kim Rieger, a spokeswoman for the Huron Regional Medical Center, one of the hospitals where Doering works, said that after Doering’s claims went viral she did an informal poll of about a half dozen other nurses who work at the hospital to see if they had similar experiences.

    “No one else has gotten that statement back from a patient, specifically,” Rieger said about COVID denial. “Nor have they heard of that happening here. Not to call her a liar, because she provides care here as well as other hospitals, so it could have happened at another hospital.”

    Rieger said that after reading Doering’s tweets, she felt horrible.

    “I read these tweets, and, I think she was at her end,” Rieger said. “It might have been a better conversation for her girlfriends than Twitter.”

    OK, well what would you expect from a far-right rag like NR?

    Well, how about Wired? David Zweig brings an ounce of skepticism to the story, asking: Are Covid Patients Gasping ‘It Isn’t Real’ As They Die?.

    Doering’s statement that she’s watched “so many” people die from the disease even as they deny its very existence, endlessly repeated on social media and presented by news outlets without corroboration, would seem to represent a broader phenomenon.

    But other nurses who work in similar settings say they’ve seen nothing of the kind.

    I called a number of hospitals in the same part of South Dakota to ask emergency room nurses if they’d noticed the same, disturbing phenomenon. At Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, about 20 minutes from Doering’s hometown of Woonsocket, an ER nurse told me, “I have not had that experience here.” At my request, Kim Rieger, the VP for communications and marketing at Huron Regional Medical Center, one of the four medical facilities where Doering works, spoke with several nurses at Huron to get their reactions to the CNN interview. None said they’d interacted with Covid patients who denied having the disease. “Most patients are grateful, and thankful for our help,” one told her. “I have not experienced this, nor have I been told of this experience, ever,” another said.

    Zweig is amazed at the "journalists" who simply repeated Doering's assertions without investigation. But, you know, it serves the we're-all-gonna-die-and-it's-Trump's-fault narrative. Too good to check!


  • At Liberty Unyielding, Hans Bader wonders: Did claims about rigged elections backfire on Trump and some Democrats?.

    Why did Donald Trump narrowly lose in Georgia? Perhaps because he encouraged voters not to vote by mail. That resulted in fewer Republicans casting ballots at all, because some wouldn’t — or couldn’t — vote in person. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State says that 24,000 Republicans who voted absentee in the primary election did not vote in the general election. He says Donald Trump cost himself the election by sowing distrust in voting by mail, and whether states would count mailed ballots fairly: “He would have won by 10 thousand votes he actually suppressed, depressed his own voting base.”

    You know, that actually makes more sense to me than anything Trump/Giuliani/Powell are saying.


  • Kids these days with their hep jargon! Like Peter Suderman at Reason: The Conservative Antitrust Case Against Big Tech Is a Giant Self-Own.

    Few prominent political arguments have been so nakedly self-refuting as the conservative case for antitrust action against big tech.

    The argument typically goes something like this: Big tech has too much power, and social media companies like Facebook use that power to shape and stifle political debates, censoring conservatives and conservative speech in ways that are both visible and invisible. They are not neutral actors but partisan boosters, and their sheer size means they must be reined in.

    As Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) put it on Fox News last night, following yet another congressional hearing featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, "These are the most powerful companies we've seen in American history. They're the most powerful companies in the world. And it's time we took them on." Hawley, the right's foremost critic of big tech, has repeatedly called for taking antitrust action against Facebook, arguing that it represents a monopoly. Facebook, he said in October, "is a lot like a supermarket…except there's only ONE supermarket in town, and they decide who can and can't shop."

    Facebook, in Hawley's telling, is the only online venue for political speech. There are no other options. There's no place else to go to share your political views, especially if you're a conservative.

    He explained all this, of course, on Twitter.

    I foresee me not voting for Hawley in the 2024 New Hampshire Presidential Primary.


  • And (more generally) any Republican who gripes about "market fundamentalists" is essentially telling me "vote for someone else". Ryan Bourne and Oliver Wiseman ask at the Dispatch: What Policies Are Really in the Interests of the Working Class?. They look at Hawley, and also Marco Rubio, who have been trying to claim the "just as good as Trump" label.

    The upshot of all this is that the Trump administration delivered prosperity with free-market policies and then undercut those gains with a dose of economic populism. Yet to listen to Rubio and Hawley, as well as policy wonks like Oren Cass, it is now in workers’ interests to build on Trump’s destructive protectionism with new industrial strategies and "pro-worker" labor laws. It is a strange paradox of the debate in Washington today that the most vocal supporters of the policies that helped deliver the Trump boom are the ones most widely derided as being on the wrong side of economic history. 

    In the coming debate about the future of the GOP, those serious about building a working-class party should be honest about which policies actually help American workers, as opposed to just "appealing" to them. And those typecast as “free market fundamentalists” should not be shy about the fact that it was their preferred policies that helped generate greater prosperity for working class Americans. 

    I'd like to think that "working-class" folks are smart enough to understand an argument about economic prosperity.


  • And at Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux would like to extend the skepticism the FDA brings to medicine to all policy proposals. Are they Safe and Effective?

    New drugs and medical devices cannot be made available to the general public, even through prescriptions by physicians, until these are proven – to the satisfaction of FDA bureaucrats – to be both safe and effective. Americans are denied access to any drug or medical device that isn’t certified to have such proof. Can’t be too safe, dontchaknow!

    Why does no one demand that any proposed Covid restriction be proven to meet the same standard before governors, mayors, public-health bureaucrats, and other pooh-bahs are allowed to prescribe it as treatment for the general public? (Actually, “prescribe” is not really the correct word; a more accurate one is “impose.” But we’ll here leave this nicety aside.)

    Heck, not just Covid! What about "Medicare for all"?

Fake Like Me

[Amazon Link]

Always on the lookout for good reads, I put five of the 2020 Edgar Award Nominees onto my get-at-library list. This is the first, and it's pretty good.

Not that I wasn't a little worried. Out of six back cover blurbs, five are from women, and the six is not gender-identified ("Kirkus"). Was I going to be awash in estrogen-fueled fancy writing? Well, maybe a little, but it's mostly just good, compelling prose.

It's set in the art world. Which is a far different one than the one I (and probably you) inhabit. The narrator is a moderately successful painter, about to finish up a project that will make her wildly successful. Unfortunately, a fire in her (uninsured) loft destroys everything. What now?

"What now" is quickly answered: she wangles her way into "Pine City", a small conclave of artists set in a once-fashionable, now-shabby lakeside campground in upstate New York. The idea is to (fraudulently) recreate her paintings in the few summer months before they're scheduled to be exhibited.

The artist community is haunted, however, by the past suicide (or was it?) of their colleague and performance artist Carey Logan: she apparently filled her boots with concrete and walked into the lake one day. Especially moody is Carey's once-boyfriend Tyler, who is pretty clearly keeping secrets about their relationship. Coincidentally, the narrator's childhood friend, now married into big money (and also plugged into the art scene), has a mansion across the lake, and their complex, semi-dysfunctional, relationship gets even more complex and dysfunctional.

And before you say: "Gee, that sounds kind of like Rebecca." You got it in one. Down to the book's narrator never getting a name. It's not as if this is hidden; one of those back-cover blurbs says it's 'du Maurier-esque', which even a lousy literary detective like me could pick up on.

It's very much a psychological thriller, which is easy because all the major characters seem to be some flavor of crazy, combined with a heavy dose of pretension, often accompanied with substance use. Their art is intentionally out there, mostly making Piss Christ look like Norman Rockwell in comparison.

It's also a detailed look at the technological details behind the production of cutting-edge art; there's a surprising amount of engineering and chemistry involved. With trips to Home Depot. And (in one case) stomach-turning deals with shady medical technicians.