URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • A powerful ex-pol is coming for our Presidential Primary, specifically Harry Reid: Nevada 'Entitled To Be' FITN Primary State. Michael Graham of NHJournal will fill us in:

    When it comes to New Hampshire’s First In the Nation primary, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is one of the many haters. And he’s never been shy about saying so. “I was always terribly upset about how we were choosing our presidents,” then-Senate Minority Leader Reid said in 2015. “You go to New Hampshire. There are not any minorities there. Nobody lives there.”

    Granite State politicos, like the New England Patriots (until this year, anyway), are used to being hated for their success. There have been multiple attempts to knock New Hampshire out of the top primary spot, and each time they’ve been foiled by Secretary of State Bill Gardner and a united front from the Granite State’s political players.

    Here's our state's dirty little secret (which I relate every few years or so, but nobody's noticed): we do a lousy job at voting for the eventual president.

    • In our most recent primary, Joe Biden did not win. In fact, he came in fifth. Behind Bernie, Mayor Pete, Amy, and Fauxcahontas.
    • The last time the Democrat winner of a contested New Hampshire Primary went on to win the general election was 1976 (Jimmy Carter).
    • Republican primary voters can congratulate themselves on a slightly better record. In the last seriously-contested GOP-side primary in 2016, Trump soundly beat the field, and (as you know) went on to win. (Whether that was a wise choice for GOP voters… well, longtime readers know my opinion there. Probably also short-time readers.)
    • But before that, to find an NH GOP primary winner who went on to become President, you have to go back to 1988 when George H. W. Bush beat Bob Dole.

    So while I like NH having the FITN primary—it's fun, sort of—I can see why pols of both parties might think it's time to pull the plug.

  • At the Dispatch, Timothy Sandefur writes on the antitrust debate, explaining Why We Shouldn’t Abandon the Consumer Welfare Standard.

    Seventy-five years ago, a federal court in New York issued one of the most destructive decisions in the history of American law. Bizarre as it sounds, that ruling, called United States v. Alcoa, essentially made it illegal for businesses to succeed through hard work, and established a precedent that threatened the competition and efficiency upon which economic growth depends. It took decades for legal scholars to persuade judges to abandon that foolhardy rule, and adopt a more pro-competitive principle called the “consumer welfare standard” instead. Their success led to an explosion of innovation and vast improvements in the standard of living. But today, in supporting antitrust actions against Google and Facebook, intellectuals on both the left and right are trying to eliminate that rule and move backwards to a day when antitrust laws served to punish economic success.

    Goodness knows that Big Tech engages in a lot of irritating behavior. But here's one large class of people that they don't irritate: their customers. They continue to sell them stuff at prices they can afford (or just give stuff away). I hope that doesn't become illegal any time soon.

  • Senator Rand Paul issues his 2020 Festivus Report (PDF). I don't recommend it if you're having blood pressure control issues. But otherwise… Sample:

    Pay enough attention to government waste and you’ll start to hear about a few projects that are so crazy, they live on in the memory long after they’ve stopped being funded. Some of my personal favorites include a multi-year NIH study of the sexual promiscuity of Japanese quail while on cocaine, costing roughly $850,000, as well as what has come to be known as “Shrimp on a Treadmill,” a project on which the National Science Foundation (NSF) spent $682,570 to literally run a shrimp on an underwater treadmill.

    Well, now the NSF is back at it, only instead of putting a shrimp on a treadmill, they paid researchers to put a lizard on a treadmill, and the researchers used funds from grants worth $1,557,083 to do it!

    Lizards on a Treadmill would make a pretty good 1950s film noir movie title, perhaps directed by a blacklisted ex-Communist.

  • And as far as I know, this paper was not Federally funded: Senators vs Santa’s Reindeer. It's from five Dartmouth folks: one economist, four sociologists. Here's the abstract, and you'll note a further New Hampshire connection:

    Given the concerns over informed stock trading by U.S. senators and congresspeople at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we examine these legislators’ short term stock trading results during 2020. We find little evidence for market timing or stock selection ability. Both Senators’ and House Members’ stock selections underperform the S&P at the one month horizon and underperform a size-industry adjusted benchmark at the 3 and 6 month time frames. Returns to legislators’ purchases contrast with returns to the top stock picks from U.S. brokerage houses and stocks chosen by Santa’s Reindeer (Santa’s Village Jefferson NH). As a group the Reindeer outperform the S&P by 4.89 percent in a single month, or over 70 percent on an annualized basis. However reindeer exhibit herding behavior and a preference for momentum stocks.

    Reader, from the linked page you can click through to find the paper itself, and it's very funny. ("Reindeer appear to use a COVID related strategy, investing in both pharma and life sciences companies (e.g. Zoetis and Myovant Sciences) and the technology sectors (e.g. a NASQAQ 100 etf). Reindeer have industry selection ability but not stock picking prowess per se.")

  • And Jonah Goldberg brings us the bad news. A Return to Reaganism for the GOP? Unlikely.. And his poster boy for that unlikelihood is Ted Cruz:

    Cruz has long been a reliable bellwether for the mood of the broader GOP base, which is why he switched from one of Trump’s biggest critics to one of his biggest supporters—and why he offered to argue the Texas lawsuit before the Supreme Court.

    No politician in recent memory has wrapped himself more in Reagan’s legacy than Cruz. He’s read all the biographies, can quote all the big speeches, and has said countless times that he models himself after the Gipper.

    So it was revealing that on Friday, Cruz single-handedly scuttled an effort to protect Hong Kongers facing persecution for supporting democracy. The legislation would have offered temporary protected status to Hong Kongers seeking asylum from Chinese authoritarianism and for Hong Kong residents fearful of returning to it. The measure, so uncontroversial that it passed unanimously by voice vote in the House, is vintage Reagan.

    I'm still a registered Republican, Ted. And I vote. For you? That's getting less likely.

Last Modified 2022-10-01 1:04 PM EDT

Rope of Sand

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I watched Rope of Sand on the TV of Sand, while sitting on the Futon of Sand. And slept through most of it, darn. So I got up early and watched it downstairs on the Computer of Sand. Much better.

No subtitles, though. What the hell. Well, I got the gist.

You'll notice something right away about this 1949 movie it reunites a bunch of actors from Casablanca: Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and Paul Henreid. (Also, thanks to IMDB's collaboration search tool: Georges Renavent, uncredited in both movies.) Rains and Lorre play very similar characters to their Casablanca roles, Henreid very different. And according to IMDB:

Hal Wallis and screenwriter of "Rope of Sand" saw it as a re-teaming of Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. The producer of "Casablanca" did not get the stars but managed to recruit supporting players Claude Rains, Paul Henried, and Peter Lorre.

That would have been neat. We got Burt Lancaster and Corinne Calvet instead.

It's set in South Africa. Henreid plays Vogel, a sadistic mining company cop, dedicated to protecting the diamonds that poachers might retrieve out of the desolate company-owned forbidden zone. That's his job, but really, he just enjoys inflicting pain on people.

Then arrives a man Vogel tortured but failed to break years back: Mike Davis (Lancaster). He had found a fortune in diamonds out there in the desert wastes, but their secret location stayed with him.

In the background: company man Arthur Martingale (Rains), who despises Vogel but must keep him around. He gets acquainted with Suzanne (Calvet), variously described as a "Capetown trollop" and "French harlot". However, you just know that under about three inches of mud there beats a heart of gold. Martingale hires Suzanne to worm the diamonds' location from Mike.

There's a lot of betrayal, violence, sweating, sadism, smoking, cheating at cards, late-40s sex. If you can stay awake, it's a lot of fun.

Last Modified 2022-10-16 9:42 AM EDT