URLs du Jour

2021-01-11

Mr. Ramirez says it: [Destroyed]

  • Alexander William Salter tells us at the Foundation for Economic Education Why the Real Villain of 2020 Was Big Government.

    First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic posed enormous challenges to American institutions, and continues to do so. Frankly, we were not prepared. We need to diagnose what went wrong, so that we are never caught unaware like this again. Fortunately, the diagnosis is straightforward. COVID-19 was going to be bad, no matter what. But the failures of big government made it much, much worse.

    In particular, the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, and public teachers’ unions are the great American villains of 2020. Meanwhile, the heroes of this year are almost entirely in the private sector. From Zoom to vaccine development, Big Pharma and Big Tech—yes, you read that right—made this horrible year bearable. Even amid a crisis that led so many to cry out for vigorous government action, we saw that private markets still work best.

    Incompetence and bureaucratic delay at the CDC and FDA probably cost tens of thousands of American lives. Even now, the FDA is thumb-twiddling on AstraZeneca's vaccine, while other countries are putting it in arms.

    Meanwhile, the US racked up at least 1777 deaths yesterday.


  • At the Technology Liberation Front, Adam Thierer wonders if we're seeing The End of Permissionless Innovation?

    Time magazine recently declared 2020 “The Worst Year Ever.” By historical standards that may be a bit of hyperbole. For America’s digital technology sector, however, that headline rings true. After a remarkable 25-year run that saw an explosion of innovation and the rapid ascent of a group of U.S. companies that became household names across the globe, politicians and pundits in 2020 declared the party over.

    “We now are on the cusp of a new era of tech policy, one in which the policy catches up with the technology,” says Darrell M. West of the Brookings Institution in a recent essay, “The End of Permissionless Innovation.” West cites the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee’s October report on competition in digital markets—where it equates large tech firms with the “oil barons and railroad tycoons” of the Gilded Age—as the clearest sign that politicization of the internet and digital technology is accelerating.

    At a certain point, we'll wonder how we pissed it all away. Fingers will be pointed. Almost certainly at the wrong people.


  • Speaking of pissing things away, how about Republicans and their political power? Kevin D. Williamson writes (in an NRPLUS article, sorry) on The Task Ahead for Conservatives in the Biden Age.

    Now that Donald Trump has lost the presidential election to an egg-salad sandwich, taken the Republican Senate majority down with him, and inspired a bloody insurrection that has cratered the credibility of the Republican Party at large, Republicans might want to start thinking about how to use what little power they will retain in Washington for the next two years to do something constructive, and perhaps repair their reputation a little and earn back some of the public trust they have rightly forfeited.

    The good news is that there is an excellent opportunity for responsible conservative action. The bad news is that conservatives are still, for the moment, reliant on the dysfunctional Republican Party as their only practical political instrument. Reforming the GOP is an urgent task that will fall to such leaders as Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, if it can be done at all. It is not obvious that it can be, but it must be attempted.

    KDW outlines some possible strategies for the GOP. I'm probably more pessimistic than he is about their chances, and he's pretty pessimistic.


  • Have you longed for a good, short answer to the question "What Is Critical Race Theory?" Wait no longer, bunkie. James A. Lindsay has you covered:

    To keep this short and simple, I’ll provide you with two quotes from the book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (third edition) by Critical Race Theorists Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. These quotes summarize everything that Critical Race Theory is really about in its own words.

    First, Critical Race Theory views race and racism this way: race is a political construction that was invented by white people to give themselves power while excluding all other races from it, and racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society, present in all interactions, institutions, and phenomena, and effectively permanent in society (short of a full sociocultural revolution that puts them in charge). That is, Critical Race Theory assumes that racism is present in everything under a doctrine known as “systemic racism.” Quoting from Delgado and Stefancic,

    What do critical race theorists believe? Probably not every member would subscribe to every tenet set out in this book, but many would agree on the following propositions. First, that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—“normal science,” the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country. Second, most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material. The first feature, ordinariness, means that racism is difficult to cure or address. … The second feature, sometimes called “interest convergence” or material determinism, adds a further dimension. Because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class people (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.

    More (but not much more) at the link. A warning sign that the CRTists are getting their way:

    War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and "equal access" is racial- and sex-biased distribution of goodies from Uncle Stupid.

    Sorry, according to Nancy Pelosi, that should be "Parent's Sibling Stupid".


  • And there's a bit of good news. Sort of. From Jacob Sullum at Reason: Trump’s Lawyers Surrender in Georgia Despite Giuliani’s ‘Conclusive Proof’ of Election Fraud.

    During the rally that preceded Wednesday's deadly attack on the Capitol by enraged Trump supporters, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, said he was about to blow the lid off machine-facilitated election fraud in Georgia. That was not true. The next day, President Donald Trump's lawyers dropped four lawsuits alleging election irregularities and fraud in Georgia, claiming they had reached settlement agreements with state officials, who supposedly had promised to investigate Trump's outlandish charges. That was not true either.

    Those two lies confirm that Giuliani never had any credible evidence to back up his reckless allegations against Dominion Voting Systems, which he claims helped Democrats rig election machines to switch "hundreds of thousands" of Trump votes to Biden votes. That widely promoted conspiracy theory, which on Friday prompted Dominion to sue former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation, was at the heart of the grievances underlying Wednesday's violence. Yet Giuliani now has implicitly admitted it was all a hoax.

    They keep threatening to release the Kraken, but somehow it never shows up.

    A lot of people, some of them friends, got into bed with these people. I can only hope they soon have a Colonel Nicholson moment: "What have I done?"

Heaven Can Wait

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

A fun screwball comedy from 1943, directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

The way the afterlife works: you get to apply to the place you want to go to. Poor Henry (Don Ameche) decides to go straight to Hell ("where innumerable people had told him so often to go"). He's apparently not big on self-esteem. This involves an interview with "His Excellency", aka Satan. (Laird Cregar, a role he was born to play.) We are then taken on a cinematic journey through Henry's life, centering on his romance and marriage with Martha (Gene Tierney). It's full of hijinx and as much innuendo as you could get away with in 1943. The supporting cast is wonderful too.

The movie was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture. But it lost to Casablanca. There's no shame in losing to Casablanca.

Mrs. Salad remarked on how much Laird Cregar looked like a modern American pol. What do you think?

[Laird and Ted]