URLs du Jour


  • P. J. O'Rourke weighs in on America's Teeter-Tottering Democracy.

    Storming the Capitol Building was an attack on libertarian conservatism. To be a libertarian is to believe in the sanctity of individual liberty and the duty of individual responsibility. To be a conservative is to believe in the primacy of moral values and the continuity of civilized institutions.

    To be a mob is to surrender individual liberty to the madness of crowds, to shed responsibility like a pair of dirty socks, to put moral values out with the trash, and to piss on the walls (or break the windows and litter the floors) of civilized institutions.

    Indeed. Once you've pledged loyalty to a tribe (or a person you see as charismatic), your brain is no longer yours, it's theirs.

  • John Tierney tells us of The New Censors. And you'd never guess… well, maybe you would … it's journalists. Or maybe I should put sneer quotes around that: "journalists".

    After the 1967 summer of riots, journalists, politicians, and sociologists spent many words and dollars trying to find and cure the “root cause” of the racial unrest. They failed, but eventually a solution did emerge. The root cause of riots turned out to be rioters. Peace returned to the streets once police adopted new crowd-control tactics and prosecutors cracked down on lawbreakers. Mob violence came to be recognized not as an indictment of American society but as a failure of policing.

    That lesson was forgotten last year, when police were lambasted for trying to control violence at Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests. Journalists disdained tear gas and arrests in favor of addressing the “systemic racism” supposedly responsible for the disorder. After the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, some raised questions about police failure to stop the mayhem, but once again, progressive journalists are focusing elsewhere. They’ve identified a new root cause of mob violence: free speech.

    They’ve cheered the social-media purge of conservatives and urged further censorship of “violent rhetoric” and “disinformation.” It’s a remarkably self-destructive move for a profession dependent on freedom of speech, but the journalists now dominating newsrooms aren’t thinking long-term—and can’t imagine being censored themselves. The traditional liberal devotion to the First Amendment seems hopelessly antiquated to young progressives convinced that they’re on the right side of history.

    Ah, but (as the saying goes) if activist journalists didn't have double standards… well, you know the rest.

  • To continue on that theme, James Bovard writes on Joe Biden and the Death of Free Speech.

    The media loved Joe Biden’s inauguration: his platitude-laden speech and his calls for “unity” struck the perfect note for a Washington establishment that wants no more guff from the “deplorables.” But few commentators stooped to point out the radical changes of Biden’s big day, such as its being the first inaugural since 1865 with the military openly occupying the nation’s capital. 

    In his inaugural address, Biden castigated “a riotous mob [that] thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people.” But politicians invoked that same mob to justify silencing protesters for miles around the inauguration. Biden also declared, “That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our republic. It’s perhaps this nation’s greatest strength.” Yet during Biden’s inauguration, new “guardrails” drove free speech into the dirt.

    Bovard wonders, not at all unrealistically, whether Wheezy Joe Biden will be a 21st-century John Adams with an shiny new Sedition Act. That might draw cheers from "journalists". (See item above if necessary.)

  • Oh well. On to a more mundane topic: Ross Marchand suggests Lawmakers Must Examine Real Issues Plaguing The Postal Service. My suggestion: read an implicit "(but probably won't)" after the word "Must" in that headline.

    It's mostly a rebuttal to a predictable moar-socialism plea:

    In a recent piece for The Nation, contributor Jake Bittle suggests direct taxpayer aid to the USPS and an end to the “prefunding” mandate. Bittle also advocates for postal banking, an idea floated (and rejected) many times. Any serious suggestion to reform the USPS must address the agency’s operational inefficiencies and bloated compensation. President Joe Biden, Congress, and USPS leadership must deliver on critical reforms to get the USPS back on the right track to fiscal solvency.

    In his piece, Bittle speculates that, “lawmakers may have more appetite for direct aid [to the USPS] now that Trump is fading from view.” While this may be true, immediate liquidity isn’t really an issue for the struggling agency. The USPS reported more than $14 billion cash on hand at the end of fiscal year 2020 – more than it has had since at least 2005. Even if a taxpayer bailout delays bankruptcy from, say, 2021 to 2022, it will do nothing to solve the agency’s looming $160 billion worth of debt and unfunded liabilities.

    To solve this larger, long-term solvency issue, Bittle suggests scrapping the prefunding requirement passed by Congress in 2006 that, “requires the USPS to fund retiree health benefits up to five decades in advance.” Bittle neglects to mention, though, that this iteration of the prefunding mandate ended in 2016. Now, the agency need only gradually write off these retirement health obligations (over a 40-year period) instead of footing the bill all at once. This relatively lax amortization schedule resulted in the USPS contributing about $800 million into its retirement health fund for fiscal 2020 – a small fraction of the agency’s $9.2 billion net loss that year. And, according to the USPS itself, eliminating the prefunding mandate “will not reduce our underlying liability for retiree health benefits, nor improve our cash flow or long-term financial position.”

    Marchand doesn't go full libertarian. I will, though: repeal the USPS monopoly, and allow private companies to deliver mail to mailboxes. And, eventually, sell off USPS assets to the highest bidders.

  • Steve Landsburg starts off another well-known saying: The More Things Change….

    Just in case you thought the change of administration meant an end to stupid and evil trade policies, CNN reports that “President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Monday aimed at boosting American manufacturing, setting in motion a process to fulfill his campaign pledge to strengthen the federal government’s Buy American rules.”

    Because Uncle Stupid has plenty of money, time, and energy to waste on more rules.

  • And our Google LFOD News Alert rang for an item at the Volokh Conspriracy from Ilya Somin: New Hampshire’s Supreme Court Lawsuit Seeking to Prevent Massachusetts from Taxing NH Residents Working Remotely for Massachusetts Firms. It's a good review of the legal case before SCOTUS brought by NH against MA.

    I hope—and very tentatively expect—that they will choose the latter option. The "Live Free or Die State" deserves to win this important case. At the very least, it is no Texas Turkey that can be lightly dismissed.

    In what may considered to be "breaking news": today's SCOTUS orders contained a one-liner:


    The Acting Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States.

    I have no idea what that means, let alone whether that's good news or bad.