URLs du Jour

2021-02-07

  • Michael Ramirez makes it two cartoons in a row about Marjorie.

    [Equal Standards]

    To be clear, I'm not in favor of disciplining CongressCritters for wacky ideas. It was a bad idea for MTG. The voters spoke. People who claim to value "democracy" shouldn't overrule the results of democratic elections.

    On the other hand, I would be in favor of mandatory exams on civics given to CongressCritters every year, with the results made public. They've sworn to both "support and defend" and "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution; how well do they know it?

    Then maybe make committee assignments based on that.


  • In our "Disappointing, Not Surprising" Department: The Portsmouth (NH) Public Library is offering a Anti-Racism Zine. Literally hand-drawn. For free. Except that it's involuntarily funded by Portsmouth taxpayers, and (sigh) voluntarily by people like me who pay a yearly non-resident fee for our cards.

    You can read it for yourself. Or you can trust me: it's the usual woke propaganda. Complete with self-flagellation:

    [PPL Anti-Racism Sample]

    In the library's (slight) defense, their shelves are decently ideologically diverse. There's someone there who isn't averse to getting books by George F. Will, Thomas Sowell, etc.

    I'd like to say that it's not the library's job to advocate a narrow racial ideology. (Nor is it the job of a University.)

    But that ship has apparently sailed, at least in the short term.


  • Philip Carl Salzman notes the prevailing campus culture: We Love Diversity, But Hate Differences.

    Every institution in the United States and in Canada has endorsed diversity as a fundamental value and goal, and has formally committed to sex, race, sexuality, and ethnic diversity in its personnel. This is seen at every level, from national governments to universities to primary schools, from international corporations to the media to street corner stores, and from the military to political rioters. Diversity is alleged to be valuable in and of itself, a broadening and enriching of knowledge and experience.

    While sex, race, sexuality, and ethnic diversity are the objects of the highest approbation, any consideration of differences between sexes, races, sexualities, and ethnic groups is condemned and strictly forbidden. Any statement indicating differences is assumed to be invidious, praising one and demeaning the other. Even where differences do imply value judgements, such as in academic performance or crime rates, it is now forbidden to mention them. In other words, we love diversity, but hate differences.

    As we saw the other day, we especially hate differences of opinion.


  • Jack Fowler grasps the darkness of Dark-Money. It's in his review of House Resolution 1, which is the latest Democrat attempt to ensure their permanent majority.

    About that “dark money” — it’s a reality. But in political parlance, translated by a compliant media, it has always been understood to mean undue influence of high-dollar conservative donors. Which may be why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the principal co-sponsor of H.R. 1, while Majority Leader Chuck Schumer grandstands likewise on behalf of the Senate sibling, lending it prestige. Or, it may not: Both Democratic leaders are champions of raising, directing, orchestrating, associating with, relying on, and spending dark money. Per the Washington Free Beacon, the duo quarterbacked the funneling of millions in dark cash into the 2020 congressional elections. In fact, the amount that a Schumer-related group pulled in and spent in 2020 was a massive increase over the 2016 and 2018 election cycles:

    Majority Forward, a nonprofit with ties to Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC, pushed $57.4 million into super PACs that helped Democrats regain the majority in Congress’s upper chamber. The vast sum far eclipses the $6.2 million it funneled into election activity in the 2016 and 2018 cycles combined. The nonprofit does not disclose its donors, making it difficult to identify who provided the funding to back Schumer’s efforts.

    Majority Forward’s election cash spike was made possible by a record-breaking fundraising haul from mid-2018 to mid-2019, when the group received $76 million in anonymous donations. That same year, it passed tens of millions to other left-wing nonprofits for its primary purpose of bankrolling voter engagement. Its largest donation was $14.8 million to America Votes, which later found itself under investigation in Georgia for allegedly sending ballot applications to non-residents.

    And they say the right-wing conspiracy is vast!

    Or (ahem) half-vast.


  • "Wired's politics writer" Gilad Edelman breathes a sigh of relief: Finally, an Interesting Proposal for Section 230 Reform.

    By the end of last year, there were few better symbols of bad-faith politics than Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that gives online platforms legal immunity for user-generated content. After a fairly sleepy existence since its passage in 1996, Section 230 turned into an unlikely rallying cry for a subset of Republican politicians who disingenuously blamed it for letting social media platforms discriminate against conservatives. (In fact, the law has nothing to do with partisan balance, and if anything allows platforms to keep more right-wing content up than they otherwise would.) Down the home stretch of his reelection campaign, Donald Trump began dropping Section 230 references into his stump speeches. The whole thing culminated with a pair of depressing Senate hearings that, while nominally about Section 230, were little more than PR stunts designed for Ted Cruz to get clips of himself berating Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Senate Democrats didn’t quite cover themselves in glory either.

    So it’s a bit of a surprise to see a legislative proposal on Section 230 that thoughtfully, if imperfectly, addresses some of the most glaring problems with the law. The SAFE TECH Act, a bill announced on Friday morning by Democratic senators Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono, and Amy Klobuchar, is an encouraging sign that members of Congress are paying attention to the smartest critiques of Section 230 and trying to craft appropriate solutions.

    It's always nice when writers claim "the smartest critiques" are the ones they happen to agree with.

    But I only linked to the WIRED article so that you could compare and contrast this counterpoint…


  • … from Cathy Gellis at Techdirt: Senators Warner, Hirono, And Klobuchar Demand The End Of The Internet Economy.

    Just because Senators Warner, Hirono, and Klobuchar are apparently oblivious to how their SAFE TECH bill would destroy the Internet doesn't mean everyone else should ignore how it does. These are Senators drafting legislation, and they should understand the effect the words they employ will have.

    Mike [Masnick, Techdirt editor] has already summarized much of the awfulness they propose, and why it is so awful, but it's worth taking a closer look at some of the individually odious provisions. This post focuses in particular on how their bill obliterates the entire Internet economy.

    I trust Techdirt over WIRED. But see what you think.


  • On a totally unrelated matter, Randal O'Toole looks to our electric-car future. Vehicle-Mile Fees: A Good Idea If Done Right. What would it mean to "do it right"?

    However, it is critical that such fees be dedicated to highways, roads, and streets, and not diverted to build obsolete light‐rail lines or subsidize other archaic infrastructure. Currently, about 20 percent of federal and state gas taxes are diverted to transit and other non‐​highway programs and the result is an incredible amount of waste and inequity.

    Calculations based on 2019 Department of Transportation data show that it cost five times as much to move someone a passenger mile by public transit as by the average automobile. An Oregon transit agency is currently spending $108 a rider subsidizing one rail transit line.

    This is particularly inequitable because transit commuters have the highest median incomes of any commuters in the country. Just 5 percent of people who earn less than $25,000 a year took transit to work in 2019 while nearly 7 percent of people who earn more than $75,000 a year commuted by transit. This means that 95 percent of low‐​income workers disproportionately pay through gasoline and other taxes for transit rides taken by high‐​income workers.

    I, for one, hope the Portsmouth Public Library does a zine denouncing the inequity of ordinary-schmoe gas-taxpayers subsidizing high-income public transit users.