URLs du Jour


  • Glug. Another Michael Ramirez commentary on the GOP's shrinking tent:


    The iceberg isn't shown, but I assume it's orange.

  • You're Gonna Need A Longer Article. If you prefer text to pictures, Chris Stirewalt describes How Republicans Could Blow Their Midterm Moment. The historical record of midterm elections is clear: based on past performance, the GOP should take back both the House and Senate. But look at Arizona:

    The state’s Republican-led Senate won a court fight to get to take possession of the 2.1 million ballots cast by the residents of Maricopa County to conduct what could charitably be described as a fishing expedition. The Senate hired a consultancy called Cyber Ninjas to conduct the kind of inquiry you would expect from a firm with a name that sounds like a brand of air fryers. They used blacklights to look for secret watermarks and, not kidding here, looked for bamboo fibers in ballots for potential Chinese tampering. Only after objections from the Justice Department did the ninjas drop their plan to visit the homes of voters whose ballots they found suspicious. Think of it: In a swing state with a crucial Senate election next year, Republicans were going to go door-to-door to remind voters about Trump’s efforts to steal the election and hassle them over their votes.

    It’s understandable that many Republicans wish Cheney would go along to get along, but they ought to remember who it is that’s busy relitigating the 2020 election in swing states from coast to coast. If they miss their chance to benefit from a midterm windfall, Republicans should first blame the cranks and charlatans intent on reminding persuadable voters that the GOP is living in a very sordid past.

    The Maricopa inquiry involves noted icon among election fraud believers Jovan Pulitzer. Here in New Hampshire, the believers want him to be involved in the Windham forensic audit. Pulitzer is a self-promoting huckster; I once sat through a half-hour video of his where he claimed to have proof of some Chinese shenanigans in the Georgia elections, but I thought it was entirely hot air, handwaving, and making a big deal out of innocuous Wi-Fi enabled devices.

  • Speaking Of Conspiracy Theories… Scott Sumner looks at that Nicholas Wade article that I linked to last Saturday. Scott thinks that Wade is unaccountably underplaying The real story.

    Wade suggests that the global community of virologists has knowingly and recklessly engaged in highly dangerous research that threatens the lives of millions (if not billions), and then covered up an accident to avoid scrutiny. To be clear, he does not make that accusation in so many words, but I see no other way to interpret his claims:

    1. Wade claims the virus was probably created in a lab in China, and then accidentally escaped.
    2. Wade claims that “gain-of-function” research is an accepted practice among virologists, and indeed the Wuhan research was actively encouraged and even financed by western scientific institutes.
    3. Wade claims that Western virologists denied that Covid-19 could have been created in a lab, even though in fact it clearly could have been created in a lab.

    The Wade article presents a picture of scientific research creating a sort of Frankenstein’s monster, the worst nightmare of any Hollywood film.

    Scott finds the implication that the worldwide virus-research community is involved in a massive coverup of what happened in Wuhan to be non-credible. I'm leaning toward Wade's view, myself. But see what you think.

  • Cognitive Bias Is The Real Pandemic. Elizabeth Nolan Brown does the weekday "Reason Roundup" and yesterday's had an interesting item: Our Moral Judgments Affect Our Perception of COVID Risk.

    Church and protests are safe, beaches and parties are not? Two new studies showcase a tendency on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic: People perceive as less risky the activities they condone or see as important and more risky those they do not, even if the logistics—and actual risk—of the two activities are similar.

    In other words, "risk judgments are sensitive to factors unrelated to the objective risks of infection," as study authors Cailin O'Connor, Daniel P. Relihan, Ashley Thomas, Peter H. Ditto, Kyle Stanford, and James O. Weatherall write in a draft paper on their research. "In particular, activities that are morally justified are perceived as safer while those that might subject people to blame, or culpability, are seen as riskier."

    Unsurprisingly, these "moral judgments" got translated into "science-based" recommendations, regulations, and practices from Federal, state, and local health officials. Worse, those recommendations (etc.) live on after the science has been updated.

    For example, the Portsmouth Public Library is still quarantining returned books for "at least 72 hours", based on long-outdated concerns about surface transmission.

  • Told You So. We came this close to shuttering the Export-Import Bank a few years back. But it survived, and Veronique de Rugy is back on the beat: The Export-Import Bank Is in the Big-Business Business.

    As the saying goes, there is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program. So no one should be surprised that, last month, Ex-Im’s board of directors voted to renew the four programs — which it had touted last year as “temporary relief measures” — for another year. Here is how the press release reads:

    Over the past year, U.S. small businesses benefited significantly from the relief measures. Since April 2020, the measures have resulted in $1 billion in EXIM working capital guarantee and supply-chain financing guarantee authorizations. In fiscal year (FY) 2021 to date, EXIM’s working capital guarantees for minority and women-owned businesses have risen to a total of $31.5 million—a 50 percent increase over the previous period in FY 2020.

    This framing would lead a casual reader to assume that small businesses received a billion dollars in benefits from Ex-Im’s pandemic-related measures. A bit of digging, however, suggests otherwise. According to another Ex-Im press release, $510 million of Ex-Im’s claimed billion dollars in pandemic relief went to just one transaction: Boeing’s purchase of aircraft engines from an affiliate of the General Electric Corporation. Thus, in one fell swoop, half of Ex-Im’s overall pandemic-related support went to the bank’s two most-beloved corporations in a favored sector. Another $450 million, across two transactions, went to U.S. Steel. Freeport LNG, which is, as I mentioned last week, a large exporter of liquefied natural gas, received $50 million. Although the amount to Freeport was small compared to the giveaways to Boeing, GE, and U.S. Steel, the loan made big waves last week when the Financial Times reported how the bank used the loan to buy the U.S. gas industry’s acquiescence to an Ex-Im gas project in Mozambique. (My post about can be read here.)

    When push came to shove, a majority of Republicans voted with all but one Democrat to revive Ex-Im. Just another reminder that we can't trust GOP politicians to follow through on their free-market rhetoric.

  • I Don't Want To Be Accused of Soliciting. So, via GeekPress, here's 99 Additional Bits of Unsolicited Advice. Just a few:

    • Assume anyone asking for your account information for any reason is guilty of scamming you, unless proven innocent. The way to prove innocence is to call them back, or login to your account using numbers or a website that you provide, not them. Don’t release any identifying information while they are contacting you via phone, message or email. You must control the channel.
    • Sustained outrage makes you stupid.
    • Be strict with yourself and forgiving of others. The reverse is hell for everyone.
    • Your best response to an insult is “You’re probably right.” Often they are.

    In the fine tradition of The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.

Last Modified 2021-05-12 5:03 AM EST