URLs du Jour

2021-06-23

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  • Bipartistanship Means Both Parties Agree on a Bad Deal. And Christian Britschgi notes the latest example: Senate Republicans and Democrats Agree to Double Amtrak’s Funding.

    If a bill has the support of both Republicans and Democrats, be concerned. That's certainly the case with a bipartisan transportation bill moving through the Senate that would double the federal subsidies given to Amtrak.

    Last week, the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted 25 to 3 to advance a $78 billion surface transportation bill that gives the government-owned passenger rail service $19 billion over five years, for an average of $3.8 billion per year.

    Of that, $6.5 billion would go to the higher-ridership Northeast Corridor that runs from Washington, D.C., up to Boston. The other $12.5 billion in funding would go to Amtrak's network of routes that run across the rest of the country.

    About the only nice thing to say about the Senate deal is that it spends less on Amtrak than House Democrats and Biden want. But two near-ironclad guarantees are that Amtrak (1) has (once again) over-promised and (2) will (once again) under-perform.


  • I'm More of a Sam Adams Guy These Days. [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] But in my youth, Coors Beer was a coveted rarity, thanks to its limited distribution area. And even back then it was a Politically Incorrect Product before that was cool. Tim W. Ferguson reviews a book about that: The Left’s Long March Against Coors.

    Thanks to social media, pressure campaigns against companies are now so easily initiated and expanded that their number overwhelms even the most conscious consumer. These passionate dust storms frequently take on a political character that transcends any particular corporate product or process. The internet enables this escalation from specific beef to popular cause.

    But there’s a vivid pre-web example—probably the pioneer example—of this sort of effort, and it is the subject of a new book, “Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade Consumer Activism.” The crusade against Coors Brewing Co.—an apt term because it lasted a good 30 years—featured many elements of what now would be called (sympathetically or sarcastically, depending on your outlook) a social-justice struggle.

    That is how—sympathetically—the history is told by Allyson P. Brantley, an assistant professor at California’s University of La Verne. The era she explores extends from 1957 to 1987, although for some diehards the boycott didn’t end there, or ever. Brantley, who acknowledges she “discovered” this chapter of the 148-year-old Coors brewing story only as she began her research in 2010, tells the tale from the side of the company’s detractors. She does a thorough job of it, but this is not journalism. If Brantley made any attempt to hear from the company or founding family directly, she doesn’t say.

    Fond memories of Colorado Kool-Aid. Book link at (your) right, but I'd recommend buying beer instead.


  • Shut Up, They Explained. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) notes the latest out of Norman: ‘Stop Talking Right Now’: University of Oklahoma Training Shows Instructors How to Censor, Indoctrinate Students.

    Do you question whether refusing to use preferred pronouns is hate speech? You can’t — writing on that topic is “not acceptable.”

    Think Black Lives Matter shouldn’t engage in property destruction? We’ll have to “re-adjust” your thinking.

    If you’re a student at the University of Oklahoma — congratulations! Your instructor may already have done all of the thinking for you. But beware: Deviating too far from an instructor’s personal opinions can cost you.

    A recording of an “Anti-Racist Rhetoric & Pedagogies” workshop acquired by FIRE raises alarm bells about the state of free expression and freedom of conscience at Oklahoma’s flagship university.

    [True fact: I did my first actual computer programming at a University of Oklahoma summer program in 1968. (Elizabeth Jacobs, are you still out there?)]

    I keep coming back to last January's open letter from "UNH Lecturers United" which (somewhat desperately) demanded carte blanche from the administration to go after (in unspecified ways) students advocating "any political position structured around inequality." Is UNH just better at concealing its instructor "workshop" content from public scrutiny than Oklahoma?


  • Sigh. Nobody Ever Tries to Smear Pun Salad. Christopher F. Rufo takes a victory lap on the pages of the New York Post: Washington Post Tried to Smear Me for Criticizing Race Theory and Failed.

    The Washington Post attempted to smear me, the nation’s most prominent opponent of critical race theory — and it backfired spectacularly.

    The fight over CRT has consumed American media. Conservatives have rallied against the toxic neo-Marxist ideology that seeks to divide the country into the racial categories of oppressor and oppressed; liberals have defended it as a “lens” for understanding vague buzzwords such as “systemic racism” and “racial equity.”

    […]

    In recent months, outlets including The New York Times, The New Republic, MSNBC, CNN and The Atlantic have relentlessly attacked me. But the coup de grâce, they believed, would be a 3,000-word exposé in The Washington Post. The paper dispatched two reporters, Laura Meckler and Josh Dawsey, and spent three weeks preparing a vicious hit piece against me, accusing me of a range of intellectual crimes.

    What follows is a pretty amusing story of WaPo hacks being forced to "clarify" and retract their sloppy hit piece. Good job, Mr. Rufo. Even if I had to wince a bit at your self-description as being "the nation’s most prominent opponent of Critical Race Theory."


  • When You're a Socialist, the Solution to Any Problem is … More Socialism! Bryan Caplan has thoughts on Self-Help Vs. Power-Hunger.

    I was recently on an NPR panel on “Capitalism” with a pair of self-identified socialists – Kristen Ghodsee and Vivek Chibber.  The hosts asked us a wide range of questions, including several of the form: “What would you say to a person with problem X?”  For example, they played a statement from someone who really disliked her job as a COVID nurse.  What should she do?

    Literalist that I am, I tried to offer helpful, relevant advice.  I started with the First Law of Wing-Walking: Keep your current job, but intensively search for a better position. […]

    Ghodsee and Chibber, for their part, dismissed that strategy, advocating instead "left-wing political activism and/or unionization."

    Bryan goes on to suspect that the socialist advice is more than a little self-serving. When you crave the power to push people around (yes, "democratically" to be sure), the last thing you want to advocate is people solving their own problems.


Last Modified 2021-06-25 5:53 AM EST