URLs du Jour


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  • Lower Your Expectations. No, Even Lower. Keep Going… Megan McArdle explains Why you shouldn’t expect much from Biden’s plan to counter crime.

    The plan contains a lot of things you’d expect from Democrats, such as summer-jobs programs and a crackdown on “rogue firearms dealers.” It also highlights that some of the $350 billion allocated to states and localities in the president’s American Rescue Plan can be used to invest in more police officers on the street or equipment and technology for law enforcement.

    But one of the most telling items is minor: a note that the Biden administration will put forth regulations on a policy known as “ban the box,” which forbids employers — in this case, many federal agencies and contractors — from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications.

    A few things about this are notable. First, this isn’t actually a Biden initiative; the Office of Personnel Management is promulgating regulations to implement the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, which passed in 2019. The administration appears to be hoping to take a bit of credit for something the agency was legally required to do.

    Second, it’s not clear that anyone should brag about “ban the box,” because while it certainly tries to address a real problem — an estimated 1 in 4 former felons is unemployed, a statistic that presumably worsened during the pandemic — two different studies have reached the same conclusion: that “ban the box” reduced employment opportunities for Black or Hispanic young men, as employers who were denied the ability to screen out criminal histories instead apparently resorted to cruder racial stereotypes.

    As a good measure of how reality-challenged the administration is, check the title of one of their recently-released documents: Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety.

    Ensure public safety. Ensure.

    How long before someone quotes The Princess Bride at Biden? "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

  • Betteridge's Law of Headlines Applies to John McWhorter's latest: It is Just Hype to Call Electism a Religion?.

    Rather, it would seem to me that religious belief requires a person to sequester a part of their cognition for a kind of belief that is not based on logic. Yes, the theologian can slice and dice brilliantly in seeking a rational basis for the faith – but at a certain point, you hit that wall: one must “just” believe, “take that jump and” believe, one must believe … “.. (I don’t know) …”.

    My point about The Elect is that its ideology involves – and actually is founded significantly upon – that type of religious thought. No devoted spectator of the emergence of this way of thinking could miss that it has morphed from a sociopolitical stance infused with religion (as in what I pointed out in 2015 here) into a straight-up religion.

    The difference is that believers have actually started saying it outright.

    I keep going back to that short open letter from "UNH Lecturers United", which started out:

    The University of New Hampshire has recently adopted the language of Anti-Racism, but it is impossible to foster such a belief unless the University’s position is also staunchly and confrontationally Anti-Fascist.

    Emphasis added. This is language appropriate for evangelical recruitment into a religious cult, not education.

  • In Related News… Brit Lois McLatchie notes that it's an international phenomenon: In the West, ‘Incorrect’ Speech Is Increasingly Treated as Blasphemy.

    Europe’s “hate-speech laws” have taken the core principles of “blasphemy laws” and dressed them up in a watered-down Western packaging. Thoughts are now branded “unspeakable,” not for discussing deities, but dogma — even if that dogma is still widely held. The pope has been clear on his views on marriage. The Queen of England herself is head of a church that confesses the same view. Significant portions of European populations join them, amounting to one in five Brits, and one in four Fins. These are very significant minorities — but international legal standards on free speech protect their right to express their views, even if they amounted to fewer.

    Ms. McLatchie notes that they still have actual blasphemy laws in some countries. Places you don't want to visit.

  • Watching The Sausage Factory. Andrew Stuttaford goes full Upton Sinclair on the Infrastructure ‘Deal’.

    While the extent to which the nation’s infrastructure is “crumbling” has been wildly overstated, at least this package has the merit that the billions to be spent on, say, “resilience” make rather more sense than alternative plans to invest in premature or inefficient green technologies, assuming they are spent wisely (no small assumption). Regardless of the damage that climate change may or may not bring in its wake, toughening our infrastructure would almost certainly pay for itself. That’s true, say, of sea-defenses for our low-lying coastal cities or for burying electric cables underground, particularly in regions such as the northeast.

    As for, broadband, on the other hand, well, take a look at what Kevin Williamson has to say here.

    Then there’s the idea that the plan will create “a first-of-its-kind Infrastructure Financing Authority that will leverage billions of dollars into clean transportation and clean energy.”

    The ghost of Gosplan still stalks the earth, it seems, even as memories of Solyndra appear to have faded.

    Andrew also considers the fantastical illusion contained in the "compromise" that throwing the IRS an additional $40 billion would produce a net gain in tax revenue of $100 billion. ("And also some nice new cars in the IRS parking lot!")

  • Warning: Satire Ahead. And the Bablyon Bee headline is the entire joke: Biden Says Latinx Aren't Getting Vaccinated Because Their Giant Sombreros Make It Impossible to Enter Pharmacies.

    (What he did say was slightly less funny, and equally reality-free.)