URLs du Jour

2021-10-23

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I said yesterday that the University Near Here "doesn't require [Covid] vaccinations". That was based on their FAQ, last updated back in August. President James "Don't Call Me Jimmy" Dean issued an October 15 memo notifying employees (faculty and staff) that, due to new "Biden Administration" rules probably there will be a requirement. Details to follow (someday).

This American Council on Education article indicates this will apply to student employees and "are likely to apply to many students who are not employees."

  • Fetch … the comfy chair! As if we didn't have other stuff to worry about, Jason Hart finds another disaster coming over the horizon: Everyone expects the New Right Inquisition. I've said nice things about Christopher F. Rufo in the past, but apparently he's taking the "Cardinal Biggles" role in the new version of the sketch. And this guy seems to be Cardinal Ximinez:

    On Wednesday, Sohrab Ahmari – a “conservative” ally Rufo mentioned the day before – wrote a blog post for the Claremont Institute that was aptly summarized by its title, “Save America– Reject Libertarianism.”

    Ahmari fumed:

    My generation of right-wingers has a clear task, and it is to follow Klingenstein’s call to sideline right-liberalism and libertarianism—more than that, to bury their sclerotic institutions, abandon their illusions, and expose the ugly material realities churning behind their tired watchwords and slogans.

    Daydreaming about theocracy is a common theme for Ahmari, and affiliation with Claremont is a common thread in the New Right’s agitation for bigger government to own the libs. Rufo, for example, is a former Claremont fellow.

    I'll continue to link to Rufo when he's making sense. I'll just be extra careful to make sure he's not gonna poke me with the soft cushions.

    (You do recognize all these Monty Python references, don't you? If you don't, youngster, go Google appropriately. I'll wait here.)


  • Oh, good, you're back. Veronique expands on this topic with some sage advice: You Can’t Fight Campus Illiberalism With More Illiberalism.

    As my eldest daughter just started college, I've found myself worrying that academic freedom and viewpoint diversity are now in jeopardy. The deterioration of the culture of free speech is documented by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in their 2015 book, The Coddling of the American Mind. They explain how students, who not too long ago had to be protected from speech codes on campus, are now asking administrators to protect them from speech they don't want to hear. They believe that words that don't conform to their constantly shifting standards are a form of violence. As a result, incidents on college campuses have multiplied, leaving many students and faculty terrified of saying the wrong thing.

    Sadly, some conservatives are fighting this left-wing illiberalism with their own illiberalism. Some even argue that liberal democracy's time has passed. They embrace nationalists like former President Donald Trump and Hungarian strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban as role models in the hope of rescuing America from what they see as the degenerate culture of the left. In response to abusive mask mandates, they impose anti-mask mandates extending to the private sector, and they fight the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools with problematic and illiberal bans of their own.

    No matter who wins this illiberal arm wrestling, our liberal culture will be lost. Unfortunately, this illiberalism also limits the production of knowledge in academia and in public policy. The sum of it all means that my daughters, with all of us, will be worse off.

    I'm just a spectator these days, and I try to keep a safe distance from the fray.


  • Speaking of illiberalism… Bari Weiss hosts Leighton Woodhouse at her substack, and he is looking at The Reality of 'Anti-Racism' Across America.

    The dogma of “anti-racism” began with an incontrovertible reality: For centuries, black Americans have been the victims of structural and often violent discrimination — slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and attitudes and norms that, to this day, exacerbate poverty and racial disparity. Where anti-racism made its radical departure was in its view about how to fix this knotty problem. 

    The proposed solution was no longer what Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall taught: that all human beings are created equal and therefore any kind of discrimination is evil. Instead, it was, explicitly, to embrace discrimination, but this time as a tool of “equity.” In practice, this meant racial discrimination against white and Asian people.

    This vision of anti-racism, as imagined by Ibram X. Kendi and others, is no longer confined to universities and academic journals. It has long since escaped the confines of the quad and has seeped into so many corners of American life. And rather than eradicating racism, it has re-racialized the people and the places it has touched.

    Woodhouse details a number of current examples of "anti-racist" policies, some promulgated by the Biden Administration. If you feel like you've been too cheerful lately, it's a good remedy.


  • Protectionism's umbrella does not cover taxpayers, consumers, or (probably) you, peasant. At Cato, Colin Grabow describes what should be a scandal, but is really just business as usual: DC Metro Overpays for Defective Cars Thanks to Buy American Protectionism.

    Commutes in the Washington, DC area—already among the country’s worst—became even more frustrating this week when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced it was pulling roughly 60 percent of its subway cars from service. Instead of trains running every few minutes during the peak of rush hour, most lines will have service only twice per hour. Suffice to say, lengthy waits inside a subway station (“Metro station” in the local parlance) isn’t time well spent.

    The service slowdown comes after inspections of subway cars following a recent derailment uncovered defects in the wheel and axle assembly. Delays are slated to last the remainder of the week, and some observers fear that ultimately resolving the issue could take years.

    Overlooked in this whole mess, however, is that WMATA didn’t just buy apparently defective railcars but paid artificially inflated prices for them. Thanks to the use of federal funding, their purchase was subject to Buy American laws requiring at least 60 percent (since raised to 70 percent) of the railcar’s components to be U.S.-manufactured and that its final assembly take place domestically. Which is how it came to be that railcars sold by Japanese company Kawasaki were assembled in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    At least Metro didn't kill anyone … this time.


  • The least insurrectional insurrection ever. Glenn Greenwald writes about the ongoing inquisition. He is not impressed. Feeding the Liberal Flock: The Real Reasons for the Congressional 1/6 Committee.

    This congressional committee is designed to be cathartic theater for liberals, and a political drama for the rest of the country. They know Republicans will object to their deliberately unconstitutional inquisitions, and they intend to exploit those objections to darkly insinuate to the country that Republicans are driven by a desire to protect the violent traitors so that they can deploy them as an insurrectionary army for future coups. They have staffed the committee with their most flamboyant and dishonest drama queens, knowing that Adam Schiff will spend most of his days on CNN with Chris Cuomo comparing 1/6 to Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust; Liz Cheney will equate Republicans with Al Qaeda and the Capitol riot to the destruction of the World Trade Center; and Adam Kinzinger will cry on cue as he reminds everyone over and over that he served in the U.S. military only to find himself distraught and traumatized that the real terrorists are not those he was sent to fight overseas but those at home, in his own party.

    But the manipulative political design of this spectacle should not obscure how threatening it nonetheless is to core civil liberties. Democrats in politics and media have whipped themselves into such a manic frenzy ever since 1/6 — indeed, they have been doing little else ever since Trump descended the Trump Tower escalator in 2015 — that they have become the worst kinds of fanatics: the ones who really believe their own lies. Many genuinely believe that they are on the front lines of an epic historical battle against the New Hitler (Trump) and his band of deplorable fascist followers bent on a coup against the democratic order. In their cable-and-Twitter-stimulated imaginations, shortly following this right-wing coup will be the installation of every crypto-fascist bell and whistle from concentration camps for racial and ethnic minorities to death or prison for courageous #Resistance dissidents. At some point, the line between actually believing this and being paid to pretend to believe it, or feeling coerced by cultural and friendship circles to feign belief in it, erodes, fostering actual collective conviction and mania.

    Instead of Donald Trump and his enablers being frog-marched off to Guantanamo, we're getting some pathetic losers being sent to prison for a few months each.


  • A palate cleanser. Paul Graham thinks "intelligence" is overrated: Beyond Smart.

    If you asked people what was special about Einstein, most would say that he was really smart. Even the ones who tried to give you a more sophisticated-sounding answer would probably think this first. Till a few years ago I would have given the same answer myself. But that wasn't what was special about Einstein. What was special about him was that he had important new ideas. Being very smart was a necessary precondition for having those ideas, but the two are not identical.

    It may seem a hair-splitting distinction to point out that intelligence and its consequences are not identical, but it isn't. There's a big gap between them. Anyone who's spent time around universities and research labs knows how big. There are a lot of genuinely smart people who don't achieve very much.

    I grew up thinking that being smart was the thing most to be desired. Perhaps you did too. But I bet it's not what you really want. Imagine you had a choice between being really smart but discovering nothing new, and being less smart but discovering lots of new ideas. Surely you'd take the latter. I would. The choice makes me uncomfortable, but when you see the two options laid out explicitly like that, it's obvious which is better.

    I like to think I'm a little smart, but I'm not really good at all at the "new ideas" thing. But maybe you recognize yourself in Graham's description? Check it out.