Hobson's Choice Is No Choice At All

[It's lemmings and sheep, all the way down.]

Of course, there's always the Libertarian Party. So Mr. Ramirez should add "… or raving loonies" to that speech balloon.

The betting market has some actual interesting movement, as of this morning:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 32.2% +3.0%
Joe Biden 31.9% -0.1%
Gavin Newsom 6.6% -0.5%
Michelle Obama 4.5% +0.1%
Robert Kennedy Jr 4.5% +0.4%
Ron DeSantis 3.7% -1.4%
Vivek Ramaswamy 3.6% -0.3%
Nikki Haley 3.4% unch
Kamala Harris 2.8% -0.1%
Other 6.8% -1.1%

Yes, the punters are favoring Trump over Biden. Slightly.

But the top two candidates are … by far the top two candidates. Which means that all of America (generally) and Steven Greenhut (specifically) is plaintively asking: Do we really have to relive a Trump-Biden election?

My favorite religious movie hands down is Groundhog Day, the 1993 Bill Murray comedy where an arrogant TV anchor is forced to relive the same day thousands of times until he fixes his attitude and learns to care about his neighbors. He can’t move on with his life until he graduates from his purgatory in Punxsutawney, Pa. It’s a brilliant allegory for our spiritual journey as individuals and, apparently, as a nation.

Yet here we go again. Whatever Americans tell pollsters, we’re locked in a partisan grudge match that shows signs of escalating rather than abating. This remains one of the freest and most prosperous nations that’s ever existed, and yet Americans are angry, pessimistic and don’t seem to like their fellow Americans very much. We can’t even agree on a basic set of facts – and virtually no one cuts their opponents any slack.

And gazing down the list… yep, Nikki's still my choice. Even though I roll my eyes somewhat when she talks about China.

Also of note:

  • From the UNH Survey Center, so it's a cloudy window. Noah Rothman takes a look through it anyway: New Hampshire Poll Gives Us a Window into 2024.

    New Hampshire occupies a valuable position on the political calendar. As one of the only early primary states that is also a contested swing state in the general election, the Granite State provides political observers with some indications as to how an ongoing primary race will shape the contours of the general election to follow. The latest poll of New Hampshire voters via CNN and the University of New Hampshire does just that, cutting through the clutter of too-early surveys of the national electorate and clarifying the state of the presidential race ahead of 2024.

    Candidates for the White House have devoted time and resources to this state, unlike many other states. The campaigns are on the air broadcasting both positive introductory messages about themselves and, perhaps more importantly, negative ads against their opponents. Many of the candidates on the GOP side are campaigning in New Hampshire, acquainting themselves with voters and building voter-contact operations. Likewise, Joe Biden’s incumbency ensures that the state is fully appraised of his conduct in office, even if his campaign isn’t broadcasting there yet.

    That dynamic allows us the first glimpse at what the electorate will look like next year. The first impression to which readers of this CNN/UNH survey are privy is that New Hampshire voters, having marinated in each candidate’s messaging, have come away from that experience with a dim view of everyone in the race.

    Yes: a dim view through a cloudy window.

    Skimming through that 46-page document of survey results definitely lends credence to Greenhut's observation that "we can’t even agree on a basic set of facts." Even in New Hampshire. Example: in response to the query "Who do you believe won the 2020 presidential election?"

    Voting Registration Biden Trump Don't know/
    Not sure
    Democrat 97% 2% 1%
    Republican 27% 54% 19%
    Undeclared/Not registered 62% 27% 11%

    It would be nice if more of my fellow registered Republicans were not wedded to alternative facts.

  • Hope springs eternal. Michael Graham sees it glimmering: Nikki Haley Is Having a Moment in New Hampshire.

    Donald Trump’s prohibitive lead in the GOP presidential primary is undeniable, and he continues to dominate the headlines. But there is another conversation Granite State Republicans are having: “What are you hearing about Nikki Haley?”

    The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador has been generating buzz among GOP activists and insiders, and the volume ticked up this week — along with her numbers in two new polls.

    In the CNN/UNH Survey Center poll that dropped on Wednesday, Trump had 39 percent support, but that was down from the 42 percent he had a few months ago. Meanwhile, Haley surged over the summer from five to 12 percent in the Granite State, enough for third place behind Vivek Ramaswamy (13 percent). Ron DeSantis had fallen to fifth place.

    I'm encouraged, but 12% is still … 12%

  • Nor should anyone else. Nathanael Blake suggests that Pro-Lifers Shouldn’t Trust Trump.

    Former President Donald Trump has broken his deal with pro-lifers. The bargain was that pro-lifers would provide Trump political support in exchange for Trump giving the pro-life movement political wins. And it paid off. Trump got to be president, and pro-lifers got originalist Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade.

    Now as Trump seeks the Republican nomination for a third time, he is making it clear that the alliance is over. Pressed on abortion in a recent interview, Trump blasted his rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for signing a law banning abortions after the baby has a detectable heartbeat. Trump declared, “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”

    Trump is being honest. There is no reason to doubt that he said what he really believes: that restricting abortion to any meaningful extent is a terrible mistake and that he has no will to fight to protect human life in the womb. Before denouncing DeSantis (and, implicitly, every other Republican governor and state legislator who has protected babies from being killed in the womb, along with the voters who supported them), Trump insisted he would be able to cut a deal with Democrats to bring “peace” on this issue. However, in promising this peace he refused to commit to even a 15-week limit on abortion.

    My guess is that Trump's calculation is simple: political expediency; DeSantis's action was "terrible" because it will cost him more votes than it gains.

    Trump has no discernable position on the moral issue. Moral issues are just not on his radar.

  • The Case of the Purloined Documents would have been a pretty good Hardy Boys title. And Jacob Sullum would be a good choice to write it, judging from his take on Trump’s Preposterous Defense in the Purloined Documents Case.

    In May 2022, Donald Trump received a federal subpoena demanding all the documents with classification markings that remained in his possession at Mar-a-Lago. At that point, SiriusXM talk show host Megyn Kelly suggested in an interview with the former president last week, he was legally obligated to surrender those records.

    "I know this," Trump replied, then immediately corrected himself: "I don't even know that, because I have the right to have those documents." That startling response epitomized the lazy arrogance that Trump displayed in January 2021, when he removed thousands of presidential records from the White House, and during the ensuing year and a half, when he stubbornly resisted efforts to recover them.

    In addition to 32 counts of willfully retaining national defense information, that pattern of defiance resulted in eight obstruction-related charges, which may pose the most serious threat to Trump's continued freedom. While the other three indictments against Trump face formidable obstacles, including controversial legal interpretations, complicated narratives, and difficult questions of knowledge and intent, the story behind the documents case is relatively straightforward: Trump took a bunch of stuff that did not belong to him and refused to return it.

    And (once again) note that Trump has a lead in our weekly odds tabulation.

  • To be fair, this doesn't distinguish him from other Democrats. John Hinderaker points out that RFK Jr. Is a Crazy Left-Winger.

    Some conservatives have an unreasonably positive view of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., based on the fact that he sounds sensible on two or three issues. But in fact, he is nuts, as manifested most grotesquely in his conviction that Sirhan Sirhan did not murder his father. Beyond that, he is, on the large majority of issues, an unreconstructed far left-winger.

    Hinderaker takes particular note of his demand to ban fracking. Part of his "10-point plan to fix the plastics pollution crisis". Which is generally Stalinist.

Last Modified 2023-09-24 10:33 AM EDT

It Can't Happen Here, Except That It Almost Did

And it's probably a good idea to remember that it's never entirely off the table.

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] David Boaz writes, inspired by our Amazon Product du Jour: In 1932-33 Leading Intellectuals Used 'Dictatorial' as a Positive Recommendation. In America.

In his recent book Freedom’s Furies: How Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand Found Liberty in an Age of Darkness, Timothy Sandefur describes the intellectual climate that those “founding mothers of libertarianism” faced in the Hoover‐Roosevelt Depression years:

Between 1917 and 1919, agencies such as the War Industries Board and [Herbert] Hoover’s U.S. Food Administration appeared to vindicate Progressive beliefs in government planning. A decade later, many—including Hoover himself—pointed to that precedent, arguing that the Depression was analogous to a world war and should be dealt with in the same way.

That was the basis for the idea that General Electric’s president Gerard Swope proposed in September 1931. He recommended that the federal government create a system of industrial cartels under which all companies of more than 50 employees would be assigned to a trade association vested with authority to dictate the types and amounts of goods and services businesses could provide, and how much they could charge. This would prevent “destructive” competition, by giving companies the power to prohibit their competitors from reducing prices or introducing new or improved products, which would “stabilize” the economy and ensure full employment. “Industry is not primarily for profit but rather for service,” Swope declared. “One cannot loudly call for more stability in business and get it on a purely voluntary basis.” Although hardly the only such proposal—it mimicked the corporatism already being implemented in Italy and Germany—the Swope Plan gained the most attention and would later form the blueprint for the National Industrial Recovery Act. But at the time, Hoover labeled it “fascism” and rejected it as “merely a remaking of Mussolini’s ‘corporate state.’”

Many similar schemes were offered by prominent intellectuals, including historian Charles Beard, who proposed “A Five‐​Year Plan for America” on the Soviet model, and New Republic editor George Soule, whose 1932 book A Planned Society proposed political control over the entire economy. These writers, said one of Soule’s colleagues, “were impatient for the coming of the Revolution; they talked of it, dreamed of it.” And they were not alone. That same year, novelist Theodore Dreiser published Tragic America, which he had originally planned to call A New Deal for America. It advocated the overthrow of capitalism and the replacement of the Constitution with a government that would control industry in the style of the Soviet Union, where he thought communism was “functioning admirably.”…

Dreiser probably changed his title because A New Deal had already been taken by economist Stuart Chase, whose book of that name also appeared in 1932. Chase—who considered it “a pity” that “the road” to socialist revolution in America was “temporarily closed”—looked forward to the day when the government would seize all industry and “solv[e] at a single stroke unemployment and inadequate standards of living.” It would do this, he said, by compelling all individuals to “work for the community.” The government should forbid high interest rates, stock market speculation, the manufacturing of “useless” products, the creation of new clothing styles, businesses “rushing blindly to compete,” and other “ways of making money”—and it should do so “by firing squad if necessary.” The 44‐year‐old Chase was inspired by the “new religion” of “Red Revolution,” which he found “dramatic, idealistic, and, in the long run, constructive.” “Why,” he asked, “should the Russians have all the fun of remaking a world?”

I liked Sandefur's previous book about Frederick Douglass. Looks like I'll have to read this one too.

Also of note:

  • Or duck under it. Avoid it, in any case. Mathew Lloyd explains Why Libertarians Must Rise above the Left-Right Dichotomy of Politics.

    In the UK we have a Conservative prime minister—right wing—and the results of their governments interference in the economy and politicization of everyday life has had a negative impact on individual lives, public discourse, and the economy. In the US there is a Democrat president—left wing—and their neighbors to the north, Canada, have a Liberal government—left wing (though not truly liberal in the original meaning of the word)—and both these countries have economic troubles and heavily politicized daily lives just like the UK. The list of countries with leaders and governments from opposite sides of the spectrum goes on and on, but what all these left and right wing governments have in common is the same poor outcomes and worsening situations created by their beliefs.

    How can two supposedly vastly different worldviews result in similar outcomes? If they were truly worlds apart then the results would be worlds apart too. The reality is both sides of the spectrum rely on varying degrees of authoritarianism to achieve their popularity, and both sides deploy authoritarian policies against the economic and social lives of citizens which is why the results are so similar. Both sides cripple economies through taxation, regulation, and punishment of economic activity. Both sides forbid certain speech, certain behavior, certain views, and certain interactions. Both sides believe in the use of force against different groups of people and in punishing different groups based on immutable characteristics in the name of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness.’ Both sides are unprincipled and will change their positions based on whichever way the political wind is blowing. To put it bluntly, both sides are just different flavors of the same foul stew.

    I'm kind of sympathetic to this argument. Although when it comes to voting, the Libertarian Pary keeps insisting on nominating lunatics. So that's kind of a deal-breaker for me.

Recently on the book blog:

[Amazon Img]

Recently on the movie blog:

[Amazon Img]

Betteridge's Law of Headlines Reconfirmed

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Johan Norberg answers the burning question: Does Capitalism Really Make Us Lonely?

Presume the economic case for free markets is true: that capitalism makes us freer and richer, creates better jobs and greater opportunities, and helps us solve environmental problems. Does it make us happier too?

The American conservative Patrick Deneen believes liberal capitalism makes us "increasingly separate, autonomous, nonrelational selves, replete with rights and defined by our liberty, but insecure, powerless, afraid, and alone." Under the exhaustive headline "Neoliberalism—the ideology at the root of all our problems," the British leftist George Monbiot claims that these problems include (but are by no means limited to) "epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia."

Freedom "doesn't make us free, it makes us lonely," adds Christian conservative Joel Halldorf. "Increasing mental illness, isolation and populism are signs that liberalism cannot sustain itself." The leftist economist Noreena Hertz argues that "neoliberalism has made us see ourselves as competitors not collaborators, consumers not citizens, hoarders not sharers, takers not givers, hustlers not helpers."

Such sweeping statements are only very rarely followed by attempts to document any causal link or even a correlation. Surprisingly often, a quick misreading of classical liberals is supposed to be enough to prove the connection between liberalism and greed and loneliness, as if the resistance to forced relationships was based on a resistance to relationships themselves.

Norberg goes on to debunk the scurrilous accusation. With statistics. The science is settled, people!

The Reason article is adapted from Norberg's new book, our Amazon Product du Jour.

Also of note:

  • As predictable as the sunrise off Martha's Vineyard. Those Soviet-style N-year plans were never gonna work. The WSJ editorialists note the latest detour on the Road to Serfdom: The Great Northeast Wind Bailout.

    If only the hot air blowing at the United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit this week could be used to generate electric power. That would be especially convenient since Governors in the Northeast are lobbying the White House to bail out their states’ offshore wind projects, which have hit a gale of ballooning costs.

    “Inflationary pressures, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the lingering supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have created extraordinary economic challenges,” wrote Govs. Kathy Hochul (N.Y.), Ned Lamont (Conn.), Phil Murphy (N.J.), Maura Healey (Mass.), Wes Moore (Md.) and Dan McKee (R.I.) to President Biden last week.

    It's worth pointing out that those states are among the richest in the US. Specifically, ranked by median household income, Maryland is #1, New Jersey is #2, Massachusetts is #3, Connecticut is #8, New York is #15, and poor Rhode Island is #15. It takes some brass cojones for those states to demand that (in effect) poorer states send them more money.

    (It's also worth pointing out that the median household in the District of Columbia has a higher income than any state. It's expensive to maintain the fiction of "free money" coming from Uncle Stupid.)

  • To a first approximation: check cashing. James Freeman wonders what's going on down there in Boston, specifically: What Exactly Happens at the Center for Antiracist Research?. That would be the center at Boston University, established in 2020, under the control of Ibram X. Kendi. Producing pretty much bupkis. Even the Boston Globe is wondering!

    “Boston University and Dr. Kendi believe strongly in the center’s mission,” Lapal Cavallario said. “We look forward to working with him as we conduct our assessment.”

    BU’s announcement of the inquiry came hours after the Globe sent the university extensive questions about the center’s operations.

    In interviews with the Globe this week, current and former employees described a dysfunctional work environment that made it difficult to achieve the center’s lofty goals.

    The organization “was just being mismanaged on a really fundamental level,” said Phillipe Copeland, a professor in BU’s School of Social Work who also worked for the center as assistant director of narrative.

    Assistant director of narrative.

    It's a huge job directing narrative, folks. You need an assistant to help. Freeman comments:

    Mr. Copeland resigned from the center in June, reports the Globe. His blunt comment on the record, coupled with the fact that he is a credentialed narrative expert, suggests trouble for Mr. Kendi. For if the latter can’t rely on a friendly media narrative, what can he rely on?

    And at National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke joins the scrum, wondering: Is Ibram X. Kendi a Racist? Betteridge's Law of Headlines fails here. Turns out the answer is yes.

    CCWC also quotes from the Boston Globe story:

    Since its announced launch in June 2020, just days after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the center has raised tens of millions of dollars from tech entrepreneurs, Boston-area corporations, and thousands of small donors.

    At the time, Kendi, the author of the bestselling 2019 book “How to Be an Antiracist,” said the center would “solve these intractable racial problems of our time.”

    Well, maybe the center did "solve these intractable racial problems of our time." I mean, all that money must have done something, right?

  • I grew up in Iowa and Nebraska, and I like farmers. But, as Scott Lincicome painstakingly details, there is no plan to get them off the federal tit. Just the opposite, in fact: The Farm Bill Is a Case Study in What’s Wrong With Washington.

    As many conservatives and libertarians know all too well, “bipartisanship” is one of the most annoyingly misunderstood concepts in American politics and media. Yes, sure, it’s fine and good when Congress approves a good bill with lots of votes from both major political parties, but good law can get made via party-line votes and bad legislation can sail quickly through the legislative process with nary a peep of opposition. Indeed, some of the worst laws on the books were enacted with lots of R and D votes, and—frustratingly—with advocates using that bipartisanship as a useful shield against legitimate criticism. 

    There’s perhaps no better example of this kind of bipartisanship—the bad kind—than the farm bill, which Congress is again considering (as it does every five years) and will almost surely pass later this year with overwhelming bipartisan support. On its face, the farm bill is a sprawling, $1 trillion piece of legislation ostensibly about U.S. agriculture policy; but it’s really about a lot more than that—and it’s a testament to how bad policy gets made in Washington, too often accompanied by a harmonious chorus of happy Republicans and Democrats.

    It's paywalled, from the folks at the Dispatch. If you're blood pressure can stand it, maybe you should subscribe. Or you could check out Cato's "briefing paper" from Chris Edwards, advocating something that's not gonna happen: Cutting Federal Farm Subsidies. Fun facts:

    Farm subsidies disproportionately benefit high‐income households. In 2021, the average income of all farm households was $135,281, which was 32 percent higher than the $102,316 average of all U.S. households. The median income of farm households was $92,239, which was 30 percent higher than the $70,784 median of all U.S. households. Only 2 percent of farm households have net wealth below the U.S. median household net wealth.

    And, lest we forget: The Rich Get Richer: 50 Billionaires Got Federal Farm Subsidies. I'm far from a class warrior, but come on.

"Beloved" by the Survivors II

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

If our Amazon Product du Jour looks familiar to you, it's the same one we used just last month. Its full title is The National Health Service: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the NHS and it was officially released just last week! Amazon's description calls it a "photographic celebration of the United Kingdom's most beloved institution" and (in case you haven't got the message yet) calls the NHS a "vital institution that has long been the envy of all nations."

Recently, James Freeman looked at the current state of play: Annals of Government-Run Medicine.

One of the world’s most celebrated socialized medical systems is doing what socialized medical systems do: limiting patient care. Pending work stoppages could mean that the worst is yet to come for patients of England’s National Health Service.

For obvious reasons, American politicians seeking an even greater federal role in U.S. health care avoid discussing the staggering privations under Marxist regimes in places like Cuba and Venezuela. Instead, pols like Sen. Bernie Sanders (socialist, Vt.) point to government-run health systems within largely free, developed economies. But the U.K. is another example they’ll want to avoid.

Josephine Franks reports for Sky News that senior doctors, called consultants in Britain, will be joining their less experienced colleagues in withholding treatment:

Consultants and junior doctors are set to strike for several more days this week and early next month, bringing more chaos to the NHS after several months of walkouts and delayed appointments...
A health chief said the NHS is in “uncharted territory” due to the strikes, with thousands of patient appointments expected to be cancelled.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said this week’s strike action “can’t become the status quo”.

Sadly it can. If there’s one brutal lesson of government-run health care it’s that things can always get worse. Turning doctors into unionized government bureaucrats brings a host of problems, including the fact that politicians, not patients, decide what doctors are paid. This is of course a problem in the U.S. as well. England is a sort of preview of just how badly government management can mangle the incentives to provide medical services—and the duty to provide care.

Hey, there, "all nations". Still envious?

Also of note:

  • Look out below! Cato reports on the New Economic Freedom Report: Hong Kong Falls from Top Spot.

    Hong Kong is no longer number one, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2023 Annual Report, released today by the Fraser Institute and co‐published in the United States by the Cato Institute. As Hong Kong’s ratings declined, Singapore increased its score and edged the Chinese territory out for the top spot.

    The report finds that the Chinese government imposed “new and significant barriers to entry” in Hong Kong and otherwise increased the costs of doing business there. The rule of law also saw a deterioration, contributing to the city’s decline.

    Other countries ranked as follows: United States (5), Canada (10), Taiwan (11), Japan (20), Chile (30), France (47), Mexico (68), India (87), Turkey (101), Russia (104), China (111), Egypt (144), Argentina (158), Zimbabwe (164), Venezuela (165).

    "The rule of law also saw a deterioration" translated: Commies (eventually) gotta commie.

    The other countries outscoring the US were Switzerland and New Zealand.

    Hey, maybe if Hong Kong continues to fall, we can move up to #4!

    Or we could do worse.

  • George Will says The UAW can strike, but it’s running out of gas.

    Henry Ford, according to corporate legend, said that if he had asked potential customers what they wanted when he founded his company in 1903, they would have said faster horses. The infant automobile industry began by giving people what they did not know they wanted. Twelve decades later, this industry is being discombobulated by government pressure to manufacture products — electric vehicles — that the public does not much want, least of all in the quantities that Washington’s central planners deem proper.

    Fun fact, as reported by Kevin D. Williamson:

    As of late 2022, none of the largest U.S. car factories were producing Fords, any of the General Motors marques, or any of the Chrysler-Dodge-Ram-Jeep brands. The most productive car factory in the United States last year, as Bloomberg ran the numbers, was Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, producing 8,550 cars a week. No. 2 was Toyota’s plant in Kentucky, followed by BMW’s operation in South Carolina. Next was another Toyota plant, the one in Princeton, Indiana. None of the formerly Big Three made the list until—this will not surprise you—Ford’s truck factory in Kentucky in fifth place. 

    His question about the UAW strike: "Will anybody notice?"

  • They're just after the shekels, anyway. David Bernstein notes people who just can't resist revealing their bigotry: Despite What Those Shadowy, Elite, Rich Jews Say, We're Not Antisemites.

    The "Palestine Writes Literary Festival" is being held at the University of Pennsylvania later this week. This has attracted severe criticism from Jewish groups and individuals within and without Penn because some of the speakers have a history of engaging in antisemitic rhetoric.

    The Penn administration acknowledges that people have raised concerns about several speakers who "have a documented and troubling history of engaging in antisemitism by speaking and acting in ways that denigrate Jewish people." Penn nevertheless defends hosting the conference on academic freedom grounds, but adds that the conference was not organized by the university.

    Bernstein further notes:

    Well, if you want to know how NOT to start a letter defending yourself from accusations  of antisemitism, you can use this letter as a model. After noting that the festival has been harshly criticized by "the Jewish Federation and the ADL," the organizers have this to say:

    unlike our detractors, we do not operate in the shadows nor among elite decision makers and funders. Rather, we value transparency and public access, accountability, and scrutiny. We are also acutely aware of the power disparity between these highly funded, connected and organized Zionist organizations versus our small cultural institution run by volunteers and student organizations, most of them Penn students.

    Talk about self-owns… The organizers are so clueless about antisemitism that they engage in classic anti-Jewish tropes while defending themselves from charges of antisemitism. Which kinda undermines anything else they have said or will say in their defense.

    Antisemitism: it's not just for knuckle-dragging Nazis any more!

I Wanna Be Like You

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Okay, the online version of this story has the tell-it-straight headline: At Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Bear Temporarily Shuts Down Portions of Park. And here's the beginning of the story:

A bear sighting at Walt Disney World in Florida on Monday caused the closure of numerous rides and portions of the park until it was captured by authorities.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the black bear was reported to be in a tree at the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World.

Biologists and law-enforcement officials with the agency captured the adult female bear.

Temporarily closed portions of Magic Kingdom park included Frontierland, Liberty Square and Adventureland. Those areas were reopened later, a Disney spokesperson said.

Ah, but in my print edition yesterday, the headline was:

[Not named Baloo]

If you need a hint why I was amused, a clue is in our Amazon Product du Jour.

Also of note:

  • Just wetting his beak a little. Andy Kessler reveals that New York mob boss Senator "Chuck" Schumer Wants a Cut of AI.

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s never seen a camera he didn’t want to jump in front of, held a closed-door meeting last week on artificial intelligence. What? Closed? To me, it suggests an agenda beyond paving the path to a fantastic future. At the meeting, Elon Musk warned that AI is a “civilization risk.” Mr. Schumer declared, “We can’t be like ostriches and put our heads in the sand.” They sound more like dodo birds.

    One clue to the hidden agenda: Besides Mr. Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, OpenAI’s CEO and other techies, the attendees included union leaders such as Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO, Meredith Stiehm of the Writers Guild and two tech critics with “Humane” in their company names. Ugh. It looked like the ghosts of economics past had come to spook the spirit of economics future.

    So of course it was held behind closed doors. It was as if the nascent AI companies were called into a meeting with a tough guy named Spike who listens and then says, “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your nice companies there, would you?” Or as if the union representatives of the horse-drawn-trolley conductors, rail-gauge manufacturers and manure sweepers were sitting in car-design meetings, demanding full employment for their guilds.

    I'm pretty sure Randi Weingarten would be flummoxed if asked to elaborate on Euclid's algorithm. Or even carry it out. She's one of the main reasons American AI development will probably be carried out (if we're lucky) by immigrants.

  • Can't we just lock Hunter Biden up for sheer obnoxiousness? What? That's not actually a crime? Oh well.

    Jacob Sullum notes a downside to a son's legal woes: Hunter Biden's Gun Charges Threaten Firearm Rights and the Right to Trial. And he says that like it's a bad thing.

    The new federal gun charges against Hunter Biden set up a constitutional challenge that will pit him against his father, who has steadfastly defended the firearm regulations that his son violated. Several federal courts have deemed the federal ban on gun possession by illegal drug users inconsistent with the Second Amendment, and the president's son is likely to challenge the case against him on the same grounds.

    The indictment that David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, unveiled last Thursday also vividly illustrates the penalty that criminal defendants pay for insisting on their Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. And it provides a window into the wildly uneven enforcement of federal gun laws that prescribe draconian penalties for conduct that violates no one's rights.

    Hoist on Dad's petard. That's a switch.

    Sullum, of course, would make the same argument if the political sides were changed from Blue to Red. He's got principles.

  • Well, isn't that… special. Andrew C. McCarthy is scathing: How ‘Special’ Counsel David Weiss Handed Hunter Biden a Second Amendment Defense. (Not a gifted link. I'm running low on those. Subscribe, peon.)

    Many things can be said about the Hunter Biden case. One is that it has been a clinic in bad lawyering. Here, I’ll focus again on the prosecution side: Delaware U.S. attorney David Weiss, the faux special counsel who finally indicted the younger Biden on gun charges last week.

    As we’ve observed, Hunter’s best hope of beating the indictment’s felony gun charges is the originalist-leaning Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence. This has to be uncomfortable for President Joe Biden, a longtime anti-gun-rights demagogue who stands to be embarrassed as his son attacks the constitutionality of laws he has championed for decades.

    Are there really five votes on the Supreme Court to gut the federal firearms laws? I don’t think so, for reasons I’ll outline in a separate post. For now, though, the point is that the president can thank Weiss for his predicament. If Hunter’s gun case had been competently prosecuted, there would be no Second Amendment issue.

    ACMcC notes the facts of Hunter's case have been well-known for years, before the 2022 SCOTUS decision in Bruen, which might hand Hunter a … I was going to say a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, but it's more like a "Stay Out of Jail, With the Help of an Expensive Legal Team" card. But, in other words, the DOJ had a "slam dunk" against Hunter before that.

  • And now for something completely… local. The town of Somersworth is adjacent to Rollinsford, home of Pun Salad HQ. It's a pretty depressing locale, the downtown full of empty storefronts and blight, held together by the Walmart and strip malls on High Street.

    But there's an upcoming election. Disgraced Dana Hilliard is on his way out of both the mayor's chair and his lucrative position at Somersworth High. And one of the candidates to take his place is kind of a hoot, as reported by the local paper's headline: Mayoral candidate Kitara Maxey says Somersworth 'can be like a bank'. (Which is paywalled, but duplicated at Yahoo! News.)

    My first thought: A bank?! Why not something fun, like a zoo?

    But from the story:

    "I plan on making (Somersworth) the first financially independent city in America," Maxey said. "Rising up to making New Hampshire the first New England state to become financially independent as well. I have big plans of progressive actions and want to share with the world what is happening in the quiet city of Somersworth."

    Maxey's stated goals go beyond the role of local governments. Cities and towns are funded largely with tax dollars and federal and state funding, and they aren't involved with personal financial planning. Maxey was asked to provide specifics on what she means by creating financial independence for the city and residents and how she would do it as mayor. Her response didn't include policy plans. Instead she supplied the following statement:

    "We in Somersworth are determined to ensure no family is left behind. Helping the citizens is number one," she wrote in a prepared statement. "For we the people make up the reason we must provide funding as a city for the projects of economic development and education. By taking progressive action forward in implementing the proper education in financial literacy, each citizen and business will begin to build a strong financial foundation. Once the people can understand the rules of the money game, the tool of money will begin to help re-inspire the citizens. The door of opportunity is wide open when we apply proven strategies that begin to help build a legacy and generational wealth. Properly funded and structured financial vehicles for all citizens from birth to dirt. This will be the beginning of alleviating our debt and stepping forward into becoming a self-insuring city one individual at a time."

    Heck, that's Kamala-level bullshit right there.

    Maxey's LinkedIn is also fun, revealing her self-description as "Leader/Wealth Management/Financial Professional/Entrepreneur/ Marketing/ at World Financial Group (WFG) -Pinnacle Elite".

    Not to cast aspersions on her asparagus, but that company is described here: " depending on who you talk to, World Financial Group -- or WFG -- is either an excellent business opportunity or an outright scam." It is, like Amway, a multi-level marketing scheme, and … well, you decide.

Recently on the book blog:

[Amazon Img] [Readers of Pun Salad's "Default" feed might find this interesting.]

Last Modified 2023-09-21 4:02 AM EDT

Plus Ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose

A 30-year-ago cartoon from the Reason archives:

[Call me Bro, OK?]

Also of note:

  • Stop me before I experience an unequal outcome! She's famed for her incoherent word salads, but she seened pretty straightforward in Ben Wilson's summary: Kamala Harris Says Government Must Enforce ‘Equal Outcomes’. From the Free Beacon:

    Vice President Kamala Harris spent Thursday afternoon lecturing college students about how the government must ensure "equal outcomes."

    "If we want equal outcomes, we need to take into account not everybody starts out on the same base, and we have to make adjustments," Harris told a crowd at Hampton University in Virginia on her month-long college tour called "Fight for Our Freedoms."

    She told students that "if we want fair outcomes, we must understand what are disparities, and then accommodate and adjust for those disparities if we want equal outcomes."

    Just kidding! It turns out the official transcript is pretty jumbled in the Kamala tradition:

    There’s an attack right now on diversity, equity, and inclusion … where supposed, so-called extreme leaders are suggesting it’s a bad thing to care about and pay attention to inequities, to say DEI is a bad thing, when in fact, if we want fair outcomes, we must understand what are disparities and then accommodate and adjust for those disparities if we want equal outcomes.

    So, environmental justice raises those points, right? Equitable outcomes. Are — is everyone coming out the same way? Well, if they don’t s- — look, if you don’t start on the same base — everybody can have an equal amount — you’re still not going to end up on the same base, right?

    If we want equal outcomes, we need to take into account not everybody starts out on the same base. And we have to make adjustments.

    She really overworks that baseball metaphor. People don't start out on the same base, but they must all end up on the same base.

  • Stop me before I lie again! Just kidding. Nobody's gonna stop him. Jeff Jacoby: As the deficit soars, Biden boasts that he has cut the deficit. After listing a few presidential whoppers…

    But worse still is a particular fiscal boast of Biden's that is so deceitful it has been repeatedly discredited by fact-checkers. All to no avail: Biden insists on trotting it out again and again, as he did in a speech on Labor Day.

    "In my first two years, all this stuff — guess what?" the president said in Philadelphia during an appearance before the local Sheet Metal Workers union. "I cut the deficit $1.7 trillion. Here's the bottom line: My economic plan is working. It's reducing the deficit."

    Biden has made that claim in scores of speeches, many of which are posted on the White House website. According to an online database of his public remarks, he has recited that statistic 44 times this year alone.

    But, to use a Bidenesque phrase, here's the thing: He hasn't cut the deficit by a penny.

    Our perennial reminder: Biden just signs the spending bills. The ones Congress plops on his desk.

    And who elected those bozos (and bozettes)? Oh, right.

  • Stop me before I take this low-wage job again! Kevin D. Williamson notes how workers ‘Dispossessed of Their Pathetic Livelihoods’ by automation (and AI) … actually wind up better off.

    Josh Hawley is a familiar type: the prep-school/Ivy League toff who grew up wealthy and has, for obviously self-interested reasons, appointed himself tribune of the plebs, champion of the working class, and zealous defender of literal McJobs—in this case, jobs working the drive-through window at fast-food restaurants.

    I suppose that young Josh Hawley might have learned something about the drive-through window at the bank of which his father was the president, but here is the voice of experience from an actual graduate of Burger King University and a veteran of the drive-through window at University Avenue and Loop 289 in Lubbock, Texas: 

    Don’t save these jobs.

    Really. Don’t.


    Hawley is joined by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal (now there’s a brace of them) in pushing a destructive, anti-market, anti-innovation, AI-regulation model that would base decisions in part on “effects on employment.” That sounds anodyne enough, but, in hearings with Microsoft President Brad Smith, Hawley made clear that he intends to see this construed in something very close to a literally Luddite fashion—he doesn’t want to see automation replace a single job, including (this was his example, and he dwelled on it) jobs running the drive-through windows at fast-food restaurants.

    KDW's headline quote is from this book which relates how (literal) cotton pickers in the South were replaced by one guy driving "International Harvester’s Model H-10-H"

    Did I say "one guy"? You can see a picture of the H-10-H here, and I'm pretty sure that's a lady in the driver's seat.

  • Stop me before I blindly trust scientists again! Jon Miltimore relates Carl Sagan's Final Warning on the Importance of Scientific Skepticism.

    The University of Chicago-trained astrophysicist pointed out that science is not simply “a body of knowledge, it's a way of thinking," one based on skepticism and questioning. It was imperative, he said, not just that people be educated in the sciences and grounded in healthy skepticism, but that people be allowed to question and challenge those in authority.

    "If we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us something is true to be skeptical of those in authority, then we're up for grabs for the next charlatan—political or religious—who comes ambling along.

    …It's a thing that Jefferson lay great stress on. It wasn't enough, he said, to enshrine some rights in the Constitution and the Bill or Rights, the people had to be educated and they have to practice their skepticism and their education. Otherwise, we don't run the government, the government runs us."

    Sagan’s warning was eerily prophetic. For the last three-plus years, we’ve witnessed a troubling rise of authoritarianism masquerading as science, which has resulted in a collapse in trust of public health.

    This collapse has been part of a broader and more partisan shift in Americans who say they have “a high degree of confidence in the scientific community.” Democrats, who had long had less confidence in the scientific community, are now far less skeptical. Republicans, who historically had much higher levels of trust in the scientific community, have experienced a collapse in trust in the scientific community.

    Miltimore draws a distinction that sloppy people tend to ignore: there's a difference between being "anti-science" (bad idea) and distrusting the "scientific community" (increasingly a good idea).

  • Stop me before I speak freely again! Scott Johnson uses that old Ring Lardner quip: Shut up, he explained. And, as a bonus, Mel Brooks.

    The Biden administration has deputized Krazee-Eyez Killa Jack Smith to put President Trump away some time before the 2024 presidential election. The train keeps a rollin’, banana republic style.

    Last week Smith filed a motion in his District of Columbia 2020 election case against Trump. Smith’s motion is supported by a 19-page memorandum that is posted online here. Jonathan Turley criticizes Smith’s motion in “Gagging Donald Trump: Why Smith’s ‘Narrowly Tailored Motion’ is Neither Narrow Nor Wise.”

    Section I.B. of Smith’s memorandum is headed “Since the Indictment, the Defendant Has Deployed Misleading and Inflammatory Statements About this Case to Undermine Confidence in the Justice System and Prejudice the Jury Pool.” The whole thing reminds me of Governor Le Petomane’s outburst in Blazing Saddles: “We’ve gotta protect our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen.” It’s actually worse than that, but that’s the idea. Appearances must be preserved.

    I didn't get a "harumph" out of that guy.

Me too. Sort of.

Also of note:

  • Warning: barnyard epithet ahead. Rich Lowry has a theory about Why Joe Biden Lies. And it's pretty simple. To quote the subhed: "He’s a classic bullshitter."

    No news to readers of Pun Salad (for example) or Harry Frankfurt.

    And I did want to point out that it was only three months ago at that same website that Charles C. W. Cooke observed that Joe Biden Is an Asshole, but felt the need to spell Lowry's epithet as "bullsh*t". Times change.

    But on to the excerpt (but, really, RTWT). After quoting from Frankfurt:

    [Frankfurt] adds that the bullshitter “does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

    So what is Biden’s purpose? Self-valorization, of course — literally from the moment of his birth.

    His stories are almost always supposed to be dramatic, moving, and pointed, with Biden himself the center of the action — overcoming adversity, fighting injustice, righting wrongs, witnessing great events and acts of courage.

    That's a "gifted" link, one of my five for the month, so use it wisely.

  • But it's not just bullshit. J.D. Tuccille adds that There’s Plenty of Evidence of Corruption Around Biden.

    If there's "no evidence" of wrongdoing, as many pundits insist, why is the Republican House majority fooling with an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden's business dealings with his son, Hunter? Well, when talking heads say, "no evidence," they mean "no smoking-gun proof." And they're right; the current case against the president probably wouldn't prevail in court. But there really is evidence of corruption and sleaze around Joe Biden, even if, so far, it doesn't rise to courtroom standards. While impeachment proceedings will likely go nowhere, Americans are entitled to pass their own judgments based on that evidence.

    Judgments have already done been passed here at Pun Salad HQ.

  • But back to bullshittery… My usual disclaimer: Trump is no friend to the truth either. But Mollie Hemingway points out the naked emperor who recently interviewed him: NBC’s Kristen Welker Lied Repeatedly About Democrats’ Extreme Abortion Position.

    Kristen Welker brazenly and repeatedly lied in a bizarre, conspiracy-laden debate with former President Donald Trump on Sunday. The show was her first time as the permanent host of “Meet The Press,” previously hosted by Democrat activist Chuck Todd.

    Welker interrupted her own pre-taped debate with the president to insert her own “fact checks” that were false or were not responsive to actual claims Trump made. For example, she falsely claimed there is no evidence President Biden had pressured Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict his primary political opponent, Trump. In fact, in addition to statements calling for efforts to prevent Trump from running, that pressure campaign was publicly laundered for all the world to see through The New York Times on April 2, 2022, in an article headlined “Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens.” The article reported that Biden was extremely frustrated by Garland not having indicted Trump and, further, that Biden was telling people he wanted Trump prosecuted. The Times’ White House stenographers said Biden “wanted Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action.”

    And don't even get Mollie started on the abortion lies.(But she's also disgusted by Trump's response.)

  • You vant lentils, dollink? Ve got lentils on sale! Jim Geraghty treads that fine line between disgust and amusement: Just What Chicago Needs, Government-Owned Grocery Stores.

    The city of Chicago — already doing such a terrific job on handling crime, poverty, homelessness, and unemployment — is exploring the possibility of establishing municipally owned grocery stores.


    Now, no doubt Chicago’s city-run grocery stores would have the same service, efficiency, and quality that Chicago residents have come to expect from the local government of a city ranked 149th in its financial stability, 67th in its education system, 71st in its health-care system, 80th in its public safety, 129th in the quality of its economy, or, credit where it’s due, 37th in its infrastructure and pollution. (That’s out of 149 U.S. cities.)

    Call me crazy, but I think if you had safe streets and no shoplifting and petty theft, grocery stores could thrive in any neighborhood, because people have to eat. The good news is that so far this year, murder is down in Chicago, with “only”435 people killed from the beginning of the year to September 10, compared to 485 people in the same time period last year. The bad news is that overall, major crimes are up 30 percent from the same period last year. Motor-vehicle theft has nearly doubled from last year.

    Jim, you're ‥ not crazy.

  • What will Chicago's People's Revolutionary Food Dispensaries Lack? A safe bet: Umami. But for you non-Chicagoans, that link has more about that wonderful taste.

    What if suddenly there were five cardinal directions, Snow White had the company of eight dwarves, or there were thirteen months in the year? What if a number that seemed eternally fixed became augmented by a quality or quantity that had been hiding in plain sight all along?

    Something like that happened in the culinary sciences not too long ago. For most of history, humans knew and named no more than four taste qualities: sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. But the human tongue distinguishes a fifth one, which remained unknown and unnamed until Kikunae Ikeda, a chemistry professor at the Imperial University of Tokyo, identified it in 1908.

    There's a chart, and a map of how people get their umami on, 'round the world. In the US: ketchup, bacon, barbecue sauce, gravy. How about Russia? "Pass the salted herring, dollink."

Recently on the book blog:

[Amazon Img]

Recently on the movie blog:

[Amazon Img]

I Think Mr. Ramirez Missed Drawing Something Important Here

[Unfortunately] And that is: Joe's got us in the plane with him.

But on to this week's standings, from Election Betting Odds:

Candidate EBO Win
Joe Biden 32.0% -2.9%
Donald Trump 29.2% +0.3%
Gavin Newsom 7.1% +2.1%
Ron DeSantis 5.1% +0.1%
Michelle Obama 4.4% -0.2%
Robert Kennedy Jr 4.1% +0.3%
Vivek Ramaswamy 3.9% -0.2%
Nikki Haley 3.4% -0.5%
Kamala Harris 2.9% +0.2%
Other 7.9% +0.8%

The big loser this week is President Wheezy, although he's still the favorite among the bettors. Our big gainer is that slick California phony Gavin Newsom. Draw from that whatever lessons you would like.

  • If you say "His lips are moving" one more time, I'm gonna scream. Back in a previous decade, I had some fun with President Obama's persistent use of "dime". As in "This legislation is fully paid for and will not add one single dime to our deficit." I called it "a reliable signal of dishonesty, deception, delusion, or general incoherence."

    But now it's 2023, and we have a new Liar-in-Chief. Noah Rothman performs an invaluable service in listing All the President’s Tells: How to Spot a Biden Lie. (But it's more like "Some of" instead of "All".)

    Joe Biden is a serial fabulist, habitual plagiarizer, and a reliable falsifier of facts great and small alike. But while the president is a known liar, he’s not very good at it.

    Biden has developed a series of verbal tics that tend to either precede or follow some of his more flagrant mendacities. One way to tell that the president is pulling your leg is that he is quick to assure you that what he has just said is “not a joke.”

    “I may be a practicing Catholic, but [I] used to go to 7:30 Mass every morning in high school and then in college before I went to the black church,” Biden told the congregants of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., during a service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in January. “Not a joke.” This isn’t the first time the president has claimed, “I was raised in the black church politically,” adding, “not a joke,” but longtime attendees of the Union Baptist Church in Wilmington, Del., have no recollection of the president’s attendance.

    And more.

    There are, as I type, 360 comments on Rothman's article. And it's only a slight exaggeration to say that most of them make the same, lame, joke: "How can you tell if Biden is lying? His lips…"

    Not sure why I bothered, but I added one tell in the comments: Joe's verbal tic "literally, not figuratively". It's (literally) Googleable. An example from 2012:

    “We now find ourselves at the hinge of history, and the direction we turn is not figuratively, it’s literally in your hands.”

    And (hooray for consistency!) last month:

    "I was able — literally, not figuratively — talk Strom Thurmond into voting for the — the Civil Rights Act before he died."

    Not even the Associated Press bought that one.

  • Lord, he was born a ramblin' man. Dan McLaughlin takes to the NYPost to tour Joe's Fantasyland: Senile Joe Biden rambles about pony soldiers, Vietnam and lies about 9/11. While talking in Hanoi:

    Biden, a day after his visit to India, told a rambling story about a John Wayne movie where an “Indian scout” tells Wayne an American soldier is “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” Biden has used the line before, but nobody’s ever been able to locate a movie with that scene.

    Even with his usual prepared list of which reporters would be allowed to ask him questions, Biden got lost. “I’m just following my orders here,” he pleaded, then asked after a long pause, “Staff, is there anybody I haven’t spoken to?”

    He then turned down a reporter not on the list: “No, I ain’t calling on you. I’m calling on — I said there were five questions.”

    Biden then repeatedly had to ask reporters to repeat what they said, and his stammering often rendered his answers incoherent.

    Protesting that “I don’t want to contain China,” Biden explained, “It’s about making sure the rules of the road — everything from airspace and — and space and in the ocean is — the international rules of the road are — are — are abided by. And so — and I hope that — I think that Prime Minister Xi — I mean, Xi has some — some difficulties right now.” I’m glad he cleared that up. Now, how about actually containing China?

    I think the official transcript cleans that up a bit.

  • [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] The selling of the President 2020. Joe McGinnis had a hit book back in 1970, describing the 1968 campaign that brought us the Nixon presidency. Which (according to Amazon) examined "mysterious space between image and reality".

    Charles C. W. Cooke notes that the more things change, the more they stay the same: The Biden We Were Told about Never Existed.

    The gap between the image of Joe Biden that is peddled in the press and the reality of Joe Biden as he exists here on earth has always been uncomfortably wide, but, as we hurtle toward the end of the third year of his presidency, the gulch has come to resemble the Mariana Trench. There is a point in every breakup at which the partner who has fallen out of love comes to realize that, for some time now, he has been more attached to the idea of his paramour than to the actuality. It has developed in fits and starts, and been a long time coming, but, at long last, the American electorate seems to have reached that point with this president. On the questions that matter, there will be no more fluctuations. They know who Joe Biden is, and who Joe Biden is not, and, after extended consideration, they do not like him.

    Most "journalists" apparently couldn't figure this out during the campaign.

  • But enough about Biden. Should we put a conspiracy theorist in the White House?

    Um, I mean, another one?

    Kevin Carroll thinks that would be a bad idea: Conspiracy Theorists Need Not Apply.

    Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s remarks last month about the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that took the lives of 2,977 innocents afford us an opportunity to end a harmful trend: allowing public figures who indulge in conspiracy theories and make outrageous statements to be deemed fit for high office.

    Ramaswamy asks, “How many police, how many federal agents were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers?” and “Do I believe the 9/11 commission?”—answering the latter question, “Absolutely not” because “there are lies the government has told about 9/11” regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks.

    No serving law enforcement officers were on American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175. However, 37 Port Authority police officers, 23 New York City police officers, three New York State court officers, an FBI agent, and a Secret Service agent gave their lives rescuing about 47,000 civilians from the World Trade Center.

    I wanted to like Vivek, but…

  • Yes, I have a mything link! And it's right here, pointing to an article by Wilfred Reilly: Model Minority 'Myth': There Are Model Minorities.

    A popular recent Vox article, “Vivek Ramaswamy and the lie of the ‘model minority,’” gets its central premise backwards. In fact, the so-called model-minority myth is no myth at all. By any empirical standard, there actually are model minorities — and model majority groups too.

    On September 5, one of the left-wing magazine’s stable of writers, Prachi Gupta, argued that current GOP presidential contender Ramaswamy is dangerously and “pernicious[ly]” using his own success to “perpetuate the myth of America as color-blind” and to argue for the existence of a meritocratic U.S. By so doing, Gupta contends, Vivek (“like cake”) perpetuates the old MMM, ignores the fact that minority immigrants like himself sometimes succeed only despite America’s “expansive wealth gap and staggering inequality,” and minimizes the reality of historical discrimination against Asians in immigration policy.

    Gupta goes on to engage in some increasingly common critiques of the claim that U.S. Asians in fact represent a unique success story at all. Among these: Asian Americans have the “deepest income inequality” of any broadly defined racial census group in these States United, and Asian-American youngsters are the only group for whom the leading cause of death is consistently suicide. Harsh stuff.

    However, all of these arguments are fairly easily revealed to be just typical leftist wordplay. To take them one by one: The “racial wealth gap” in the U.S. exists, but it does not disadvantage Asian Americans relative to whites or anyone else. The median Asian-American household outearns the typical white household by roughly $26,000 per annum — $100,572 to $74,932. Similarly, the United States does have a racist history, but American immigration policy has — if anything — favored minority immigrants from Asia and Latin America since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Not really about the campaign, but Vivek was mentioned.

  • Look out below! Matt Vespa of Townhall tells us that The Calls to Drop Kamala Harris in 2024 Are Growing.

    It’s not just Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who thinks Kamala Harris isn't Joe Biden's best vice-president choice. The California liberal credited Harris for being politically astute, which isn’t accurate, but failed to deliver a ringing endorsement of Ms. Harris heading into 2024. She’s been a trainwreck for this administration, a source of mockery due to the endless word salad episodes and awkward behavior. It’s why she’s kept out of the spotlight as much as possible. 

    While word on the street is that Democrats quietly admit that Joe Biden is too old, one would guess a healthy number thinks that Harris is unqualified for her job. Several columnists have written pieces about dumping Harris, which is something to consider, albeit in an academic exercise only. There’s no way Harris gets booted unless Joe Biden and his staff want to infuriate the black community.

    Vespa links to this Politico article, which, among other observations, says "dumping Harris could come with significant backlash among Black voters."

We're Lost in This Masquerade

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Like me, George Will is no Trump fan. Both of us think that Trying to disqualify Trump is lawlessness masquerading as legality.

Mae West (1893-1980), a salty actress, once played a character who said that when facing a choice between two evils, she opted for the one she hadn’t tried before. A 2024 presidential choice between today’s incumbent and his immediate predecessor would preclude West’s cheerful strategy: Both have been tried, and together have produced a whopping bipartisan majority eager to see the last of them. This partly explains the spreading flirtation with the idea that the 14th Amendment bars Donald Trump from seeking the presidency.

Many advocates of this idea are academics eager to infect presidential politics with the cancel culture of their campuses: Do not refute your adversaries, ban them. Less nakedly partisan people might think that using the 14th Amendment to remove Trump would thereby prompt President Biden to totter off into the sunset. But recourse to the amendment would be lawlessness masquerading as legality. And there already is a surfeit of illegality.

I should add one important difference between GFW and I: he doesn't quote me.

I should also note that the 14th Amendment argument seems to have failed locally: [New Hampshire Secretary of State David] Scanlan says no legal basis to keep Trump off New Hampshire ballot.

Also of note:

  • Lina don't care. Ethan Yang and Ryan Yonk take to Reason to give another example of the general rule: "There's nothing wrong with        that government can't make worse." They fill in that blank with "Google": The DOJ’s Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Is a Loser for Consumers.

    For decades the consumer welfare standard has been the primary basis on which antitrust enforcement decisions are made. That standard asks about the effect actions and market dominance have on actual consumers. Despite this long tradition, the Biden administration is bringing its first major tech antitrust case in U.S. v. Google and their approach will deemphasize the consumer welfare standard.

    The lawsuit involving Google and the Department of Justice (DOJ) along with a number of State Attorneys General started oral arguments on September 12. The DOJ alleged that the tech giant is monopolizing the market by contracting with Apple to become the default search engine for the iOS platform. The DOJ claims that Google and Apple will harm consumers with the possibility they could exploit their dominant positions.

    It doesn't seem that long ago that Your Federal Government was (equally pointlessly) suing Microsoft. This time, they're trying to put their thumbs on the scale to benefit Microsoft. Life is funny.

  • This will be news only to people who believed Biden. Americans for Tax Reform notes the latest memory-hole operation: IRS Unable to Keep Biden's $400,000 Audit Pledge, Says Inspector General.

    The official IRS watchdog has found the IRS is unable to fulfill President Biden’s pledge not to increase audits on households or small businesses making less than $400,000 per year.

    There is no way to identify the complete population of taxpayers that meet the criterion of $400,000 or more specified by the current Treasury Secretary,” said the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in a new report.

    “Biden’s $400,000 audit promise is not credible, as taxpayers suspected all along,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. The Biden administration made the promise as it was desperate to impose a dramatic increase in the size and power of the IRS.

    Note that "promise" was only slightly over a year old. Back then, Pun Salad linked to a prescient article by Katherine Mangu-Ward: $80 Billion in New Funding Won't Fix the IRS. And commented (also presciently): "You will not be mollified to learn that, once the promises of the "Inflation Reduction Act" are shown to have been bogus, the perpetrators of that lie will not be punished, and the IRS will keep the (more than) $80 billion it grabbed out of your tax-paying pocket."

  • Take a load off Fani. Andrew C. McCarthy analyzes Fani Willis’s Monstrous Trump Case and it is not pretty.

    Oh, about those 161 “overt acts” in furtherance of a RICO conspiracy that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis trumpeted in the first few dozen pages of her mammoth indictment of Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants. Never mind. Turns out, according to Willis, that those 161 acts don’t really define the sprawling conspiracy to — well, to do something. They just give you some flavor.

    The prosecutor now says she need not prove any of them. That was Willis’s position in contesting the attempt by Trump’s co-defendant and former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to remove the prosecution to federal court. The district attorney insists that, instead of proving what she’s ramblingly pleaded in the first 60 pages of the indictment, she can just prove other acts, even if they’re not in the indictment. By the DA’s lights, whatever she decides to prove just needs to be somehow connected to what she frames as a conspiracy to reverse the result of the 2020 presidential election — notwithstanding that it is not a crime to try to reverse the result of an election.

    So how are Trump, Meadows, and the other 17 defendants supposed to know what they are alleged to have done to make themselves guilty of racketeering? Well, what’s there to know? In Willis World, to be guilty, they don’t need to have done anything! According to the DA, as long as any defendant was “associated” with the group that is alleged to have conspired, that defendant is guilty — and is looking at a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, with a minimum of five years in the slammer.

    Have I mentioned today that I think Trump is awful? Ah, yes I did, up there in the first item.

    For the record, the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago stuff seems way more solid.

    (And yes, I stole that headline from Power Line.)

I'm Not Really an "Own the Libs" Type Guy…

but this was just too good to pass up.

I suppose I should provide more info for people not plugged into New Hampshire news. Here's NHJournal, on the side of the angels: Progressive Attacks Don't Stop Board of Ed Approval of PragerU Course.

New Hampshire families can now choose a new financial literacy course from PragerU through the state’s Learn Everywhere program, and New Hampshire Democrats have a new hobby horse to ride into campaign season.

That was the result after three hours of a contentious State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, where Democrats, progressives, and union activists packed the room to denounce PragerU and its “right-wing” politics.

“This approval disregards the potential harm PragerU’s extreme content will inflict on our schools and the education of our children,” said Democratic Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, who is seeking her party’s nomination for governor next year.

At issue is a video course on personal finances and financial literacy called “Cash Course,” and produced by PragerU, a conservative content business. The state Board of Education has been considering making the course, which contains no political or controversial content, part of the content eligible to complete course requirements for students in the Learn Everywhere program.

But what about that allegation that PragureU is "teaching that slavery was 'no big deal' & 'better than being killed'"? True enough, PragerU puts those words in the mouth of Christopher Columbus in this cartoon video. His argument being that judging 15th-century folk by moral codes developed centuries later is at best problematic.

Should kiddos be exposed to that argument? Surely it's better than presenting a simplistic painting of Columbus as an unadulterated villain.

And clearly the @NHHouseDems are lying when they say Prager is claiming slavery was "no big deal". And their argument gets even more strained when they argue that somehow kids might catch conservative cooties from their financial literacy videos.

And (just as clearly) note that these are the same folks that blanch and screech about "banned books" when someone suggests that Gender Queer might not be appropriate in school libraries. Which was the point of my tweet: if you're censorious enough to want to ban (uncontroversial, apolitical) PragerU videos from the curriculum, what other materials do you think should be kept from young, impressionable eyes?

Also of note:

  • I'm pretty sure PragerU doesn't have a football team. But they do have at least one person on the cheerleading squad: Howard Sachs, M.D., who says Thank Heaven Prager University Is Coming For Our Kids.

    This past month, multiple media outlets on the American left, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, NPR and the Atlantic, have decried the decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration to allow the wildly popular and educational Prager University videos into Florida school curricula. Recently Texas and Oklahoma joined.

    Those Americans, namely Democrats, who now embrace leftist ideology are basically outraged that our children might learn some traditional liberal American ideas and values. Such learning would create an obstacle in their drive to bring us their state-run, radically secular, gender-neutral, carbon-free, iron-fisted utopia. In fact, the Democrat leftist tyrants who run my own Montgomery County, Md., government schools just won a court case allowing them to force religious Christians Jews and Muslim kids to be indoctrinated into the 2SLGBTQIA+ poison against their parent’s wishes. I and millions of others have had enough. We are delighted what the leaders in Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma have done — allowed for truth and American values to once again be taught in our schools.

    And why, perchance might I, and millions of others from all around the world, embrace this unaccredited Prager University? Why would I, a nerdy, intellectual, thick eyeglass-wearing, Duke University degree-holding, former Democrat Jew with his nose always in a book be so enamored with its over 1,000 short educational videos? Why would I say and mean things like “I’d rather an American public school or college kid sit in some basement for a few hours a day watching the unaccredited Prager University videos for free than be sitting in most of our accredited, blue-ribboned high school classes or any college class at Yale, Harvard Stanford, UPenn or Columbia?” What makes me actually pay my kids, nieces, and nephews to watch the weekly new 5-minute video?

    It’s because I care about truth and true education, which means caring about transmitting liberal, moral, elevated American values and wisdom, not Marxist ideology, to our children. I and millions of us Prager U fans care particularly about the American and Western ideals of education regarding transmitting truth, beauty, and goodness.

    Dr. Sachs obviously wrote before hearing the news from Concord.

  • He not only saw it coming, he also sees where it is, and where it's going. That's Martin Gurri, readers, in his interview with Brian C. Anderson, discussing the New Censorship.

    Brian Anderson: […] Last year, and you tell us a remarkable story in your essay, the Biden administration established what was called the Disinformation Governance Board, and this basically was kind of centralizing the government’s attempts to shape online narrative. The Biden administration wound up dissolving this board after only four months. Why did it fail so quickly? And maybe just recount that story briefly.

    Martin Gurri: Yeah, that’s a funny one. That’s a fun story. What it tells you. I think this idea that they were going to, first of all, it was going to be in the homeland defense agency that tells you what they think, which is an idea that they’re defending their country against these attacks, both internal, domestic, and foreign because they had given up on pretending that it was just the Russians, that they had domestic anti-democratic threats that they were looking at. And after much thought that maybe amongst the NGOs we were talking about earlier, there was a lot of debate, should this be centralized or should this be dispersed? And the NGOs, as they always do, came down on heavily centralized and whole of government effort is what Renee DiResta said. And after a while, the Biden people decided to go along with that and came up with that governance board.

    They appointed this woman, Nina Jankowicz, who was in part responsible for the thing collapsing because she is, first of all, she was a heavy two-fisted defender of the fact that the Hunter Biden’s laptop was a Russian hack. So this is remarkable that a person who was so completely wrong about that is now being made the head of a disinformation board. And secondly, if you look at her up online, she is online saying that she is the Mary Poppins of disinformation, singing basically what you might call in an older era, indecent songs about herself, about who she needs to be with to get ahead in life. I mean, she was just a crazy person. But I think the main reason that board failed is that inside that establishment left, it is a self-evident good to have control of disinformation. And no matter what kind of government intrusion you need, it’s the outcome that matters.

    So then the outcome is you’re stopping lies. And they live in this bubble where it is very important for them politically to have that control. It’s all one-sided. It aimed at conservatives and Republicans, or somewhat less so at Maverick lefties and Democrats like Robert F. Kennedy. So they have come to the habit of basically believing that everything that’s good for them politically is good for our democracy, and they live in this bubble. And it never occurred to them if they said to the American public, we’re going to have this disinformation governors, it’s going to govern your information, that a lot of Americans are going to go, what are you talking about? And I think the response by the public and by the opposition, and many outlets, caught them by surprise. To them, it is just a self-evident good.

    (Headline inspired by the Arnold Kling quote here.)