URLs du Jour

2020-07-11

  • David Harsanyi warns: Here Come the Speech Police.

    Recently, I ran across a piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer that lays out four racist words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. It begins like this:

    “Editor’s note: Please be aware offensive terms are repeated here solely for the purpose of identifying and analyzing them honestly. These terms may upset some readers.”

    Steel yourself, brave reader, here they are:

    • Peanut gallery.
    • Eenie meenie miney moe.
    • Gyp.
    • No can do.

    OK, I kinda knew about the middle two, but had no idea about the first and last one.

    David goes on to note the actual purpose in all this pearl-clutching: "Attempting to dictate what words we use is another way to exert power over how we think."

    And I can't go for that. No can do.


  • As a WSJ editorialist notes, there's a brand of hate speech that is A-OK with the people who pretend to be against hate speech: Hating Clarence Thomas.

    Even by Twitter standards, the response to Thursday’s two Supreme Court decisions on President Trump’s tax records was revealing. For much of the day, Clarence Thomas was “trending,” as they say, and not in a nice way.

    The reason for the Twitter fury appears to be Justice Thomas’s dissents (along with those of Justice Samuel Alito) in Trump v. Vance and Trump v. Mazars. Both cases dealt with efforts—one by Manhattan’s district attorney, the other by Congress—to gain access to Mr. Trump’s personal tax and business records. […]

    Many critics limited themselves to expletives, but many featured an ugly focus on his race. “Clarence Thomas believes he’s still a slave, and he’s fine with it,” ran one. Another declared, “Uncle Tom was a real Clarence Thomas.”

    Others focused on his interracial marriage. A self-described Ivy Leaguer cited Justice Thomas’s originalist legal principles to imply he’s a hypocrite because “the laws in 1776 did not allow a Black man to get an education, become a lawyer or marry a White woman.” One tweet that now seems to have been deleted along with the account was this: “Clarence Thomas—the one black life that doesn’t matter.”

    The progressive definition of "hate speech" specifically allows hating conservatives and libertarians.


  • Reason goes back into time for a history lesson: The Stolen Land Under Dodger Stadium. And until our lame 2020 baseball season gets underway, you'll have to make do with…

    On July 24, 1950, the city of Los Angeles sent a letter to the residents of the Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop neighborhoods. Their homes would soon be purchased by the city, and their neighborhoods, which would come to be known collectively as Chavez Ravine, would be demolished to make room for a public housing project. This was made possible by the expanded eminent domain powers provided to municipal housing authorities by the Federal Housing Act of 1949.

    While the city's housing authority cajoled the area's residents—predominately Mexican-American, largely poor and working-class—into selling their homes for prices well below market value, the political winds in Los Angeles shifted against public housing, leading to a 1952 citywide referendum banning such projects. But the Los Angeles Housing Authority still controlled the future of Chavez Ravine; soon, many civic leaders became convinced the area would be a good place for a professional baseball team.

    I was out in Pasadena for nearly four full years, and I never once got to Dodger Stadium. The Rose Bowl, either.


  • [Amazon Link]
    And finally some language thoughts from Kevin D. Williamson about Capitalizing 'Black': Good Manners & Media Conventions.

    In explaining its adopting the trendy new racial convention — capital-B “Black” and lowercase-w “white” — the New York Times explains that “white doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does.”

    That is not true, of course.

    If it were true, then to what would the word “white” in “white supremacy” refer? If there were no such thing as a “white” cultural group, then would be no such thing as “white supremacy,” either. But, of course, there is such a thing as a shared white culture — that’s why jokes about white people are funny, which they wouldn’t be if the word “white” simply described skin tone. But the Times must have some plausible rationale rather than telling the truth, which is that it is capitalizing Black because the people whose opinions matter to the editors of the Times wish it. They aren’t wrong to wish it, and the Times isn’t necessarily wrong to accommodate the wish.

    It's complicated: "Uppercase Black alongside lowercase white looks jarring and affected, but uppercase White looks creepy, a kind of armband in print."

    I like Thomas Sowell's solution: Pink and Brown People.

URLs du Jour

2020-07-10

  • At National Review, Jim Geraghty has a good quote from Frederick deBoer on that Harpers letter and the dishonest criticisms it drew.

    Think for a minute and consider: what does it say when a completely generic endorsement of free speech and open debate is in and of itself immediately diagnosed as anti-progressive, as anti-left? There is literally no specific instance discussed in that open letter, no real-world incident about which there might be specific and tangible controversy. So how can someone object to an endorsement of free speech and open debate without being opposed to those things in and of themselves? You can’t. And people are objecting to it because social justice politics are plainly opposed to free speech. That is the most obvious political fact imaginable today. Of course Yelling Woke Twitter hates free speech! Of course social justice liberals would prevent expression they disagree with if they could! How could any honest person observe our political discourse for any length of time and come to any other conclusion?

    Can we just proceed by acknowledging what literally everyone quietly knows, which is that the dominant majority of progressive people simply don’t believe in the value of free speech anymore? Please. Let’s grow up and speak plainly, please. Let’s just grow up.

    That's a bit of Mr. deBoer's entire article. Which I would ordinarily just link to, but Geraghty's worth reading on his other topics too.

    The Amazon page for an upcoming book by by Mr. deBoer calls him a "leftist firebrand". But he seems honest, which seems to be an ever-shrinking brand these days.


  • More on the backlash against one of the Harpers letter signers from Jerry Coyne: The Purity Posse pursues Pinker.

    The Woke are after Pinker again, and if he’s called a racist and misogynist, as he is in this latest attempt to demonize him, then nobody is safe. After all, Pinker is a liberal Democrat who’s donated a lot of dosh to the Democratic Party, and relentlessly preaches a message of moral, material, and “well-being” progress that’s been attained through reason and adherence to Enlightenment values. But that sermon alone is enough to render him an Unperson, for the Woke prize narrative and “lived experience” over data, denigrate reason, and absolutely despise the Enlightenment.

    The link to the document in question, “Open Letter to the Linguistic Society of America,”  was tweeted yesterday by Pinker’s fellow linguist John McWhorter, who clearly dislikes the letter. And, indeed, the letter is worthy of Stalinism in its distortion of the facts in trying to damage the career of an opponent. At least they don’t call for Pinker to be shot in the cellars of the Lubyanka!

    Coyne does a point-by-point rebuttal of that letter. Really, the only interesting thing to discuss is whether today's "Purity Posse" is more Stalinist or Maoist?

    Also on that topic: Jonathan Turley.


  • Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek had a Bonus Quotation of the Day... from Deirdre McCloskey:

    And the tale of expert social engineering is unbelievable, really. It cannot answer the simplest folk skepticism: If You’re So Smart, what ain’t you rich?

    Something to keep in mind when (for example) Joe Biden, who has never run anything even as complicated as a McDonalds, promises to transform the nation.


  • At Politico, Rich Lowry offers his lonely, but correct, opinion: Mark Zuckerberg is Right.

    Mark Zuckerberg clearly hasn’t gotten the memo.

    The founder of Facebook persists in defending free expression, even though free speech has fallen decidedly out of fashion.

    His reward for adhering to what once would have been a commonsensical, if not banal, view of the value of the free exchange of ideas is to get vilified for running a hate-speech machine and to get boycotted by major American companies.

    As a mild Facebook user, I'm amazed how Zuck is unable to resist flinging that McCloskey taunt at his critics: "If You’re So Smart, what ain’t you rich?".

    Or: "Set up your own site, genius."


  • And a bit of New Hampshire pride quoted by Inside Sources: New Hampshire Taxpayers Get Best Deal in U.S..

    That’s according to a new study released by WalletHub ranking states on whether their taxpayers “get the most or least bang for their buck.” Their analysts break down government services into five categories: education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure & pollution.

    Their findings: Nowhere else in the country will taxpayers get more for their money than the Granite State. They also found the percentage of the state’s residents in poverty is the lowest in the nation.

    “New Hampshire has the best taxpayer ROI because its residents pay the second-lowest taxes per capita, and benefit from quality government services,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told NHJournal. “More specifically, the state’s school system is among the best, and there is a low share of idle youth — just 8 percent.”

    They hate us 'cause they ain't us. Which brings us to …


  • … a slagging in the Financial Times, which set off the Google LFOD News Alert: Americans want to be free to be stupid. The writer, Elizabeth Cobbs, is billed as a "history professor at Texas A&M University and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution." She's down on Americans generally, but those in one state specifically:

    Stiff-necked resistance to authority is not limited to western or southern states. New Hampshire, one of the original 13 colonies, remains the epitome of what Turner called Americans’ “antipathy to control”. The state motto, “Live Free or Die”, helps explain why it is the only US state without an adult seatbelt law and one of only three that do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets.

    Et Tu, Hoover Institution?

    Anyway, Elizabeth remains befuddled by even the suggestion that the NH motto implies that the state shouldn't be making risk decisions for adults. Nope, she goes immediately for "stupid".

    That link, by the way, goes to a description of the Randolph accident from last year, which killed seven motocyclists. Even after Googling, I haven't seen any authoritative source claiming whether or not any of the dead or injured were wearing helmets. Given the horrific details, I suspect helmets might not have made much difference one way or the other.


Last Modified 2020-07-11 3:35 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2020-07-09

Mr. Ramirez comments on recent news:

[Morona]

Yup, you have to look hard, but he got the pig socks too. (Compare original here.)

  • I'm having trouble treating this article as anything other than good news. Victor Davis Hanson at the Daily Signal: Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Obsolescence.

    The current chaos has posed existential questions of fairness and transparency that the university cannot answer because to do so would reveal utter hypocrisy.

    Instead, the university’s defense has been to virtue signal left-wing social activism to hide or protect its traditional self-interested mode of profitable business for everyone–staff, faculty, administration, contractors–except the students who borrow to pay for a lot of it.

    How strange that higher education’s monotonous embrace of virtue signaling, political proselytizing, and loud social justice activism is now sowing the seeds of its own obsolescence and replacement.

    Unfortunately (as VDH notes) our "higher education system" has produced "a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification." Once they've knocked down the universities, how likely is it that they'll come up with anything better?


  • A (related) modest proposal from David Harsanyi at National Review: Destroy the ‘Public’ Education System.

    ‘Public' schools have been a catastrophe for the United States. This certainly isn’t an original assertion, but as we watch thousands of authoritarian brats tearing down the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it’s more apparent than ever.

    State-run schools have undercut two fundamental conditions of a healthy tolerant society. First, they’ve created millions of civic illiterates who are disconnected from long-held communal values and national identity. Second, they’ve exacerbated the very inequalities that trigger the tearing apart of fissures.

    If you’re interested in ferreting out “systemic racism,” go to a big-city public-school system. No institution has fought harder to preserve segregated communities than the average teachers’ union. And I don’t mean only in the schools.

    Congratulations to David on coming up with a solution more radical than mine. Which is: abolish mandatory attendance laws. Kind of the ultimate in "school choice".

    This might destroy some "public" schools, true. But I think it would have a disparate impact on those that only exist because kids are forced to attend.


  • At Reason, Veronique de Rugy asks the musical question: Has the U.S. Government Finally Spent Too Much?. A neat summary:

    Looking at the spending that had passed as of early May, Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute predicted that the budget deficit would be $4.28 trillion in 2020 and $2.19 trillion in 2021. This year's deficit is estimated at 19.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), nearly double the peak deficits during the Great Recession and second only to the deficits during World War II. Over 10 years, that spending is projected to add nearly $8 trillion to the national debt, pushing the debt held by the public to $41 trillion, or 128 percent of the annual GDP, within a decade. This debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed even that at the height of World War II. Moreover, the national debt came down after that war ended—but continued Social Security and Medicare shortfalls will keep the current debt rising indefinitely.

    You can find Brian Reidl's analysis here in Detroit.


  • You've heard a lot about the "right to privacy". For example, SCOTUS has decided it grants you the right to an abortion. But it doesn't give you the right to avoid giving government details of your financial transactions. Funny.

    Well, Jim Harper thinks a lot about it. And at AEI, he urges: Don’t ‘democratize’ privacy.

    In 1980, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development described the expansive course that the concept of privacy had taken up to that point. “Generally speaking, there has been a tendency to broaden the traditional concept of privacy (‘the right to be left alone’) and to identify a more complex synthesis of interests which can perhaps more correctly be termed privacy and individual liberties.” Today, there’s even more to privacy than that. It seems as if any maltreatment of people online can be described as a “privacy” concern. We might want to rein it in.

    There’s a touch of the Streisand Effect in the fact that I learned about a new, minor internet star — gas station girl? — through a Twitter thread lamenting her poor treatment. In a video making the rounds, a young woman is seen repeatedly moving her car among gas pumps, failing each time to orient her car so that her gas tank is next to the pump. (It’s step one in filling up your gas tank.)

    Jim links to his longer AEI report that makes a careful near-philosophical dissection of the concept of "privacy". You'll be forever wary of people using the term sloppily. (Which, compared to Jim Harper, is pretty much everyone.)


  • Blowing up over the past few days:

    1. a group letter signed by a lot of old-fashioned liberals in favor of free speech. Followed by
    2. Well, let Matt Welch tell you at Reason: Lefties Hate on Liberal Open Letter on Free Speech.

    "The letter…is about Open Debate only to the extent that people who make very healthy salaries arguing in public for a living seem to have a bizarre aversion to being argued against," spat Gawker alum Hamilton Nolan at In These Times (other choice Nolan adjectives included "pathetic," and "almost intolerably exasperating"). "We have entered a brave new world in which those waving the banner of 'Free Speech' accuse their opponents of being unable to take criticism while waging a histrionic campaign against anyone who dares to criticize them."

    It takes a certain willfulness to ignore the plain words of a statement that's all of three paragraphs long, but judging by the reactions on Twitter, Nolan's pampered-crybabies-whining-about-criticism take was as common as goose turds by a pond. Yes, there are people on the list who are probably agitated at having been the target of public shaming campaigns—the Linguistic Society of America went after Pinker just this month, and Lord knows Rowling has had quite the 2020 arguing with transgender rights activists.

    You'll miss free speech when it's gone.


  • And I suspect this is related news. It would explain a lot: Officials confirm rare case of brain-eating amoeba in Florida.

    The Florida Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that one person was infected by a brain-eating amoeba in the Tampa area, just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The unidentified individual contracted naegleria fowleri, which is a single-cell amoeba that can produce a rare but often fatal infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), according to the department. 

    Now they mean really rare. 145 "known infected individuals" since 1962.

    But only four of them survived.

URLs du Jour

2020-07-08

Pigeon. In a hole. Get it?

  • At Heterodox Academy, Irshad Manji says: Fragility Is Not the Answer. Honest Diversity Is. He reminisces about a debate that didn't come off with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility. (That's the book that Matt Taibbi said "makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina.")

    Take the central claim of her book: that white people’s entitlement to feeling comfortable makes them defensive, even hostile, when conversations about race need to be had. No doubt, many white people fit that bill. However, it is not because they are white. It is because they are human.

    I speak from personal experience. In the wake of 9/11, I toured the world to promote liberal reform in my faith of Islam. Before audiences of my fellow Muslims, I argued that the time had come to update our religious interpretations for a pluralistic 21st century. I also explained that Islam has its own tradition of independent thinking. As people of faith, we could rediscover that glorious tradition instead of turning to outside influences.

    The “Muslim fragility” that I witnessed pained me. Most of my co-religionists did not want to hear about the need to change ourselves. Despite backing up my case with passages from the Qur’an, I was met mostly with denial, consternation, condemnation, and, on occasion, violent threats.

    Manji makes an eloquent appeal for "honest diversity". Which "starts with the desire for varied perspectives and rectifies representation to fulfill that desire."

    Which is quite different than pigeonholing people by their DNA.


  • Quillette hosts Lawrence M. Krauss's thoughts: Racism Is Real. But Science Isn’t the Problem.

    In his June 9th eulogy for George Floyd, Reverend Al Sharpton said, “What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, in education, in health services, and in every area of American life.” The metaphor goes to the suffocation of hopes, dreams, and basic rights among many black Americans, in part because of inequities in American society, and in part because of direct experiences with racism.

    Several days later, the American Physical Society (APS), which claims to represent 55,000 physicists working in the United States and abroad, quoted Sharpton’s statement in announcing its solidarity with the “#strike4blacklives” campaign. The group declared that “physics is not an exception” to the suffocating climate of racism that Sharpton described; and that the APS would be closed for regularly scheduled business on June 10th, so as “to stand in support and solidarity with the Black community and to commit to eradicating systemic racism and discrimination, especially in academia, and science.” And the APS wasn’t alone. The strike was embraced by many scientific groups, national laboratories and universities. Throughout scientific disciplines, combating systemic racism has become a rallying cry.

    It sounds laudable. But as argued below, mantras about systemic racism are hard to square with the principles and necessary protocols of academic science. And in any case, overhauling university hiring and promotion aren’t the way to address the fundamental underlying causes of racism in our society. The APS and other scientific organizations have adopted dramatic anti-racist posturing in sudden response to George Floyd’s homicide and the protests that followed. But in so doing, they risk unwittingly demeaning science and scientists, as well as trivializing the broader and more vicious impacts of real racism in our society.

    I used to be an APS member, back when I had delusions of being a physicist. Glad I'm long gone.


  • At National Review, Kyle Smith is Imagining John Roberts Explaining Himself.

    Ever since I was a little boy, the other boys never called me “John” or “Johnny” or even “Roberts.” It was always “John Roberts.” The words would always run together, so in essence my name, to one and all, was “JohnRoberts.” “JohnRoberts, did you hear wrestling practice was canceled?” “JohnRoberts, Father Reilly said he wants to see you after Mass.” “JohnRoberts, do you want to go to the Dairy Queen for a root beer?” (Root was the only kind of beer I drank.) I did consider it a little strange when my own father started calling me “JohnRoberts,” but I didn’t mind. It was simply a gesture of respect for my immense propriety. I wanted to impress my elders with my rectitude, and I think I did.

    I impressed the other students too. I know I was not seen the way the other boys were. People didn’t ask me, “Hey, JohnRoberts, want to go get high and see Gimme Shelter?” More often they would ask me for my opinion about cross-comparing the various options in life-insurance annuities or what model sedan I considered the most decorous and respectable. (Buick. Always Buick.) Often a group of boys would approach me, and one boy in the group would ask me these kinds of questions while his friends stood around, snickering at some private joke to which I was not privy. In retrospect, I suppose these were strange questions to ask a high schooler, but then again, it was my practice to wear long, black silken robes everywhere I went, just to be prepared for my future. I guess you could say young Kavanaugh did enough youthful hijinks for the both of us. He once told me he went to see Porky’s when he was only 16 and a half! Can you imagine? He’s a card, that boy.

    It's pretty funny. Although JohnRoberts might not think so.


  • Billy Binion at Reason notes one of the many strange features of our modern times: In 2020, Words Are ‘Violence,’ Arson Is Not.

    There's a righteous anger driving protests against police brutality in the U.S. But an effort on the left to radically redefine "violence" threatens to alienate people who are attached to a more conventional understanding of that word and trivializes the very real reasons why they're protesting. A demonstration that hinges on an anti-violence orthodoxy needs to employ a coherent definition of their central tenet, should they not want to undermine their own movement.

    The leftist case for redefining "violence" relies on two main arguments: damaging a person is morally more serious than damaging an object, and psychologically damaging a person is worse than physically damaging an object.

    Nobody seems to care about the psychological damage they're inflicting on me with their moldy cant.


  • And Ennio Morricone passed away. Which makes me want to watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly one more time. (Yes, of course I have the DVD.)

    At Language Log, Heidi Harley makes a point about the Accidental filmic poetry contained in the title:

    In English, "the Adj" generally only allows a generic reading, and often refers to the class of humans characterized by the adjective, as in the poor, the rich, etc. In Italian (and French, Spanish, etc.) this isn't the case; the construction, although based on the same syntax, can also receive a particular referential singular interpretation. Borer and Roy ascribe this to the presence of identifying number and gender features on the determiner in those languages.

    In the original Italian title of the movie, Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo ('The good.masc.sg, The ugly.masc.sg, the bad.masc.sg.) these 'The-Adj' sequences are referential; they refer to the three main characters Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco. The Italian title is more or less equivalent to English "The good guy, the bad guy and the ugly guy". 

    In English, though, the grammatical structure of the title can only get the generic reading. The use of these forms in the film to refer to three protagonists, then, bestows an archetypal quality on those characters; they're metonymically interpreted as instantiating the whole classes of good people, bad people and ugly people respectively. And the kind of mythic force it imparts somehow fits so perfectly with the grandiose yet tongue-in-cheek quality of the whole film, to me it's really a fundamental part of its impact, humor and appeal.

    So the English title actually works better than the original Italian, despite the literal translation. Heidi (I call her Heidi) wonders if that possibly could have been intentional.

Parasites

A Mini-Fisking

The Google LFOD News Alert rang for this piece at a site called "GoLocalProv", by which they mean Providence, Rhode Island. It's a (very long) column by (apparently) a regular columnist, Robert Whitcomb.

I was sufficiently irritated to break out the old fisking template. I am reproducing the relevant section of Bob's op-ed here, on the (appropriate) left, with a lovely #EEFFFF background color; my comments are on the right.

Bob (I call him Bob) gets right into it after a few literary quotes that bear little relevance to this topic:

As it turns out, many perhaps most, of those fireworks that have ruined life recently for many people in Providence, Boston and other New England cities […]

Wait a minute. Fireworks ruined life for many people?

I'm not unsympathetic. Personally, I experience rapidly decreasing marginal utility for most things that explode prettily or loudly. After a dozen or so: "Eh, more of the same. Could we get to the finale, please?"

But that's pretty far from a ruined life. I suspect something about people whose lives are ruined by fireworks: That in the absence of fireworks, their lives would quickly be ruined by something else. Barking dogs, loud motorcycles, inconsiderate littering, MAGA hats, Gadsden flags, …

[OK: A Providence TV station reported on July 5 that extensive fire damage to a house in Providence may have been due to fireworks. They were able to find neighbors speculating about that, anyway. Still, kind of a stretch to "ruined life" for "many people"]

Anyway, Bob knows who to blame. He points his shaky finger roughly a hundred miles north:

[…] came from New Hampshire, that old “Live Free or Die” parasite/paradise (where I lived for four years). There, out-of-state noisemakers stock up and take the explosives back to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, where they ignite them all over the place, with the worst impact in cities. While the fireworks are illegal in densely populated southern New England, they’re legal in the Granite State.

Parasite!? That's pretty nasty, Bob.

As Wikipedia will tell you, it's a slur with a long and sordid history. Both Commies and Nazis were fond of deploying it against broad classes of people, with predictable results. The left-wing anthem The Internationale contains a few references (e.g., "All the power to the people of labour! And away with all the parasites!") At the Library of Social Science, Richard Koenigsberg collects a few choice quotes from the remarkably similar-sounding Hitler and Lenin.

Anyway, Bob's gripes are not directed at the scofflaws in southern New England. Nor with its inability/unwillingness to enforce such laws ("No fireworks arrests made in Providence on Fourth of July").

Nope, it's those damn New Hampshire Parasites.

New Hampshire has long made money off out-of-staters coming to buy cheap (because of the state’s very tax-averse policies) booze and cigarettes. The state also has loose gun laws. Fireworks are in this tradition.

Translation: "People chafe under government-mandated high prices and arbitrary prohibitions, and New Hampshire offers bargains and (some) freedom."

That’s its right. But it could be a tad more humane toward people in adjacent states by making it clear to buyers at New Hampshire fireworks stores that the explosives they’re buying there are illegal in southern New England.

Translation: "Could you please help us enforce our stupid laws by nagging your customers?"

Because of our federal system, states that may want to control the use of dangerous products can be hard-pressed to do so because residents may find it easy to drive to a nearby state and get the stuff. Still, in compact and generally collaborative New England, it would be nice if New Hampshire, much of which is exurban and rural, would consider the challenges of heavily urbanized Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as they seek to limit the use of fireworks, especially in cities. Granite Staters might remember that much of the state’s affluence stems from its proximity to that great wealth creator Greater Boston and show a little gratitude. (This reminds me of how Red States are heavily subsidized by Blue States, whose taxes fund much of the federal programs in the former.)

In addition to the above, a couple things are worth pointing out:

  1. New Hampshire's poverty rate is the smallest in the nation according to the latest tabulation. The "great wealth creator" to our south is number 8. Rhode Island, on the other hand, is unaccountably unaffected by its proximity to Massachusetts: it's in 28th place.
  2. The "Red States are heavily subsidized by Blue States" is tendentious garbage. Debunkings here and here.

And then it gets worse…

Ah, the federal system, one of whose flaws is painfully visible in the COVID-19 pandemic. Look at how the Red States, at the urging of the Oval Office Mobster, too quickly opened up, leading to an explosion of cases, which in turn hurts the states that had been much tougher and more responsible about imposing early controls. But yes, the federal system’s benign side includes that states can experiment with new programs and ways of governance, some of which may become national models, acting as Justice Louis Brandeis called “laboratories of democracy’’.

Yay, Federalism. Fine, me too. But I'm not sure Rhode Island has a lot to brag about, given its high position on the state ranking by COVID-19 death rate. If states are democracy labs, RI done botched its experiment.

There's more to Bob's column. He bemoans the recent SCOTUS decision on non-discriminatory aid to parents who choose to send their kids to religious schools under the heading "Church-State Walls Erode".

But amusingly, he does that just after trashing the town of Burrillville, RI, which declared itself a “First Amendment Sanctuary Town.” Burrillville's crime: daring to specifically oppose the state's "cumbersome restrictions on places of worship".

For Bob, that Church-State Wall becomes pretty porous when it comes to State imposing its will on Churches.

URLs du Jour

2020-07-06

[Amazon Link]

  • Steve Hanke and Richard M. Ebeling have a National Review article in honor of Thomas Sowell hitting the big nine-zero (NRPLUS, sorry). An utter travesty is left until the final paragraph. After relating and summarizing Sowell's work on cultural, geographic, and racial disparities and differences over the years:

    Sowell’s tracing of these past differences brings us back to today. On June 5, the American Economic Association (AEA), the premier professional association for economists since its founding in 1885, issued a statement saying that it was time for officers and governance committees within the association to look into racism and racist practices and presumptions within the profession. To that end, the AEA compiled a recommended reading list on race and discrimination. Sowell is nowhere to be found on it. Neither is the late Gary Becker, former president of the AEA, who won a Nobel prize in 1992 for, among other achievements, his pathbreaking work on the economics of discrimination. This is the blinkered world we live in today.

    Another professional society hopelessly in thrall to the woke mob. At least for now. Until the folks in charge start answering the question posed in the title of our Amazon Product du Jour in the negative.


  • [Amazon Link]
    At the Library of Economics and Liberty, Alberto Mingardi offers an anecdote about The Anticapitalist Mentality. Quoting from a recent book (Amazon link at right):

    On 14 April 1912, Benjamin Guggenheim, Solomon’s younger brother, found himself on board the Titanic, and, as the ship started sinking, he was one of those who helped women and children onto the lifeboats, withstanding the frenzy, and at times the brutality, of other male passengers. Then, when his steward was ordered to man one of the boats, Guggenheim took his leave, and asked him to tell his wife that ‘no woman was left on board because Ben Guggenheim was a coward’. And that was it. His words may have been a little less resonant, but it really doesn’t matter; he did the right, very difficult thing to do. And so, when a researcher for Cameron’s 1997 Titanic unearthed the anecdote, he immediately brought it to the scriptwriters’ attention: what a scene. But he was flatly turned down: too unrealistic. The rich don’t die for abstract principles like cowardice and the like. And indeed, the film’s vaguely Guggenheim-like figure tries to force his way onto a lifeboat with a gun.

    Ah, well, it was still a good movie. Just filter out the anticapitalism.


  • At Quillette, Peter Toshev reports On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry.

    Steve Hsu, Professor of Theoretical Physics and, until June 19th, 2020, Senior Vice-President for Research and Innovation at Michigan State University (MSU) is the latest high-profile sacking. Hsu is not accused of a discriminatory act while carrying out his administrative responsibilities, such as faculty promotions or recruitment. He reports that he has not received any such allegation during his eight years as SVP. Instead, he is accused of holding—and of supporting others who hold—racist, eugenicist, and sexist views pertaining to intelligence. His accusers are Kevin Bird, president of MSU’s Graduate Employees Union (GEU), the GEU itself, and a list of signatories—including many college professors—to a petition addressed to MSU President Samuel Stanley demanding Hsu’s removal from the SVP post. The accusations, and the evidence that supposedly supports them, were shared on June 10th in a series of tweets hashtagged into the #ShutDownAcademia #ShutDownSTEM initiative.

    In a blogpost published on June 12th, Hsu forcefully rejected the accusations and methodically addressed the mischaracterizations that informed them. A counter-petition was circulated, which attracted an even longer list of signatories than Bird’s, and which also included many university professors. This too was sent to President Stanley, rejecting the claims made by the GEU and defending Hsu’s role as SVP. The president also received personal letters in support of Hsu from noted figures such as Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, who wrote “I am writing to urge you not to surrender to an outrage mob by removing Professor Steve Hsu from his Vice President position at MSU. Professor Hsu has discussed ideas that are controversial, but they are not malignant, and he has supported them with citations from the scientific literature.”

    Yet another shameless and spineless capitulation by "higher education" administration.


  • At the Josiah Bartlett Center, Drew Cline confirms that I interpreted a recent judicial decision correctly (always an iffy proposition): N.H.'s tax credit scholarships must include religious schools, U.S. Supreme Court confirms.

    The June 30th U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue demolishes once and for all the false claim that New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program violates the New Hampshire and U.S. Constitutions. 

    Further, the ruling renders inoperative New Hampshire’s anti-Catholic Blaine amendment, added to the state constitution in 1877. 

    “While the plain text and history of New Hampshire’s Blaine Amendment should not have been an impediment to enacting robust school choice programs prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Espinoza, there is now no question that legislators and policymakers in the Live Free or Die state are free to design and enact programs that will empower parents to choose the educational environment that will best serve their children’s learning needs,” Tim Keller, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice and co-counsel in the Espinoza case, told the Bartlett Center.

    That's excellent news. However, the decision was 5-4. And it would only take a single Biden appointment to undo. (Have Supreme Count liberals ever been swayed by stare decisis considerations? Not to my knowledge, which I admit is not broad or deep.)


  • And, due to a paywall, I wasn't able to read too much of this Telegraph [UK] article by Sarah Kennedy, which purports to explain Why Ghislaine Maxwell chose New Hampshire. But it set off the Google LFOD News Alert.

    The subhed: "Dense forests and difficult access from few public roads make it easy to get off radar in the place whose motto is ‘Live Free or Die'".

    Ghislaine Maxwell could not have chosen a better spot than Bradford, New Hampshire for the hidden location of her house Tuckedaway. Known as the ‘Granite State’ for the local psychology as much as the landscape, New Hampshire is a live- and-let-live place whose motto is ‘Live Free or Die’....

    Um.

    Bradford is only a few miles off Interstate 89, Sarah. It's remarkably easy to get to. It's pretty close to Lake Sunapee, one of the state's major tourist draws

    Now, apparently, Maxwell was holed up in a McMansion a few miles down the road from the town center. But still, I think she would have had an easier time staying out of site in Oakland, Iowa.

The Phony Campaign

2020-07-05 Update

The election betting markets gave Trump a little more love over the week, bumping his win-probability up by a whopping 0.2 percentage points.

And they also gave Biden a little more love than that: his win-probability improved by 0.3 percentage points.

Which means that, marginally, the "smart" money says that America is likely to be stuck with one or the other of these lying phony narcissistic weasels men come January 2021.

But Trump widened his lead over Biden in the only poll that really counts: Google phony hit counts.

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
6/28
Phony
Results
Change
Since
6/28
Donald Trump 38.3% +0.2% 1,810,000 +110,000
Joe Biden 57.1% +0.3% 473,000 -31,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker explains it at AIER: Why Election Markets are Betting Against Trump.

    The betting markets judge Trump’s prospects for keeping the presidency with more negativity each day. As of this writing, there is a 24-point gap between Trump and Biden. It seems unbelievable that it shows confidence in Biden; rather it is likely a measure of how Trump’s glamour and glitz are fading. 

    You can dismiss this. You can also disregard the many reports that Trump is demoralized and considering dropping out of the race. Maybe he will pull a rabbit out of the hat. Maybe the polls are wrong again, and the betting odds also. Maybe. But actually, based on what I can read from his Twitter feed, I suspect that Peggy Noonan is correct:

    How a lot of Trump supporters feel about the president has changed. The real picture at the Tulsa rally was not the empty seats so much as the empty faces—the bored looks, the yawning and phone checking, as if everyone was re-enacting something, hearing some old song and trying to remember how it felt a few years ago, when you heard it the first time.

    Tucker's article contains a snapshot of the Real Clear Politics Betting Odds historical graph which I recommend if you're interested in these things; RCP appears to sample more betting sites than does the Lott/Stossel Election Betting Odds site, but the actual odds, nevertheless, seem to be about the same.

    He helpfully annotates the chart with explanatory milestones, and attributes Trump's erosion to his embrace of statist rhetoric and bogus epidemiological modeling, with the aiieee-we're-all-gonna-die lockdowns.

    It's a story. Might be so.

    Or things might have been even worse for Trump if he'd embraced Tucker's libertarian advice. I don't think the country's generally in the mood for libertarian advice. It seems more devoted than ever to finger-pointing, scapegoating, and close-mindedness.


  • And then there's "journalism". Instapundit points out a Courtney Shadegg tweet:

    (And Instapundit has more examples.)

    I didn't watch Trump's speech at Mount Rushmore, and why should I bother when "journalists" are right there willing to brand it as hate speech, which should probably be banned?


  • At Vanity Fair, Charlotte Klein engages in some utterly tiresome and predictable psychologizing, but … y'know what? Also pretty credible: Trump Only Wants to Be Reelected Because of His Giant Ego.

    It appears that President Donald Trump’s primary motivation to run for reelection—is to be reelected. Some of the president’s allies told The Daily Beast that Trump’s desire for a second term is largely driven by fears of being embarrassed. A former senior Trump administration official said that on multiple occasions, Trump said “he is determined not to be a one-termer, and says that history forever remembers them as ‘losers,’” sentiments that another source says Trump expressed in late 2018. The source, paraphrasing, remembered Trump citing former President Jimmy Carter “as an example of a modern political ‘loser,’ and how ‘you never want to be that guy,’” a legacy Trump is trying to avoid by cinching another four years.

    What Trump would actually do with another term, however, isn’t something the president seems totally sure about, based on a recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Trump was unable to name a single policy item when asked what his top goals would be if reelected, instead musing about “experience” and changing the subject to former national security adviser John Bolton, according to CNN. “I always say talent is more important than experience, I've always said that -- but the word experience is a very important word, a very important meaning," said Trump, noting that his time in office has made him familiar with Washington and the people there, which he said “wasn’t [his] thing” as a New Yorker. “Now I know everybody, and I have great people in the administration,” he said, though “you make some mistakes,” citing “an idiot like Bolton” to be among them.

    Both Jeff Jacoby and Clarence Page have compared Trump's response to Hannity's slo-pitch softball query to Teddy Kennedy's answer to a similar question from Roger Mudd back in 1979: “Why do you want to be president?”

    "Uhhhh…".


  • Kevin D. Williamson takes to the NYPost to observe: Barack Obama's failures left a weak VP field for Joe Biden.

    Biden’s old boss, Barack Obama, really thinned out his party: Democrats in 2009 had controlled 59 percent of state legislatures and 29 governor’s offices, but by the end of Obama’s presidency they were down to fewer than a third of state legislatures and a rump of 16 governorships, while 63 Democratic House seats went Republican after Obama’s first midterm. Democrats were reduced to a status they had not endured since Warren G. Harding was in the White House.

    Donald Trump has done a very fine job helping the Democrats to rebuild — a mad scientist in a laboratory couldn’t have created a more useful enemy — but their bench is still a little thin. Because Biden has been accused of creepy behavior, he’s promised to choose a woman as his vice-presidential pick, as though that would nullify his weirdness with women rather than highlight it. Because Biden is the author of an infamous crime bill very closely associated with mass incarceration — and very much objected to by Black Lives Matter and other left-wing activists, without whose support Biden will lose — he is under pressure to choose a woman who is not white.

    Which brings us to…


  • Aída Chávez writing at the Intercept, noting that Kamala Harris's Wikipedia Page Is Being Edited. Yes, she's a contender for Biden's VP. But:

    Presidential vetting operations have entire teams of investigators, but for the public, when the pick is announced, the most common source for information about the person chosen is Wikipedia. And there, a war has broken out over how to talk about Harris’s career. 

    At least one highly dedicated Wikipedia user has been scrubbing controversial aspects of Harris’s “tough-on-crime” record from her Wikipedia page, her decision not to prosecute Steve Mnuchin for mortgage fraud-related crimes, her strong support of prosecutors in Orange County who engaged in rampant misconduct, and other tidbits — such as her previous assertion that “it is not progressive to be soft on crime” — that could prove unflattering to Harris as the public first gets to know her on the national stage. The edits, according to the page history, have elicited strong pushback from Wikipedia’s volunteer editor brigade, and have drawn the page into controversy, though it’s a fight the pro-Harris editor is currently winning.   

    I often rely on Wikipedia, but this is a useful reminder that it's not that reliable on contentious issues. Stick to looking up stuff like Betteridge's law of headlines.

    Kamala does, however, strike me as the candidate most likely to have memorized the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Should she become VP, the talk on invoking Section 4 will start no later than January 21, 2021.


  • The NYPost reports on Biden's recent Q-and-A with the press corps: Joe Biden rips Trump, calls reporter a 'lying dog face'.

    Biden, who has been stuck at his Wilmington home during the pandemic, also took questions from reporters for the first time in months after the Trump campaign accused him of hiding.

    But the gaffe-prone former lawmaker lashed out when one reporter mentioned his own mental deterioration at age 65 and asked Biden if he had been tested for cognitive decline.

    “You’re a lying dog face,” Biden said, apparently irritated that the reporter kept asking questions as he tried to leave the event, before adding that he was “constantly tested.”

    Good luck finding this reported anywhere outside the right-wing press. But it brings us to…


  • In our "Who Could Blame Them" Department, the Federalist's Jonah Gottschalk reveals: Biden Campaign Refuses To Release Cognitive Test Results.

    Its been three days now since former Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that he’s been “tested and am constantly tested” for cognitive decline. The media has, unsurprisingly, swept this story under the rug, but the candidate’s claim still raises a lot of questions.

    Who’s been doing these assessments? Why are we only hearing about these “constant” tests after the cognitive question has plagued the campaign for well over a year? And most importantly, Biden never actually said what any of the results were. So what were they?

    I want—nay, demand—cognitive tests be given to both candidates, and those tests and their results should be broadcast live on C-SPAN. I'd watch, with plenty of popcorn nearby.

    And then a general test, covering civics, geography, history, basic science, etc. No math, though!


  • And just a reminder from Daniel J. Mitchell on what we have to look forward to under President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Cuomo: The Adverse Economic Consequences of Higher Tax Rates.

    The good news is that Joe Biden has not embraced many of Bernie Sanders’ worst tax ideas, such as imposing a wealth tax or hiking the top income tax rate to 52 percent..

    The bad news is that he nonetheless is supporting a wide range of punitive tax increases.

    • Increasing the top income tax rate to 39.6 percent.
    • Imposing a 12.4 percent payroll tax on wages above $400,000.
    • Increasing the double taxation of dividends and capital gains from 23.8 percent to 43.4 percent.
    • Hiking the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.
    • Increasing taxes on American companies competing in foreign markets.

    The worst news is that Nancy Pelosi, et al, may wind up enacting all these tax increases and then also add some of Crazy Bernie‘s proposals.

    This won’t be good for the U.S. economy and national competitiveness.

    Well, not for the first time, and not for the last, what Mencken said: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

    (And 11 other quotes at the link.)

URLs du Jour

2020-07-04

[Happy Fourth]

That is, of course, Michael Ramirez, who often manages to express my own thoughts more beautifully than I could.

  • At the Josiah Bartlett Center, Drew Cline tells us that It's OK to celebrate the United States of America. What a relief!

    Independence Day, 2020, will come without parades or fireworks shows in many communities. They are canceled for the coronavirus. Some Americans seem to want them canceled for good. They’re ashamed of the flag and the nation it represents.

    [PS: Like this guy.]

    Six years from America’s 250th birthday, her citizens should be preparing for the party to end all parties. Instead, many of us are questioning the idea that the country is worth celebrating at all.

    It is. Joyfully and unashamedly.

    In other news, Don Boudreaux's Quotation of the Day is from George F. Will's latest book:

    America was born with an epistemological assertion: The important political truths are not merely knowable, they are known. They are self-evident in that they are obvious to any mind not clouded by ignorance or superstition. It is, the Declaration says, self-evidently true that “all men are created equal” not only in their access to the important political truths, but also in being endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    And you might also want to read (or reread) What Calvin Coolidge Said About The Declaration of Independence.

    Less seriously, because why not, the Babylon Bee: Americans Excited To Celebrate Their Liberty While Confined To Their Homes By The Government.

    And Andrew Stiles has some tips: How to Celebrate July 4 Without Getting Canceled for Glorifying White Supremacy. Example:

    American Flags — Despite their common usage in July 4 celebrations, it is advisable to refrain from flying the American flag given its close association to the United States of America, a country founded on British colonialism, genocide, and tax evasion. If you must incorporate the stars and stripes into your festivities, consider adding a 51st star to show your support for D.C. statehood and the hundreds of disenfranchised journalists forced to reside there.

    All worth your attention!


  • And do you ever find yourself typing and need to fill in the blank: "America is the             country on Earth." Oh oh. Is it Freeest or freest?

    Well, the mavens at Language Log are academics, so of course they weren't talking about America. But still:

    I wrote this sentence: "Hong Kong was one of the freeest cities on earth". My automated spell checker flagged "freeest", so I changed it to "freest", and the spell checker let that stand. But in my mind I was still saying "free‧est", with two syllables, whereas when I see "freest", it's very hard for me to think of that as having two syllables. So how are we to pronounce the superlative degree of the adjective "free"?

    Bottom line: stick with "most free".

URLs du Jour

2020-07-03

  • I dump on Wired a lot. As a part of the Condé Nast family of publications, it can be tediously and predictably statist. Which is why I was gratified to see this bit of debunking from Gilad Edelman: ‘Covid Parties’ Are Not a Thing.

    The dreaded “Covid party” has come to Alabama. Even as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state reached record highs, news came out this week that college students in Tuscaloosa have been throwing parties with infected guests, then betting on the contagion that ensues. “They put money in a pot and they try to get Covid,” said City Council member Sonya McKinstry. “Whoever gets Covid first gets the pot. It makes no sense.”

    That much, at least, is true: This story makes no sense. Despite its implausibility and utter lack of valid sourcing, the fantasy of Alabama virus gamblers has nonetheless exploded across the internet, with slack-jawed coverage turning up in CNN, the New York Post, and the Associated Press, among many others. A representative headline declares, “Tuscaloosa students held parties, bet on who got coronavirus first.”

    ("But I saw it on the TV news!" Yeah, so did I. Shame on me, and you, for watching TV news and attaching one shred of credibility thereto.)


  • Veronique de Rugy channels another intrepid French economist: As Bastiat Would Say, Peer Past the Obvious With Pandemic Policies.

    [If you would like to brush up ahead of reading VdR's column, peruse M. Bastiat's essay "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen."]

    Oh, how I wish we would have remembered to earnestly account for the unseen effects of policies put into place during this pandemic that will pop up in its aftermath.

    Take, for example, the massive amount of additional debt the federal government has imposed on future generations of Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. That which is seen is the money flowing from the federal government to the unemployed, to those taking leave due to rescue money given to businesses during the pandemic. While we might be aware in the abstract that there is an accompanying rise in U.S. government indebtedness, that which is not seen is the increase in taxes that must be paid by future generations. Nor do we see the slower economic growth that will be caused by the need to pay off this debt.

    Even less obvious are the unseen effects of making permanent the supposedly temporary creation of federal paid-leave entitlements. While it's easy to point to all the advantages of such a move for the 35% of women who didn't have any such benefits pre-COVID-19, it's more difficult to see the lower wages and employment that will result. Also hidden from our vision is the increase in employment discrimination fueled by this policy: When governments arbitrarily increase employers' costs to hire certain groups, fewer members of those groups get hired. The academic literature is clear that such legislation inflicts very real negative effects on women.

    Well, there are all these broken windows. Surely hiring all those people to replace them will bring the economy back, right?


  • The National Review editors bid Good Riddance to the Blaine Amendments.

    It took a century and a half, but the Supreme Court finally rejected the Blaine amendments. The Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue is a victory for religious believers, schoolchildren, poor and working-class parents, and the rule of law. It is a loss only for bigots, militant secularists, and the teachers’ unions. The scandal is that four members of the Court would have gone the other way.

    Kendra Espinoza, a Montana single mother working three jobs, had a scholarship to send her daughters to a private school of her choice; she chose Stillwater Christian School. The scholarship was partly funded by tax credits from the state that were available for parents to choose any private school, religious or not. Then, the Montana supreme court stepped in, ruling that because the program included religious schools, the whole thing had to be shut down for everyone.

    The reason was Montana’s Blaine amendment. […]

    New Hampshire's Constitution has a Blaine Amendment enacted in 1877, and the usual suspects (teacher unions, "civil liberties" groups) attempted to use it to shut down a law giving tax credits to businesses providing scholarships that could be used at religious schools.

    Fortunately, the NH Supreme Court let the law live. NHPR (aka "Commie Radio") has a good collection of its articles on the issue.


  • The "trustees and senior leadership" of Dartmouth College, at the other side of our fair state have emitted a Joint statement.

    As Dartmouth senior leaders, we want to express our strong support for the growing movement across the nation to put an end to systemic and systematic racism demonstrated so tragically by the recent killings of Black people at the hands of the police. […]

    Systemic and systematic, baby. Why stick just one meaningless adjective in front of a noun when you can use two?

    And coming soon to a reeducation camp near you:

    We will make implicit bias training mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff.

    It's important to point out that the obvious interpretation of the term "implicit bias training" is incorrect. It's not meant as a how-to!

    Here's the thing about "implicit bias training": it probably does not work.

    But that's not the point. The point is really getting that little joyful frisson inherent in making it mandatory. Shoving people around, bending them to your will.

    Which brings us to…


  • An LTE from Bob Dougherty of Newport, Lincoln County, Oregon. Background: Last week, the county ordered mandatory facemask-wearing, except for "people of color".

    The next day, the county said, uh, never mind about that exception. Oops.

    (Amusing CNN headline: "An Oregon county drops its mask exemption for people of color after racist response". Wait a minute, the response was racist? What about the exception itself?)

    Anyway, back to Bob's LTE: he remains dissatisfied.

    Mandatory face coverings seem to have caused quite a stir in Lincoln County recently. A flashing message board greets visitors with “Face Coverings Appreciated.” But where is the enforcement? Where there is no enforcement, there are no laws. Many of our own police officers do not wear face coverings.

    Apparently, even in Oregon, people will ignore arbitrary government decrees! Bob knows where the blame lies, and it is that pesky state across the country from Oregon:

    Recent research has shown that transmission of COVID-19 can be all but eliminated if everyone wore a face covering in public. But civil liberties trump best practices in the land of the free. After all, “Live Free Or Die” is the New Hampshire state motto — but at what cost?

    Bob, your drive-by slam at New Hampshire makes no sense whatsoever.


  • But across the pond, a publication named The New European hates Brexit, despises Boris Johnson, and apparently pays a writer named Michael White to write stuff in that vein: Boris Johnson’s Britain: Uncertainty, empty words and repeated failures. Which I otherwise not bother with, except:

    It’s wise to try and sympathise with ministers in a daunting situation which finds echoes in many countries and regions the world over. The mounting sense of crisis in the US – 4% of the world’s population, but 25% (125,000) of its Covid deaths – is painful to watch. Mostly southern states of the Texan ‘live free or die’ variety which re-opened too soon and too casually face resurgent outbreaks.[…]

    Texan live free or die? Michael, you ignorant slut, I don't think so.

URLs du Jour

2020-07-02

  • At National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru provides a quote from the "Princeton Open Campus Coalition", which is opposing "required courses in left-wing thought and mandatory 'diversity training' for faculty and staff".

    The demand for “anti-racist training” is nothing more than the institution of a wrongthink correctional program, and we strenuously oppose any attempt to require “cultural competency” or “unconscious bias” training for any member of the University community. This training would undoubtedly coerce members of the community to accept the premises and conclusions that proponents of these reeducation camps advance. There would be no room for any act of dissent or good-faith debate on whether a particular instance of speech or action indeed amounts to racism. Potential dissenters would be intimidated in an atmosphere of fear and potential retribution. We have no doubt that every member of the Princeton community, ourselves certainly included, would strongly and unequivocally identify with the cause of “anti-racism” . . . . But “anti-racism” is a vague and radically unhelpful term that will be filled in with question-begging conclusions by those who subscribe to the reigning orthodoxy on matters of race. Affirmative action, for example, has long been a matter of contention, not only in American political and legal discourse, but also in academic circles. Are we prepared to say, as the University of California system appears to have done, that opposition to affirmative action is “racist” and constitutes an impermissible “microaggression?” Other examples of controversial matters touching on race include, but are certainly not limited to, the historical accuracy of the New York Times ’s recently launched “1619 Project,” the relationship between police officers and their communities, illegal immigration and immigration enforcement, urban crime, the so-called “War on Drugs,” issues of family structure and father-absence in poor communities of every description, and welfare policy. These, and other, matters lie at the core of significant legal, political, and academic discourse. Proper engagement with the various sides of these debates is premised on the robust protection of the freedom to make reasoned arguments and freely and publicly explore different points of view on these contentious issues with no regard for whether these free pursuits of truth “trigger” others.

    I'm long gone from the University Near Here, but I wish someone there with some backbone would point out the unhealthy (and literally undiverse) rhetoric being emitted from the top: for UNH, there's only One True Way to approach issues of race, and they're gonna force-feed it to you.


  • At AEI, Alan D. Viard suggests you Ignore the hullabaloo about rebate payments to the dead.

    To begin, the payments to the dead comprised less than 1 percent of total rebate payments. Trying to identify and prevent those payments would have delayed all of the payments, in contravention of the CARES Act’s command that the rebates be paid “as rapidly as possible.” Even if the $1.4 billion of payments to the dead were improper, they would be a small price to pay to expedite $200 billion of urgent payments to the living. 

    In any event, the payments to the dead were legally proper. As I and several other observers have explained, people who were alive at the beginning of 2020 are clearly eligible for the rebates under the text of the CARES Act, even if they died later in the year before the payments were disbursed. Although the question is a little more complicated, careful analysis of the legislative text indicates that people who died in 2018 and 2019 are also eligible for the rebates.

    I'm generally opposed to Uncle Stupid sending money it doesn't have to anyone, living or dead. That bill is going to come due soon, and it will be no fun to pay it.

    But the bigger issue is all those mail-in November ballots. There's already every indication that the fraudsters will be ready to leap in. Add that to government's general incompetence at such massive endeavors, and you get a recipe for illegitimacy.


  • A plea from Jacob Sullum at Reason: Don’t Let the Pandemic Kill Religious Freedom.

    About a month after Bill de Blasio personally led a police raid on a Hasidic rabbi's funeral in Brooklyn, which he portrayed as an intolerable threat in the era of COVID-19, New York's mayor visited the same borough to address a tightly packed crowd of protesters who had gathered in response to George Floyd's death. Far from ordering them to disperse in the name of public health, the unmasked mayor enthusiastically expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.

    The contrast between de Blasio's anger at Jewish mourners and his solicitude toward political protesters figures prominently in last Friday's decision by a federal judge who deemed New York's pandemic-inspired restrictions on religious gatherings unconstitutional. The ruling, which said COVID-19 control measures violate the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom when they draw arbitrary distinctions between religious and secular conduct, is a warning to politicians across the country as they loosen the sweeping restrictions they imposed in the name of flattening the curve.

    I couldn't help but notice that folks like Nina Totenberg freaked out over the recent Espinosa ruling from SCOTUS: it breached the holy "high wall of separation between church and state"!

    And I don't think Nina et. al. had much to say about Mayor Bill's breaching of that wall.


  • I got 71% on Mark J. Perry's quiz on the Declaration of Independence. It's tough! See if you can do better in preparation for the Fourth.


  • And the news from Slashdot is pretty dire: A Massive Star Has Seemingly Vanished from Space With No Explanation.

    A decade ago, light from this colossal star brightened its entire host galaxy, which is officially known as PHL 293B and is nicknamed the Kinman Dwarf. But when scientists checked back in on this farflung system last summer, the glow of the star -- estimated to be roughly 100 times more massive than the Sun -- had been extinguished. The head-scratching discovery was announced in a study published on Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "We were quite surprised when we couldn't find the star," said lead author Andrew Allan, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, in a call. "It is a very extreme star, and it has quite a strong wind, so we can distinguish it from the galaxy. That's what we couldn't see in the newer observations."

    I'm sure there's at least one commenter over there who quoted Giorgio Tsoukalos:


Last Modified 2020-07-03 7:00 AM EDT