URLs du Jour

2019-04-19

[Amazon Link]

  • Up north from here, Susan the Bruce writes on what we're looking for in a President. Specifically, a National Drinking Buddy. But first, her interesting observation:

    If you Google, “shrill” and the names of any of the five female candidates, you’ll find abundant coverage of their degree of shrillness. Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris all seem to posses the average level of shrill that one would expect from a female candidate. Gillibrand is attractive but shrill. Amy Klobuchar is shrill and bitchy. Kamala Harris is just plain old shrill. Elizabeth Warren has an advanced level of shrill, combined with her being polarizing and not likeable enough. Tulsi Gabbard is deemed “less shrill,” or “easy on the eye and ear.” Next, try Googling “shrill” and any male candidate’s name. You won’t find anything. Shrill is not an adjective ever applied to men. Shrill is being replaced. Polarizing is the new shrill, and it’s used in direct proportion to how much of a threat the woman’s candidacy is. The smarter the woman, the stronger the shrill.

    An interesting take. I left a version of my thoughts as a comment on Susan's blog:

    When I google "shrill" next to candidates' names, the results are disproportionately complaints about the adjective being applied to female candidates. (I.e., not actual instances of ladies being deemed shrill.) So Google is an unreliable measure of actual misogyny.

    Ironically (I think), Susan's blog post, also published in the Conway Daily Sun, often comes up on the first page of results.

    The Huffington Post had an interesting article back in 2016 about their poll asking Americans for one-word descriptions of Trump and Clinton. "Shrill" doesn't appear for Hillary, but "Bitch/Bitchy" does.

    But a lot of the negative-connotation words appearing for the Donald seem (to me anyway) to be mostly applied to guys, e.g. "Bombastic", "Arrogant", "Loudmouth", "Jerk".

    Hypothesis: The sexes tend to be off-putting in significantly different ways. The language we use simply reflects that.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson has an immodest proposal: Eliminate Federal Student Loans. (It's "NRPlus", so I don't know what the visibility is for the general public.)

    Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions or, if that seems too heavy-handed, require the application of ordinary credit standards in any private educational lending, treating the student himself as the main credit risk in all cases, including those of secured or unsecured loans taken out by parents or other third parties for that student’s educational expenses. And 3: It should make student-loan debt dischargeable in ordinary bankruptcy procedures.

    The easy availability of college loans has been the primary driver of inflated college costs. As Kevin puts it:

    If you make a few gazillion dollars available to finance tuition payments with underwriting standards a little bit lower than those of the average pawn shop, you create a lot of potential tuition inflation. Another way of saying this is that if Uncle Stupid puts a trillion bucks on the table, there are enough smart people at Harvard to figure out a way to pick it up.

    As I'm pretty sure Milton Friedman observed decades ago: government higher-ed subsidies overwhelmingly benefit the relatively well-off. And (by definition) are paid for by the Average Schmoe Taxpayer. The Warriors Against Wealth Inequality tend to ignore this for some reason.


  • Ever since I heard about Betteridge's law of headlines ("Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."), I've been paying attention to its applicability. In the case of Elizabeth Nolan Brown's recent Reason article (Are Socialists More Like Libertarians Than We’d Prefer To Admit?), I'd have to say…

    "Are you interested in revolutionary politics?"

    As I arrive at the location of the Socialism in Our Time Conference, a weekend-long summit organized by U.S. lefty mag Jacobin and the British Marxist journal Historical Materialism, a middle-aged woman approaches me to ask this question.

    "I'm going in there," I say, gesturing toward the entrance, hoping this non-answer will suffice.

    It does not.

    "In there," she says, I will not hear about the Russian revolution, or black liberation, or true workers' rights. Instead, I will hear about Bernie Sanders, who it is fair to say she does not support. She hands me a flyer from Workers Vanguard with the title "Bernie Sanders: Imperialist Running Dog."

    A not particularly insightful observation: People on the political fringes tend to be several sigma off the mean in other personal characteristics as well.

    By the way, if you want to read more about Bernie being an Imperialist Running Dog (and why do those dogs always run, anyway? Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog!) here you go (from the "International Communist League (Fourth International)").

    While some of what Sanders calls for—like free tuition, Medicare for all and higher wages—would certainly be welcome, the true purpose of his campaign is to promote the myth that the capitalist Democratic Party is the party of the “little guy.” What he is introducing into “the conversation” has nothing to do with socialism but is rather the fraudulent idea that the “people” can vote into office a benevolent capitalist government that will defend their interests against the robber barons of Wall Street. Such illusions have long served to tie the working class to the rule of its exploiters.

    So there, Bernie. The Commies don't like you as much as you like them.


  • Yay, the new season of Bosch is going up on Amazon Prime. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera does an insightful deep dive into the Bosch's motto: Everybody Counts or Nobody Does.

    Bosch is a driven man on a mission to catch killers. While there is no crime or criminal that Harry has to face which would have been unknown to Philip Marlowe, surely the most famous detective ever to face the glamorous wickedness of Los Angeles, things have changed since Raymond Chandler wrote. L.A. is now the second largest city in America and one of the most important, so wealthy that it’s a major piece in our globalized economy, and obviously plays an outsized role in entertainment around the world.

    Chandler suggested that Marlowe was a knight in The Big Sleep—accordingly, Marlowe favors the political game par excellence—chess, but he plays it alone. Bosch prefers a more existential form of solitude. He stares at the city at night from his cliff-hanger home in the Hollywood Hills, a few miles from Hollywood Station, his professional home since getting himself kicked off the department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division by Internal Affairs some time before the show opens. That house, a luxury bought with money from consulting on a TV show about a serial killer case he’d worked, is a sign of the things success makes possible in L.A. The secret longings of his heart only find expression in jazz, which combines excellence with an all-American origin. Like his beloved Art Pepper, Bosch came from nothing and achieved some prominence in California. Once upon a time, in mid-century America, jazz was popular—just like the manly virtues Bosch has to offer were.

    As I think I've mentioned before, Titus Welliver does an outstanding job of "being" Bosch. Now when I read a Bosch novel, I "see" him as Welliver.


  • And Michael Ramirez comments on the Mueller Report reaction:

    That better not be a plastic straw you're grasping at!

URLs du Jour

2019-04-18

[Amazon Link]

  • Apparently the Mueller Report is being released as I type! Fortunately, Instapundit supplies my own take:

    I’M JUST GOING TO GET AHEAD OF THE SPIN AND ANNOUNCE THAT THE MUELLER REPORT SUPPORTS EVERYTHING I ALREADY THOUGHT. And if the redactions were removed, it would support everything I already thought even more.

    The Amazon Product du Jour is appropriate, although if you want one that doesn't say "2016", go here.


  • Veronique de Rugy answers the question you didn't know you had: who does bipartisan support for electric vehicle handouts betray? I bet you saw it coming: Bipartisan Support for Electric Vehicle Handouts Betrays Taxpayers.

    Excessive partisanship and endless acrimony are common complaints lodged against the political class. There's a lot to be said in favor of this narrative, but bipartisanship isn't always what it's cracked up to be, either. As evidence, consider the latest attempt to extend corporate handouts for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.

    The Driving America Forward Act was recently introduced to extend the existing EV tax credit well beyond its current limits. Unsurprisingly, its sponsors include both Michigan Senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine. A companion version was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Kildee, also a Democrat from a district in Michigan.

    At issue is the $7500 tax credit that applies to "only" the first 200,000 vehicles sold by a manufacturer. The legislation says: "eh, let's add on 400,000 more to that."


  • Also piling on: the esteemed George F. Will, who says (obviously): The electric vehicle tax credit is another example of government foolishness.

    Some government foolishness has an educational value that compensates for its considerable cost. Consider the multibillion-dollar federal electric vehicle tax credit, which efficiently illustrates how government can, with one act, diminish its already negligible prestige while subtracting from America’s fairness. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.) hope to repeal the tax credit, which probably will survive because it does something that government enjoys doing: It transfers wealth upward by subsidizing affluent individuals and large economic entities.

    Where are all the lefty critics of wealth inequality and corporate welfare when you need them?


  • Well, if you need a reason to cheer up, NR's Kevin D. Williamson looks at the "Stop Sanders" movement among Democrats: Democrats Worry Bernie Sanders Can’t Win in 2020.

    The clever people in the Democratic party have turned their attention to Senator Bernie Sanders, the creepy Brooklyn red who for some reason represents Vermont in the Senate, functionally as a member of the Democratic party, an equally creepy political organization to which he does not belong but whose presidential nomination he nonetheless is seeking a second time.

    Stop Sanders! is the cry of the moment from Cambridge, Mass., to Tiburon, Calif., and everywhere that clever Democrats gather. The worry is that Senator Sanders’s grumpy-Muppet shtick will not discreetly charm the bourgeoisie, that his disheveled populism and his unmade bed of a mind will not be a smash hit with well-heeled swing voters in the moneyed suburbs of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida — which, the clever people inform us, is where the real action is going to be in 2020. They aren’t out there screaming “A vote for Sanders is a vote for Trump!” just yet, but they are scheming behind the scenes, and the moneymen of the party already are so alarmed that they are making approximately the same sound that Donald Sutherland makes at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    As I type, the only candidates with over a 10% shot at winning the 2020 presidential election are Trump (42.9%) and … the grumpy-muppet Bernie (13.3%).


  • You know who's given no chance whatsoever? Matt Welch at Reason looks at him. It’s Official: Bill Weld Announces Primary Challenge to Donald Trump. Here's my sticking point:

    One challenge Weld faces among Republican and libertarian-leaning voters alike is his track record of slippery political allegiances and policy positions. In May 2016, during a contentious two-round ballot fight to become the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee, Weld was repeatedly asked by the then-dropping out V.P. challenger Alicia Dearn to promise never to "betray" the L.P., as many believe he had done during a botched New York gubernatorial bid in 2006.

    "I'm a Libertarian for life," Weld said, trying to make the awkward moment go away without precisely answering the question. Dearn pressed him, saying that "betray," to her, just meant leaving the party, to which Weld declared: "Libertarian for life means not going back to any other party."

    Unsurprisingly honest Weld has made a weasel his campaign mascot.


  • James Lileks writes at the Bleat about (among other things) a song that I hated back in the sixties.

    Let's go right to scripture:

    Back in the early 1960s, Malvina Reynolds wrote a song called “Little Boxes,” inspired by a drive past rows of lookalike pastel-hued houses in a new suburban housing tract in the Bay Area. (Her friend Pete Seeger had a hit with the song in 1963.) Reynolds saw the cookie-cutter houses as both symbols and shapers of the conformist mindset of the people who lived in them—doctors and lawyers who aspired to nothing more than playing golf and raising children who would one day inhabit “ticky-tacky” boxes of their own.

    Right. And the smugocracy has held that disdain in their gas-filled noggins for decades.

    I lived (1961-69) in a suburban housing tract, and it was great.


  • Charles Sykes takes a break from Trump-hating, and turns his attention to the blog-pointing tweet from the Library Journal:

    Charles notes: First They Came for the Books.

    The good news here is that Leung cannot be described as a thought leader in the librarian tribe. In her article, she describes her epiphany about the “whiteness” of libraries in a discussion with a colleague:

    One of the mind-blowing things she shared was this idea of how our library collections, because they are written mostly by straight white men, are a physical manifestation of white men ideas taking up all the space in our library stacks. Pause here and think about this.

    Yes, let’s pause here. Leung regards the idea that books are written by straight white men (many of them dead) as “mind blowing,” when, in fact, that has been a hoary, tattered, clichéd fixture of academic leftism for nearly half a century. Her innovation here is moving from the identities of the dead white guys—Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Plutarch, Freud—to the offensive nature of the physical space that their books occupy.

    Dude, the barbarians aren't at the gates. We've already let them inside, whence they tweet and blog.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert takes us to the Peoria Journal Star and an LTE from Emma Schnerre of Seaton, Illinois (population 204). Emma asks: With seat belts, are we losing freedom for safety?.

    Seat belt laws were enacted to provide safety to the driver and passengers while in vehicles. For most people it is routine to put on a seat belt when in a vehicle; however, seat belt laws are relatively new to the United States. It was not until 1984 that seat belts became mandatory.

    New Hampshire is the only state in America that does not have a seat belt laws pertaining to adults. Significantly, according to a New Hampshire Public Radio article by Ben Henry, “Despite New Hampshire’s loose seat belt laws and correspondingly unbuckled drivers, the state’s traffic fatality rate is actually below the national average.” It is true New Hampshire is a small state so people travel smaller distances and therefore there is less chance for fatality in vehicle accident; however, the quotation still insinuates that perhaps seat belts should not be a mandatory law but rather just be provided in vehicles allowing for an individual to choose freely whether to wear one or not.

    There is even grounds for questioning if it should be in the government’s jurisdiction to mandate seat belts. Also, there is a lack of logic in seat belt laws due to the fact that motorcyclists are not mandated to wear seat belts. Lastly, it is time to consider as a country how much government interference we the people want. Should we follow New Hampshire’s motto “Live Free or Die” or should we continue down the path we are on? That is, losing freedom to gain safety?

    Good for Emma. I'll just restrict myself to pointing out that according to the latest numbers from the Federal Highway Administration:

    • New Hampshire drivers average 12,931 miles yearly, while Illinois drivers average 12,921. (So Emma's wrong to guess that we travel smaller distances.)
    • NH recorded 1.05 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, and IL racked up 1.38. Despite their paternalistic seat belt law.


Last Modified 2019-04-18 1:54 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2019-04-17

[Amazon Link]

  • At Reason, Ira Stoll has an interesting take on the indictment of Gregory Craig, accused of … something, mumble. mumble, Ukraine… mumble, mumble … How Trump Could Save Obama’s Lawyer.

    The first count on which Craig is charged is Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. That’s the same section to which Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to violating, and also to which Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to violating. It provides or a fine or up to five years in prison for anyone who “knowingly and willfully” makes any materially false statement or representation “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States.” The provision also is the one that James Comey used against Martha Stewart, and the one that prosecutors used during the George W. Bush administration against Vice President Cheney’s aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was pardoned by Trump.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has accurately warned of the “sweeping generality” of Section 1001, writing, “the prospect remains that an overzealous prosecutor or investigator—aware that a person has committed some suspicious acts, but unable to make a criminal case—will create a crime by surprising the suspect, asking about those acts, and receiving a false denial.”

    The second count on which Craig is charged is violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That’s a law passed in 1938 amid anxiety about Nazi influence in America on the eve of World War II. It’s so broadly written that it could conceivably require the Times itself to register as a foreign agent of Mexican investor Carlos Slim.

    Ira suggests that Trump direct the Justice Department to (a) "use their prosecutorial discretion", or (b) get out the pardon pen, or (c) ask Congress to fix (or repeal) such overbroad laws.


  • Something Monty Python perhaps missed, from Kevin D. Williamson in NR: The Division of Labor Is the Meaning of Life. (Long, based on a lecture Kevin was allowed to deliver at Georgetown University.)

    What we call “globalization” is a sudden radical expansion in the worldwide division of labor—a miracle of human cooperation that, as such miracles so often are, goes mostly unappreciated and unloved, and often hated. Our globalization is hated for the same reason that Renaissance globalization was hated: It disrupts existing status arrangements and introduces new elements of insecurity and anxiety into communities whose members had believed their situations to be fixed, if not ordained—and who believe that they have a natural right to the fixity of those situations, and that the duty of the state is to secure them. Our Silicon Valley billionaires are denounced as “rootless cosmopolitans” (the phrase itself derives from the anti-Semitic socialist purges of the 1940s and 1950s) and are resented for their transnational lives and transnational interests, as well as for their preference for self-regulation and their slipperiness in the face of merely national mandates. Like the merchant princes of Florence, they lead lives that seem impossibly indulgent and patronize cultural and political forces that perplex, irritate, and offend the partisans of peasant conservatism.

    At the other end of the economic spectrum, special vitriol is reserved for a new kind of division of labor: the casual “gig” work associated with firms such as Uber. This opportunistic work provides important income to many people who could not otherwise get it as conveniently, and it performs the important function of allowing people of more modest means to convert their property into capital. But this comes with none of the old assurances: health insurance, pensions, the gold watch at the end of a long tenure of service, etc. It is easy to be sentimental about those old assurances, and to forget that almost nobody in 2019 really wants a 1950 standard of living (you can have it—cheap!), but we should keep in mind that the economy has evolved the way it has because people have made certain choices that comport with their preferences in the face of the unalterable reality that is scarcity.

    That makes some of us uneasy, if not enraged.

    It's Wednesday, and this is my day to be optimistic about the future. Mankind has flourished through millennia of social upheavals, each accompanied by widespread panic and predictions of doom. Now is different? I doubt it.


  • At Quillette, Sebastian Cesario looks at the Case of the Black Hole Science Lady: Scientific Progress and the Culture Wars. In case you missed it: dimwit ideologues of all stripes took turns overinflating/denigrating Dr. Katie Boumann's contributions to the Event Horizon Telescope team. People pointed out that a White Male [also Gay] team member, Andrew Chael, actually contributed more lines to the software used in imaging.

    As to the people who actually stirred this up, much of the problem obviously lies with the temptations of the wider culture war. There are ample justifications for recognizing accomplished women scientists; one needn’t subscribe to every inaccurate narrative about gender gaps in STEM to think that it’s nice to highlight role models for young women. However, singling out one individual from a large team (which reportedly includes 40 other women>) denies the other team members their deserved recognition, possibly arousing resentment from co-workers. Also, justifying this lopsided attention as a remedy for some sort of social ill makes it harder to highlight anyone else. Even deserved attention for someone like Andrew Chael can now be tarred as part of a backlash.

    Likewise, there are good reasons to push back against inaccurate narratives about gender gaps in STEM—I have certainly done so! However, what is to be gained by picking one scientist and using a worthless metric (size of file uploads) to build him up at the expense of another good scientist? We can question bad narratives about gender and STEM careers without calling into doubt the good work of Bouman, and without drafting Chael into a fight that he sought no part of. Yes, Bouman did give a TED Talk about the work, making herself a face of the project, but she never sought to be the face of the project, and she should not be maligned as some sort of glory hog. Most importantly, the other 198 people on the project (including many women at all career stages) certainly don’t deserve to have their fine work turned into a culture war battlefield.

    Apparently, both Boumann and Chael are requesting sanity. Good luck with that! And Katie's on her way to Caltech, where she has a tenure-track appointment, so good for her.


  • At the Federalist, David Harsanyi provides an "Of Course They Are" headline: Democrats Are Using Ilhan Omar As An Excuse To Chill Speech.

    Democrats have spent the past two-plus years accusing the president of the United States and his allies of seditiously conspiring with our enemies to destroy “democracy.” For the most part this fairytale has been cynically deployed by politicians to undermine the legitimacy of a Republican presidency, yet millions of Americans now believe their votes were upended by a foreign power. There is no more serious charge against an elected official than treason.

    Then again, for decades before the 2016 election, Democrats argued that Republicans were literally killing their fellow Americans when cutting taxes, murdering the sick when rejecting nationalized health care, and sentencing the poor to death when rejecting socialist schemes. Not to mention suppressing the minority vote when asking for ID, engaging in Nazi-like actions when enforcing existing border laws, and destroying the world when failing to embrace a takeover of the economy. And so on.

    This overwrought rhetoric is embedded in the everyday arguments of the mainstream left, and its intensity is only growing.

    The same liberals are now demanding that conservatives stop quoting and posting video of progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar belittling the 9/11 attacks because doing so puts her life in danger. That’s quite the deal they’ve cooked up for themselves. Nearly every presidential candidate and major Democratic leader has argued that Donald Trump’s criticism of Omar is out of line because of increased death threats against her. I do wonder how many death threats Trump or Mitch McConnell or Steve Scalise receives every week. I imagine it’s considerable.

    As the Babylong Bee headlined: "Leftists Demand That All Criticisms Of Trump Cease Until He Stops Getting Death Threats".


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for an unlikely story in the Cornell Sun: Comedian Ronny Chieng on Asian Representation in Politics, Critics and Life as an Asian in America. Chieng immigrated from Malaysia, and became a stand-up comic, because this is America.

    Chieng said that people from other countries have a romanticized view of America and tend to “think of [America] as a monolith,” but, after emigrating to the US, he learned more about the nation’s cultural diversity and that “every state is like a nation onto itself.”

    Chieng delved into the nuances of American culture and weighed in on the East Coast versus West Coast debate, calling the East Coast “intense” and pointing to New Hampshire’s state motto — “Live Free or Die” — as an example. He also asked the audience to shout out some guesses for the state motto of Texas. After receiving a few wrong guesses — “Lone Star State” and “Don’t Mess With Texas” among them — he surprised the audience by revealing that the motto is actually “Friendship.”

    Texas: unexpectedly wimpy motto!

    I hope Netflix puts up one of Chieng's shows. I'd watch it.

URLs du Jour

2019-04-16

[Amazon Link]

  • James Lileks' Bleat today contains his reactions to the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Moving and insightful, of course, but here's an interesting tidbit he dug out of Wikipedia:

    In 1793, during the French Revolution, the cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason, and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being. During this time, many of the treasures of the cathedral were either destroyed or plundered. The twenty-eight statues of biblical kings located at the west façade, mistaken for statues of French kings, were beheaded.

    The French revolutionists were the Taliban of their day.


  • A belated Tax Day link: at Reason, Liz Wolfe reports I Got Stoned and Did My Taxes.

    ("I" referring to Liz, not your blogger. I was not stoned, although I will admit to being under the mild influence of Folgers. As a result I went through the entire five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance.)

    Anyway:

    Things took a turn for the worse when I got to the page that asked “Do you want to donate $3 to the presidential campaign fund? This will not reduce your refund or increase your tax due.” I clicked on the description, rightly fearing the worst. TurboTax explained that this opt-in funding of elections could “reduce candidates’ dependence on large contributions and, hopefully, to put everyone on an equal financial footing (so they’d have more time to discuss the issues).”

    It was at this point that I realized I wasn’t sufficiently stoned anymore. As if candidates would focus on the substance—and as if that substance would matter to the many hobbits and hooligans swarming around the ballot boxes like flies. As TurboTax auto-checked for more credits and deductions, my brain descended into campaign finance reform, and I made some cannabutter tea (Thai red tea with milk, a hefty chunk of homemade cannabutter, and some sweetener), which produces a long-lasting but mild high.

    As far as I can recall, Turbo Tax didn't even ask me about the $3 donation this year. Perhaps its AI is getting to know me better.


  • Jonah Goldberg's latest G-File concerns itself with Democrats & Republicans -- With Partisanship & Ideology, Who Makes the Rules?. I resemble this remark:

    The challenge of today is that partisanship is masquerading as principle, and principle is being denounced as a racket. Facts are becoming instrumental plot points in competing “narratives” bendable to the needs of the storyline. Kim Jong-un is a murderous thug, even if he’s friends with the president. Putin is a goon and enemy of American interests, even if he helped in the beclowning of Hillary Clinton. Tariffs aren’t paid for by foreign countries, even if the president says so all of the time. Assange and Manning are villains, regardless of the messaging problems they cause for one party or another. Sexual assault is repugnant, whether you have an R or a D after your name, and the other side’s hypocrisy in selectively being outraged about it doesn’t validate your own.

    This is what I am getting at when I tell people I’ve never been more politically homeless even though I’ve never been more ideologically grounded. Taken seriously, being called a RINO doesn’t bother me one whit, because it’s true: I am a Republican in name only. If I wear a Los Angeles Lakers jersey and the team lets me sit on the bench one night as an honorary member, I would still only be a LINO.

    I am also a RINO, because I like voting in primaries, and can usually find someone I don't utterly loathe on the GOP ballot. (Between Trump and Bill Weld… well, I may stay home next February.)


  • Jeff Jacoby has a great idea for the US Senate: Don't dump the filibuster — restore it to its former glory.

    In 1970, then-Majority Leader Mike Mansfield introduced a "two-track" system, under which a bill being filibustered would be set aside so the Senate could take up other matters. The result was not what Mansfield doubtless expected — to make filibusters less desirable by stripping them of their power to gridlock the Senate. Instead, the number of filibusters soared. Or rather, the number of threatened filibusters soared. Those threats never had to be made good. The mere announcement that Senator X intended to filibuster Bill Y created a presumption that a supermajority would be required if the legislation was to move forward. Soon it was taken for granted that nearly every bill needed 60 votes to pass.

    The solution to this problem isn't to eliminate filibusters altogether, but to eliminate the two-track system that made them ubiquitous. Senators were far less likely to undertake a filibuster back when they knew that doing so would bring the Senate to a halt. It was a weapon used sparingly. During the entire 19th century there were only 23 filibusters. Since 1970 there have been more than 1,000.

    As with most good ideas, this will be ignored.

    Bonus quote: "It should give pause to moderate Republicans and Democrats alike that polarizing brawlers like Warren and Trump are the most prominent champions of killing the filibuster."


  • Christopher Jay of Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire writes at Inside Sources: New Hampshire Politicians Are Gambling With Lives. At issue is "legalizing" sports betting:

    Americans were expected to lose $118 billion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling in 2018.  Over the next eight years, the American people are on a collision course to lose more than $1 trillion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling.  If approved, commercialized sports betting will make these financial losses even worse.

    I think Jay's argument applies to "sin taxes" generally: when the burden of taxation is shifted onto a weak-willed (and politically unpowerful) minority, the incentives for keeping spending under control go out the window.


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang for a WaPo story detailing Where the war on weed still rages. An interesting graphic has a county-by-county breakdown of the fraction of arrests made for pot posession. And:

    Nationwide, a few clear patterns emerge in the county-level arrest statistics from 2016, the latest year for which data is available. A swath of mostly conservative states, running from North Dakota through Texas, is home to many counties where marijuana enforcement accounts for 10 percent or more of all arrests — well above the national average.

    But those conservative states are by no means alone. On the East Coast, New York and New Jersey stand out for relatively high arrest rates for marijuana possession. In New England, New Hampshire — the “Live free or die” state — also shows a high number of arrests relative to its neighbors.

    For those keeping score: it appears the fraction of pot arrests are highest up in the north counties (Coos, Grafton, Carroll); more moderate in the southeast (Strafford, Belknap, Rockingham); and light in the southwest (Merrimack, Sullivan, Cheshire).


Last Modified 2019-04-17 4:05 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2019-04-15

[Amazon Link]

  • At NR, George Will writes on the Democratic Party 2020 Presidential Candidates: Foolishness Sweepstakes. A couple examples:

    Competition in the Democrats’ frivolity sweepstakes is intense. Beto O’Rourke contemplates amending the Constitution “to show that corporations are not people.” Conceivably, he has not thought through why corporate personhood has been in Anglo-American law for centuries: For-profit and nonprofit (including almost all progressive advocacy groups) corporations are accorded rights as “artificial persons” (William Blackstone’s phrase) to enable them to have lives, identities, and missions that span generations and produce a robust civil society of freely cooperating citizens.

    Donald Trump must secretly admire Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren’s thoroughly Trumpian proposal — made where pandering is perfected: Iowa — to ban foreigners from buying U.S. farmland. Lest diabolical foreigners take our loam home? No, Warren says foreigners threaten “food security,” hence “national security,” too. Warren and Trump — he who sees a national-security threat from imported Audis — are together at last.

    Hey, I'm old enough to remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Japanese bought Rockefeller Center. Surely a harbinger of imminent Japanese dominion! But a few years later, they defaulted on the mortgage.


  • At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff reports that Ken Starr shielded Hillary Clinton in report on Vince Foster’s death.

    Ken Starr’s investigation confirmed that Foster’s death was a suicide and that the suicide was due to depression. However, Starr also came to believe, based on the FBI’s work, that the event that triggered the suicide was Hillary Clinton going full Amy Klobuchar on him. Specifically, in front of White House staff, she raked Foster over the coals for incompetence, reportedly telling him he would always be a little hick town lawyer who was obviously not ready for the big time. I discussed this charming matter in a 2016 post.

    Starr, though, did not include Hillary’s mistreatment of Foster in his report on Foster’s death. Starr’s explanation? According to this report, Starr says he “did not want to inflict further pain” on Hillary.

    Something that voters might have found illuminating … oh, say, anytime in the past two decades, but especially in 2016. Yet our watchdog press is only selectively curious.


  • Megan McArdle notes that AOC wants to fund federal literacy programs. But they’re failing for a reason..

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is outraged. That isn’t news, of course. But the targets of the Democratic representative from New York do change, and on Thursday, it was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, of whom she tweeted:

    “Only *one-third* of American children in elementary & middle school can read at grade-level. One third. Yet Betsey DeVos is trying to cut *every* Federal literacy program in the country.”

    Ooh, that does sound outrageous, doesn’t it? But Betsy (not Betsey) DeVos offered a reasonable-sounding explanation for her slash-and-burn approach to federal literacy programs: She says they don’t work.

    Her claim could, of course, be false. But Ocasio-Cortez’s own tweet inadvertently offered compelling empirical support for DeVos’s position. After all, if only a third of American children can read at grade level, the literacy programs aren’t working very well. We should certainly hope that there is some better method out there. And a good way to fund it might be to divert money from the current lackluster programs.

    For AOC, and folks like her, the only possible explanation for an $X million Federal program not working is that it wasn't given $2X million instead.


  • I thought the black hole picture was pretty neat. But Jazz Shaw at Hot Air notes the ensuing non-science discussion: So now we're trolling the black hole picture lady?. The lady is "Dr. Katherine “Katie” Bouman, one of the imaging scientists involved in processing the massive mountains of data that went into creating the image."

    Woman in STEM! Role model! Immediately, some (including, of course, AOC) made it seem like she did it on her own.

    This was greeted by (understandable, but also obnoxious) trolling, belittling her contributions to the overall project. (Note that Dr. Bouman herself never exaggerated her role in the imaging.)

    Jazz comments:

    So in the end, Dr. Katie Bouman was a valuable, contributing member of a 200 person team that developed the black hole photo. And after posting one innocent photo of herself enjoying the team’s moment in the sun she was turned into a feminist hero and then a glory-grabbing monster, all in the space of a few hours. Is anyone really surprised? That’s life on social media in 2019.

    "Indeed."


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang for a conservative rant by Vivek Saxena at Business and Politics Review about an incident at the local Center of the Universe, Epping NH: Girl gets pseudo apology for being ordered to remove Trump hat, shirt on America Pride Day. Is it enough?. The goons came for…

    Vivek gathers some truly hateful tweets about Ciretta. But also some support:

    Thanks, Randy. Except it's "fair and square".


  • And Farouk Martins Aresa mentions LFOD in (I am not kidding) the Nigerian Voice: Government Of The Privileged Rigged For The Privileged Ignored Poverty.

    Social safety nets were needed to avoid revolts within live free or die states and cushion the hungry workforce. Yet, corruption is in every political system. Check, balance and in China’s case dire consequences up to and including death might have brought down poverty drastically. Unfortunately, in Africa where corruption is shielded by the cry of due process, rule of law and democracy; tolerance emboldened and increased poverty with unplanned population growth.

    Yeah, I have no idea.


  • But Pravda on the Merrimack notes New releases by N.H. writers. And this one looks pretty good:

    [Amazon Link]

    Amanda Marin’s book, North to Nara, is the first in a planned series set in a dystopian future where Suffers bear troubles of others for the good of the Nation. It was released by Inkspell Publishing on March 20.

    When the leading character, Neve Hall is assigned a new Sufferer, Micah Ward, she begins to uncover secrets and will have to choose between love or loyalty to the Nation.

    Marin includes tributes to her home of New Hampshire in the novel.

    “I always love coming across nods to New Hampshire in books or movies – even after living here for more than 30 years,” Marin said in a statement.

    There is a scene set in the state with references to the White Mountains and local granite. The characters come across an old sign with the current state motto and ponder what it means to truly “live free or die.”

    North to Nara is a mere $2.99 (Kindle) at Amazon, so click away.

The Phony Campaign

2019-04-14 Update

[Amazon Link]

No changes in our phony lineup this week, but Elizabeth Warren creeps even closer to our (arbitrary 2%) elimination threshold. Where she would join Tulsi, Amy, Cory, Julian,… and, um, Hickenlooper. And more. No shame in that! Unless you think it's shameful to waste your supporters' time and money, but what pol has ever been ashamed of that?

I for one am plugging for a Buttigieg/Hickenlooper ticket. Because I identify as having a 12-year-old's sense of humor about funny names.

Speaking of Mayor Pete, he expands his phony lead this week over President Orange:

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
4/7
Phony
Results
Change
Since
4/7
Pete Buttigieg 7.5% +1.9% 5,480,000 +2,300,000
Donald Trump 41.2% +0.4% 2,210,000 +440,000
Bernie Sanders 11.6% -1.7% 452,000 +166,000
Joe Biden 8.3% +1.4% 258,000 +24,000
Elizabeth Warren 2.0% -0.1% 183,000 +20,000
Kamala Harris 10.1% -1.7% 113,000 +27,100
Beto O'Rourke 5.6% -0.9% 80,300 -5,600
Andrew Yang 2.7% -0.6% 13,400 +300

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

And maybe it's a good time to point out that since we started tracking the candidates' Betfair-based "WinProbs" back in January, Trump's has gone from 29.2% to 41.2% (as I type). Hm.

  • At the Bulwark, Benjamin Parker urges us: Let's Not Forget About Biden's Gaffes. There are a lot, but my favorite is a New Hampshire oldie:

    At least Biden doesn’t have to worry about appearing low-energy. During the 1988 presidential race, a New Hampshire voter asked Biden about his law school record. Biden interrupted the man, gesturing vigorously,

    I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship. The first year in law school I decided I didn’t want to be in law school, and ended up in the bottom two thirds of my class, and then decided I wanted to stay, going back to law school, and in fact ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot court competition. I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits — only needed 123 credits – and I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like, Frank.

    Poor Frank was eventually able to finish his question after Uncle Joe’s tirade, much of which turned out to be false. But hey, at least he fights?

    Good times. There's a 2008 Keene Sentinel article recalling the incident here. Biden's interlocutor was Frank Fahey of Claremont, identified in 2008 as "a lifelong Republican who is now an ardent Obama supporter."

    Somewhat sweetly:

    Last fall, Fahey encountered Biden again at a campaign event in Claremont’s Broad Street Park. The senator rushed to make amends.

    “You’re Frank Fahey, aren’t you,” Fahey recalls Biden saying, before he had finished introducing himself.

    “I owe you a big apology. It’s 20 years too late.”

    Fahey, in turn, offered his own apology for how news coverage of their 1987 dustup had affected Biden’s campaign.

    How did that apology go, Frank? "I'm sorry that I revealed you to be a thin-skinned bullshitter, sir. With all due respect."


  • CNN "Senior Washington Correspondent" Jeff Zeleny revealed even older news about Joe Biden: Letters reveal how he sought support of segregationists in fight against busing.

    Joe Biden's road to a third presidential bid has been lined with a series of explanations and apologies, illustrating the challenges of preparing a long record of public service for fresh scrutiny under the spotlight of the 2020 campaign.

    Yet he rarely discusses one of the earliest -- and most controversial -- issues he championed in the Senate: his fight against busing to desegregate schools.

    This all happened circa 1977. And (as it so happens) Biden was kind of right: busing created far more problems than it solved, and it arguably diverted time, resources, and attention from other policies that might have been more effective.

    But (of course) the interesting point here is not 4-decade-old history, but how the Watchdog Press lacked all curiosity on this until now. It would have remarkably "inconvenienced the narrative" if it had been revealed (say) before the 2008 election.


  • At the Miami Herald, Jay Ambrose gripes about disparate impact: Biden hugged, Harris ruined lives. Guess who’s more reviled?. We all know about Biden's Tactile Nukes, but Ambrose reminds us:

    As San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general, Harris compiled an astonishing record of disregarding legal flubs that stuck people in prison as she then insisted they stay there. In effect, she shoved due process in a paper shredder by way of technicalities, thereby enabling the ruin of people who, in some instances, were likely innocent. We’re not talking about emotional disturbance after a supposed kiss on the back of the head. We’re talking about the prolonged, debilitating torture of prison.

    Harris, smart, tough and quick to offer freebies we can’t afford to citizens perhaps returning the favor at the voting booth, offered little to defendants when she served as a district attorney. She didn’t tell defense attorneys, for instance, that a lab technician had messed with drug evidence by such methods as theft, and so you got convictions based on a fair share of hooey. A judge let 600 of the victims go home despite Harris’s unprincipled protests.

    This is not news to (say) Reason readers, but it might be news to Miami Herald readers.


  • Speaking of Reason, Ira Stoll writes there, claiming Pete Buttigieg Is the Most Interesting Democrat Running for President. Interesting? There are all sorts of ways to be interesting! But let's let Ira tell it, because he attended a couple of Buttigieg events in Boston:

    In more than a few moments, he was downright impressive.

    Facing a question from a tenant-rights activist complaining about Northeastern fueling “gentrification,” he pivoted to an answer about affordable housing that included the words “rethinking exclusionary zoning.”

    That is a big deal coming from a Democratic politician. Left-leaning economists and journalists such as Eduardo Porter, Paul Krugman, and Lawrence Summers have been making this point about zoning restrictions artificially constraining the supply of housing. It’s ideologically consistent with libertarian aversion to regulatory interference in free markets. But politicians have been slow to seize the issue. Another Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, had earlier handled a housing affordability question by talking about aggressive antidiscrimination enforcement by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, leaving me wishing he’d at least also mentioned something about zoning.

    Uh, fine, Ira. You're not wrong about zoning. But is it really a Federal-level, let alone a presidential-level, issue?


  • And then there's another way to be "interesting". And that's discussed by Ben Shapiro at NR: Pete Buttigieg Attacks on Mike Pence Are in Bad Faith.

    Back in 2015, South Bend, Ind.’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, came out of the closet as a gay man. Asked about the news, Indiana governor, Mike Pence, simply responded, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot.”

    A year earlier, Buttigieg had been deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. According to the Indianapolis Star, “a noticeably moved Pence called Buttigieg the day he was driving to the base.”

    There is no evidence that Pence has ever said an unkind word about or done an unkind thing to Buttigieg.

    So, naturally, Buttigieg is attacking Pence as a homophobic bigot nearly every day on the campaign trail. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Buttigieg sneered, “He’s nice. If he were here, you would think he’s a nice guy to your face. But he’s also fanatical.” Speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington, Buttigieg tore into Pence’s supposed intolerance: “That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” This week, Buttigieg tweeted, clearly in reference to Pence, “People will often be polite to you in person, while advancing policies that harm you and your family. You will be polite to them in turn, but you need not stand for such harms. Instead, you push back, honestly and emphatically. So it goes, in the public square.”

    I'm not Pence's biggest fan, but I assume he will continue to exhibit Christian compassion and kindness even to those who revile him.


  • And David Harsanyi provides some news about a declared candidate who is stuck in the sub-1% regions of Betfair betting: Eric Swalwell Claims Kids Live In A Bullet-Riddled Dystopia. The Opposite Is True.

    “First, we must address the single greatest threat to young Americans’ lives: gun violence,” Rep. Eric Swalwell explained in an essay laying out the reasons for his vanity presidential run. “It is astonishing and unacceptable that we have let school massacres become part of daily life.”

    In the real world, guns aren’t even in the vicinity of being the “single greatest threat” in the lives of young people. And school massacres are a rare event that the vast majority of American children will, luckily, never experience—other than those moments when adults subject them to another traumatizing and useless shooting drill or politicians tell them they are in constant mortal danger.

    If it weren't for fear-mongering, would Eric Swalwell have anything to say? Unsurprisingly, he bills himself—proudly!—as "the only candidate calling for a mandatory national ban and buyback of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons".

    But did he 'suggest nuking' gun owners who resist confiscation?. Well, yes, sort of. Even left-leaning Snopes is left to claim (with Swalwell) that was a "joke". Hilarious!

    And would someone please buy me the Amazon Product du Jour so I can wear it if Eric Swalwell ever decides to hold a campaign event I can attend?

URLs du Jour

2019-04-13

[Amazon Link]

  • The Bartlett Center's Drew Cline adjoins two current events to comment on Concord's expanding black hole. Specifically, this refers to New Hampshire's Democrat-controlled legislature demanding a 14.8% spending increase in the upcoming budget.

    Drew makes a general point beyond the details of the current situation:

    In sum, the House budget expands both the size and the reach of state government. It enlarges state power and authority in much the same way a black hole grows — by grabbing things that were not previously under its control and absorbing them. When this is the primary motivation of government, all that is just outside of government’s reach ought to be worried.

    By the way: today's Amazon Product du Jour is a t-shirt that no member of the Event Horizon Telescope research team would be caught dead wearing in view of media. Because we know how that works out.


  • Jonah Goldberg writes on Why the ‘tax the rich’ demands are so unreasonable. (I'd add on "dishonest" and "evil", but that's me.) Jonah's starting point is a group called (I am not making this up) "Patriotic Millionaires".

    “Tax the Rich. Save America. Yes, it really is that simple,” they explain in their mission statement.

    This slogan is simply dishonest; rich people do, in fact, pay taxes. Just under half (48 percent) of federal revenue comes from income taxes. If you define the rich as the top 1 percent — which is probably too narrow, depending on the region of the country — the rich pay a big chunk of that. In 2016, according to the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent accounted for 37.3 percent of all income-tax revenue, a share that was greater than the bottom 90 percent of all payers of income tax combined. The top half of taxpayers paid 97 percent of income taxes.

    When it comes to taxing the "rich", the motto of the pitchforks and tumbrels crowd is "Never Enough".


  • At Reason, Matt Welch asks the musical question: Could Justin Amash Cost Trump Michigan?.

    Donald Trump famously won the combined 56 electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan by a total of 77,744 in the popular vote. Had those quarter-percentage-point squeakers gone the other way in the three states, Hillary Clinton would have won the Electoral College in addition to the popular vote, by a score of 283 to 248. It's no wonder that the president's re-election campaign is focused foremost on, well, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

    Enter fifth-term Michigan congressman Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids). The self-described libertarian Republican has been openly weighing a presidential challenge under the banner of the Libertarian Party (which selects its nominee in May 2020), so his home-state media is starting to assess the potential impacts of such a run. Some initial headlines: "Amash could play 2020 spoiler in Michigan as Libertarian nominee," and "Amash's presidential decision could spell trouble for Trump in Michigan."

    I hope he runs. It would give me someone to non-reluctantly vote for in 2020.

    (I should add that this article violates Betteridge's law of headlines: the answer seems to be not "no", but "maybe".)


  • Pun Salad has done its share of bitching and whining about Big Tech's anti-conservative bias. And we have no Fairness Doctrine to worry about. But still, let's give a listen to James Pethokoukis at AEI: Even the anecdotal evidence of Big Tech's anti-conservative bias isn't super compelling.

    Sen. Ted Cruz led off Monday’s congressional hearing on Big Tech’s supposed anti-conservative bias with a humble concession: “I will note much of the argument in this topic is anecdotal. It’s based on one example or another example.” And the reason for that, Cruz continued, is insufficient transparency by Google, Facebook, and Twitter. “Nobody knows what the raw data is in terms of bias,” he added.

    But that’s not quite right. There’s actually a significant amount of data available to help analyze the bias issue. A Twitter executive at the hearing noted that in 2018 there were 33 million MAGA tweets with #MAGA the fifth most tweeted hashtag. And a recent internal Twitter study found that tweets by Democratic and Republican members of Congress perform pretty much the same.

    Pethokoukis does admit to the transparency problem: Facebook/Twitter are notoriously opaque about their takedown rules.


  • But… you know, we still have anecdotes like this (recounted by Madeline Osburn at the Federalist): Google Marks Pro-Life Film 'Propaganda,' Labels Nazi Propaganda 'History'.

    A Google search for the new movie, “Unplanned” returned results labeling the film “Drama/Propaganda,” while other films that are actual propaganda material do not receive the same designation. “Unplanned” is the story of a Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life after witnessing an abortion.

    Kelsey Bolar, a Daily Signal writer and Federalist contributor, captured a screenshot of the search result below on Thursday. By Friday, the label had been removed.

    [screenshot elided]

    A Google search for the 1935 Nazi propaganda film, “The Triumph of the Will,” returns results labeling it “History/War.” The director Leni Riefenstahl was called up by Adolf Hitler himself, commissioning her to make a film of the annual rally of the Nazi party.

    Explain how that happened, Google.

URLs du Jour

2019-04-12

[Amazon Link]

  • My new Congresscritter, Chris Pappas, tweeted incessantly about his support for H.R. 1, the "For the People Act" At NR, Akhil Rajasekar and Bradley A. Smith note its nasty heritage: Democrats’ ‘For the People Act’: McCarthyist Disclosure Requirements.

    Longstanding federal law requires disclosure of the names, amounts, employment, and addresses of contributors to candidates’ campaigns. Through H.R. 1, however, Democrats seek new, unprecedented disclosure of citizen support for non-profit advocacy groups, think tanks, trade and professional associations, and charities if those organizations should — even months and sometimes years after the contribution is made — make public communications that might be deemed to “promote, support, attack, or oppose” a politician. This definition would subsume communications that, say, criticize a politician’s vote on a bill or question a candidate’s ethics. It would include most discussion of public affairs.

    But is that a good thing? Nay, say Smith and Rajasekar (which, come to think of it, would be a pretty good title for a 1970s buddy cop show):

    Indeed, as a matter of first principle, we should question whether people are entitled to knowledge of others’ political associations and contacts. It is often argued that people have a right to know who is trying to influence them. In fact, as a general rule, they don’t. People have a right to participate in public affairs, but they have no right to know the details of how their fellow citizens, or groups of voluntarily associated citizens, choose to exercise that right. We have made a narrow exception to that general rule for speech that specifically advocates the election or defeat of a candidate, and for contributions to fund a candidate’s own campaign. But we have never accepted that the government — or our neighbors — have a broad right to know about our political activities.

    I occasionally have a morbid interest in those sorts of things, but (I admit) it's not particularly admirable. Especially in these days of political purity tests for employment in some fields, it's a good idea to keep these things private.


  • Who could be against something called the "Violence Against Women Act"? Answer: the NRA. And guess what? According to Jacob Sullum at Reason: The NRA Is Right About the Violence Against Women Act.

    After the National Rifle Association urged legislators to oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that the House approved last week, Amy Klobuchar said the organization had shown its true colors. The Minnesota senator, who is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, claimed the NRA's position "shows where they are when it comes to safety and when it comes to protecting women."

    The NRA, in other words, does not care about violence against women, or at least it does not care enough to accept the new gun control provisions in the House version of the bill. This blithe dismissal of the NRA's legitimate complaints about those provisions makes Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, sound like an authoritarian demagogue who equates concern about civil liberties with indifference to crime.

    Both New Hampshire Congresscritters (of course) voted for the legislation. In fact they were both co-sponsors. But the legislation allows gun-grabbing based on some pretty flimsy pretexts. And so:

    This casual disregard for civil liberties is reminiscent of Donald Trump's recommendation, during a meeting last year with members of Congress, that police should "take the guns first, go through due process second." When it comes to sacrificing constitutional rights in the name of public safety, Democrats see eye to eye with the president.

    And, lest there be any mistake: that's not a good thing to see.


  • Another bit of stupid legislation made its way through the House with (again) co-sponsorship and votes from both New Hampshire Congresscritters. Bret Swanson tells the never-ending story of The never-ending neutrality pageant at AEI.

    Honey, do we really have to sit through this one again?

    We’ve been watching the same performance for nearly two decades. And some of us have tired of the amateur computer science and rehashed melodramatic outrage. We know the ending, too. Despite the act — a bill passed this week by the House of Representatives to regulate broadband networks like public utilities — the internet is already free, open, and prosperous. Most people understand that’s precisely because we didn’t regulate it like a utility.

    Swanson notes the shifting rationales, failed predictions, and moving goalposts of the Net-Neut advocates. Leaving one to assume that their true goal is both cynical and simple: "to gain broad governmental control of the internet."


  • James Freeman (at the possibly-paywalled WSJ) asks the headline question: Would Patients Be Able to Escape BernieCare? And guess what? It obeys Betteridge's law of headlines: "For all but a very few, the answer is no."

    On Wednesday Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vt.) rolled out this year’s version of his draft legislation to abolish traditional Medicare. He calls it “Medicare for All” because polls tell him that voters don’t want to abolish traditional Medicare. Voters also don’t want him to destroy the U.S. system of private medical insurance, but his plan would do that, too. A key question raised by the new bill is whether patients, doctors and nurses would be able to escape the new government-run system when it fails to provide needed care—as such systems always do.

    Calling it “Medicare for All” is not the only deception. One section of his bill, entitled “Freedom of Choice,” includes the following text:

    Any individual entitled to benefits under this Act may obtain health services from any institution, agency, or individual qualified to participate under this Act.

    In other words, you are free to choose any doctor the federal government allows you to choose. On at least one point, Mr. Sanders is being honest. He’s not even trying to sell the Obama whopper that patients will get to keep the plans and the doctors they like.

    And guess what? Neither New Hampshire Senator is co-sponsoring, at least not yet. Presidential candidates that are co-sponsoring are Kamala, Spartacus, Fauxcahontas, and Kirsten "Tactile" Gillibrand.

  • Which brings us to Mr. Ramirez:

    Worth a thousand words? Probably more than that.

URLs du Jour

2019-04-11

[Amazon Link]

  • Why I am embarrassed to call myself a conservative, part LXVII: Conservatives Push an Internet Fairness Doctrine, Again (TechFreedom).

    WASHINGTON D.C. —­­ Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on The Constitution is holding a hearing titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse.” TechFreedom submitted a letter into the record for the hearing, including TechFreedom’s testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the same subject almost a year ago and a letter sent to the Attorney General on these issues last fall.

    Senators Cruz and Graham misunderstand both the First Amendment and Section 230,” said Berin Szóka, President of TechFreedom. “Neither requires neutrality. Wrapping themselves in the First Amendment, both Senators talk about preventing ‘censorship,’ but ‘censorship’ is something only the government can direct. The First Amendment isn’t a sword by which the government can require neutrality or fairness; it’s a shield from such meddling by the government. Likewise, Section 230 was intended to encourage private companies to moderate and curate content as they see fit. Congress recognized that second-guessing those decisions would discourage website operators from trying to address harmful content on their sites.”

    Look, it's pretty simple: (1) Don't expect Facebook/Twitter/etc. to treat you fairly; (2) Don't expect government regulation of Facebook/Twitter/etc. to make things better.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour features a quote from Susan Collins. Yes, that Susan Collins (R-Maine).


  • At Reason, Ronald Bailey reports on something only government can do: Achievement Gap Between Rich and Poor Public School Students Unchanged Over 50 Years.

    Half a century of trying hasn't closed one of schooling's most vexing achievement gaps. According to a new paper, the gap in educational achievement between public school students in the bottom 10th socioeconomic status (SES) percentile and those in the top 90th SES percentile has remained essentially unchanged over the last 50 years.

    "In terms of learning, students at the 10th SES percentile remain some three to four years behind those in the 90th percentile," report a team of researchers led by the Stanford economist Eric Hanushek in their disheartening new National Bureau of Economic Research study, "The Unwavering SES Achievement Gap."

    A half-serious radical proposal that I've been making for years: repeal compulsory attendance laws. Well, it started half-serious. Nowadays, it's up around 80-85% serious.


  • Kevin D. Williamson, at NR, turns his unsparing eye to presidential critics. And it's not pretty (but also NRPlus): Donald Trump’s Critics Are Incompetent.

    A strange thing about President Donald Trump’s critics: The ones who are best positioned to make a case against him and who have the strongest incentive to do so — the Democrats — have proved the least competent at doing so.

    The legitimate criticisms of President Trump are mostly the ones that were obvious to critics such as myself in 2016: He does not really know how to do the job and so has trouble with basic things like staffing his administration and moving his legislative priorities through Congress; he is mercurial and inconstant; he lies, even when there isn’t any reason to, seemingly out of habit; he is vain and emotionally incontinent, which distorts his decision-making; he has surrounded himself with some very shady and untrustworthy people; he has some pretty loopy ideas about trade and about America’s role in the world. Trump says, not without reason, that he is a different kind of politician, but in reality he has been at his best when he has deferred to such pillars of the establishment as the Federalist Society and Senator Mitch McConnell.

    Yep. So why do Democrats bother chasing fantasies about Russia, emoluments, and tax returns, when the plain truth is bad enough?

    They don't even have the normal excuse:

    [The Light is Better here]


  • Here's an unexpected way in which I am like John Bolton (as reported at the Washington Free Beacon): Bolton Can't Stop Laughing at Gillibrand's Nuclear Weapon Gaffe.

    White House National Security Adviser John Bolton could not stop laughing when played a clip of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) discussing her opposition to "tactile" nuclear weapons on the campaign trail.

    [Ed: Bolton did eventually stop laughing.]

    […]

    "As national security adviser, I don’t get involved in politics, but I’ll just say maybe Senator Gillibrand could give me a call and tell me what she knows about those tactile nuclear weapons," Bolton said. "I’d be interested in learning it."

    As would we all. At Betfair, the betting market gives Senator Kirsten about the same odds of winning the presidency as Oprah Winfrey.


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang for an editorial in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat: Charge tourists, not taxpayers, for tourism services. It's about the latest scheme to put more dollars into the hands of local spenders: allowing towns "to collect an occupancy fee from room rentals."

    You would think in the Live Free Or Die state, lawmakers from communities that benefit from Meals and Rooms taxes without contributing their fair share would at least have the decency to allow the tourist towns the freedom to pass some of the costs of tourism onto visitors and keep the costs off the local taxpayers.

    It's not that the tourists don't spend money. (Years ago, Cow Hampshire's Janice Brown suggested a state slogan for the "Welcome to New Hampshire" signs on the Interstates: "Visit, Spend Money, Then Go Home".)

    And it's not as if tourist establishments don't pay local taxes already.

    So what is LFOD is doing here?

URLs du Jour

2019-04-10

[Amazon Link]

  • I hear you out there wondering: Will simple government solutions fix complex societal problems? Well, bunkie, let me direct you to Kevin D. Williamson at NR, who has the answer: Simple Government Solutions Won’t Fix Complex Societal Problems.

    Imagine that you are the czar of all building in San Francisco, and that you have been asked for your thoughts on the design of a new apartment building that is under consideration. What is your top concern?

    If you are a halfway competent and benevolent dictator — and, goodness knows, history has shown us few enough of those! — then you’d probably put “affordability” at the top of your list. The people of San Francisco and the surrounding areas are very much in need of new affordable housing: In the city itself, the median price of a house is now just over $1.6 million, more than 16 times the median household income. Affordable housing is a big issue not only for regular middle-class people but for the high-tech titans of Silicon Valley, who worry that some highly productive potential employees are looking elsewhere for their futures, not to mention that the housing market forces them to pay more for all their workers. There are other places that have faced such problems, notably resort communities such as Aspen, Colo., but it is unusual for a major city to become so comprehensively unaffordable. Even famously expensive New York City has its more affordable enclaves, without which many industries — from food-service to publishing — would have enormous human-capital problems.

    But if the czar of building in San Francisco were presented with a design for the most affordable apartment building that possibly could be built (for the purpose of our thought experiment, there is no building code), he almost certainly would reject it, because it would lack certain health and safety features that most of us regard as essential. It probably would not be very attractive or very energy-efficient. It probably would not be very comfortable to live in, either.

    Bottom line is straight outta Hayek/Mises: the Czar lacks (and by his nature, can't get) the distributed information available to private entrepreneurs via market prices.


  • Who knew there was such a thing as Betteridge's law of headlines? It's simple: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

    But I'm not sure that applies to Scott Shackford's Reason article: Will a Free Press Cheer on Government Censorship of the Internet? It seems the answer there could be "Gulp. Maybe."

    The United Kingdom appears to be following in the footsteps of the European Union and Australia in trying to punish online platforms that don't censor content the way government officials want them to.

    The British authorities are pondering a proposal to create an entirely new government agency to regulate, and even punish, online communication platforms to make them more thorough in removing content the government deems dangerous or violent.

    You might be saying: "Other countries, so who cares?" But Shackford goes on to note the news report in the Washington "Democracy Dies in Darkness" Post which "contains a lot of loaded language" on the side of speech suppression.


  • Veronique de Rugy has a suggestion: How Free Traders Can Improve Their Case. It is spurred by the latest threats from President Trump to blow up the NAFTA replacement agreement (USMCA) by sticking a 25 percent national-security tariff on Mexican cars. (Or, even worse, closing the Mexican border to trade entirely.)

    According to Veronique, the problem might be the nature of trade agreements themselves:

    But here is the thing: as effective as free trade agreements have been at lowering trade barriers, there’s one way in which they have impaired the fight for a world of even freer trade. They suffer from the weakness of fundamentally being rooted in mercantilist misunderstanding.

    Indeed, trade negotiations and the agreements that they produce rest on the mistaken belief that the ultimate benefit of trade is exports, while imports are the unfortunate but necessary price to pay in order to export more. The multilateral and bilateral trade treaties “worked” to make trade freer in practice because each government was willing to allow its citizens to import more as the necessary condition for persuading other governments to allow their citizens to do the same. Each government, in short, agreed to lower import barriers only as a means of increasing its country’s exports.

    But this entire approach is backwards. The economic case for free trade is fundamentally a unilateral one. Tariffs imposed in the U.S. are a tax on American consumers. It’s not that we wouldn’t love it if other countries stopped hurting their consumers with tariffs on U.S. goods, but their idiocy is no reason to “retaliate” by inflicting an identical harm on our consumers. Besides, the truth of the matter is that it is not our place to tell other governments how to govern their countries.

    'Strewth! But in these nutty days, how many pols can we get behind non-backwards thinking?


  • I'm not a yuuuge fan of American Greatness, but Victor Davis Hanson uses their site to provide a pretty good article on: All the Progressive Plotters.

    Right after the 2016 election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein—cheered on by Hillary Clinton dead-enders—sued in three states to recount votes and thereby overturn Donald Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. Before the quixotic effort imploded, Stein was praised as an iconic progressive social justice warrior who might stop the hated Trump from even entering the White House.

    When that did not work, B-list Hollywood celebrities mobilized, with television and radio commercials, to shame electors in Trump-won states into not voting for the president-elect during the official Electoral College balloting in December 2016. Their idea was that select morally superior electors should reject their constitutional directives and throw the election into the House of Representatives where even more morally superior NeverTrump Republicans might join with even much more morally superior Democrats to find the perfect morally superior NeverTrump alternative.

    And it goes on from there. Chrome counts ten subsequent occurrences of "When that did not work". Pretty funny, but grim, stuff.


  • And (yes) another WalletHub state-by-state comparison: 2019’s States Most Dependent on the Gun Industry.

    In light of the recent developments in the firearms industry and debates on how, if at all, it should be restricted, WalletHub compared the economic impact of guns on each of the 50 states to determine which among them leans most heavily on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through ownership. Read on for our findings, methodology and expert commentary from a panel of researchers.

    Bottom line: Idaho is ranked most "dependent", and New Jersey least. New Hampshire is smack in the middle of the pack at #26.

    But it's slightly more interesting when you look at the components of the ranking. For New Hampshire is number one in the "Firearms Industry" component. It has the most firearms industry jobs per capita. It is in fourth place for the highest average firearms industry wages and benefits. And we're well "below average" on the Giffords Law Center rankings of "gun law strength".

    So how did we get such a mediocre ranking? Well, we're in 47th place on the "Gun Politics" component. Which is based on three criteria:

    • Gun-Control Contributions to Congressional Members per Capita
    • Gun-Rights Contributions to Congressional Members per Capita
    • Senator Score – How Senators Voted on Gun Bills

    So (unsurprisingly) our Democratic Congresscritters are heavily supported by gun controllers, ignored by gun rights people, and they reliably vote for weapon restrictions.

    I think this means that WalletHub's overall methodology is flawed and misleading, but nobody asked me.


Last Modified 2019-04-10 10:30 AM EDT