URLs du Jour

2021-11-28

  • Eye Candy du Jour from Mr. Michael P. Ramirez, who reports: It’s dangerous out there.

    [If I had a hammer...]

    Need context? For those of us in New Hampshire, Chesa Boudin is comfortably far away, at least in a geographical sense. Michael Shellenberger, writing in the WSJ, provides background:

    When Chesa Boudin ran for San Francisco district attorney in 2019, he said crime was caused by poverty, wealth inequality and inadequate government spending on social programs. He called prostitution, open drug use and drug dealing “victimless crimes” and promised not to prosecute them. The result has been an increase in crime so sharp that San Francisco’s liberal residents are now paying for private security guards, taking self-defense classes, and supporting a recall of Mr. Boudin, with a vote set for June 2022. Retailers like Walgreens and Target are closing stores in the city, citing rampant shoplifting. Last week, a shockingly organized mob of looters ransacked a downtown Louis Vuitton store.

    When they got Louis Vuitton that was enough for Chesa to tweet: “Standby for felony charges.”

    The hammer, of course, is the implement of choice for smash-and-grabbers. Ex-LAPD cop Timothy T. Williams Jr., advised: “Businesses need to invest in displays that are shatterproof. That will be a deterrent. They can’t go in and do smash-and-grab because nothing is smashing for them to grab.”

    He did not add, but could have: "Don't bother waiting for law enforcement to do anything about this. Forget it, Jake, it's California, dude."


  • The Answering of Rittenhouse. Glenn Greenwald describes The Cynical and Dangerous Weaponization of the "White Supremacist" Label.

    Within hours of the August 25, 2020, shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin — not days, but hours — it was decreed as unquestioned fact in mainstream political and media circles that the shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a "white supremacist.” Over the next fifteen months, up to and including his acquittal by a jury of his peers on all charges, this label was applied to him more times than one can count by corporate media outlets as though it were proven fact. Indeed, that Rittenhouse was a "white supremacist” was deemed so unquestionably true that questioning it was cast as evidence of one's own racist inclinations (defending a white supremacist).

    Yet all along, there was never any substantial evidence, let alone convincing proof, that it was true. This fact is, or at least should be, an extraordinary, even scandalous, event: a 17-year-old was widely vilified as being a white supremacist by a union of national media and major politicians despite there being no evidence to support the accusation. Yet it took his acquittal by a jury who heard all the evidence and testimony for parts of the corporate press to finally summon the courage to point out that what had been Gospel about Rittenhouse for the last fifteen months was, in fact, utterly baseless.

    Click to read the sad story. I was reminded of this bit I've blogged before, but not recently: the Underground Grammarian essay titled "The Answering of Kautski", which (in turn) quoted Lenin:

    Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

    It's pretty clear that the movers and shakers in "mainstream political and media circles" are adapting Lenin's tactic: "Why should we bother to provide evidence about our Rittenhouse slurs? We'd have to deal with countering evidence, and we would reply to counter. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, and everyone will understand everything."


  • Why I'll be walking right by the red kettles this year. The Salvation Army Wants White Donors To Offer ‘Sincere Apology’ For Their Racism.

    The charity is asking its white donors to do more than just drop some coins into the kettle when they go shopping this holiday season. Leaders of the Army want whites to apologize for being racist.

    “The desire is that Salvationists achieve the following,” the Army says in an online “resource” titled “Let’s Talk About Racism,” listing several goals including  to “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.”

    The resource claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer “a sincere apology” to blacks for being “antagonistic… to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.”

    The news that Christianity is inherently racist would have come as a shock to Martin Luther King Jr.


  • Are you becoming racist as well as transphobic, Paula? Ilana Redstone, an actual, and very brave, faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She views America by Gaslight.

    Systemic (also sometimes referred to as structural or institutional) racism is often discussed as though it is the settled and unquestioned explanation for differences in educational attainment or wealth, among other things. Questioning or debating this causal relationship is often considered—in both public discourse and by some scholars—as a form of that same racism. However, labeling the act of investigating the role of systemic racism as itself racism requires a high level of confidence that we have all the relevant information we need to understand the complex causes of inequality. In other words, it requires that this be a settled question.

    Tarring someone with a label like transphobia or racism is among the most effective ways to damage reputations in our society. In many ways, the fact that those terms carry so much weight is a good thing: We need them to pack a punch to keep people from doing things that are widely considered oppressive or unjust. However, when the terms are used in combination with the settled-question fallacy, it belies the reality of the state of our knowledge on certain controversial and sensitive topics and, predictably, it creates resentment.

    Someone really should remake that movie and set it in academia. [Classical reference in headline.]

URLs du Jour

2021-11-27

  • You think government dependence is a good thing? Maybe you should reconsider that. Glenn Reynolds notes the obvious in the NYPost. Common thread in Waukesha tragedy, Kenosha shootings: Government failure.

    When is a racial hate crime not a racial hate crime? When it doesn’t advance the left’s, and the Democrats’, narrative.

    When white teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three white men who were violently assaulting him, it somehow got treated by the press and politicians as a racial hate crime. President Joe Biden (falsely) called Rittenhouse a white supremacist, and the discussion of his case was so focused on racial issues that many Americans mistakenly thought that the three men Rittenhouse shot were black.

    But when a black man, Darrell Brooks, with a long history of posting hateful anti-white rhetoric on social media drove a car into a mostly white Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens, the press was eager to wish the story away. (The New York Times buried it on page A22.) Even when a Black Lives Matter activist connected it to the Rittenhouse verdict, observing “it sounds like the revolution has started,” the media generally downplayed it.

    As numerous people have pointed out: Darrell Brooks was a Hitler fan. But (as I type) Googling shows you'll only learn about this if you watch Fox News or read the NYPost. The "respectable" media don't consider that newsworthy.


  • Also in our "Government Failure" Department… Jacob Sullum asks a question with an obvious answer: Should We Blame Pharmacies or the Government for Opioid-Related Deaths?

    A federal jury in Cleveland yesterday concluded that three major pharmacy chains had contributed to a "public nuisance" in two Ohio counties caused by an oversupply of prescription opioids. The verdict, which represents the first time that retailers have been held legally liable for the "opioid crisis," followed two recent rulings in which a California judge and the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected similar claims against drug manufacturers.

    These cases, along with thousands of other lawsuits by state and local governments that blame legal drug suppliers for opioid-related addiction and deaths, ask courts to focus on one link in a long causal chain. That chain includes decisions by state and federal regulators as well as actions by manufacturers, distributors, doctors, pharmacists, patients, black-market dealers who sell diverted pills, and nonmedical users who consume them.

    In the Ohio case, Lake and Trumbull counties argued that the defendants—CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart—had ignored "red flags" indicating that some of the prescriptions they filled were medically inappropriate. The defendants argued that they had done nothing but fill seemingly legitimate prescriptions for legally approved medication written by licensed and regulated doctors. They emphasized the crucial roles that government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration played in overseeing the distribution of prescription opioids, making them complicit in the supposed public nuisance described by the plaintiffs.

    Cynicism gets you (I think) the right answer in this case: lawyers and demagogic politicians are attracted to deep pockets, actual culpability be damned. Meanwhile, opioid deaths are soaring, and going after CVS et. al. will do nothing to bring them back to earth.


  • LFOD is wonderfully malleable. Granite Geek David Brooks invokes it to support "Right to Repair": Live Free or Die – unless you want to fix something, that is

    New Hampshire lawmakers have always been selective about adhering to our license plate slogan but they’ve rarely strayed farther from “Live Free or Die” than in their dismissal of the right-to-repair movement.

    That loose coalition has been struggling for years against the increasing corporate practice of making it hard or impossible for individuals and independent shops to work on the objects we buy, forcing us to either pay them for repairs or just junk things and buy new ones.

    Repair manuals and required software codes are kept secret, most notoriously by John Deere’s farm-equipment arm; special tools are required for no reason; and devices are designed entirely to interfere with repairs, such as Apple’s outrageous change to the latest iPhone that broke FaceTime if a non-licensed shop replaces a cracked screen.

    LFOD 101: if you have a Willing Buyer and a Willing Seller of a product, government should not prohibit the transaction. It's what Robert Nozick called a "capitalist act between consenting adults."

    But prohibiting certain disapproved products from being bought and sold is what "right to repair" legislation does. It looks over and says, in certain cases: "Tsk tsk. Thou shalt not."

    It's (um) interesting how Brooks (and he, of course, is not alone) tries to hammer LFOD into meaning its opposite.


  • Apologies are not forthcoming. Andrew Sullivan looks back on Russiagate, and the current effort to move the goalposts: It Wasn't A Hoax. It Was Media Overkill.

    There is no question that Trump had countless conflicts of interest in Russia, with his Moscow hotel plans high among them, and had been money laundering for Russian oligarchs for years. No question that he was absolutely willing to accept Russia’s — or any country’s — illicit support, and no doubt he actually asked for it. I saw him do it, on national television, in the campaign. We all did.

    The Russians also tried to corrupt the election through online shenanigans; and Manafort’s delivery of polling data to Moscow was deeply shifty. And everyone lied about almost everything. There’s equally no doubt that Trump obstructed justice in trying to stymie the Russia investigation. Again, he told us so on television. More pertinently, people have been prosecuted and gone to jail for their misdeeds in this whole miasma of near-treasonous sleaze.

    But this was not what the MSM tried to sell us from the get-go. What they and the Democrats argued — with endless, breathless, high-drama reporting — was that there was some kind of plot between Trump and Russia to rig the election and it had succeeded. Investigating this was hugely important because it could expose near-treason and instantly remove Trump from power via impeachment. This was the dream to cope with the nightmare.

    Sullivan notes, plausibly, that the Putin/Trump mythology sprang up for psychological reasons: it allowed blame-shifting for the actual reason Trump won in 2016: his opponent, Hillary.


  • What would we do without consensus? Conor Friedersdorf writes about the latest academic antics: Universities Try to Force a Consensus About the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict. Instead of using the incident and its outcome as discussion fodder, a potentially valuable exercise…

    More than 2,000 miles away, administrators at UC Santa Cruz felt otherwise. Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Judith Estrada issued a statement that began like this:

    We are disheartened and dismayed by this morning’s not guilty verdict on all charges in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse … We join in solidarity with all who are outraged by this failure of accountability.

    UC Santa Cruz is a public institution with roughly 19,000 students and 1,000 instructors who, one can safely say, do not all share the same viewpoints. But Larive and Estrada emphasized their personal feelings and openly pledged solidarity (meaning “unity or agreement of feeling or action,” by one definition) with others based on whether they too feel angry. This is posturing, not engagement with a campus community. I wrote to Larive and asked her to clarify why the jury should have found Rittenhouse guilty, if that’s what she meant by “failure of accountability.” A university spokesperson, Scott Hernandez-Jason, responded, “The campus message speaks for itself.”

    That "statement" is really something else. Students at UCSC (and those at other institutions called out in Friedersdorf's article) who don't wholly subscribe to the Official Theology should probably keep their heads down and move to the back of the ideological bus.

    Good news, though: the University Near Here has not issued any proclamations about Rittenhouse as near as I can tell.

URLs du Jour

2021-11-26

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Caveat emptor: our Amazon product du jour features a spurious Thomas Jefferson quote.

Which doesn't make the quote untrue of course. Just misattributed. Ayn Rand wrote something closer.

  • A slow disaster using obsolete technology, mind you. But still. Randal O’Toole, as usual, is the go-to guy in Cato's Government Failure Department, Choo-Choo Division. His most recent report is The Midwest Rail Plan: A Disaster Waiting to Happen. The "plan" is to spend $116-162 billion on the tracks and trains, for the hordes of Omahans desperate to get to Kalamazoo without getting off the ground. Click over to see the map. But:

    Midwestern state transportation agencies have a lot of nerve writing this plan considering that they’ve already clearly demonstrated their incompetence in building such projects. Since 2009, using a combination of Obama high‐speed rail funds, other federal funds, and state funds, Illinois, Michigan, and other midwestern states spent more than $3.5 billion to increase speeds and frequencies of passenger trains on routes between Chicago and St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit, Chicago and Omaha, and others.

    Now, 12 years later, one of those routes–Chicago-Quincy–knocked 2 minutes off its schedule, increasing average speeds by 0.4 miles per hour. Otherwise, despite spending nearly $2 billion in the Chicago‐St. Louis corridor and the better part of a billion in the Chicago‐Detroit corridor, none of the Midwest routes saw any increases in either frequencies or speeds.

    Federal funds also included $370 million to buy 88 passenger cars and 21 locomotives. So far, only four cars and one locomotive have been delivered. Basically, the states wasted $3.5 billion.

    Well, all that money wound up in somebody's pockets. Wonder whose?


  • Some people, of course, want the debate clouded. Jacob Sullum notes: Legally Irrelevant Considerations Cloud the Debate About Kyle Rittenhouse’s Acquittal. And our current President managed to cloud things in his own mind.

    "I stand by what the jury has concluded," President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all the charges he faced for shooting three people, two fatally, during an August 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "The jury system works, and we have to abide by it."

    Later that day, by contrast, Biden said the verdict left him "feeling angry and concerned." The president's confusing attempt to straddle anger and acceptance reflected a sharp division of opinion about the outcome of Rittenhouse's trial—a clash that was based mainly on legally irrelevant considerations.

    Also taken to task: the ACLU (they should probably change their name); Kamala; Cori Bush; Jerry Nadler; and (of course) anyone who breathlessly announced that Rittenhouse had "crossed state lines".

    I occasionally cross state lines walking my dog. Hope nobody busts me for that.


  • I'm not sure how many Moscow State University grads could get a job in Russia these days. Axios claims a Scoop: Centrist Dems sink Biden’s nominee for top bank regulator

    Five Democratic senators have told the White House they won't support Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, effectively killing her nomination for the powerful bank-regulator position.

    Good news. The five are Tester (MT); Warner (VA); Sinema (AZ); Hickenlooper (CO); and Kelly (AZ).

    Not on this list of "moderates": Shaheen (NH) and Hassan (NH).


  • Unsurprising news. We've previously identified the "Build Back Better" legislation's SALT cap increase as an unjustified giveaway to (mostly) rich people in (mostly) Blue states. But wait, that's not all. According to the WSJ editorialists, there's also A Tax Break for Union Dues.

    Democrats have agonized for months over where to find money for their blowout tax and spending bill, so it’s worth paying attention to the revenues they explicitly forgo. The bill offers tax breaks for key progressive constituencies, and one that has received little attention is a big gift to Big Labor.

    The bill the House passed would allow union members to deduct up to $250 of dues from their tax bills. The deduction is “above the line,” meaning filers can exclude the cost of dues from their gross income. In other words, union dues would get the same treatment now reserved for things like insurance premiums and retirement contributions. The deduction would last through 2025. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates its cost at $1.8 billion.

    At last count, union membership was desperately unpopular in the private sector, with only 6.3% of employees belonging. Not shocking at all: it's more popular in the "public" sector, with 34.8% of employees belonging.

    The "tax break" is a naked effort to boost those numbers. Unions can't make the case for membership themselves, so they need a handout from Uncle Stupid.


  • Past performance is actually a pretty good way to judge future behavior. Eric Boehm notes another feature of "Build Back Better": Biden Wants To Empower the IRS Despite Its Track Record of Trampling Rights and Undermining Privacy.

    President Joe Biden's plan to beef up IRS enforcement and snoop on Americans' bank accounts will require hiring more than 80,000 additional tax cops—expanding a federal bureaucracy with a long track record of flouting due process and undermining privacy.

    As part of Biden's "Build Back Better" plan, the IRS would get $80 billion in additional funding over the next 10 years. The bulk of those new funds, nearly $45 billion, would be directed toward enforcement actions with the goal of doubling the number of annual audits of small businesses. By comparison, the bill spends a relatively meager $1.93 billion on improving taxpayer services, including education and filing assistance.

    In short, for every new dollar the IRS will spend helping Americans understand the endlessly complicated federal tax code, the agency will spend roughly $23 new dollars on enforcing those same rules.

    As P. J. O'Rourke said: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

    Giving (more) money and power to the IRS is like giving them that, plus crystal meth and high powered weapons…


Last Modified 2021-11-27 5:29 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2021-11-25

Wishing y'all a Happy Thanksgiving…

  • I wouldn't work for a TV news network that would have me as an employee. But that's me. Jonah Goldberg recently announced his departure in disgust from Fox News. Kevin D. Williamson has thoughts on that: The Fox Fix.

    Understandably, people care a great deal more about Jonah Goldberg’s exit from Fox News. You can tell that Tucker Carlson and others care about it by how much, how loudly, and how bitterly they are talking about how much they don’t care. That’s familiar stuff, too: Every sub-Fox News nobody over at AR15RedStateJesus.com has written 500 blog posts and tweets about how “irrelevant” National Review is, and they’ll write 500 more this year. As the philosopher said, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.”

    “This is war,” they tell us. It isn’t, of course, not by a damned sight, and thank God for it. But if you want to think of our recent national convulsions as war, then you should think of the cable-news gang as war profiteers. They have convinced millions of Americans that they are part of a great crusade, without quite disclosing that they are part of a great crusade to make sure that Sean Hannity never has to fly commercial and that Rachel Maddow can afford sustainably grown cedar planks for her weekend retreat in Massachusetts. And don’t think for a second that Hannity and Maddow aren’t in the same business and on the same team — if you believe otherwise, you are a sucker and a mark.

    I don’t blame people for wanting to make money — I do my best to make some, too — but there are times when I think I might respect these entrepreneurs a little more if they just sold heroin.

    That's just a small excerpt, and (as always) I recommend you RTWT. Jonah's own words on the topic here.

    I think my last sustained viewing of any TV news network was the Blue Origin launch of William Shatner. Other than that, it's our local news station for about a half-hour, which is all I can stand.


  • Come on, man. James Freeman, in his Best of the Web column at the WSJ writes on President Biden and American Gratitude. He could have added, but did not: "and Dereliction of Duty".

    “We have nothing to announce at this time,” says White House National Security Council assistant press secretary Patrick Evans via email today on the potential scheduling of a Medal of Honor ceremony for American hero Alwyn Cashe. This Thanksgiving week President Joe Biden should express the thanks of a grateful nation and honor the memory of the courageous Cashe.

    A year ago this column noted the amazing sacrifices Cashe made for his fellow soldiers while sustaining fatal burns in Iraq in 2005. Even while on fire, he pulled his wounded comrades out of a Bradley fighting vehicle under furious attack.

    It's not as if he has anything better to do… Oh, wait.


  • He had to do this instead. Scott Shackford takes a look at what's eating up Wheezy's time: Thousands Beg President Joe Biden for Mercy as He Pardons a Couple of Turkeys.

    On Friday, President Joe Biden continued the meaningless tradition of "pardoning" two turkeys prior to Thanksgiving. The two birds, named Peanut Butter and Jelly, were presented before Biden, who said "instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted."

    At The New York Times, Katie Rogers notes that there was no talk of Biden's domestic agenda, though that apparently wasn't for lack of trying by reporters at the event. Steven Nelson of the New York Post asked the president if he would be pardoning any actual people. Biden played it off as a joke, asking Nelson if he needed one. Nelson subsequently asked the same question of White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who essentially shrugged it off: She had no updates about any potential mercy for actual human beings.

    Every year, the turkey pardon highlights the absurd gap between presidential performance and actual policy. Despite campaign trail promises that he would roll back some of the harsh laws he was responsible for helping pass in the first place, Biden has done little in this arena during his first year as president. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), Ed Markey (D–Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D–Ore.) sent a letter to Biden earlier in November asking him to use executive authority to mass pardon any federal prisoners with non-violent marijuana convictions, but thus far nothing has come of it.

    Yeah, fine. Lame jokes and cheap symbolism. Maybe you could fit Alwyn Cashe in there too?


  • That "(ish)" carries a lot of weight, unfortunately. David French invites his fellow citizens: Come On in America, the Libertarian(ish) Water Is Fine.

    When people press me to identify my ideology, the answer depends on the sophistication of the audience. When I’m casually talking to someone I just met, and they ask me about where I stand politically, I’m not going to say, “I’m a libertarian-leaning pro-life classical liberal.” The best-case response is someone thinking, “Nerd!” Worst-case, you’ll come across as some sort of pretentious ass. So I just say “conservative” and see where things go. 

    But I really am a libertarian-leaning pro-life classical liberal, and the stories above help illustrate why. As I explained at length in a recent Sunday newsletter, I’m drawn to classical liberalism by its respect for the dignity of the individual. I am pushed more toward libertarianism by the relentless failures of central planning and the disproportionate impact of those failures on vulnerable communities. 

    Uh fine. But it's only been a little over a week since French was inveighing against "open carry" of weaponry, advocating that states "tightly restrict" such.

    As I've said before: such laws would be literally unprecedented in New Hampshire, which has never had prohibitions or major restrictions on open carry. As far as I can tell, we ain't quaking in fear about that.

    So I fear that French's "libertarian(ish)" bent is: "libertarian, unless you're doing something that offends me or creeps me out".


  • Apologizing for numbers. PowerLine (and many others) noted this tweet:

    Comments:

    What is most striking to me, apart from the sheer stupidity of this tweet, is the low opinion that liberals seem to have of other liberals. The Women’s March people evidently assume that their fellow liberals are so fragile that they will be emotionally wounded by the mention of $14.92. Hence the need for an apology. I don’t know, maybe they are right. Maybe liberals really are that pathetic. But I think if I were a liberal, I would be offended.

    Just wait until their average donation is $19.84.


Last Modified 2021-11-26 7:38 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2021-11-24

  • Maybe the funniest thing you'll see today. Or this month. Or this year. From Twitter:

    This meme theme has been around since at least 2015 if not longer. I posted a few myself. It's rough, but also hilarious, that poor Salma's getting called out for misandry.


  • <voice imitation="professor_farnsworth">Good news, everyone!</voice> The Library at the University Near Here has released its Officially Approved List of Gender Identity Awareness Resources! It's in support of "UNH Gender Identity Awareness [GIA] Week". Which was last week, sorry you missed it.

    GIA is a week of events dedicated to promoting an understanding of transgender, transsexual and gender queer issues at UNH and beyond. Started in 2010 and principally sponsored by Transgender-UNH, the week features film screenings, workshops, speakers, open mikes, and other events to bring together UNH students, faculty, and staff and community members to have substantive discussions about gender identity/expression, gender diversity, social justice and cultural transformation. In addition to fostering dialogue and providing education, GIA hopes to stimulate positive changes on campus and in the community, promote activism and provide fun and social opportunities for Trans and allied people. All are welcome and all events are free and open to the public.

    For those interested in "substantive discussion" or "fostering dialogue"… well, you can click through and try to find any "resource" at the site that might provide the slightest hint that there's anything to discuss about Gender Identity at all. Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally? Nope. Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage? Fuggedaboutit!

    Not even Deirdre McCloskey's Crossing, which the UNH Library actually owns. What, Deirdre's unacceptably supportive of free markets?

    Anyway, look for yourself, and please let me know if there's anything in the UNH list that even hints at controversy on this topic. Ditto for the equally one-sided UNH Officially Approved List of Racial Justice Resources.


  • A hedgehog knows one big thing. That's what some ancient Greek said, and 'twas popularized by Isaiah Berlin. And it's what leapt to mind when I read Eric Boehm's headline at Reason: Elizabeth Warren Is Trying To Blame Inflation on 'Price Gouging.' Don't Buy It.

    Looking for someone to blame for high and rising prices at the pump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) has found a familiar villain: big corporations.

    During an appearance on MSNBC's The ReidOut on Thursday, Warren said price gouging is to blame for the pain that Americans are feeling at the gas pump these days. Amid rising inflation, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sits at $3.40 nationally, up from about $2.11 at this same time last year and higher than at any time since 2014. This, Warren argued, is great news for oil companies and their shareholders.

    Eric points out that both ExxonMobil and Chevron have been underperforming the broad market of late.

    Someone a few days ago pointed out MSM's habit of appending the phrase "without evidence" to Donald Trump's occasional assertions. (Even the ones that turned out to be true, see the link.)

    Maybe it's time to demand that your favorite news source stick that on the pronouncements of Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, AOC, …


  • Our Governor makes Hot Air! Specifically, makes it into an Allahpundit article, and here 'tis. GOP Gov. Sununu: Telling a private business that they can't fire unvaccinated workers is pure communism.

    Pure, mind you. (That apparently happened last month.)

    Here’s another reason why Trump shouldn’t run in 2024. It would clear the way for Chris Sununu to stand on a presidential primary debate stage and call Greg Abbott a communist to his face.

    Seriously, though, watching this gives you an insight into why, despite being arguably the GOP’s top Senate recruit for 2022, Sununu ultimately decided to pass. As governor of a small New England state, he can get away with saying stuff like this. As a senator, he’d be a national figure expected to do battle for his party in the great vaccine mandate culture war. And his party, unfortunately, has concluded that a business owner’s right to run his shop as he sees fit must bend to a worker’s right to maximize his or her risk from COVID. That’s what happens when your base decides that anti-vaxxism is the exciting new frontier in populism.

    Apparently, Governor Chris was not using the Communist label as an attempt to curry favor with the local progressives.


  • I think the right amount of socialism is zero. But I'm willing to change my mind, if a smart guy like Joel Kotkin makes a convincing argument. Here's his take on The socialism America needs.

    Clobbered from all sides by the pandemic, climate change and disruptions in virtually every industry by the rise of artificial intelligence, the capitalist dream is dying — and a new, mutant form of socialism is growing in its place. In the US, perhaps it’s no surprise that most Democrats have a better opinion of socialism than capitalism. Far more startling is the fact that they are not alone: the Republican party and the corporate establishment, which once paid lip service to competitive capitalism, are both starting to embrace the importance of massive deficit spending and state support.

    But unlike the social democracy movements that followed World War Two, the New Socialism focusses not on material aspirations but on climate change, gender, and race. While the old socialism sought to represent the ordinary labourer, many on the Left today seem to have little more than contempt for old working-class base and its often less than genteel views on issues such as Critical Race Theory.

    His bottom line: the "socialism we need" is "rooted in the needs of the working and middle classes — not one that seeks to keep them in their place."

    My translation: it would look a lot like free market capitalism, growth-oriented, and shorn of cronyism.

    "Socialists" will be unlikely to take Kotkin's advice.


  • News you can use. Edouard Mathieu and Max Roser at Our World in Data look at the burning question: How do death rates from COVID-19 differ between people who are vaccinated and those who are not? They explain their methodology, but here's their pretty picture for the past few months in the US:

    [Get Modernaed, OK?]

    I am pretty sure this speaks for itself. If you'd like, bounce over to the OWiD site to play with the data; it allows you to look at the age-range you might find most relevant.


Last Modified 2021-11-25 6:29 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2021-11-23

  • The lies are pretty blatant. In case you missed it, NHJournal has the story: Kuster, Pappas Back Biden 'Build Back' Plan Adding Billions in Debt, Benefits for Illegals.

    U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas says the Biden’ Build Back Better” plan he voted for last Friday “is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit by $112 billion.”

    Rep. Annie Kuster also says the bill “is fully paid for” by “making super-wealthy corporations and the top one percent pay their fair share.”

    But nearly every economic review of the legislation, including the Congressional Budget Office analysis they both claim to rely on, says the bill will add billions in new debt. And the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) projects the actual cost of the bill is closer to $5 trillion.

    Let's not forget the "fair share" lie: The decrease of the state and local taxes (SALT) cap benefits (mostly) the rich in (mostly) NY, CA, NJ, and IL.


  • And (going out on a limb here) so is Pun Salad. Jacob Sullum provides a First Amendment refresher course: The New York Times Is Protected by Freedom of the Press. So Is James O'Keefe. He explores the NYT's efforts to distinguish what it does from what O'Keefe's "Project Veritas" does.

    As UCLA law professor and First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has shown, the idea that freedom of the press is a privilege enjoyed only by bona fide journalists, however that category is defined, is ahistorical and fundamentally mistaken. It is clear from the historical record that "freedom of the press" refers to a technology of mass communication, not to a particular profession.

    In a 2012 University of Pennsylvania Law Review article, Volokh carefully considered how freedom of the press was understood when the Constitution was written, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the 14th Amendment (which extended First Amendment limits to the states) was ratified, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in Supreme Court decisions since the 1930s. The evidence clearly shows that the provision protects anyone who uses the printed word—and, by extension, media such as TV, radio, and the internet—to communicate with the public.

    The Times is nevertheless obsessed with policing the line between real journalism (what it does) and fake journalism (what Project Veritas does). "Project Veritas has long occupied a gray area between investigative journalism and political spying," Times reporters Adam Goldman and  say in the story that prompted Wood's order. The organization's "sting operations," they explain, "typically diverge from standard journalistic practice by employing people who mask their real identities or create fake ones to infiltrate target organizations."

    I hope we don't have to add another couplet to that Martin Niemöller poem:

    Then they came for Project Veritas and James O'Keefe, and I did not speak out—
    Because screw those guys.


  • In the same vein… Charles Glasser writes a long article (surprisingly long for Instapundit). As the Blogfather saith: read the whole thing. But here's the bottom line:

    If corporate media wants to survive into the next administration — and the ones after that — they will have to step up to the plate and pressure the Biden Administration to rethink this new effort at “disqualifying” outlets because of either their views, or their investigative techniques when properly executed. American government simply does not have the right to “license” or “define” journalism. In Turkey, CNN famously avoided broadcasting images of ongoing anti-Erdogan demonstrations and instead broadcast a documentary about penguins. Penguins.

    Perhaps major media, who have already cut their investigative reporting to the bone, are planning as we speak on making exclusive deals with the San Diego Zoo. Because footage of penguins may be all that news outlets are allowed to publish.

    "Indeed."


  • Attempts to rewrite history fail… thanks to David Harsanyi: Al Gore Wasn't 'A Man' about Losing

    Federal senior district judge Reggie Walton contends that Al Gore, unlike Donald Trump, was “a man” and “walked away” from the 2000 presidential election after losing. That’s not how I remember it. I remember Gore setting a destructive precedent, attacking the integrity of the system and then dragging the country through an unnecessarily divisive legal battle. Gore “walked away” only after the Supreme Court deprived him of any other legal path to try to claim Florida.

    Like Trump and Hillary Clinton, Gore has never, as far as I can tell, definitively accepted his loss. The well-worn myth that the 2000 election was “stolen” from Gore is, in fact, still quite popular among conspiracy theorists on the left. When confronted with his past comments on the topic, Terry McAuliffe (who thought the 2004 election also was stolen) says that he wished “the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes” in 2000.

    “They” did finish counting the votes. Bush won, and then Gore demanded selective recounts in the most heavily Democratic counties — without offering any genuine cause for the recount other than its being close. Democrats soon settled on the “hanging or dimpled chad” hysteria, and the media went about uncovering confused voters who made contentions that could never be verified. Gore’s lawyer Mark Herron also instructed Democratic recount observers to challenge Republican-heavy military overseas absentee ballots. (Democrats would later pretend this memo was overblown. But Ron Klain, the Gore campaign’s general counsel, led the charge in trying to exclude military votes. “The idea that people were going to vote after the election and have those votes count,” he said, “that’s a pretty irregular idea.”)

    Ah, yes, I remember it well. Dubya wasn't the greatest president, but he was significantly better than Gore would have been.


  • Also laughter. Kyle Smith writes wisely at the NYPost: Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to gratitude and tolerance — so the woke have their knives out for it,

    You there, fellow American! Were you under the impression that Thanksgiving is the uniquely American holiday that celebrates how English settlers and Native Americans peacefully crossed linguistic, cultural and racial barriers to share a meal together and create a model for gratitude and tolerance that would be the envy of the world?

    Wrong! says Woke America. Thanksgiving is about murder, plunder and hate. Invite your relatives over to spread love and gravy? No, if you really want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, you should whip yourself with barbed wire all day.

    In a Nov. 20 MSNBC segment, “The Thanksgiving history you’ve never heard,” Gyasi Ross screams at his audience in a tone of voice suggesting an Oberlin sophomore from the Militant Vegans’ Brigade: “The truth is that pilgrims did not bring turkey, sweet potato pie or cranberries to Thanksgiving. They could not. They were broke! They were broken! Their hands were out! They were begging! They brought nothing of value. But they got fed! They got schooled!

    “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence. That genocide and violence is still on the menu! And state sponsored violence against Native and black Americans is commonplace!”

    One of the things I'm thankful for: Kyle Smith watching MSNBC so I don't have to. I'm pretty sure I'd have an aneurysm.

URLs du Jour

2021-11-22

  • We seee you, Maggie. Our state's junior Senator features prominently in this recent column by Kimberly Strassel in the WSJ: On Reconciliation Bill, Senate Moderates Hide Behind Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Let's see:

    The Beltway press corps continues to hound Sen. Joe Manchin for every-other-minute updates on his thinking about the Democrats’ proposed $1.75 trillion spending bill. Sen. Maggie Hassan has never had it so lucky.

    Ms. Hassan, believe it or not, has far more riding on the outcome of this reconciliation bill than the senator from West Virginia. She’s the one up for re-election next year, and her New Hampshire seat will be one of the toughest for Democrats to hold. Yet good luck finding evidence Ms. Hassan has made any real demands about the contours of the legislation. Good luck finding Ms. Hassan speaking much about the partisan bill at all.

    It’s not as if she can’t drive a bargain—or is shy about taking credit. She was among the core negotiators of the recently signed infrastructure bill, and this week she proudly accompanied President Biden to his first event touting that legislation, on a bridge in Woodstock, N.H. The president gave her the first shout-out of his speech, praising her for corralling “bipartisan support” for the bill. His talk was notably light on references to his bigger budget blowout. No doubt Ms. Hassan preferred it that way. (Ms. Hassan’s office didn’t reply to an email asking how she views the bill’s effect on inflation or its partisan nature.)

    On our local TV news, Maggie's been running re-election ads praising her own "bipartisanship". Fine, but the "independent" League of Conservation Voters has been praising her not-yet-cast vote for "Build Back Better".

    [Both NH CongressCritters, Pappas and Kuster, voted for BBB. Only one Democrat voted against, Jared Golden of Maine.]


  • Looking forward to freezing in the dark this winter… Eric Boehm notes one part of the lie that BBB is "paid for" by getting the fat cats to pay their "fair share": House-Passed 'Build Back Better' Plan Aims To Curb Methane Emissions by Hiking Heating Prices

    Buried inside the "Build Back Better" plan that cleared the House of Representatives on Friday morning is a new tax on natural gas production that will likely translate into higher heating bills for American households.

    The new tax is aimed at curbing methane emissions and will apply fees to companies that produce, process, transmit or store oil and natural gas starting in 2023. The specific fees will depend on where the natural gas is produced and will vary depending on how much methane is released into the atmosphere during the process. Overall, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new "methane fee" will generate about $8 billion over the next 10 years.

    Note: that's just one itty-bitty lie. More to come.


  • [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

    Jonah's headline speaks the truth. And I will unexpurgate it: The Road to Serfdom is Paved with Bullshit.

    [Ever since I read Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit back in 2005, I've thought that the word was way too useful to be obfuscated. It describes something real, and there's no good substitute.]

    Anyway, Jonah:

    A few weeks ago, I saw a rave review in the American Conservative of a new book, The Reactionary Mind: Why “Conservative” Isn't Enough. Judging by the review and what I know of the reviewer, I fully expected to hate it.

    I got the book, picked it up, and … I loved it. It’s written in brisk, inviting, oddly unpretentious prose. The author, Michael Warren Davis, is a knowledgeable, confident writer, who writes of cobwebby things with remarkable clarity and verve. It’s fun, informative, thoroughly quirky in a good way, and full of things—mostly of secondary or tangential relevance to his thesis—that I agree with to one extent or another.

    And now that I’ve gotten the sure-to-be-unexpected, blurbable praise out of the way, I should get to my primary criticism: It’s [bullshit].

    The review is non-paywalled, and recommended. Davis romanticizes—really!—the good old days of feudalism. Jonah does a useful reality check on that.


  • "Save us from seeing weapons, Democrats!" … said, I'm pretty sure, nobody. And yet, as Liberty Block reports: Democrat Bill Would Ban Open Carry In New Hampshire

    Legislation introduced by eight Democrats in the New Hampshire House seems at first glance to be a reasonable solution to a particular form of tragedy. Last year, Kyle Rittenhouse shot three attackers in self-defense with his AR-15 at a BLM riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two of the attackers and wounding the third. Since the polarizing incident, some concerned citizens have begun to wonder why a person was allowed to carry a firearm at a protest in the first place. Some have even gone so far as claiming that he ‘was asking for it’, and violence came his way as a result of his own actions. This legislation will surely be justified by its sponsors as a solution to this issue. It’s simple; prohibit citizens from openly carrying deadly weapons at high-intensity protests. 

    One of the local sponsors is Durham's own Timothy Horrigan. You can click through to see the others.

    Fun fact: According to this 2013 Commie Radio NHPR story:

    People have been free to carry a loaded gun openly in NH since statehood. That is to say, there’s never been a law that prohibits or regulates it.

    The article notes exceptions: courthouses, schools. But the proposed legislation would be overbroad and unnecessary.


  • Oh good. WIRED is totally serious about their headline: The Future of Digital Assistants Is Queer

    This November, the Smithsonian’s FUTURES festival, featuring innovations that are set to change the world, will include a familiar face. Or, rather, voice: Q, introduced in 2019 as the first “genderless AI voice,” is a human voice for use in digital assistants specifically created to be gender-ambiguous.

    “Q was designed to start a conversation around why we gender technology when technology has no gender to begin with,” says Ryan Sherman, one of Q’s co-creators. To design the voice, a team of linguists, sound engineers, and creatives collaborated with nonbinary individuals and sampled different voices to land on a sound range they felt had the potential to disrupt the status quo and represent nonbinary people in the world of AI.

    Our Silicon Valley betters are here to make sure we don't assume our bots' genders. I'm going to the living room to discuss this with Alexa right now.

URLs du Jour

2021-11-21

  • It's a tough competition for Worst Republican Senator. But George F. Will makes a strong case for one here: Progressives have a Republican soulmate in the Senate. His name is Josh Hawley.

    Never have so many in Washington been so eager to expand government’s responsibilities in so many ways. No federal official, however, has an agenda of government enlargement as ambitious and comprehensive as that of Missouri’s freshman Republican senator. Josh Hawley’s bipartisanship invites progressives to share the fun of making government greater than ever.

    Regarding current supply chain difficulties, Hawley says (as former presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren was wont to say) that he has a plan for that. Writing last month in the New York Times, which finds such thinking congenial, Hawley said the federal government should permanently micromanage U.S. trade. Mimicking progressives, who advocate “transformative” policies for this and that, Hawley wants Washington to “fundamentally restructure” trade policy, which he apparently considers dangerously friendly to freedom.

    Have I mentioned how to evade the some paywalls, for example the WaPo's? Just go to the article, and if the site starts getting stuffy about you not paying them, hit control-S to save the page; then click on the downloaded document.


  • Enes Kanter for President. He's too brave for the NBA. Here's his latest, from the WSJ: Move the Olympics for Peng Shuai’s Sake

    Tennis champion Peng Shuai took to social media earlier this month to accuse a former top-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party of sexually assaulting her. Within 30 minutes the post was scrubbed from the internet in China. She disappeared and no one has heard directly from her since.

    For decades, Western athletes, celebrities and corporations have diligently kept silent in the face of Chinese human-rights violations. International hotel chains, airlines, apparel brands, sports leagues and Hollywood studios have steered away from “sensitive topics” such as Tibet’s independence, the Uyghur genocide, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Taiwan’s sovereignty.

    The sports community must wake up—and speak up. We need to realize that the authoritarian Chinese government isn’t our friend. The Communist Party is a brutal dictatorship that has weaponized economic power to achieve ideological and political compliance.

    We've seen way too much craven capitulation to China from professional sports, both individuals and organizations.


  • Give me that new-time religion. Michael Shermer used to write a column for Scientific American. He was "given [his] walking papers" after his editor demanded a major rewrite of his November 2018 column, and outright rejected his December 2018 column on ideological grounds. You can read the irritating story at his substack: Scientific American Goes Woke.

    It also contains examples of Scientific American's current output. Here's one:

    The most bizarre example of Scientific American’s woke turn toward social justice is an article published September 23, 2021 titled “Why the Term ‘JEDI’ is Problematic for Describing Programs that Promote Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” Apparently, some social justice activists have embraced the Star Wars-themed acronym JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) as a martial reference to their commitment, and is now employed by some prominent institutions and organizations such as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The JEDI acronym is clearly meant to be uplifting and positive. It isn’t, opine the authors of this piece that is clearly not in the satirical spirit of The Onion or Babylon Bee. Make of this what you will:

    Although they’re ostensibly heroes within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are inappropriate symbols for justice work. They are a religious order of intergalactic police-monks, prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic lightsabers, gaslighting by means of “Jedi mind tricks,” etc.). The Jedi are also an exclusionary cult, membership to which is partly predicated on the possession of heightened psychic and physical abilities (or “Force-sensitivity”). Strikingly, Force-wielding talents are narratively explained in Star Wars not merely in spiritual terms but also in ableist and eugenic ones: These supernatural powers are naturalized as biological, hereditary attributes.

    One may be forgiven for thinking that anyone who sees in a lightsaber duel clashing penises has perhaps been reading too much Freud…or watching too much three-way porn. Nevertheless, the authors grouse about “Slave Leia’s costume”, Darth Vader’s “ableist trope”, alien “racist stereotypes when depicting nonhuman species,” and too many white men in the galaxy, no matter how far away or long ago they are. Worst of all, the authors propose, is that the Star Wars franchise is owned by a for-profit company. “How ready are we to prioritize the cultural dreamscape of the Jedi over the real-world project of social justice? Investing in the term JEDI positions us to apologize for, or explain away, the stereotypes and politics associated with Star Wars and Disney.”

    To quote one Jar Jar Binks: "Well, dat smells stinkowiff."


  • It's not even close to time for our famous "Phony Campaign" series. But there's plenty of phony fodder out there. For example, according to Kevin D. Williamson, there's President Wheezy's Phony Investigation into gasoline prices.

    Joe Biden claims that gasoline producers are illegally colluding to rip off Americans, that there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies.”

    There isn’t any such evidence, of course. That doesn’t matter. As an oil executive once told me in a different context: “We’re an oil company. You can say anything you want about us.”

    That’s true.

    More to the point, Joe Biden isn’t Donald Trump.

    If you go back through the news clippings of the Trump years, you’ll find about 453,681 examples of sentences such as “President Trump today asserted without evidence,” or “Trump claims, contrary to the evidence,” that sort of thing. Some of these were tendentious, but often they were true. “Donald Trump claimed without evidence” is almost a redundancy. Trump didn’t care about evidence even on those rare occasions when the evidence was on his side.

    Biden, who resembles Trump much more closely than partisans on either side are ready to admit, is big on making assertions that are contrary to the evidence, too, e.g., his longstanding false claim that his wife and daughter were killed by a drunk driver. Biden peddles outrageous lies for political purposes and has for the whole of his very long career. Remember his claim that Mitt Romney intended to put African Americans “back in chains”? That’s typical Joe Biden poison.

    [It's NRPlus. You should subscribe.]


  • More unhappy belated birthday wishes. The Reason folks are piling on a helpless government agency. (I assume the entire staff is on the "strip search on sight" list.) Anyway, as J.D. Tuccille says, After 20 Years of Failure, Kill the TSA

    The TSA launched with the passage of the Aviation and Transportation and Security Act on November 19, 2001. The new law nationalized passenger screening, which previously had been the responsibility of airlines. It's not clear why anybody saw a need for the TSA, since it's unlikely that a federal agency would have been any more successful than private contractors at predicting terrorists' unprecedented use of aircraft as kamikaze weapons. It's especially unlikely that the federal agency we actually got would have successfully diverted itself from confiscating play-doh to thwarting homicidal fanatics.

    Click through for outrage. I'm trying to avoid outrage myself, but if your doctor says it's OK, go for it.

URLs du Jour

2021-11-20

  • Tom Nichols is a guy I follow on Twitter. I mostly liked his book on expertise. He was on Jeopardy! But his retweet-with-comment, erm:

    I cant help but wonder about further details of the counterfactual universe generated inside the heads of Nichols and O'Brien. OK, say the shooter is a black guy. I want to ask:

    Do you also change the races of the three shooting victims from white to black?

    Is this in the midst of a riot by mostly white guys?

    Is the riot generated by the shooting of a white guy by a black cop?

    And here's the thing about your answers: I don't care what your answers are.

    Because your counterfactual universe is (once again) inside your own head. No doubt it's a place where your fantasies and fears play out according to your priors. But it is evidence-free, and it has nothing to with reality or the law.

    And … bing! … make that "Tom Nichols is a guy I used to follow on Twitter."


  • A belated unhappy birthday to… Robby Soave tells us why The TSA's 20th Birthday Should Be Its Last.

    Exactly 20 years ago today, President George W. Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law and created the Transportation Security Administration, better known as the TSA. A response to the 9/11 attacks, the TSA was thought to be a necessary tool for confronting the new reality of terror in the skies.

    Two decades later, the TSA has more than 54,000 employees, a budget of $8 billion dollars, and a long track record of harassing passengers for no good reason. Far from contributing to actual safety, the TSA is a stunning example of government failure: Its absurd travel restrictions make air travel no safer, deprive passengers of their civil liberties, and make the process of flying much more costly, time-consuming, inconvenient, and unenjoyable. The agency should never have been created, and its 20th birthday is as good a time as any to abolish it.

    While you're at it, Uncle Stupid, repeal the RealID requirement. The long delay proves it isn't necessary for security.


  • More on Christopher DeMuth's "National Conservatism" WSJ piece. A no vote from Jonah Goldberg: Mugged by Fallacy. (Which is a reference to Christoper DeMuth's notion that national conservatives are conservatives who have been "mugged by reality".

    When Irving Kristol said neoconservatives were liberals mugged by reality, he had in mind the realization that the unconstrained vision of progressivism led to folly. The laws of unintended consequences, the limits of reform, and what Friedrich Hayek called “the knowledge problem” were too powerful to overcome (at least predictably and reliably) with even the most well-intentioned planning from above. This is why he considered the American Revolution a “successful revolution”—because it took human nature into account.  

    DeMuth makes it sound like conservatives embraced market-based policies only because the left wasn’t all that bad. But that’s not how it worked. They embraced market-based policies partly out of principled conviction, but also because they thought the left’s approach, based in technocratic arrogance and the blunt use of political force, was both wrong and dangerous (particularly in the context of the Cold War). In short, they were realists. DeMuth’s “mugging” inverts Kristol’s. The “NatCon” realists are now mugged by nationalism, and fantasies of total and permanent victories for the “highest good” defined entirely on their terms. They forget that Hayek’s warnings against planning were universal in application. Conservative planners don’t skirt the knowledge problem because their intentions are “better.”

    It's at the Dispatch, it's not paywalled as near as I can tell, so check it out.


  • I wonder about this too. Paul Mirengoff writes a Betteridge's Law-confirming headline: Will the Times and the Post Return Their 2018 Pulitzers?

    The Washington Post is doing a little house cleaning in the form of correcting two stories, one from 2017 and the other from 2019, that peddled false allegations against then-President Trump regarding the fabricated Steele dossier. The New York Times may follow suit.

    But Roger Simon poses this excellent question: When will the Post and the Times return their 2018 Pulitzer prizes for their reporting of the false Russia collusion story?

    Roger now works at the Epoch Times, and that's where that last link goes. He's a wonderful guy, but that site is pretty intrusive about demanding information from visitors before they let you read anything. But Mirengoff's excerpts are pretty inclusive.


  • Good advice for FBI idolaters. Scott Shackford suggests: Don't Worship an FBI That Took the Steele Dossier Seriously

    New York Times columnist Bret Stephens now says he was wrong to defend James Comey when then-President Donald Trump fired Comey as director of the FBI amid the federal investigation into alleged Russian influence on Trump's 2020 presidential campaign.

    In 2017, when Trump fired Comey, Stephens saw it as proof that the president was trying to obstruct the investigation against him. "When the president calls news 'fake' or a story 'phony,'" Stephen wrote, "you know the truth quotient is likely to be high. And, again, you know he knows you know it."

    But revelations about the FBI's poor handling of the investigation, as well as a new federal arrest related to the sourcing of the unsubstantiated Steele Dossier, have Stephens rethinking what he thought he knew.

    It used to be that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was seen by lefties as the Gestapo, while we righties thought every agent was Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Shoes have switched feet since.


  • And fuel is way to expensive to waste on that. Veronique de Rugy notes that we're Pouring Fuel on the Spending Fire.

    President Joe Biden has united the American people — in disapproving of his performance, with 70% of Americans disliking the direction the economy is going and over 6 in 10 blaming him for it. The impact of inflation on people's pocketbooks and concerns over the expanding role of government are important in explaining those low approval numbers. A good time to change course is now.

    A recent Washington Post-ABC poll asked, "How concerned are you, if at all, that Biden will do too much to increase the size and role of government in U.S. society?" Some 59% said they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned, while 38% said they were "not so" or "not at all" concerned. I, for one, am glad Americans are noticing the Democrats' power grab.

    Government's expansion didn't start with this administration, of course. Both parties are responsible for the continued growth of the size and scope of the federal government that began long before 2020. These parties also joined forces to spend as much as they could on everything related (or not related) to COVID-19 throughout the last year. But today's Democrats are ambitiously pushing the envelope by further enabling the federal takeover of child care, paid leave, energy and more.

    I note my "moderate" CongressCritter, Chris Pappas, voted for the monstrous "Build Back Better" bill yesterday. I guess he's pretty much resigned to losing next year.


  • What are humanity's long-term chances? When it comes to Controlling Super-Intelligent AIs it seems (according to an article cited by GeekPress), the answer is "poor".

    The idea of artificial intelligence overthrowing humankind has been talked about for many decades, and in January 2021, scientists delivered their verdict on whether we'd be able to control a high-level computer super-intelligence. The answer? Almost definitely not.

    The catch is that controlling a super-intelligence far beyond human comprehension would require a simulation of that super-intelligence which we can analyze. But if we're unable to comprehend it, it's impossible to create such a simulation.

    Rules such as 'cause no harm to humans' can't be set if we don't understand the kind of scenarios that an AI is going to come up with, suggest the authors of the 2021 paper. Once a computer system is working on a level above the scope of our programmers, we can no longer set limits.

    I'd suggest getting Captain James T. Kirk to weigh in on this. I seem to recall he was very good at getting AIs to tie themselves in self-contradicting knots.

URLs du Jour

2021-11-19

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • I am not a Steve Bannon fanboy. Just the opposite, in fact. I used to read Breitbart all the time, but he turned it into a Trump-worshipping rag.

    It's safe to say that National Review doesn't have a lot of love for Bannon either. But Andy McCarthy knows what the DOJ's indictment of Bannon is: Politicized Prosecution.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland waxed self-reverential after indicting Trump confidant Steve Bannon last week. “Since my first day in office,” he droned, “I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people, by word and deed, that the Department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law. Today’s charges reflect the Department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

    No, they don’t. Last Friday’s indictment of Bannon for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena is a sop to the Democrats’ Trump-deranged base.

    The criminal-contempt charges, on which Bannon surrendered on Monday, stem from a House January 6 Committee subpoena directing him to testify and produce documents. The Justice Department has rarely brought such an indictment in American history and hasn’t tried to do so in nearly 40 years. Nor has it escaped notice that DOJ has shown no interest in prosecuting government officials who, for example, misled the FISA Court on Russiagate or refused to cooperate in Congress’s probe of such Obama-era scandals as the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups and the ATF’s “gun-walking” debacle.

    It's an NRPlus article, sorry. But it's a long and interesting discussion of the legal issues swirling around the toilet bowl of the January 6 Committee's investigation media circus/show trial.


  • Consider my shit flipped. Liz Wolfe analyzes the claim by a media star: New York Times Writer Sarah Jeong Says Inflation in the News Is Just 'Rich People Flipping Their Shit'. In a tweet:

    I had to look it up, so you don't have to: "jmt" stands for "just my thoughts". Not, as I first suspected, "jejune mediocre tweet". But let's hear Liz's take:

    This is patently false for a few notable reasons: Inflation is most definitely not a manufactured media narrative, but rather a real, agreed-upon thing that is happening (though the Biden administration irresponsibly insists it's transitory). The consumer price index indicates that, from last September to this September, Americans have seen beef prices rise by 18 percent; gas prices by 42 percent; furniture prices by 11 percent; electricity prices by 5 percent; and used car prices by 24 percent. Consumer prices for October, the most recent month for which is there is data, jumped by 6.2 percent compared to what they were a year prior—the highest year-over-year jump we've seen in three decades!

    It is not ginned-up outrage spurred along by rich people either. In fact, wealthy people who have invested heavily in the stock market are, by and large, doing quite well right now, contra Jeong's claim. (Bitcoin, too, has seen extraordinary growth over the last year, but is down this week.) Homeowners, rich and less rich alike, might even stand to benefit from inflation; those who have secured low-interest fixed-rate loans from the bank are the real potential winners, given that they're insulated from landlords raising rents on them while being locked into the amount they have to pay back to the bank. Though their asset keeps rising in value, their monthly payments stay the same over time.

    Jeong's "parasitic" crack has a long and nasty (but "bipartisan") history.


  • What they don't think you should see. Slashdot features a Reuters story with alarming news: During COP26, Facebook Served Ads With Climate Falsehoods, Skepticism. Oh no!

    Facebook advertisers promoted false and misleading claims about climate change on the platform in recent weeks, just as the COP26 conference was getting under way.

    Days after Facebook's vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, touted the company's efforts to combat climate misinformation in a blog as the Glasgow summit began, conservative media network Newsmax ran an ad on Facebook (FB.O) that called man-made global warming a "hoax."

    The ad, which had multiple versions, garnered more than 200,000 views. In another, conservative commentator Candace Owens said, "apparently we're just supposed to trust our new authoritarian government" on climate science, while a U.S. libertarian think-tank ran an ad on how "modern doomsayers" had been wrongly predicting climate crises for decades.

    Sigh. I can't find anything at the Newsmax site that claims man-made global warming is a hoax, but here is a poll asking whether it is. (With perhaps a significant push toward "yes".) Fair enough. But, Reuters, could we see the problematic ad so we can judge for ourselves?

    And I can't find the original Candace Owens quote anywhere. I'd like to see it in context. I can find plenty of articles echoing the Reuters claim. Maybe you'll have better luck than I.

    But I have no problem whatsoever with a general skepticism about allegedly-authoritative pronouncements from Uncle Stupid.

    A likely candidate for the "libertarian think-tank" Reuters mentions isn't hard to find, though. I'm presuming it's the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which could be pointing to this 2019 article: Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions. Their summary:

    Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

    None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

    What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.

    More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.

    While such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines, the failures are typically not revisited.

    I can't find anything wrong with this factual article. "Modern doomsayers" have been wrongly predicting climate crises for decades.

    What Reuters is doing is firing yet another salvo in the effort to get Facebook to (further) censor conservative/libertarian voices. And Slashdot is adding its clout to the war.


  • My answer to the headline question is "yes". At Hot Air, Easy Ed Morrissey notes the Washington Post's analysis of the "Build Back Better" legislation, and asks: You know who scores the most from the House's BBB bill, right?

    The drift of the Democratic Party from working-class heros to elite Neros has gotten so obvious that even the Washington Post can’t help but notice. We already know who scores the benefit of Joe Biden’s proposal to lift the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions; 80% of those benefits accrue to the already wealthy. The Post walked its readers back through that calculation again yesterday:

    It’s the second-most expensive item in the legislation over the next five years, more costly than establishing a paid family and medical leave program, and nearly twice as expensive as funding home-medical services for the elderly and disabled, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. …

    Over the next five years, raising the SALT cap would provide a tax cut only to those who itemize their taxes and pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes — a group overwhelmingly made up of the wealthy. A recent analysis from the Tax Policy Center says the tax cut will benefit primarily the top 10 percent of income earners, with almost nothing flowing to middle- and lower-income families.

    New Hampshire has (I'm told) insane reliance on property taxes for funding state and local government. So you'd think at least some of our citizenry would make out… Nope, according the the American Enterprise Institute's analysis: "Over 50 percent of this reduction would accrue to taxpayers in just four states: California (25.1 percent), New York (16.8 percent), New Jersey (6.4 percent), and Illinois (4.2 percent)." New Hampshire's taxpayers are down in the noise.


  • Wokeism is bad, but even for one adherent, there are limits. Jerry Coyne has a lot of excerpts from a Regina Reni article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, headlined "Why I’m Tired of Hearing About ‘Wokeism’".

    That article is paywalled, but Jerry notes Reni is A woke person opposed to diversity statements.

    Perhaps the worst effect of the anti-Wokeist rhetoric invading academe is that it drowns out more careful critiques of so-called “Woke” policies. Take, for example, the diversity statements that some colleges and universities now require from faculty job candidates. I think these are a bad idea for at least two reasons having nothing to do with scary stories about Wokeism.

    First, requiring diversity statements in job materials places responsibility for correcting entrenched historical injustice in exactly the wrong place: on disempowered applicants (often themselves members of marginalized groups), rather than on the top-of-the-hierarchy administrators who can actually make systemic change. Second, requiring these statements as part of the hiring process encourages candidates to think about diversity as just another marketable skill, something to puff up and cynically stage like everything else in one’s portfolio.

    The University Near Here (of course) requires a diversity statement from applicants for faculty positions. Particularly amusing (I hope you're amused, anyway) is their Official Guidance for underlings writing a "position announcement". One of the wording suggestions: demand your applicant have a

    Demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice

    Anyone who cannot pass this ideological litmus test (or at least lie convincingly about it) need not apply.


  • Where do I line up? GeekPress has an Alzheimer's Vaccine Update, linking to a Boston TV news story.

    Brigham and Women’s Hospital is going to test a nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease.

    The hospital announced the launch of a clinical trial Tuesday to test the safety and efficacy of the medicine, which has been researched for nearly 20 years.

    According to the Brigham, the nasal vaccine is “intended to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.”

    I guess I'm glad I don't qualify for the study. You need to have "early, symptomatic Alzheimer’s". Which, as far as I can tell, I don't.

    (But if it's a vaccine, shouldn't they be testing it on people who don't have Alzheimer's yet?)


Last Modified 2021-11-20 6:38 AM EST