URLs du Jour — 2014-05-05

A lot of stuff has piled up in my things-to-blog list. I'll just try to hit the high notes.

  • Vikram Bath has a long and thoughtful read-the-whole-thing article at Ordinary Times on liberal tolerance. And (like me), Bath is disappointed in Randall Munroe's recent xkcd cartoon "Free Speech".

    Actually, "disappointed" is too mild: Bath says: "I hate this comic." And he makes many of the same arguments I made, but better.

    I think part of the reason Randall drew this comic was a sense of his side winning in the marketplace of ideas. The most recent boycotts seem to be of bigots and other unsympathetic characters. Munroe isn't thinking about the McCarthy-era blacklists that were simply private boycotts of workers holding legally protected but worse-than-assholish political beliefs. Are these the norms of private behavior we wish to emulate and carry into the future?

    Not me. We'll see if we're in for another season of left-McCarthyism, I guess.

    [Bath's article via Ed Driscoll and Sonny Bunch, who have their own comments.]

  • From Virginia Postrel, a column originally titled "Free Speech Zones and Other College Lies", but has since been toned down to "How Much Free Speech Will Your Child Have at College?" If you're worried about going (or having your kids going) to a school where free speech is respected, Ms. Postrel provides some questions to which you should get answers.

  • Kevin D. Williamson has a long, wide-ranging, and wonderful article at NRO, responding to the redistributionist schemes of progressives. You should read the whole thing, but here's the final paragraph:

    Politics is parasitic. Even at its best, it produces no goods of its own; it has only that which it takes from what others produce. For about 200,000 years, human beings produced almost nothing — the per capita economic-output curve is nearly flat from the appearance of the first homo sap. until the appearance of Jethro Tull and Eli Whitney. We’ve had politicians since before Hammurabi, but we didn’t escape the shadow of famine until a few thousand years later when somebody discovered that the wars fought over dividing up the harvest could be prevented by making that harvest bigger — and then figuring out how to get that done. Politics is a footnote — the inventory in your local Walmart is the headline.

    Also appearing in the article: "If Mrs. Piketty sends out her second-grade tactical SWAT unit to seize Jenny’s SweeTarts …" How could you not read an article that has that within?

  • I subscribe to Wired, which is in the Condé Nast publication family. But (good news) it doesn't share the knee-jerk soft-leftism exhibited by other magazines in that stable. A good example is now online: "Renewables Aren’t Enough. Clean Coal Is the Future" by Charles C. Mann. It's long, but well worth your time. Mann is a good writer, a diligent researcher, and unafraid to advocate based on his research.

  • I'm waaay behind on noting the anti-Rand Paul freakout among some conservative pundits. And although I'm a lot more libertarian than the average Republican, and I liked his speech at the Freedom Summit last month, well, um.

    • Bret Stephens in the WSJ notes his lack of experience, associating with a neo-Confederate wacko, and fondness for Cheney/Halliburton conspiracy theories
    • At NR, Rich Lowry also notes the Cheney/Halliburton thing, and points out Paul's revisionist WW2 history, and his excuse-making for Russia's Ukrainian moves.
    • As a (slight) antidote, actual-libertarian Randy Barnett refers to the above two columns and a couple others. His advice to Senator Paul:

      Just as Paul is reaching out to new groups that might not have voted Republican in the recent past, I think the Senator and his advisers need to find a way to credibly make the case that libertarians need not be against a strong national defense, and neither is he. Otherwise, for better or worse, he won’t secure the nomination that he appears to desire. This won’t be as difficult as some may think, as Paul is actually taking smaller politically-appealing positions, such as his opposition to NSA date [sic] collection, rather than running as an across-the-board libertarian ideologue. It is a mistake simply to attribute to him all the views of his father or of other libertarians (like myself). Indeed, just as “only Nixon can go to China,” Paul’s libertarian background allows him to take less stridently libertarian positions without alienating his base.

    • Perhaps most ominous is the Politico piece from Ben White and Maggie Haberman: "Wall Street Republicans' dark secret: Hillary Clinton 2016". The thesis (which might discomfit as many Democrats as Republicans): the high-finance denizens would almost certainly prefer Hillary Clinton to a bomb-thrower like Rand Paul or (even) Ted Cruz.

    I would (of course) prefer an explicitly libertarian GOP nominee, but … President Hillary? I can understand Wall Streeters favoring someone complaisant who won't rock their boats too hard. But are the American people really so stupid?

  • Senator Mike Lee from Utah is also sometimes mentioned as a candidate. At Reason, Jacob Sullum notes that one of Lee's "principles", a return to federalism, crumbles pretty quickly when states threaten to allow something of which Lee doesn't approve:

    So why on earth is Lee co-sponsoring a bill introduced last month that would ban online gambling throughout the country, instead of letting each state decide whether to allow Internet-assisted poker? The contradiction illustrates one reason the GOP seems destined for permanent minority status: Too many of its members are unprincipled killjoys who do not understand that federalism requires tolerance of diversity.

    Another co-sponsor of the bill is (sigh) New Hampshire's own Kelly Ayotte.

  • Finally, Ann Althouse has some perceptive commentary on Justice Sotomayor's unfortunate dissent in Scheuette v. BAMN (quoting James Taranto, who was quoting Althouse.)

    The issue is Sotomayor's expressed wish to use the phrase "race-sensitive admissions policies" instead of the old standby "affirmative action". Taranto and Althouse note that Sotomayor is climbing the "euphemism ladder", where a "new euphemism is needed because the old one has lost its power to obscure".

    I like Professor Althouse's musing:

    A more common expression than "race-sensitive admissions policies" — and it must be somewhere on that treadmill journey — is "race-conscious admissions policies." Why "sensitive" instead of "conscious"? "Sensitive" connotes feelings of warmth (and irritability), and "conscious" connotes mental clarity and perception. If they're going to talk about when government may take race into account, judges should be speaking about sharply observed and understood facts about the real world. It's called "strict scrutiny" for a reason. "Sensitivity" suggests a more vaguely sourced intuition about how things ought to be, the very stereotypes and prejudicial impulses that strict scrutiny is supposed to preclude.

    The Latina is not as wise as we all thought.

Last Modified 2017-11-30 11:49 AM EDT