URLs du Jour

2019-01-21

[Amazon Link]

Happy MLKJr day to all!

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File (from last week) concerns National Solidarity: An Old & Dangerous Idea.

    In my eons on the internet, one lesson I have tried to take to heart — not always successfully — is that in the long run, it’s best to stand on the sidelines of the great race to be wrong first.

    To that end, I’ll just say that I don’t know if the BuzzFeed story alleging that Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, and other nefarious doings, is true. One of the main reporters may or may not be trustworthy. All of the sources are anonymous. The story claims that there are documents supporting the charge, but the reporters may not have seen them, so if the sources are lying about the major facts, why wouldn’t they lie about the corroborating facts as well? As Brit Hume often likes to note, exclusive bombshells don’t stay exclusive for very long. If we go much longer without another news outlet corroborating the story, it’s likely because it can’t be corroborated for a reason.

    But are the charges believable?

    Trump defenders are right that we’ve been here before. Blockbuster allegations are reported. A few days later, the story either falls apart or deflates significantly. But here’s the interesting thing. Between the time of the initial report and the correction, one rarely hears the professional defenders say, “This story is unbelievable and false.” It’s only when the correction comes that they are suddenly overcome with indignation that anyone would suggest such a thing. Only after they have a factual backstop do they shriek, “you had to be suffering from Trump derangement syndrome to have believed the report in the first place!” These rhetorical lacunae are revealing, because I think it shows that the praetorians believe the charges are possibly true. (Also revealing: The tendency to stop shouting “Fake News” whenever MSM reporting is beneficial to the White House.)

    Well, that's not actually about "national solidarity". That comes later in the text, and it's good too.

    Trump is fortunate in having completely unhinged and irresponsible adversaries in the "respectable" press.


  • My lefty Facebook friends went apeshit over the confrontation between a saintly Native American and a wise-ass Catholic kid at the National Right to Life March in DC. I remember thinking: this looks bad, and it might be, but something about the narrative smells a little too perfect.

    Taking Jonah's advice above, I decided not to enter "the great race to be wrong first." Fortunately. Because, as Robby Soave writes at Reason: The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran.

    Partial video footage of students from a Catholic high school allegedly harassing a Native American veteran after the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., over the weekend quickly went viral, provoking widespread condemnation of the kids on social media. Various media figures and Twitter users called for them to be doxed, shamed, or otherwise punished, and school administrators said they would consider expulsion.

    But the rest of the video—nearly two hours of additional footage showing what happened before and after the encounter—adds important context that strongly contradicts the media's narrative.

    It's especially a good idea to decline membership in an Outrage Mob. (I hope Amusement Mobs are OK. Despair Mobs probably, too.)


  • Interesting story from the College Fix about opacity in higher ed: University demands student pay $500 for public records on its Chinese propaganda institute.

    Under scrutiny from lawmakers of both parties and academic groups, universities have been closing their Chinese government-run centers at a brisk pace.

    The University of Kansas has not publicly moved to shutter its Confucius Institute, however, and a KU student wanted to know if administrators had discussed the possibility. He filed a public records request a month ago.

    The taxpayer-funded university gave him an answer Thursday: $506.50.

    Back when I worked at the University Near Here, we used to get "public records requests" (also subpoenas) that demanded we search through mailboxes for matching messages. This required expenditures of employee time that could have been spent doing something else, of course. (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook,…)

    But $506.25 isn't outrageous, especially if it involves redacting non-relevant bits of matching messages. I doubt that it implies that the University of Kansas has something it wants to hide.

    (Although they might have something they want to hide.)

    Anyway, GoFundMe was invoked, the $506.25 was raised, and we'll see what happens next.

    The University Near Here still has its Confucius Institute; in fact, next week it will be holding the "China National Intangible Cultural Heritage Tung Oil Paper Umbrella Exhibition" in Huddleston. Can't wait!


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for a Concord Monitor editorial with an especially tendentious title: Confronting the myths of the free market.

    Nowhere in America is belief in the merits of free markets stronger than in New Hampshire. Last year, for the third time in a row, two groups, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Canada’s Fraser Institute, declared that “New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, has the highest level of economic freedom among all U.S. states.” On its website, the Concord-based Josiah Bartlett Center proudly declares itself to be a “free-market think tank.” The platform of the state’s Libertarian Party declares that the only economic system “compatible with the protection of individual rights is the free market.”

    Free markets are the supposed solution to lower costs for energy, health care and all manner of things, and they supposedly work better when taxes are low. But the market has failed to deliver. American life expectancy is growing shorter. Even two-income families feel they can’t get ahead. Government, in the midst of the longest shutdown in U.S. history, is broken.

    To adapt something I'm pretty sure I heard Thomas Sowell say once: Listen up, Concord Monitor: I don't have a "belief" in free markets. I have facts about free markets.

    The Concord Monitor, on the other hand, seems to have a childlike faith in the state. Even though it's "broken". All we need to do is IncreaseTaxesOnTheRich! This will unbreak government! Families will feel like they can get ahead! Life expectancy will increase! Magic!


  • And a Dr. William Hall of Whitesboro, NY writes a LTE to the Utica Observer-Dispatch: There’s silver lining to our nation’s cloud.

    In our anger with the political party in power we don’t always see the silver linings. Nothing happens without a reason and I see a positive trend emerging since the 2016 election.

    Democrats outnumber the Republicans 2 to 1 and being shocked out of complacency / apathy a number of great things started happening. The Blue Wave happened and is continuing to spread. The urgency in this grassroots movement has increased to a “live-free-or-die” level regarding the president behaving as a Russian agent and becoming more autocratic as the Mueller investigation intensifies.

    Dr. Hall sees the "blue wave" as a harbinger of LFOD? I beg to differ. As would the Concord Monitor.


  • And down in Connecticut, at Greenwich Time, David Rafferty demonstrates the flexibility of the topics to which LFOD can apply: No excuse for dog poop incivility.

    As a nearly everyday walker at [Tod's] Point, I’ve been witness to many instances of dog owners flaunting the rules sometimes innocently, but often deliberately when it comes to excrement. Being a live-free-or-die libertarian Yankee is no excuse for dog poop incivility. No excuse for walking your dog over to a shady spot and watching him defecate without picking it up and sneering at me when I give you the stink eye. Encouraging your dog to run into the bushes to relieve himself…out of sight, out of mind. No excuse for not paying attention to your pup laying a trail of droppings as he walks like the elephant in the parade. No excuse for kicking sand over your dog’s dung, not 25 feet away from the supply of poop bags the town puts out for you to use.

    Hey, I'm (arguably) a live-free-or-die libertarian Yankee, and I religiously bag up my dog's poop on our walks. And I don't mean just on Sundays.

    And, like Dave, I really don't get the people who don't.