URLs du Jour


I did not watch the debate, because nobody stepped up to pay me to do it. So I have no opinion on who won. And frankly, no idea what "winning" would even mean.

But Trump fans, especially those thinking/believing that the debate helped Trump, should (or maybe shouldn't) click over RealClearPolitics page where they graph the election betting markets. It's not a pretty picture, Emily.

  • Michael Graham wonders: NH Schools Ranked 5th Safest to Reopen. Why Are So Many Still Closed?.

    A new report ranks New Hampshire’s public schools the fifth safest to reopen in the entire country. And yet fewer than half of them have returned to traditional classroom instruction, leaving many Granite State parents confused and frustrated.

    It's a WalletHub "report", in which you might or might not put credence. (Vermont and Maine are numbers one and two on the SafeMeter.)

  • At EconLib, Pierre Lemieux detects a case of Impoverishing Economic Illiteracy. Specifically, people who wonder why Covid-19 tests are so hard to get.

    In fact, it makes a lot of sense for anybody who knows something about economics—and does not push it under the rug for ideological reasons. During these seven months, prices of most goods produced in America have been under the legal threat of states’ “price gouging” laws and of the federal Defense Production Act. The latter does not formally control the prices of testing supplies, but the federal government has been doing it indirectly through the FDA, the CDC, and a few commissars who control the allocation of many Covid-19 related products. Among them are Peter Navarro, the so-called “equipment czar” (“‘This Is War’: President’s Equipment Czar to Use Full Powers to Fight Coronavirus,” Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2020), Admiral Brett Giroir, the “testing czar” (“Trump’s Covid-19 Testing Czar Claims Administration Is Doing ‘Everything That We Can Do’ to Increase Testing Capacity,” CNN, August 14, 2020), and Moncef Slaoui, the “vaccine czar” (“Trump Vaccine Czar Will Not Be Required to Disclose Pharma Ties, IG Rules,” The Hill, July 17, 2020).

    And for extra credit, see this Reason Brickbat

    The new coronavirus has claimed the lives of some 7,000 nursing home residents in New Jersey. Those nursing homes now have access to coronavirus tests that provide results in minutes, which administrators say could help them keep the disease out of their facilities by allowing them to test people before they have any interaction with patients. But the state Department of Health won't allow them to use the tests, saying it has concerns about their accuracy. The department says it is currently evaluating the tests and will issue guidance on their use eventually.

    Geez, statists, are you sure there aren't any more levels of bureaucracy you can throw at this problem?

  • This KDW item is from yesterday, and it already feels dated, old news. Confirming his point: Trump's Taxes -- Why Nobody Cares Much about Them.

    At Fox News, Howard Kurtz argues that the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s taxes will affect the election “barely at all.”

    These are eye-popping revelations, but most people won’t wade through the details, which are complicated as hell. And even the Times doesn’t claim that Trump broke any laws. He took advantage of a labrynth [sic] of legal deductions that are available to people who traffic in real estate and investments–unfairly, in my view, but that’s the system approved by Congress.

    I think that’s about right but would add a couple of things. One is the personality-cult, can-do-no-wrong aspect of Trump fandom — and it is a fandom — which simply does not respond to this kind of thing. I have a hard time imagining the person for whom this, of all Trump’s shenanigans, is the final straw. If Trump loses $400 million, then that is just evidence, from that point of view, of his ineffable business genius. As Kurtz writes, most people aren’t going to dig in very deep. As Paul Krugman argues, the really eye-popping part of the Times story isn’t the tax avoidance but what an incompetent businessman Trump is.


  • I also trust KDW on his debate take (he probably was paid to watch it, and I hope it was a lot). Trump vs Biden Debate: The President Did Himself No Favors.

    The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors.

    For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had kept that up for the whole night as Joe Biden dodged questions about court-packing schemes, couldn’t figure out whether he supported or opposed the Green New Deal, and attempted to brazen his way through the undisputed facts about his son’s business dealings, Trump might have been able to make a plausible case that his administration delivered a strong economy (that’s presidential superstition, but this is how we talk about these things now) that was producing some pretty impressive numbers until the epidemic, and that his administration responded strongly to the coronavirus by halting flights from China, for which he was called a hysterical xenophobe. (Which, of course, he is.) There would be a lot of bull in that, of course, but it would be a basically defensible case, and one that would have been relatively easy to sell with the economy making a faster recovery than most had expected.

    Trump’s goal seems to have been something different: to establish that Biden is too diminished and weak to do the job. Hence the schoolyard antics. It probably doesn’t matter (because debates rarely change anybody’s mind), but Trump didn’t need to do that: Biden was always going to do it for him. But if we assume that there are some genuine on-the-fence and persuadable voters, this was the wrong way to reach them — because people who are going to be snookered by that kind of dumb, posturing bluster already are voting for Trump. The people who think Biden is senescent and doddering, and who are voting based on that, already are Trump voters.

    These days, whenever Trump comes on the tube, my attitude is: I am really tired of this guy.

  • How many times did the candidates say "preexisting condition" last night? (I count six, plus one from Chris Wallace.) But it's a safe bet that nobody's going to be talking about PECs like Michael F. Cannon at Cato: Five Problems with Democrats’ "Preexisting Conditions" Strategy. Check it out, here's the bottom line:

    On preexisting conditions, President Trump has hardly been a paragon of honesty. Or consistency. Or clarity. Or empathy. But we can say two things in Republicans’ favor. First, the Trump administration has helped to reduce the problem of preexisting conditions by allowing short-term plans to provide affordable, secure, renewable term health insurance. Second, getting rid of ObamaCare would not throw a single person out of their health coverage because if someone’s coverage depends on a government regulation or subsidy, then it isn’t really theirs in the first place.

    So far as I can tell, Democrats are the only ones throwing people out of health insurance that the consumer chose and purchased and likes. Democrats enjoy cancelling other people’s health insurance coverage so much, it’s creepy. They did it when they passed ObamaCare. They’re doing it again now with short-term plans. They’re really quite callous and cavalier about it. Sanctimonious, even.

    And yet, even though all available polling shows Republicans have a more powerful counterattack, the Democrats’ strategy of attacking Republicans on preexisting conditions is likely to work in 2020 just as it did in 2018. In all likelihood, Democrats will convince voters to punish Republicans for fantasizing about doing what Democrats actually do. It will work because Republicans have their own brand of callousness: they just can’t bring themselves to care about health care.

    As Cannon points out, people are perfectly happy to support all kinds of wonderful state-provided heath care goodies until they get the bill.

  • And the Union Leader has a question for our state's senior Senator, up for re-election: Is Shaheen packing? She owes voters her court view.

    Further on the matter of the current Supreme Court dispute, where does U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stand on the issue of packing?

    We don’t mean the packing of suitcases and memorabilia. The chances remain strong that Shaheen’s interminable stay in Washington will extend even longer, come the election.

    But Shaheen hasn’t exactly been outspoken in protest of the really terrible idea proffered by some in her party that the Supreme Court itself should be fundamentally changed next year.

    This would be done by “packing” the court with a number of additional judges whose legal views would nullify the conservative majority supposedly assured by Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.

    I can't find any comment from Jeanne on the issue, "outspoken" or not. Is she adopting the Biden strategy on the issue? "I'm not going to tell you until after I win, sucka."