URLs du Jour


  • RIP: American Hero Chuck Yeager Dead At 97. The very definition of the Right Stuff.

  • Arnold Kling pens An essay that calls for courage. But first, let him tell you about it:

    This essay ends with a call for courage. Ironically, it was scheduled to appear a few weeks ago on a different web site, when the editor informed me that a “higher-up” decided that they were afraid to run it. I then submitted it to the Law and Liberty Web site. To their credit, they accepted it.

    The essay is The Decentralized Totalitarianism of Today's Anti-Racists. Begins:

    Anti-racism has emerged as a powerful movement in recent years, especially in 2020. Anti-racism goes beyond simple non-discrimination, and so while many Americans believe that our society has made progress in eliminating racial prejudice, anti-racists do not agree. At the grass-roots level, it manifests as Black Lives Matter (BLM), a movement that seeks to stir people who otherwise might be indifferent to deaths of young black men, especially those deaths that take place in confrontations with police. In the realm of ideas, the movement manifests as Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is promulgated by college professors, human resource professionals at large organizations, and even administrators and teachers in many K-12 schools. Within contemporary anti-racism, BLM and CRT are two important streams, which sometimes blend together.

    Unfortunately, each of these two streams is poisoned by an untruth. In the case of BLM, the untruth is that young black men are often killed by police because of racism. In the case of CRT, the untruth is that white supremacy permeates American life, so much so that combating racism requires radical change in all of America’s formal institutions as well as its informal cultural norms. The centrality of these untruths to anti-racism, when coupled with their propensity to inflame passions, leads to an instinctive totalitarianism which rejects all attempts at correction or critical examination.

    BLM and CRT are (on net) obstacles to racial harmony and progress. Like most of the post-1960s progressive policies.

  • I've been linking to Granite Grok for over 14 years. So it saddens me to see them buying into election conspiracy theories. A recent example is from contributor Sarah Ibanez NH's Voting Machines Are Capable of Redistributing Votes. Her article begins…

    New Hampshire’s voting machines known as the AccuVote OS are owned by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is a foreign corporation domiciled in Canada …

    Argh. Wait a minute. That's not true at all.

    Dominion Voting Systems is a non-partisan American company that makes electronic voting systems. No foreign national directly or indirectly owns or controls the company. As verified by the Associated Press, Dominion began as a Canadian company and was later incorporated in the United States. One of the company's founders, John Poulos, serves as CEO. Dominion and other voting system manufacturers submit extensive company disclosures to federal and state authorities as terms of product testing and system certification. The company has no ownership ties whatsoever to UBS, or the governments of China, Cuba, or Venezuela.

    This isn't the first time this misinformation has been peddled at Granite Grok. I commented about that; the response was disappointing. Dominion Voting's response was dismissed as a lie, without evidence. How likely is it that a company will lie about its ownership, when its future business depends on its trustworthiness?

    So I've given up on trying to argue this specific point at Granite Grok. Many commenters there seem to be poster children for confirmation bias. Hope it gets better.

    Of course, this sort of thing has consequences. NH Journal reports: 70 Percent of NHGOP Voters Say Biden's Win Wasn't Legitimate.

    But there's a way to do this sort of thing correctly.

  • At National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy has been debunking conspiracy nonsense, but he notices belated improvement on the legal front: Trump Campaign Files Better Case.

    In the Peach State, the campaign is represented by different counsel than it has been elsewhere. The 64-page complaint is a linear, cogently presented description of numerous election-law violations, apparently based on hard data. If true, the allegations would potentially disqualify nearly 150,000 illegal votes in a state that Biden won by only 12,000.

    To be sure, we have not yet heard a response to the specific claims from the state respondents, led by Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. I should further note that I have seen only the complaint, not the underlying exhibits; I am in no position to evaluate the credibility of the sources or the accuracy of the lawyers’ number-crunching. That said, if the campaign had taken the exacting approach of this lawsuit from the beginning, rather than swinging wildly on farfetched fraud claims, it would have gotten more traction.

    There could be something there, of course. Why the Trump campaign took a whole month to put together a coherent legal case, I don't know. Too busy flirting with incoherent conspiracy theories, maybe.

  • Speaking of coherency, John Tierney at City Journal writes on Pandemic Penitents.

    In 1349, as the Black Death ravaged Europe, a new pandemic-control strategy was adopted in cities across the continent. The protocol was precisely regulated by the experts. Three times a day, for a total of exactly eight hours, hundreds of men known as Flagellants would march in single file through town, wearing caps with a red cross and carrying scourges of knotted ropes studded with nails. “Using these whips,” one witness reported, “they beat and whipped their bare skin until their bodies were bruised and swollen and blood rained down, spattering the walls nearby.”

    This specific strategy is no longer in favor among public health officials, but the spirit of the Flagellants lives on. Instead of beatdowns, today’s regulators favor lockdowns, which are less bloody but inflict more social pain. For all the talk about following science, the authorities—and much of the citizenry—can’t resist the primal intuition that a pandemic can be quelled only through public penance. Consider two strategies for dealing with the Covid-19 virus: urge the public to spend time outside in the sun to build up their vitamin D, and to take supplements of the vitamin, repeatedly demonstrated to protect against viral infection; or shut down most businesses, deprive children of classroom education, and order everyone to stay home, a strategy never previously tested and yet to prove effective.

    Insight into the "Do Something" mind. Draconian measures "definitely enable officials and citizens to demonstrate that they’re taking bold actions against Covid—and the more painful the measures, the more virtuous and heroic they feel."

    And a certain fraction of the citizenry demand this, displaying their own virtue and heroism, of course.

    And if infections and deaths rise anyway? Well, "not enough people are following the rules. Stop sinning! Do your penance!"

  • And in our "Of Course They Did" Department, David Harsanyi reports the latest: Journalists Turn on Free Expression.

    In an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, The New Yorker’s Steve Coll contends that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “profound” support of free speech — oh, how I wish that were true — is problematic because “free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principles of journalism.”

    Journalism has turned on free speech, the one belief that had been somewhat impervious to the ideological tendencies of most editors and reporters. There’s absolutely nothing in Coll’s comments — nor in Hunt’s begging a question about the alleged corrosive effects of unfettered speech — which demonstrates that either are particularly concerned about the future of free expression, much less that either hold the principle as “sacred.”

    The denizens of journalism are eager to preserve their own freedom.

    Yours, not so much.