URLs du Jour

2020-12-17

OK, no election stuff today. No Covid stuff today. I need at least a one-day break from that.

  • At the Hudson Institute, John P. Walters and David W. Murray are Revisiting "The New Jim Crow". It's a look at the 2010 book by Michelle Alexander. As I type, Amazon says its "Best Sellers Rank" is "#879 in Books; #2 in Criminology; #3 in Criminal Law; #5 in Civil Rights & Liberties".

    But what do (ex-drug "Czar") Walters and Murray say? A lot, but here's a sample:

    Consider that we are told: “The Reagan administration hired staff to publicize the emergence of crack cocaine in 1985 as part of a strategic effort to build public and legislative support for the war.” The point is not a minor one, since it is offered in support of a core thesis: when there really wasn’t a drug problem in our cities, in order to achieve “social control” over blacks through “mass incarceration,” President Ronald Reagan created and then hyped a crisis using the media. This claim is found in the Introduction. Turning to the endnote, however, one finds no documentation, but rather a simple line that Reagan’s action “is discussed in more depth in Chapter 1.”

    That’s a bit cheesy, but what then happens in Chapter 1? There, after reading about “code words” for race, we find again that Reagan “launched a media offensive to justify the ‘War on Drugs.’” And there’s another endnote which, when pursued, leads nowhere. It is a reference to the 1992 National Drug Control Strategy—produced after the Reagan Presidency.

    This is cat-and-mouse. It anticipates an unserious, unquestioning reader, one willing to be led.

    More at the link, of course.

    I'm all-the-way libertarian on drugs. The War on Drugs was (and is) bad in every way. But lousy scholarship used to promote a tedious political agenda isn't great either. Walters and Murray build a decent case against the book.

    But of course, at the ultra-woke University Near Here, Alexander's book is one of those pushed as Racial Justice Resources. It's also recommended at the Paul Business School's Community, Diversity and Inclusion Resources Needless to say, UNH does not recommend any voices that might dissent from the Official Theology.


  • Okay, okay, I said "no Covid" above, but this is only indirectly related: David Harsanyi at National Review keeps us up to date on the gubernatorial antics in the state uncomfortably close to New Hampshire: Andrew Cuomo Continues His Assault on the First Amendment.

    If he had his way, New York governor Andrew Cuomo would do to the Constitution what he’s already done to the elderly of his state. This week, he signed a bill banning the sale of “hate symbols” such as the Confederate flag, swastikas, and “white supremacist” imagery on state property. Of course, neither Cuomo nor the state legislature is empowered to decide what constitutes “hate symbols,” much less selectively ban them — even if New Yorkers had any interested in selling these symbols on state property, which doesn’t seem to be the case. But all of this is just virtue-signaling, as the kids say: a way to get people who still believe in liberal values to sound like they’re defending ugly things like the Confederate flag rather than a neutral principle.

    Then again, perhaps there’s familial confusion over the issue of speech rights among the Cuomos. You may remember Chris, who earned his law degree at Fordham, informing his followers that “hate speech is excluded from protection” in the Constitution. (It isn’t.) Now Andrew Cuomo, who earned his law degree at Albany Law School, argued that his ban would “safeguard New Yorkers from the fear-installing effects of these abhorrent symbols,” as if his bailiwick or anyone’s else’s in government is to protect you from seeing things you don’t like. If it were, nursing-home residents would be throwing copies of Cuomo’s book American Crisis into a raging bonfire.

    David notes that Cuomo is apparently as uncomfortable with the "freedom of speech" bit in 1A as he is with the "free exercise" bit.


  • Here's something to bookmark for the next time someone blathers about "trickle-down economics": Peter C. Earle writing (at AIER) on The Return of the Trickle-Down Ruse.

    First, and least important of all: the very choice of the word “trickle,” defined as a small, thin and/or gentle stream––as opposed to synonyms like ‘flow’ or ‘spill’––carries a disdainful, incidental, or even accidental air. 

    Second, no political party, economist, or economic textbook has ever referred to “trickle-down” anything as a policy tool or outcome. As Thomas Sowell wrote in 2014: “The “trickle-down” theory cannot be found in even the most voluminous scholarly studies of economic theories – including J. A. Schumpeter’s monumental ‘History of Economic Analysis,’ more than a thousand pages long and printed in very small type.” It is a description typically employed by opponents of free markets and economic liberty, and one which like so many others (“fairness,” “hard-working Americans,” “equality“) has become so freighted with political suggestion as to become a near-metonym. 

    Most important of all, the phrase fails to accurately describe any economic phenomenon or outcome. “Trickle-down economics” is, beyond being a phrase used to evoke an emotional reaction among a certain sector of the populace, a profound illustration of economic ignorance. 

    The real "trickle down" fallacy is that Your Federal Government is an efficient distributor of tax dollars to the less well-off. As the Wikipedia page listing high-income counties shows, a lot of that money tends to hang around the Washington D. C. environs.


  • I'm a dedicated Jeopardy! watcher, and these last few Alex episodes can be rough. Especially when he mentions looking forward to Christmas…

    So Ken Jennings is going to host, at least for a while. We'll see how that works out, but the NYPost's Andrea Peyser has a prediction: Ken Jennings will never approach Alex Trebek's 'Jeopardy!' legacy.

    We’ve lost an icon. And we’re getting a creep.

    Fans of the TV show “Jeopardy!” are counting down the days until just after Christmas, when the quizzer airs the final pre-recorded episode hosted by the late, great Alex Trebek, whose death in November at age 80 from pancreatic cancer broke hearts all over America and augured the end of his incredible 36-year run at the helm of what is widely considered the greatest televised game show of all time.

    But the new year also ushers in the arrival of Alex’s troubling ”interim” replacement, Ken Jennings, 46, whose reign as the show’s winningest contestant is clouded by a level of flippant cruelty previously unseen on a smart program that, for decades, has delivered a necessary and calming distraction during times of war, recession, social unrest and pandemic.

    I was a Ken Jennings fanboy after his Jeopardy! appearance. I read his blog, bought a couple of his books, even went to one of his book signings up in Maine.

    I gradually got the point that his politics were generally left/statist. Sigh, I could abide that.

    But as Peyser shows (with a few examples), his character is not the best. Here's one she didn't mention; it caused me to drop Jennings' blog from my reading and stop buying his books. Via Patterico:

    [I was a fan of Breitbart before his death, although I've since given up on what's become of his website.]

    I can abide political disagreement. I tend to shy away from people who would obviously hold me in contempt for mine, and would cheer my death.


  • Power Line notes an inexplicable development in Texas (of all places): And now, the Dan Rather Medals.

    The University of Texas School of Journalism and Media has just announced the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts. The medals are to “be awarded to professional and collegiate journalists who go the extra yard — overcoming obstacles like stonewalling and harassment — to get the story that tells truth to power.” You obviously get no credit for avoiding clichés.

    Unlike the Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity formerly conferred by the New Criterion and PJ Media, the University of Texas School of Journalism and Media intends no irony or humor with the Dan Rather Medals. In 2014, however, the Duranty Prize team also awarded the Rather, “a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.” Suffice it to say that this is not the spirit of the Dan Rather Medals.

    I'm aghast. The University of Texas couldn't have found someone more honest than Rather? Didn't they check the population of nearby prisons?


Last Modified 2020-12-18 1:53 PM EST