URLs du Jour


I found this movie's availability notation in my Netflix DVD queue amusing, but I can understand if you don't:

[Loooong wait, I hope]

It's got Laird Cregar as "His Excellency", aka Satan. A role he was born to play.

But now on to less amusing things…

  • At Reason, Jacob Sullum has been all over reportage of the election aftermath. It's like rubbernecking at a crash on the side of the road, I know. But still: Angry at the Failure of His Election Challenges, Trump Calls His Own SCOTUS Nominees Cowardly and Incompetent.

    Explaining the need to swiftly replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Amy Coney Barrett this fall, Donald Trump said the Court likely would have to rule on disputes about the presidential election. "I think this will end up in the Supreme Court," he told reporters on September 23. "And I think it's very important that we have nine justices….This scam that the Democrats are pulling…will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4–4 situation is not a good situation, if you get that. I don't know that you'd get that. I think it should be 8–nothing or 9–nothing. But just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it's very important to have a ninth justice."

    Trump thought Barrett should dance with the one that brought her. But in case that argument was not persuasive enough, he argued that it was in her personal and professional interest to prevent Biden from taking office. In the end, however, Barrett joined the rest of the Court, including Trump's two other nominees and three justices appointed by Republicans George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, in declining to hear two cases that sought to overturn Biden's victory.

    But now, well…

    Jacob looks at the (lack of) reality behind the "absolute PROOF". Which you, if you have the slightest inclination to believe Trump, should read. Conclusion:

    In Trump's view, nearly everyone and everything, including all of the institutions that are supposed to discover and correct the sort of unprecedented criminal activity he alleges, are conspiring against him. This is the world in which Trump demands that his supporters live. And if they do not accept this preposterous tale, he says, "we have no country!"

    Unlike Trump, I have no doubt that we will continue to have a country even when Joe Biden takes office on January 20. But it will be an even angrier, more divided, and less rational country than the one Trump was elected to govern four years ago, which may be his most remarkable accomplishment.

    I have friends who believe Trump. Which makes me sad, but maybe we can, eventually, MoveOn™.

  • Kevin D. Williamson writes at the NYPost on, I fear, a forlorn hope: If Biden wants to heal the nation, he should make the presidency small again.

    Joe Biden says he wants to “heal America” as president. The problem for Biden is that the president and, perhaps more important, the presidency thrive on crisis. It is wars and other national emergencies (real and imagined) that have facilitated the radical expansion of the executive office from FDR onward. Keeping the nation in a state of crisis is good for presidents — and good for their hangers-on, who feed parasitically on the swollen executive in chief. 

    Biden comes into office in an age of big presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump among them. But he also comes into the presidency after having spent nearly 40 years in the Senate. If he truly wants to heal the nation, cooperation and consensus should be at the center of his agenda, as they should be central to everybody else’s approach, too: Bipartisanship and consensus are not sentimental feel-good virtues — they are necessary to creating stable public policy and the prosperity that rests on that stability. That doesn’t mean pretending that our disagreements are not disagreements; it means not treating our disagreements as civil war. 

    KDW notes that Biden's mediocrity might be a plus here.

  • Megan McArdle notes the recent kerfuffle over the Grandma-killing policies (briefly) advocated by experts in "ethics": Public health bodies may be talking at us, but they’re actually talking to each other.

    If you watch the YouTube video of the now-infamous November meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, you’ll hear Chairman José Romero thank everyone for a “robust discussion.” Shortly thereafter, the committee unanimously agreed that essential workers should get vaccinated ahead of the elderly, even though they’d been told this would mean up to 6 percent more deaths. This decision was supported in part by noting that America’s essential workers are more racially diverse than its senior citizens.

    On Dec. 20, after the public belatedly noticed this attempted geronticide, the advisory panel walked it back, so I need not point out the many flaws of this reasoning. Instead, let’s dwell on the equally flawed process by which the committee reached its decision, because that itself is a symptom of much deeper problems that have plagued us since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Megan is charitable about the groupthink, but it's probably already done its part to kill a bunch of people.

  • Hey, I haven't linked to Breitbart for a long time, but when they're right, they're right: New York Times' Reporting Blackout on Swalwell-Spy Ties Continues.

    The New York Times has continued its reporting blackout on ties between Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and suspected Chinese Communist regime spy Christine Fang — not reporting on those ties for more than two weeks after they came to light.

    A Google News search doesn't disconfirm this. Even the WaPo has mentioned it. Even Commie Radio has mentioned it.

    Of course, the WaPo story put on the "Republicans Pounce" template: "Republicans are trying to make it" a "political issue." I'm pretty sure they avoided pointing out Democrats trying to make Russiagate a political issue.

Last Modified 2024-02-02 4:50 AM EDT

Cynical Theories

How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity and Why This Harms Everybody

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Good deal: I got the Kindle version for $8.53. It's slightly more as I type.

The book is a critical examination of how postmodern epistemology mutated into today's—let's just be honest—raging dumpster fire of "wokeness", "identity politics", "anti-racism", and associated ideologies. But if you're expecting a polemic, you might be disappointed.

The authors, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, do a scholarly job on examining the roots, the so-called postmodernism from the 1960s and 1970s. Postmodernism was (at least) fun, full of irony and playfulness. But its main goal was in challenging modernity, including the liberal consensus on individualism, rationality, empiricism. It contains musings (some, the authors grant, insightful) about the nature of language, power, and knowledge.

Postmodernism murmured in your ear: Oppression and colonialism were built into your freshman calculus course. This appealed to folks who were bad at math, but nevertheless wanted the cushy jobs in academia.

But the (as near as I can tell, unanswered) objection to all this: how well can you construct an argument for your views when you've spent your heavy artillery on the pillars of rationality and language?

I suspect Lindsay and Pluckrose agree, but they press on nevertheless, showing how the various forms of activist scholarship grew from the roots of postmodernism, branching into theories: "postcolonial" theory, "queer" theory, "critical race" theory, "intersectionality", gender/disability/fat/etc. "studies". These all share the theme of anti-liberal individualism: your individual identity isn't particularly important, your membership in the relevant pigeonholed groups is what matters, and classifies you as either an oppressor or oppressed victim. (One quoted theorist distinguishes between someone who thinks of himself as a "black person" and someone who self-images as a "person who happens to be black"; the former being the acceptable way to think. Stay in your pigeonhole, fella.)

Lots of quotes of the resulting academic gobbledygook. But eventually we get to the present day, where the relevant fields of higher education have been successfully taken over by the activists, and the only remaining bones of contention is what to do about those obstreperous kids in your class who "derail" your indoctrination sessions by denying their implicit privelege, asking for evidence, propping up an unwoke narrative.

One thing the critical race theorists can't stand: criticism.

Pluckrose and Lindsay do bend over backwards to present opposing views fairly, which requires the reader's patience. They wind up the book with possible approaches to counter pernicious creeds. They explicitly reject illiberal measures to silence their opponents, instead advocating those good old tools of rational argument. (Liberalism can abide a certain amount of illiberalism, where the opposite isn't true: illiberalism sees liberalism as something that must be stamped out.)

It would be one thing if postmodern lunacy were restricted to academia. Bad enough. But its effects keep creeping into fields where it matters. Latest example, as described by Ben Shapiro

Now we learn that public health officials pushed for vaccine distribution not based on health risk but on racial factors. As the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported this week: “Every U.S. state has been advised to consider ethnic minorities as a critical and vulnerable group in their vaccine distribution plans, according to Centers for Disease Control guidance. As a result, half of the nation’s states have outlined plans that now prioritize black, Hispanic and indigenous residents over white people in some way.”

This insanity is rooted in eugenic concerns. “Older populations are whiter,” public health “expert” Dr. Harald Schmidt of the University of Pennsylvania told The New York Times in early December. “Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.” In other words, a disproportionate number of white people survive to old age; we should, therefore, give vaccines to younger, less vulnerable nonwhite citizens in “essential industries” and let Grandma die.

It's all academic fun and games until Grandma dies.

Last Modified 2024-01-23 2:06 PM EDT