URLs du Jour

2021-12-06

  • George F. Will remembers… The goodness of Bob Dole.

    If he had won the Republicans’ 1988 nomination, he almost certainly would have won the White House because Americans then wanted something more like a third Ronald Reagan term than a first Michael Dukakis term. Dole probably would have won that nomination if he had won New Hampshire’s primary. And he could have, if he had campaigned as what he really wasn’t — a fervent conservative. He might have won anti-tax New Hampshire if he had made a “no new taxes” pledge, the making of which later helped his opponent, George H.W. Bush, win the presidency, and the breaking of which helped Bush lose it.

    I'm pretty sure I voted for Jack Kemp in the 1988 primary. Another fond memory:

    In one of his three campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, an earnest grade school pupil asked him a question about acid rain. Dole’s full answer was: “That bill’s in markup.”

    Also for your edification: Bob Dole Enjoyed Norm Macdonald’s Saturday Night Live Impression. (Obligitory: "Back when SNL was funny.")


  • Also kill the FCC, the FDA, the FCC, … Basically, any agency with a three-letter acronym that starts with "F". Bryan Caplan proposes, immodestly, A Package of Populist Deregulation. There are an even dozen, and here are the first three:

    1. An immediate end to all Covid rules.  No more mask mandates – not in schools, not in airports, not on planes.  No more distancing.  No more Covid tests.  No more travel restrictions on anyone.  (The “anyone” phrasing is how you free foreigners, as well as natives, without calling attention to the fact).
    2. An immediate end to all government Covid propaganda.  No more looping audio warnings at airports.   No more signs or stickers.  Indeed, a national campaign to tear down all the propaganda that’s been uglifying the country for almost two years.
    3. A radical and immediate reduction in airport security theater.   End the rules that require the removal of shoes, jackets, and belts.  End the rules that require you to remove electronic devices from your bags for extra screening.  End the rules against travelling with liquids.  Switch back to old-fashioned metal detectors instead of body scanners.

    They're all good.


  • However, the "China is Asshole" theory remains undenied. Glenn Greenwald notes something that it's very important for some people to do. To Deny the "Lab Leak" COVID Theory, the NYT and WPost Use Dubious and Conflicted Sources.

    That COVID-19 infected humanity due to a zoonotic leap from a "wet market” in Wuhan — rather than a leak from a lab in the same Chinese city — was declared unquestionable truth at the start of the pandemic. For a full year, anyone dissenting from this narrative was deemed so irresponsible that they were banned from large social media platforms, accused of spreading "disinformation.” No debate about COVID's origins was permitted. It had been settled by The Science™. Every rational person who believed in science, by definition, immediately accepted at the start of the pandemic that COVID made a natural leap from bats or pangolins; that it may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan which just so happens to gather, study and manipulate novel coronaviruses in bats was officially declared a deranged conspiracy theory.

    The reason this consensus was so quickly consecrated was that a group of more than two dozen scientists published a letter in the prestigious science journal Lancet in February, 2020 — while very little was known about SARS-CoV-2 — didactically declaring “that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.” The possibility that COVID leaked from the Wuhan lab was dismissed as a "conspiracy theory,” the by-product of “rumours and misinformation” which, they strongly implied, was an unfair and possibly racist attack on “the science and health professionals of China.”

    Some of the Greenwald post is subscriber-only, but enough was available to this freeloader to nudge the lab-leak theory up a few notches in credibility.


  • My new novel will be titled A Confederacy of Doddering Old Fools. Matt Taibbi rebuts a yarn that some influencers are trying to promote into Convential Wisdom: Biden's Troubles Aren't Bernie's Fault, or a Media Mirage. He examines a recent Dana Milbank column in the WaPo

    […] apparently not intended as satire, entitled, “The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.” After listing headlines like “Does the WH owe Larry Summers an apology?” and “No BIF bump for Biden” as anecdotal evidence of this savagery, Milbank turned to the hard “proof”: data from a company called “FiscalNote.” The firm did a “sentiment analysis” of 200,000 articles and apparently found that “Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.”

    I struggle to conceive of the brain that would believe such a thing to be true, but that’s a separate matter. Milbank believed it, and concluded, “My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.”

    Pretty soon, the WaPo will need to take down it's "Democracy dies in darkness" motto, and replace it with "Democracy dies when media reports on stuff like the Afghanistan debacle, inflation, COVID bumbling,…"


  • That's something I ask Alexa every day. Daniel Drezner asks the pungent query at Reason: Where’s My Stuff? It's a good overview of "supply chain" woes, and looks at a number of fallacious proposed "solutions".

    Journalists aren't the only folks freaking out. Less than six weeks into his term, President Joe Biden issued an executive order mandating that eight cabinet departments examine the resilience of U.S. supply chains, warning that "pandemics and other biological threats, cyber-attacks, climate shocks and extreme weather events, terrorist attacks, geopolitical and economic competition, and other conditions can reduce critical manufacturing capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products, and services." More recently, Biden has floated multiple policy responses, including using the National Guard to untangle snarled supply chains.

    The administration's concern about global supply chains fits in with the political elite's larger ideological pivot away from trade liberalization and toward a more mercantilist posture. Indeed, this is the area where the Biden and Trump administrations sound the most similar. Biden's U.S. trade representative, Katherine Tai, stated in a congressional hearing that trade liberalization and tariff reductions were no longer her office's principal goals. In June, Biden's National Economic Council director, Brian Deese, declared that "resilient supply chains must be at the center of a 21st century industrial strategy." One of Biden's senior directors at the National Security Council has told me that "the U.S. is not a trade-dependent nation." Another administration official questioned to me whether the notion of comparative advantage in trade still exists. Never one to be outdone in policy freakouts, Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) has introduced a bill requiring more than half the value-added of any critical good to be domestically sourced.

    Protectionist policies are a major part of the problem. So the statist strategy is the usual: more protectionism!


  • Well, maybe not ever. The future is unknown. Nevertheless, Steven Hayward has a proposal for the Stupidest Climate Change Headline Ever. And that BBC headline is:

    What would we do without studies? Or the BBC to point them out?

    Think about the poor albatross chicks, victims of broken homes!

    Also, apparently, victims of their single moms feeding them plastic.


Last Modified 2021-12-06 9:17 AM EDT