URLs du Jour

2021-03-08

[Amazon Link]

  • Ethan Yang asks an important and troubling question: Do We Still Have the Will To Continue as a Free Society?.

    Today, America and Europe find themselves under brutal lockdown measures that, in addition to not actually stopping the virus, have completely subdued our societies economically, socially, culturally, and spiritually. Although many people support lockdowns because they believe they will help control the virus, others genuinely see them as a means to fundamentally change American society out of spite for our individualistic values. Look no further than the common narrative that selfish Americans won’t wear their masks and that’s why the virus is spreading. Not only are masks ineffective at stopping Covid-19 in the way they are advertised, but the United States actually has some of the highest reported mask wearing rates in North America and Europe. An article published by Forbes warned against “doing your own research” when it comes to Covid-19 and parroted the tired “listen to the experts line.” Not only is this an attack on the very notion of the scientific method as well as an informed citizenry, but such a strategy would have clearly led us down the road to technocracy, and a misinformed one at that.

    I've mentioned that I have a Google News Alert set for "Live Free or Die". One of the sadder things it has turned up over the last year were the people using it scornfully, referring to the people chafing under mandates to "those live-free-or-die types".

    A lot of people don't want liberty. They want mandates, regulations, handouts, and (above all) increased dependence on government.


  • G. Patrick Lynch looks at the broader lessons we can learn from Colin Kaepernick: Sundae Justice Warrior. Specifically, Kaepernick's lucrative deal with Ben&Jerry's to produce a non-dairy flavor. Lynch draws contrasting lessons from Milton Friedman's 1970 essay "The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits".

    Which takes us back to Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream that charges consumers a gigantic premium over regular ice cream for a higher quality product that is aligned with various causes of the left, including opposing jet travel for carbon emissions, supporting Occupy Wall Street, opposing drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and a new podcast discussing the history of racism. Kaepernick, the personification of the Black Lives Matter protest movement, would seem to be a perfect fit for the little hippie ice cream company from liberal Vermont.

    And yet pull back the curtain and the Wizard of Social Justice and Responsibility, Ben and Jerry’s, is actually part of the British multinational food company Unilever. Yes, Ben and Jerry’s founders who support Bernie Sanders and oppose gross forms of capitalism cashed out a number of years ago. And Unilever has its own lengthy list of causes it supports including sustainability, empowerment, health and nutrition, and various other high-minded vaguely titled initiatives it fosters in various countries throughout the world.

    About the only Unilever brand I buy is Suave (body wash and shampoo). Because it's cheap and functional. But if they start marketing Kaepernick-brand body wash, I'm outta there.


  • David Harsanyi contributes to our "Of Course It Is" Department with: Pelosi’s H.R. 1 Is an Authoritarian Outrage.

    Democrats like to accuse anyone who doesn’t embrace every one of their brand-new, rapidly evolving, Constitution-corroding positions of being “authoritarians.” It’s often an impressive feat of projection. For a pristine example of the genre, take Jonathan Chait’s recent New York magazine piece alleging that former vice president Mike Pence is laying the “blueprint” for a fascistic GOP state in his new Heritage Foundation op-ed.

    What “authoritarian” diktats does Herr Pence have in store for our fragile American democracy? For starters, the former vice president argues that states, as they always have, should conduct their own elections rather than permit a narrow partisan majority led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to unilaterally nationalize and dictate the rules for every locality in perpetuity — as they did with a House vote on a sweeping measure known as H.R. 1.

    To be more precise, Pence writes that he opposes empowering the federal government to:

    • compel states to count mail-in votes that arrive up to ten days after Election Day.
    • compel states to allow ballot harvesting.
    • compel states to ban voter ID laws.
    • compel states to allow bureaucrats to redraw congressional districts.
    • compel states to allow felons to vote.
    • compel states to undermine free-speech rights by imposing “onerous legal and administrative burdens on candidates, civic groups, unions, nonprofit organizations.”

    Somedays I swear I'm glad to be old so I won't have to witness what's coming down the road.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Abigail Shrier has a Substack site, and here's her latest, about Book Banning in an Age of Amazon.

    If you wanted to eliminate disfavored ideas from a society, you’d begin by aggregating most of the world’s books onto a single platform. You’d hope to create a global network of gargantuan warehouses, automated to allow next-day fulfillment of customer desires. If you were wildly successful, your company might one day control five sixths of U.S. book sales and generate a market capitalization that rivals the GDP of Canada.

    If you also delivered groceries, clothing, and hardware during a pandemic, and hosted businesses’ websites, too—you might become so integral to people’s lives, they would be hard-pressed to quit you. Customers spoiled by the miracle of having milk and toilet paper delivered same-day to their door would be disinclined to protest as you began eliminating books, especially if it was just a few at a time. You’d have become the hand that feeds them; they’d be smart enough not to bite.

    Writers themselves might object. But their agents would fall silent; they’d have other clients to think of. Publishers—whose continued viability depends on this central pipeline—would be loath to offer more than token resistance. A momentary stifling of conscience would seem small sacrifice to ensure their other books were spared. Forget the “firemen” from Fahrenheit 451: You needn’t burn forbidden books if people can’t buy them in the first place.

    We know about When Harry Became Sally, but folks have noticed that the Kindle version of Thomas Sowell's 2008 book The Vision of the Anointed (link on the right above) is unavailable and "under review".

    I can't think of a more apt title for our time.


  • I never was a Josh Hawley fan, and Peter Suderman made me even more certain about that. Because of Josh Hawley’s Toxic Populism.

    Not only toxic, but also phony:

    If there's one thing to know about Hawley's politics, it's that they're rooted in opposition to contemporary elites. In speech after speech, Hawley has decried the progressive overlords who hold the commanding heights of American politics, tech, academia, and culture, who he says have joined together to rule over a vast Middle American public that does not share their values.

    "Elites distrust patriotism," he said in a 2019 speech at a conference on conservative nationalism, "and dislike the common culture left to us by our forbearers." They "look down on the common affections that once bound this nation together: things like place and national feeling and religious faith."

    America's Founders "built a new republic governed not by a select elite, as in the days of old, but by the common man and woman, grounded on the premise that it is the common man and woman who are the noblest of citizens," Hawley explained. But today, America is ruled by a "cosmopolitan consensus" that prioritizes "social change over tradition, career over community, and achievement and merit and progress" and global integration over family and national loyalties. The looming threat, he warned in a separate speech that year, is "government by unelected elites who are confident they know better than the American people, that they know better than the Constitution, that they should be in control."

    Hawley takes this outlook personally. "I'm not happy that people in Washington, D.C.—and, let's be honest, New York, on Wall Street, in Hollywood—look down on the kind of upbringing I had," he told The New York Times in 2018.

    That's more than a little bit ironic, given that Hawley is, by almost any definition, an elite himself. A graduate of both Stanford University and Yale Law School, he went on to be a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts before his 30th birthday. From there, he worked as a lawyer in private practice, a teacher at the prestigious St. Paul's School in London, and an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. Along the way, he wrote articles for the conservative policy journal National Affairs and a scholarly book, based on his graduate thesis, on the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, published by Yale University Press.

    I know that some conservatives think Hawley's an heir to Trumpism. Which would be bad enough, but he's really just a weathervane, positioning himself for whatever political benefit he can derive.


  • And really, I just want to mention Ann Althouse's headline: The NYT had multiple reporters doing minute-by-minute commentary on Oprah's 2-hour interview with Meghan and Harry..

    Really? Gee, I hope they didn't have to pull anyone off the woke-cop beat. There are still people out there with careers that need to be destroyed!