URLs du Jour

2021-04-17

[Amazon Link]

  • My Remote Needs a 'Skip Over Fake News' Button. David Harsanyi's (NRPLUS) article says Fake News Is Real.

    Both Dan McLaughlin and Michael Brendan Dougherty have already weighed in on the media’s embarrassing “Russian bounties” story. In June, the New York Times reported that United States intelligence officials “have concluded that a Russian military-intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan.” No doubt you remember the hysteria.

    Now that Donald Trump is gone, and new president Joe Biden needs to garner public support for his Afghanistan withdrawal, NBC News informs us: “Remember those Russian bounties for dead U.S. troops? Biden admin says the CIA intel is not conclusive.” You know, in the old days — like, maybe six years ago — reporters would generally hold off publishing stories that accused the sitting president of engaging in seditious behavior or a dangerous nuclear adversary of targeting American soldiers until after officials had investigated those claims. Modern journalism is a bit different.

    Thomas Joscelyn has more on the story, which he deems "murky". But the point is that the media don't hype every "murky" story in which "intelligence officials" have "low to moderate confidence". That hype is selectively deployed against Orange Man and his friends.


  • Republicans Pounce, While Conservatives Embrace. Steven Greenhut remembers the good old days when conservatives defended free speech. Some have discovered the joys of cancel culture: Conservatives Embrace Their Own ‘Wokeness’ With Attacks on Private Businesses.

    Last week's political news centered on Georgia, where the GOP governor signed a package of election "reforms" that some mainstream media outlets depict as "Jim Crow 2.0". Those narratives do a disservice to the African Americans that Jim Crow laws actually victimized, but the legislation—a mix of good, bad, and awful—emanates from Donald Trump's baseless allegations that election fraud robbed him of a second term.

    A number of private executives, in the tech sector and old-line industries, criticized the new law. For instance, Major League Baseball responded by moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Atlanta-based Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola criticized the legislation. Coke's CEO, for instance, told CNBC that the law "does not promote principles we have stood for in Georgia around broad access to voting, around voter convenience, about ensuring election integrity."

    Republican officials, who have created a cottage industry out of blasting progressives for their cancel-culture habit of boycotting and shaming people who say and do things they don't like, went into full cancel-culture mode and railed against corporations. The former president championed a boycott of Coca-Cola in zany press releases. One GOP lawmaker introduced a bill to strip Major League Baseball of its antitrust exemption, which is the type of thing one would expect from Warren.

    Nevertheless, they persisted.


  • A Modest Proposal … from P. J. O'Rourke: We Need More Cancel Culture.

    Cancel culture needs to go beyond words. Words are simply one way to express ideas, but other modes of expression exist. Ideas can be expressed with mathematics. Cancel culture needs to start canceling numbers.

    I suggest beginning with the number 9.

    Personally, it’s the number that I dislike the most. This is because, in 4th grade, it was the “9-times” part of the multiplication table that tripped me up. I was fine all the way through 8 X 10 = 80. But when I got to the 9s I fell apart. To this day when I see 9 X 9 I want the result to be 99, and I suffer a feeling of exclusion and powerlessness and a need to go to a safe place when I’m told by the people who hold power in our society that the answer is otherwise.

    Nine-times was easy for me when I realized that the digits in the result had to add up to nine.

    My big stumbling blocks were (honest, I still remember) 6×7, 6×8, and 7×8. I'm OK with them now, though.


  • I Don't Want To Belong To Any Tribe That Would Accept Me As A Member. Arnold Kling has a Substack! And he kicks things off with a query: Who is in my tribe?.

    I am alarmed by the political tribalism that we see in the United States today. So “my tribe” consists of people who share that concern—folks like Jonathan Haidt, Andrew Sullivan, and Bari Weiss.

    I want to encourage a non-tribal intellectual style. I am eager to read Julia Galef’s The Scout Mindset. Based on the reviews, I would agree with her praise for what she calls the scout mindset and also with her disparagement of what she calls the soldier mindset.

    I have gone so far as to devise a scoring system for op-ed pieces, podcasts, long blog posts and essays written by public intellectuals. This system awards points for:

    … and what follows are various aspects of intellectual honesty, open-mindness, curiosity, and the like. Arnold recommends some folks he admires.

    But Andrew Sullivan? Eh, not for me, not since he got all obsessed with Sarah Palin's uterus.


  • If I Were Picking an Intellectual Baseball Team, However, I'd Want George Will as Catcher. In his Friday WaPo column (clear their cookies first) he observes Our notions of patriotism are mistaken.

    The philosopher’s task is to facilitate clear thinking by making clarifying distinctions. People are not always grateful for this service, as Socrates discovered. The political philosopher’s task is to clarify contested concepts, such as patriotism. Regarding this, Steven B. Smith has drawn intelligent distinctions that might have some on the right and left competing for the pleasure of serving him a cup of hemlock.

    Patriotism is a species of loyalty and a form of love. In “Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes,” Smith, a Yale philosopher, argues that many on the right profess to love the United States but misunderstand — or, worse, reject — the essence of what makes this creedal nation distinctive. And, Smith says, the patriotism that many on the left profess — on those occasions when they warily, gingerly embrace the idea — is a cold, watery affection for an abstraction. It is loyalty to a hypothetical United States that might be worthy of their love-as-loyalty.

    Sigh. Smith's book isn't at Portsmouth Public Library (they've probably blown their budget on woke titles); I've queued it up for whenever the University Near Here decides to let vaccinated ex-staff with borrowing privs back into Dimond Library.

    Until then, I have Mr. Will's summary.