URLs du Jour

2021-04-26

[Amazon Link]

  • We's Good People. Better'n You, Anyways. Jerry Coyne encounters one of Those Signs, like our Amazon Product du Jour. And wonders: What is this sign really saying?

    As I’ve said, I’m trying to be charitable towards those who don’t agree with me (but this person is also clearly a liberal), but I’m also peevish today. And I’m trying to figure out why someone put this sign in front of their house.  There are several possible reasons:

    1. To warn those coming into the house about the ideology of the inhabitants.
    2. To protect the house from being damaged during possible demonstrations (this would hold only for the “Black Lives Matter” slogan).
    3. To change people’s minds by broadcasting your political views to the public.
    4. To show everyone that you’re a good, right-thinking human being
    5. A combination of the above.

    You can probably guess my answer.

    Consumer note: Jerry's sign is from MoveOn.org (apparently still moving on). It has an extra seventh slogan, "Water is Life". That may offend Jerry, since he's a biologist, and knows perfectly well that water is not life.


  • There is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. T. S. Eliot said that.

    Unfortunately, there's a direct corollary: bad ideas never die. Elizabeth Nolan Brown espies an example in Reason's May issue: ‘See Something, Say Something’ Returns.

    The popular post-9/11 slogan "See Something, Say Something" is getting a digital makeover in Congress. A bill introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D–W. Va.) and John Cornyn (R–Texas) would repurpose the war on terror's pro-snitching mantra by requiring that tech companies monitor their customers more closely and share user data with the federal government. The bill, dubbed the See Something, Say Something Online Act, also would let people report "suspicious" social media posts and any other content they don't like directly to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

    A new DOJ office would handle these "suspicious transmission activity reports" (STARs). The tips would be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests, and tech companies would not be allowed to publicly acknowledge or discuss the information reported.

    ENB goes on to note (1) that this applies to all online entities, not just the despised "Big Tech"; (2) the bill is vague about what would need to be reported.


  • USPS Delenda Est. Yahoo News reports: The Postal Service is running a running a 'covert operations program' that monitors Americans' social media posts.

    The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.

    The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

    The article notes that iCOP's most recent effort was to warn of the massive riots on March 20… which didn't actually happen.

    Obvious: the USPS doesn't do its own job economically or effectively. Why would they think they'd be any good at ferreting out domestic terrorists? That seems as if it would be harder.


  • My Ancestors Used To Fight Your Ancestors. Kevin D. Williamson (NRPLUS) wonders Whither the WASP?

    So much for the abortive “America First Caucus” and the associated Republican rally for “unique Anglo-Saxon traditions.”

    I am almost sad to see the project go, because I am damned curious which “unique Anglo-Saxon traditions” Tweedledum and Tweedledeeffinstupid had in mind. Thatched roofs, maybe?

    The great traditions I can think of at the nexus of Anglo-Saxon people and the Republican Party mostly involve penny loafers and badminton rackets, martini shakers and quiet desperation. Granted, that all came rather late in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, around the time that great scholar of the American country-club set Digby Baltzell popularized the acronym WASP — “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” — as a shorthand for the ruling caste of his time.

    To explain my bold bit above: my ancestors are (I'm pretty sure) all from Norway, which makes 'em the guys who tried to take over Britain from the Anglo-Saxons. About 400 years after the Anglo-Saxons tried to take over from the original Britons.

    But let me trot out an old movie quote to answer KDW's headline question: "The only real answer to the question … is "hither". Some misguided people think that the answer is "thither", they're wrong, those theories are passé."


  • Envious Resentment Explains A Lot. Lawrence Lindsay explores the latest stupid idea (WSJ, probably paywalled): Biden Taxes for Punishment’s Sake.

    The Biden administration last week proposed to increase the capital-gains tax rate—currently 20% for most assets held for at least a year—to 39.6% for people making more than $1 million. Since capital gains are also subject to the 3.8% Medicare tax, the new capital-gains rate would be 43.4%.

    What makes this unusual is that 43.4% is well above the rate that would generate the most revenue for the government. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which does the official scoring and is no den of supply siders, puts the revenue-maximizing rate at 28%. My work several decades ago puts it about 10 points lower than that. That means President Biden is willing to accept lower revenue as the price of higher tax rates. The implications for his administration’s economic thinking are mind-boggling.

    And Lindsay notes that, even aside from revenue-maximization arguments, the capital gains tax punishes behavior that should be encouraged.

    What are these people thinking? Is it really just as simple as "We want to hurt these guys"?


  • Because Of Course They Did. It was a pretty simple issue, and my state's senators went along with the rest of the Democrats. Andrew Mahaleris: Hassan, Shaheen Vote Down Ban on Discrimination Against Asian Students.

    New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen voted down an amendment to the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that would have defunded colleges and universities that discriminate against Asian American applicants.

    The amendment, proposed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Kennedy (R-La.) was just one sentence long. It said no college “may receive any Federal funding if the institution has a policy in place or engages in a practice that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.”

    Both of New Hampshire’s Democrats voted no.

    “Despite their calls to end racism, it is clear Democrats are only paying lip service to fighting discrimination against Asian Americans and will allow targeted discrimination against them to continue at America’s universities and colleges,” Cruz and Kennedy said in a statement.

    I kind of wish the Cruz/Kennedy amendment was even shorter. Specifically, change

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no institution of higher education (as defined in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)) may receive any Federal funding if the institution has a policy in place or engages in a practice that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.

    to:

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no institution of higher education (as defined in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)) may receive any Federal funding.

    "There, I fixed it."