URLs du Jour

2021-05-05

  • Mr. Ramirez is not a fan of the GOP's Death Wish.

    [How Dinosaurs Became Extinct]

    Wikipedia tells me that the (non-avian) dinosaurs lasted about 130 million years; the GOP will be lucky to last until 2030.


  • What Leaps To Mind: A Boot To The Head. Kevin D. Williamson devotes his weekly column to What the Republican Party Needs vs. What It Wants.

    Mike Wood has done harder things than running for the House of Representatives, and some of those hard things he did in Afghanistan, where he won two Purple Hearts and a Navy Commendation Medal — which made it especially irritating for him to listen to fellow Republicans describe him as a “traitor” during his recent campaign in Texas’s 6th District. Wood has a direct, unadorned way of communicating (one section of his campaign bio begins, “After getting shot . . .”), a refreshingly stoic style in our age of hysterical politics. Emotionally incontinent displays are not his thing, but there is some tension in his voice when he sets that scene.

    “Not a whole lot gets to me, but when some of these nut-jobs called me a ‘traitor,’ it got to me more than it should. I have scars on all four limbs from fighting for this country, but — because I refused to bend the knee to Donald Trump — I’m some sort of Benedict Arnold character. But that’s where our politics are right now.” Hearing about the Utah GOP’s treatment of Mitt Romney — the senator was denounced as a “traitor” and, of all things, a “communist” — Wood saw it as more of the same: “Disgusting.”

    Wood, whom I first met when he was a National Review Institute Regional Fellow in Dallas, is the sort of candidate conservatives used to dream about: under 40, a decorated veteran, articulate, educated (bachelor’s from NYU and an MBA from SMU), a business owner with a big, photogenic family, he had everything going for him with the exception of one thing: apostasy.

    Wood is one of a surprisingly large number of conservatives who opposed Trump in 2016 but supported him — voted for him, anyway, with whatever other qualifications or hesitation — in 2020. But he also has been plainspoken about the Trump movement, which he accurately describes as a “cult of personality” in thrall to loopy conspiracy theories. It was Trump’s post-election performance leading up to the events of January 6 that most troubles Wood, who calls Trump’s conduct “disqualifying.”

    Mike Wood came in ninth in the May 1 special election. The winner was Susan Wright, KDW-described as a "Trump-endorsed member of the State Republican Executive Committee (Drain that swamp!) whose main claim to the seat is that she is the widow of the man who most recently held it."


  • It's the sixtieth anniversary of (New Hampshire boy) Alan Shepard's sub-orbital Mercury flight, making him the first American in space. The Only in Your State site claims You Can Visit Alan Shepard's Grave in his birthplace of Derry. But the fine print says it's just a memorial; his ashes were scattered offshore from his home in Pebble Beach.

    But if you're in the area, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord is a pretty decent attraction, including a life-size replica of the Redstone rocket that launched Smilin' Al into suborbit. It's surprisingly tiny, a tad over 83 feet from the bottom to the tippy-top of the escape tower.

    Here endeth my tourist boosterism for the day.


  • From Our "Probably Not Meant To Be Funny" Department, Emma Green writes in the Atlantic on The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown. Sample:

    Even as the very effective COVID-19 vaccines have become widely accessible, many progressives continue to listen to voices preaching caution over relaxation. Anthony Fauci recently said he wouldn’t travel or eat at restaurants even though he’s fully vaccinated, despite CDC guidance that these activities can be safe for vaccinated people who take precautions. California Governor Gavin Newsom refused in April to guarantee that the state’s schools would fully reopen in the fall, even though studies have demonstrated for months that modified in-person instruction is safe. Leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, decided this week to keep a local outdoor mask mandate in place, even though the CDC recently relaxed its guidance for outdoor mask use. And scolding is still a popular pastime. “At least in San Francisco, a lot of people are glaring at each other if they don’t wear masks outside,” [Professor of medicine at UC San Francisco Monica] Gandhi said, even though the risk of outdoor transmission is very low.

    Science is real, except when we're scared.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Continuing Our Exploration Of Modern American Progressivism… WIRED's Gilad Edelman reviews a new book, and he's not a fan, the (HTML) title is "Josh Hawley’s ‘Big Tech’ Book Overthrows the Tyranny of Reality".

    The displayed headline is milder: "Josh Hawley’s Virtual Reality".

    Anyway, Amazon link on your right. But about Hawley's history:

    Where Hawley’s book departs from the standard anti-tech treatise is in his attempt to tie the current moment into a grand theory of American political history. In Hawley’s telling, people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are the direct ideological descendants of the original Gilded Age robber barons. Their dominance is the culmination of what he calls “corporate liberalism,” a philosophy in which, he writes, the state and big business conspire to deny the common man his independence and self-government. According to Hawley, corporate liberalism became entrenched a century ago in both major political parties, and today, “Big Tech and Big Government seek to extend their influence over every area of American life.”

    And so Hawley spends a large portion of the book recounting these historical roots. The hero of his narrative is Theodore Roosevelt, whom Hawley views as the champion of a small-r republican tradition dating back to the nation’s founding. “He believed that liberty depended on the independence of the common man and on his capacity to share in self-government,” Hawley writes. “He believed concentrations of wealth and power threatened the people’s control and thus their freedom.” Roosevelt established those bona fides by bringing a successful antitrust case against financier J. P. Morgan in 1904. But his republican vision met its tragic demise in the election of 1912, when Roosevelt lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson, whom Hawley calls “the nation’s first prominent corporate liberal.” Where Roosevelt championed the common man, Wilson favored government by corporate aristocratic elites. Once in office, he put an end to the anti-monopoly movement, settling instead for friendly cooperation with big business. “This was the Wilsonian settlement, the triumph of corporate liberalism that would dominate America’s politics and political economy for a century and reach its apotheosis with Big Tech,” Hawley writes.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Hawley cherry-picks his antitrust history. But I suspect Edelman's analysis more. (Essentially: "everything was cool with antitrust policy until Robert Bork cast his evil mind rays on the topic.")


  • To A First Approximation, Everything. Gus Hurwitz writes at NH Journal/Inside Sources: J&J ‘Pause’ Underscores What Government Gets Wrong About Risk.

    Just 10 days after issuing it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted their “pause” on the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Initially sparked by six reported cases of a rare blood clot, out of more than 6.8 million doses administered, the decision also came amid a pandemic that continues to infect 50,000 more Americans every day.

    Taken together, these facts highlight that the federal government lacks a coherent or consistent approach to risk. As we continue toward a new normal after the pandemic, we must take stock of what we have learned and update our assumptions about how the government approaches risk.

    One question about the CDC and FDA’s decision was whether the agencies overreacted to a minuscule risk easily outweighed by the benefits of vaccination. Another was that pausing the vaccine would make more people hesitant to get vaccinated. Indeed, the early evidence suggests it has. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that just 22 percent of unvaccinated Americans said they would consider getting the J&J vaccine were it to be put back in use. For their part, the CDC and FDA respond that their oversight promotes trust in vaccines.

    It seems obvious that (once again) the FDA and CDC managed to kill more than a few extra Americans at the margin. By "doing something". By "taking action".


Last Modified 2021-06-03 9:17 AM EDT