URLs du Jour

2021-05-15

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  • Never Again. Brendan O'Neill asks: Why won’t Israelis let themselves be killed?.Don't worry, he's not advocating that. In fact:

    Two weeks ago Turkish forces launched a military assault in the Duhok region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Villagers were forced to ‘flee in terror’ from raining bombs. It was only the latest bombardment of the beleaguered Kurds by Turkey, NATO member and Western ally. It did not trend online. There were no noisy protests in London or New York. The Turks weren’t talked about in woke circles as crazed, bloodthirsty killers. Tweeters didn’t dream out loud about Turks burning in hell. The Onion didn’t do any close-to-the-bone satire about how Turkish soldiers just love killing children. No, the Duhok attack passed pretty much without comment.

    But when Israel engages in military action, that’s a different story. Always. Every time. Anti-Israel fury in the West has intensified to an extraordinary degree following an escalation of violence in the Middle East in recent days. Protests were instant and inflammatory. Israeli flags were burned on the streets of London. Social media was awash with condemnation. ‘IDF Soldier Recounts Harrowing, Heroic War Story Of Killing 8-Month-Old Child’, tweeted The Onion, to tens of thousands of likes. Israel must be boycotted, isolated, cast out of the international community, leftists cried. Western politicians, including Keir Starmer, rushed to pass judgement. ‘What’s the difference?’, said a placard at a march in Washington, DC showing the Israeli flag next to the Nazi flag. The Jews are the Nazis now, you see. Ironic, isn’t it?

    In other news: US Sending New Aid to Palestinians as Conflict Intensifies. Because they deserve to be rewarded for their behavior? Come on, man!


  • You Don't Have To Look Very Hard For Double Standards. Kevin D Williamson provides us with One Way of Thinking about Israel.

    Texas, where I live, once was part of Mexico. Many in Mexico (and elsewhere) believe Texas was stolen, that it is unjustly occupied territory. Some even dream of taking it back for Mexico. As a matter of historical fact, those claims have some merit. Mexico was greatly reduced by the self-aggrandizing ambitions of a superior power, and it is possible to sympathize with that.

    But if rockets were raining down on Brownsville from Matamoros, the United States would respond in a way that would make recent Israeli-Palestinian skirmishes look like a halfhearted game of duck-duck-goose. As, indeed, would any sensible country. This is, in most cases, understood. If the British started firing rockets into France, no one would say, “Well, what about the Pale of Calais?”

    It is only the Jewish state whose right of self-defense is denied.

    Bonus Ludwig von Mises quote at the link.


  • Hm. But What If There Were? Charles C. W. Cooke regrets to say There's No Vaccine Against the Irrational Fear of Monsters.

    Yesterday afternoon, the CDC saw fit to announce formally what people of sound mind have known for months: that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not gain anything by slinging pieces of dirty cloth across their faces. The timing of the declaration — which was coupled with the news that the American Federation of Teachers was softening its ongoing ransom demand — suggests that The Science might be more susceptible to the influence of opinion polling than we have been led to believe.

    The CDC’s affirmation was met with celebrations from the journalistic class and the White House, and with laughter from everyone else. In New York City and Washington D.C., the news may well have felt like a liberation. In the places where the CDC has long lost its influence – namely, most of the United States of America — it felt like a bad joke. After months of incoherence, the federal government had finally arrived at where Florida, Texas, and others had been by March.

    I note that Walmart is abandoning its mask-mandate policy on Tuesday. I'll be there with an unobstructed grin on my face.


  • But Returning To A Perennial Theme… Jacob Sullum notes: The CDC’s Ever-Shifting COVID-19 Advice Shows the Agency Is Ill-Suited To Decide Which Risks Are Acceptable.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which initially said there was no need for most Americans to wear face masks as a safeguard against COVID-19, reversed that position a little more than a year ago. Beginning in April 2020, the CDC said face masks were an essential disease control tool, even for people who have been vaccinated. Yesterday the CDC modified its advice again, saying fully vaccinated Americans generally do not need to wear masks outdoors or indoors, except when required to do so by businesses or the government.

    At each turn, the CDC has said its recommendations were informed by the latest scientific evidence. While there is some truth to that claim, it is clear that other, nonscientific factors have played a role in the CDC's shifting attitude toward face coverings as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The history of that evolution provides ample reason to be skeptical of both the CDC's specific recommendations and the expectation that all Americans should conform to its notion of safety.

    Jacob hints at something I've been hammering on for a few years: People have wildly divergent notions of acceptable risk. When the government weighs in coercively with one-size-fits-all risk regulation, it's a recipe for social strife.

    As we've seen.


  • Arrr, Matey! Jonah Goldberg makes his modest proposal: The Case for Treating Hackers Like Pirates.

    Of course, pirates were also criminals, often vicious ones. But even their reputation for cruelty had a purpose. The Jolly Roger—that skull-and-crossbones flag—was a brilliant bit of marketing, according to Leeson, because it telegraphed to victims that they should surrender without a fight or face horrifying consequences. As the Dread Pirate Roberts says in The Princess Bride, “Once word leaks out that a pirate has gone soft, people begin to disobey you, and then it’s nothing but work, work, work all the time.”

    That’s the business many of these hackers are in. Pay up quickly or meet a horrible fate, in the form of economic calamity or leaked personal information.

    In the golden age of piracy, governments responded to the pirate threat in all sorts of clever ways. One response was the issuance of “letters of marque and reprisal”—mentioned in the U.S. Constitution—which granted private captains the authority to wage war on our enemies. Our 21st century enemies are doing that already. Perhaps as a great cyberfaring nation, it’s time we do likewise.

    Just as a small caveat: the relevant Wikipedia page notes that the "1856 Paris Declaration" forbade letters of marque and reprisal, and it's been American policy for the past 150 years to go along with that. But (as near as I can tell) the US didn't sign the 1856 Paris Declaration. So…


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