URLs du Jour

2021-06-06

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  • Recommended Reading. Well, pretty much everything I link to is recommended reading, unless otherwise indicated. But Elizabeth Nolan Brown's Reason article, The Bipartisan Antitrust Crusade Against Big Tech, is a real tour de force, and if you're interested in the topic at all, it is Pun Salad RTWT-Imperative.

    Is Facebook a monopoly? Should Amazon be forced to do business with the new social media platform Parler? Is Apple harming its customers—and maybe democracy—by installing the Safari web browser on iPhones? Did Google bully people into using its search engine?

    All of these questions have been raised in recent U.S. antitrust probes and lawsuits. The queries are unlikely to result in widespread improvements to the welfare of tech consumers—which, these days, includes just about everyone. Yet some of the country's top prosecutors, pundits, bureaucrats, and elected officials have made them a priority, often in open defiance of a longstanding principle that says ordinary customers should be at the center of conversations about antitrust.

    Under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, a bipartisan brigade of policy makers, attorneys general, and activist experts has become committed to excoriating America's most popular tech companies as evil monopolists, launching complicated claims against them in court, and working to change laws to make these endeavors go down more smoothly.

    As ENB points out, the movement doesn't have economics or consumer benefit on its side. It's about exerting red-meat political power. Meat that (for two examples) Senators Elizabeth Warren (D) and Josh Hawley (R) are salivating over.


  • RIP, NH HB544. Apparently the legislation is dead here in New Hampshire, but it's still an active national issue. Daniel Henninger weighs in on Banning Critical Race Theory.

    Parents of children at public and private schools across the country discovered that administrators, adopting the pre-Floyd arguments of the group Black Lives Matter, had changed the schools’ curricula to give priority to racial issues. What many parents thought had begun as a good-faith discussion about race suddenly appeared to be an ideological fait accompli. No debate, no discussion. It just showed up.

    Reactions erupted in, of all places, two liberal private schools in New York City—Dalton and Grace Church. An anonymous open letter from Dalton parents said, “Every class this year has had an obsessive focus on race and identity, ‘racist cop’ reenactments in science, ‘decentering whiteness’ in art class, learning about white supremacy and sexuality in health class.”

    Even at the most basic level of common sense (apologies again for the archaism), a parent might wonder: After the Covid pandemic’s lost year of basic education, this is what you spent the time doing?

    I'm open to the argument that HB544 was flawed, but its motivation was completely understandable.


  • Unfortunately, Spouting Shrill Nonsense Is Fun For Some. George F. Will wonders: When will all of the shrill nonsense stop? Perhaps when people are bored enough.

    Rutgers University’s chancellor and provost, who are weathervanes in human form, lack the courage of their convictions, which they also lack. First, on May 26, they announced themselves “saddened” and “greatly concerned” about recent anti-Semitic violence. Soon, however, they crouched into the academic bureaucrat’s gush-and-grovel mode because Rutgers’s Students for Justice in Palestine objected. The two officials promptly agreed that their first statement, by failing to “communicate support for our Palestinian community,” did not serve the university’s “beloved community” as “a place where all identities can feel validated.” Rutgers’s president then denied that their second statement was an apology. It was headlined “An Apology.”

    This episode, illustrating academia’s familiar compound of vanity, mendacity and cowardice, was not startling. It followed the University of California Press, which was displeased with Israel’s response to Hamas’s rockets, proclaiming “Solidarity and Support for Palestinians in their Fight for Liberation.” And a Brandeis University dean, who is White, notifying the world, which had not sought her opinion, that “all White people are racist.”

    I wish boredom would work. I have my doubts.


  • NARC. Really? Dominic Pino's headline implies a very long NR Corner post, but it's concise: The Problems with a New Proposal for High-Speed Rail in New England.

    Politico‘s Sam Mintz reports that “22 members of Congress from the Northeast are asking for federal funding for a new entity they’re calling the North Atlantic Rail Corporation (NARC) to build a $105 billion high-speed rail system connecting New York and New England.”

    Republicans should tell them, in no uncertain terms, “Absolutely not.”

    Pino demolishes the four arguments set forth on the NARC website. For example, as for their "National Competitiveness" section:

    If you only listened to rail advocates, you’d think Western Europe and Asia are the only places in the world with developed economies. Canada and Australia also have developed economies, and they don’t have high-speed rail. Their transportation systems are based on highways and airplanes. Sound familiar? The United States is geographically much more similar to Canada and Australia than it is to Western Europe or Asia. We have very low population density and a very large amount of land. Our situation, like Canada’s and Australia’s, is not well suited for passenger rail. That doesn’t make us, or them, less competitive economically.

    And of course New Hampshire CongressCritters Pappas and Kuster are two of the 22 signed on to the gimme-your-money letter sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Ladling Out The Pork Transportation and Infrastructure.

    The NARC proposal includes the "Granite State Express", which sets up "improved electrified commuter rail service from Concord, Manchester and Nashua, NH to Boston."

    And then, for something closer to (my) home: "Upgrades to the Downeaster from Boston to Brunswick, ME, including electrification, high level platforms, and hourly service".

    As always, the costs will be vastly underestimated, benefits vastly overestimated.


  • Aint Doin' No Kowtow, Nohow. Jonah Goldberg devotes his free G-File to A Slow Kowtow to China.

    One of the most remarkable—and remarkably corrupt—things about our culture is that it is intensely fashionable to disparage, condemn, or slander American government, American history, and America itself. It’s also equally unfashionable to even criticize China—a country with no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, and no democracy. In some circles, simply raising the fact that the Chinese politico-military nexus has a million people in a gulag archipelago of concentration camps is proof of your lack of sophistication and seriousness. Just ask Lebron James.

    Major corporations have no problem signaling their fashionable wokeness by boycotting Georgia, North Carolina, or Indiana. But ask them why they do business with a country that is crushing democracy in Hong Kong and ethnically cleansing Tibet and East Turkestan, and you’ll get an answer of mumbling doublespeak. Gay people have more rights in every state in the union than they do anywhere in China. And unlike America, China actually has a real policy of Jim Crow and apartheid. 

    Last year, Apple’s Tim Cook committed the company to fighting the “the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.” Fair enough. But why is he doing so much business with a country that, according to the Global Slavery Index, has more than 3 million slaves today?

    I'm thinking about a new computer. Apple's out, of course. But can you even get a Windows machine that's not got China components? This 2020 thread is not encouraging.


Last Modified 2021-06-06 2:37 PM EDT