URLs du Jour

2021-07-14

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  • Give Him Our Amazon Product du Jour. Glenn Greenwald turns over his Substack to the author of the "Mega-Viral Thread on MAGA Voters" to which we linked last Saturday: Darryl Cooper Explains His Thinking.

    I quit Twitter last August. Quit for good. Other than posting links to two new episodes of my podcast, I stayed away for eight months and didn’t regret a thing. Around mid-June I let myself  be persuaded that social media engagement was part of having a podcast, so I dipped back in, promising myself I’d avoid being pulled into politics. Things haven’t gone as planned.

    The temptation was disguised cleverly as a conversation with a friend’s mother. She was visiting from upstate New York and we got to talking while my buddy was in the house tending to my goddaughter. She’s a hardcore Trumper from a less cynical generation that believes what she hears from sources she trusts. She’d been hounding her son about the stolen election all week, and he’d been trying to disabuse her of various theories involving trucked-in ballots and hacked counting machines. Now she had me cornered and put the question to me: “Do YOU think the election was legit?” So I told her the truth: I don’t know.

    By the time my friend had put the baby to bed and rejoined us, we were waist-deep in a discussion about what happened last year, and she was satisfied that I was on her side. “See?!? He (she meant me) knows what’s going on! I’m not crazy. He’s smart, and HE knows!” My friend pulled the Captain Picard facepalm, and said, “Darryl, what the f*ck are you telling her?”

    If the 17-part tweet-thread was too choppy for you, this is the extended version with deleted scenes. It's excellent.


  • Cuba Libre? Eric Boehm makes a plausible case for a change in American policy toward Cuba. The Trade Embargo Allows Cuba’s Regime To Blame the U.S. for Communism’s Failings.

    After thousands of Cubans poured into the streets over the weekend to protest the island nation's communist government, President Joe Biden on Monday said America "stands firmly" with the people of Cuba.

    The words of support for the anti-communist protesters—some of whom waved American flags as they demanded "freedom"—are good, but actions would be better. Biden should call on Congress to lift the United States' decadesold trade embargo with Cuba.

    I said it was plausible, but I'm dubious. Because there's a Commie country with which we don't have a trade embargo, and (yes) its citizens have benefited somewhat over the years. But it's still a totalitarian dictatorship that imprisons dissenters and engages in genocide against inconvenient minorities.

    It's one thing to argue that the Cuba embargo has failed; it probably has failed to accomplish what it was meant to. But would removing the embargo accomplish anything worthwhile? I don't know, and neither does Eric Boehm.


  • Relegated to the Dustbin of History. Robert H. Bork Jr. takes to the WSJ editorial pages and wonders Joe Biden’s Antitrust Paradox: Where’s the Consumer Welfare?.

    ‘Forty years ago, we chose the wrong path,” President Biden told Americans on Friday, “following the misguided philosophy of people like Robert Bork, and pulled back on enforcing laws to promote competition.”

    What was that path, exactly? And where have these 40 years in the wilderness led us?

    These aren’t academic questions for me. I remember my father in the late 1960s working in his cramped attic study in New Haven, Conn., beginning to develop his theory of antitrust law. He was 40, sitting at a desk my mother made from an old door, scribbling with his Scripto mechanical pencil on yellow legal pads, wreathed by a cloud of smoke from the Kent cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.

    My father taught himself calculus because he believed a specialist in antitrust should understand the complexities of price theory. The product of this decadelong labor and his rigorous study of antitrust was his 1978 masterpiece, “The Antitrust Paradox: A Policy at War with Itself.” By paradox, he meant that laws designed to protect consumers ended up protecting everyone but consumers.

    Getting rid of the "consumer welfare" standard in antitrust… well, it's kind of obvious what's going to happen to consumers, right?


  • Say the Magic Word, Justify Any Coercion. Donald J. Boudreaux is an economist, and he argues: “Externality” Is No Good Excuse for Mandatory Vaccination.

    The most common retort to those of us who oppose state punishment of people who refuse vaccines is to allege that anti-vaccinated persons jeopardize the health, and even the lives, of innocent third parties. Read, for example, Washington Post columnist Leana Wen, whose strong obsession for mandatory vaccination is matched by her weak ability to put data into proper perspective. In econspeak, the charge is “externality!” – or as University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers recently exclaimed in response to someone who objects to what smells like a move toward mandatory vaccination, “Because externalities.” An unvaccinated individual, it is alleged, unjustly spreads to other people dangerous pathogens whenever that individual is in public.

    But shouting “externality!” is not the trump card that many economists (and non-economists) naïvely suppose it to be. In a world in which not every human being lives an isolated existence – that is, in our world – each of us incessantly acts in ways that affect strangers without thereby justifying government-imposed restrictions on the great majority of these actions. Therefore, justification of government obstruction of the ordinary affairs of life requires far more than an identification of the prospect of some interpersonal impact. (See David Henderson’s brief response to Wolfers.)

    Justification for mandatory vaccination also requires more than a vivid imagination. Clever seventh graders can describe hypothetical situations in which every reasonable person might agree that forced vaccination is justified. (“Like, imagine a virus so super-contagious and lethal that it will, with 100 percent certainty, literally kill every human being in the country if even a single person in the country remains unvaccinated!!!”) To be relevant, the case for mandatory vaccination must be made with respect to reality as we know it. Furthermore, in a free society the burden of proof falls, not on opponents of mandatory vaccination, but on those who assert that the externality is real and serious enough to justify making vaccination mandatory.

    Don is not holding his breath waiting for mandatory-vaccination advocates to actually show their work.


  • The University Near Here has a News page set up by its Media Relations group. And one of the features on that page is a set of links to external pages titled "UNH IN THE NEWS", other sites mentioning the U.

    I first noticed something odd back in April when one of the "news" articles linked was the World Socialist Web Site, specifically an article titled Introduction to The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History. The UNH connection in the article: a devastating criticism of the scholarship of UNH prof Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.

    OK, it's a little odd that UNH is publicizing a site that essentially exposes one of its professors as an academic charlatan.

    But then they linked to the same article again earlier this month! This prompted me to write to Media Relations, essentially asking: doesn't anyone pay attention to this stuff?

    And then today, the section has a link to a Granite Grok article: Socialism Is Cancel-Culture at the Point of a Government Gun in a World You Allowed to be Disarmed.

    Whoa. Strong stuff. And here's the article's entire UNH-relevant content:

    A few years ago, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) had a riot. Some uptight social justice warriors were triggered by students culturally appropriating Mexican attire.

    Mayhem ensured (with or without the good hands at Allstate) due to inculcated “children” acting like jilted five-year-olds.

    Some kids wore ponchos and sombreros in honor of a holiday to celebrate the Mexican Army’s victor [sic] over the French at the Battle of Puebla, and melting snowflakes decided a reenactment was in order. Not that they likely had a clue why there was a celebration on May 5th or what drinking Corona’s (more cultural appropriation) had to do with that.

    Uh, fine. You can agree or disagree with GG's take on those UNH students. But I think we can agree that it's kind of an odd thing for UNH itself to publicize.

    I think the "UNH IN THE NEWS" section is either (a) under control of a bot operating without the slightest human supervision; or (b) there's a mischievous/dissatisfied employee in Media Relations that likes to slip in these punchbowl-turds every so often.

Good on Paper

[2.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Good on Paper]

I've liked Iliza Shlesinger for a number of years, since I got hooked on her standup comedy specials on Netflix. Very funny, insightful, and (sorry kiddos) extremely raunchy. So I decided to take a chance on this Netflix-streamable movie. She wrote it, and she's the star, so…

The character she plays isn't much of a stretch: Andrea, a standup comic looking to break into acting. (Unfortunately, based on the excerpts we see from Andrea's routines, she's not nearly as funny as Iliza.) She's in her mid-thirties, and her professional life has overshadowed her romantic life, her relationships seem to be fleeting and shallow. Her best friend is Margot (played by Margaret Cho), lesbian bar owner, who keeps urging her to settle down before it's too late.

So Andrea meets this guy Dennis at the airport. And Dennis is charming in a dorky way. He's a Yale graduate, he's a hedge fund manager, he's got a house in Beverly Hills. Or at least (a spoiler you can pick up from the preview clip) that's what he claims. The movie follows their rocky relationship.

It's occasionally funny, but credibility is strained about two-thirds in when Andrea turns into a detective trying to find out the truth about Dennis, without wrecking their relationship. The movie claims to be based on Iliza's own experience, but I have a hard time believing that she could be as dumb as Andrea.


Last Modified 2021-07-21 6:15 AM EDT