URLs du Jour

2021-07-17

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

  • I Was Promised No Malarkey. Still, as Kyle Smith points out, Biden's dishing it out and the media is lapping it up: Biden’s Blatherplate Executive Order and the Media’s Rapture.

    To understand why Joe Biden bothered to issue an executive order on Friday that is 50 percent longer than the Constitution yet contains less of interest than the average iTunes user agreement, you first have to remember how our Pyongyang Press works. Biden can attract hours of fawning coverage for picking a dandelion or ordering ice cream. Biden could break four bones tumbling down Air Force One, and the headlines would be, “Biden Shows Strength Compassion, Courage, Fortitude, and Resilience in Journey through Hell and Back,” followed quickly by “Republicans Pounce on Biden Misstep.”

    Every time Biden does anything, no matter how trivial, the media will be there to sing hosannas. If doing things earns him fawning coverage, he has a strong incentive to do things. Most reporters clearly didn’t bother to read the 72-point, 45-page Friday-afternoon-in-summer executive order. Their stories tend to link back not to it, but to an imposingly labeled “White House Fact Sheet,” i.e. press release, that promises America a bunch of things will happen (“save . . . money on their Internet bills,” “lower prescription drug prices”) that are merely stated goals in the executive order itself. Huge chunks of the executive order are simply reminders that given laws exist and should be enforced. In other words, this elephantine project is more or less just a campaign speech that the press is treating as actual policy.

    It's an "NRPLUS" article, sorry, I think that means that non-subscribers can only read so far.. Well, read as much as you can. Kyle's great.


  • And Why Would American Customers of an American Company Expect it to be? Jordan Davidson pays attention to what they say, and what they say is bad. Facebook Censorship Board Member: Free Speech Is Not A Human Right.

    Free speech is not a human right, according to prominent Facebook censorship board member Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

    “What we’re trying to find, of course, I think many of us engaging in this conversation, is that middle road. How do you moderate content and how do you find that balance between human rights and free speech, which is a human right, but also other human rights because free speech is not an absolute human right,” the Facebook Oversight Board co-chair said during a live stream of Politico’s Tech 28 spotlight.

    Cato veep John Samples is also on the FB Oversight Board, and I'm pretty sure he disagrees. But someone should ask him.

    Meanwhile, there's Article 19 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I wonder how many of those Ms. Thorning-Schmidt also thinks are "non-absolute"? I seem to remember the authors taking it pretty seriously, but maybe they were wasting their time.


  • But On A Related Note. Just in case there was any doubt, Robby Soave has a suggestion for Uncle Stupid, in his incarnation as Jen Psaki: The Government Should Stop Telling Facebook To Suppress COVID-19 ‘Misinformation’.

    The federal government is stepping up its effort to purge the internet of COVID-19 "misinformation." On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki singled out a dozen specific anti-vaccine Facebook accounts and called on the platform to ban them.

    "There's about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms," said Psaki. "All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including ones that Facebook owns."

    The government stopped short of issuing an explicit order, but Psaki's language mentioned what Facebook "needs to" do. Or else?


  • One Where Taxpayers are Forced to Play Against the Odds. Adam Thierer takes to the Hill to battle the central planners: Industrial policy as 'casino economics'.

    Roll the dice at a casino enough times, and you are bound to win a few games. But knowing the odds are not in your favor, how much are you willing to risk losing by continuing to gamble?

    This is the same issue governments confront when they gamble taxpayer dollars on industrial policy efforts, which can best be described as targeted and directed efforts to plan for specific future industrial outputs and outcomes. Throwing enough money at risky ventures might net a few wins, but at what cost? Could those resources have been better spent? And do bureaucrats really make better bets than private investors?

    These questions are increasingly pertinent as the United States embarks on its most audacious government-led gambling spree in decades, with both parties lining up to make some very big industrial policy wagers.

    In June, the Senate passed a massive 2,300-page bipartisan bill, the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act,” with a $250 billion price tag. Fifty-two billion dollars would go to subsidize the semiconductor industry, and billions more would be spent to “regional innovation hubs” and other new ventures. The bill also included dozens of unrelated amendments, including prevailing wage requirements for chip manufacturers and limits on global shark fin sales. There was something in it for everyone, prompting Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) to call it an “orgy of spending porn.”

    The Senate vote was 68-32 in favor. All the nays were Republicans except—whoa—Bernie Sanders.

    Ben Sasse voted in favor. Dude, what's your deal, anyway?


  • A Mixed Blessing. Good news on the Human Progress front: Common Cholesterol Drug Reduces Risk of Covid Death by 40%.

    The most common cholesterol-lowering drugs may improve hospitalized COVID-19 patients’ chances of survival and reduce their risks of progressing to more severe disease, a new study suggests.

    An analysis of more than 10,000 people admitted to more than a 140 hospitals across the nation found that a class of medications called statins, together with blood pressure drugs, reduced in-hospital COVID-19 death by 40% among those who took them prior to being admitted.

    Hey, you know who has two thumbs and takes a statin and blood pressure drugs? This guy! (Picture me indicating my chest appropriately.)

    But … only 40%? That's only slightly better than taking out two bullets from your Russian roulette six-shooter. I guess getting Modernaed was a good idea after all.

These Women

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Consumer note: if you, against all odds, read this report and decide to grab a hardcover copy of These Women, you might want to avoid reading the front flap. It gives away too much.

That's not to say it isn't good. It is good (except for the front flap). I put it on my get-at-library list because it was nominated for the Best Novel Edgar award, so I'm not alone in that judgment.

It's centered around L.A.'s famed Western Avenue, and the lives of "these" women who live in those environs. And it's also the current haunt of a serial killer that nobody's quite caught onto yet. There's foul-mouthed Feelia, who barely escaped death fifteen years back; Dorian, whose daughter was a victim, and has a hard time getting the police to take her seriously about the dead birds someone keeps leaving at her home and workplace; Julianna, a "dancer" and (um) reliever of male stress at a local club; Marella, a tedious, pretentious artist; Anneke, her mom. And (best of all), there's Essie, a dedicated but career-stalled vice cop who's obsessed with finding the killer, but is not taken seriously by her co-workers. She's also damaged goods, unrecovered from a horrific accident years back.

It's really more about "these women" than it is the crime, though. Ms. Pochoda does a deep dive into each character, and we get to know them pretty well. There's some feminist politics, but this brutish male reader didn't find them too annoyingly strident.

I think it's one of those books it pays to read quickly. I stretched it out over ten days or so, and some of the loose-end plot details at the beginning of the book had faded from memory before they were tied up near the end.