URLs du Jour

2021-09-13

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  • Glad to do my part for free expression. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is taking a bold stand against Cambridge bluenoses. Calling all Barbz: Twitter rallies behind Harvard students told to remove Nicki Minaj flag from dorm window.

    A viral tweet has left Harvard University facing an outcry from an unlikely group of free speech advocates — the Barbz.

    Barbz — the name given to the devoted fans of rapper/singer/songwriter Nicki Minaj — have taken to Twitter to defend the expressive rights of several Harvard undergraduate students who were told to take down a flag depicting the rapper hanging in their residence hall window.

    On Sept. 5, a Harvard undergrad writing under the Twitter handle @imjustjuice tweeted that he and his suitemates had been contacted and told to remove the flag over concern that “the community will find the flag offensive.” Presumably sent by a Harvard official, the email did not explain how the flag — depicting a bikini-clad Minaj saluting in front of an American flag — could be considered offensive.

    I'm not sure which Harvardites would consider to be more "offensive": (1) the image of Ms. Minaj or (2) the American flag behind her.

    I've inserted an Amazon link above, but I speculate from the creative product naming ("Nic Mina" or "Nic-ki Min-aj") that the vendors are worried about Nic-ki's lawyers getting Amazon to scrub such items from their marketplace. So at some point, sooner or later, the link could fail.


  • Mister, we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again. Chris Stirewalt looks at the latest addition to an ignominious team: Biden Joins the All-Stars of Constitutional Contempt.

    Populist leaders throughout American history have railed against the Constitution’s limits on the desires of the people. But never in my lifetime have I seen such wanton disdain among our leaders for the Constitution as I have in the past decade.

    As much as we would like to think of the presidency of Donald Trump as a special case, his contempt for our national charter in matters small, medium, and large—while singular in history—is also part of a trend. When Barack Obama was president, he abused his authority right out in the open, too. Now, after just eight months in office, President Biden seems determined to claim his place in the hall of fame of constitutional contempt. After saying he lacked the power to prevent landlords from evicting those who don’t pay their rent, Biden did it anyway. Before the ink had set on the Supreme Court’s decision striking down that action, Biden invented yet another power for himself: to force private employers to require their workers to get vaccinated.

    What the New York Times calls a “novel use of a law on workplace safety” is an invented power that violates the letter and spirit of Article II’s limits on the president’s powers. But as has been the case for much of Washington's decade-long journey into constitutional contempt, this one will end up as pure partisan applesauce. Biden supporters who would have had a fit if Trump had done something similar will stand silent. Biden’s foes who abetted Trump in his worst constitutional abuses will thunder (and raise money) in their umbrage. Indeed, the worst part of Biden’s power grab is that he did it knowing it would deepen divisions as it thrilled the left and outraged the right. But even if it were only a cynical political ploy, that would not lessen its violence to the Constitution.

    Let's toss in the "End Citizens United" crowd. And when you read a headline like "Senator Warren urges Amazon to tackle COVID-19 misinformation", please furnish the translation: "Liz attempts to evade the inconvenient First Amendment by telling Amazon to censor views she doesn't like."


  • Katherine Mangu-Ward throws a theoretical ringer. In her lead editorial in the latest Reason print edition, now out from behind the paywall, she extends an invitation: Let’s Play Horseshoe Theory.

    This summer, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went to the edge of space on a ship he built with his own earnings. A bunch of people saw the billionaire blast off and thought: "Screw that guy and his dumb rocket—the government should take his money because I have a much better idea of how to spend it."

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) tweeted, "Here on Earth, in the richest country on the planet, half our people live paycheck to paycheck, people are struggling to feed themselves, struggling to see a doctor—but hey, the richest guys in the world are off in outer space! Yes. It's time to tax the billionaires." Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D–Ore.) said he'll introduce legislation that would tax wealthy space tourists in order to "support the public good." And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) reiterated their calls to abolish billionaires via a wealth tax.

    The American right has long wanted to get its paws on Bezos as well. Former President Donald Trump has been beefing with Bezos for years, over the editorial line of The Washington Post (which Bezos owns) as well as the conduct of Amazon. In 2018 Trump tweeted, "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" Other conservatives weighed in with their own thoughts when Bezos flew. Matthew Walther, editor of the conservative Catholic publication The Lamp, wrote: "Maybe instead of sending idiots into a blank meaningless void at a gazillion bucks a pop we could build, I dunno, a functioning transit system in our capital city. Maybe we could even try real regional rail. Just spitballing."

    Left and right populists get uncomfortably close in their populist rhetoric against the "rich". And (as KMW notes) they all have bright ideas about how they want to spend Other Peoples' Money.


  • Don't bother, they're here. David Harsanyi warns us, but maybe not far enough ahead of time: Get ready for the left’s climate-change ‘emergency’ lockdowns.

    President Biden claims recent hurricanes prove we’re in a “climate crisis” — “code red” for the world, he warns. White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy adds that climate is now a “health emergency.”

    It’s convenient for politicians to treat every hurricane, tornado and flood as an apocalyptic sign from Gaia — and then blame political apostates for offending the goddess. But it’s an irrational way to think about the world. Because our situation is, in most ways, quantifiably better than before on nearly every front.

    This reality is probably difficult to accept for a generation subjected to decades of fearmongering, but climate anomalies are nothing new. When a freak snowstorm hit Texas this year, the administration used it to push draconian policies. But the Texas storm was no different than the rare 1973 blizzard that hit the South. It happens. And there’s nothing we can do.

    We'll get draconian measures, not because they'll actually "solve the problem", but because (a) politicians like wielding power, the more the better; and (b) a certain fraction of the populace likes them too.