URLs du Jour

2021-09-23

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  • And the theater's showing a lousy movie. Kevin D. Williamson's "Tuesday" column (yes, I know it's Thursday) tackles a weighty subject: The Presidency as Foreign-Policy Theater.

    The American retreat from Afghanistan, with its whimpering and scurrying and its generally cringing tail-between-the-legs posture, would have been debacle enough without the Biden administration’s having added a massacre of children and innocents to it.

    The fact that it was a massacre enabled by incompetence does not improve the situation.

    General Frank McKenzie, who is in charge at U.S. Central Command, confirmed last week that a drone strike carried out in Kabul in order to ward off an imminent attack from ISIS-K actually killed a carload of civilians, mostly children.

    “I offer my sincere apology,” General McKenzie said. Oh, at least it’s sincere. He affirmed that he is “fully responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome.” If General McKenzie is fully responsible, then perhaps he — or someone above him — should act like it and see to it that he is, at a minimum, fully relieved of his responsibilities.

    News flash: General Frank McKenzie has not been fully relieved of his responsibilities. I.e., he's "fully responsible" without actually being held responsible.


  • What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Bryan Caplan illustrates that bit of Biblical wisdom with a current example: Woke Is Old.

    Yes, its intellectual decorations are novel.  Ten years ago, I never heard anyone talk about “microaggressions” or “privilege.”  The substance, however, is almost exactly what teachers, textbooks, and the media told me back in the 1980s.

    Namely: The sole reason non-whites and females are less conventionally successful is because white males have been treating them so unfairly for centuries.  The Beckerian view that market forces strongly check discrimination was never taught – or even mentioned – in school when I was growing up.  For income, the party line was clear: All observed white/non-white and male/female earnings gaps are unjustified by productivity.  For other forms of success, the party line equivocated between, “White males haven’t disproportionately contributed to science, technology, and culture” and “This disproportionate contribution solely reflects white male unfairness.”  And of course, teachers, textbooks, and the media aggressively overlooked Asian and Jewish success even in the face of blatant prejudice.

    What's changed? Bryan argues (convincingly) that it's today's zeal, with many becoming "part-time fundamentalist preachers of the dogmas of my youth."

    See (as usual): UNH Lecturers United, who see their job as "fostering belief" in the tenets of "Anti-Racism". And actively opposing "any political position structured around inequality." That's the kind of dogmatic fundamentalist zeal Bryan is talking about.


  • Why is it so hard to find good help these days? Christopher F. Rufo explores one possible reason at City Journal as he looks Inside CVS Health Corporation’s Racial Reeducation Program.

    Last year, CVS Health Corporation—the largest pharmacy chain in the United States—paid then-CEO Larry Merlo almost 618 times the median company wage, while simultaneously launching a mandatory “antiracist” training program for hourly employees to deconstruct their “privilege.”

    I have received whistleblower documents from inside CVS that reveal the company’s extensive race-reeducation program, which is built on the core tenets of critical race theory, including “intersectionality,” “white privilege,” and “unconscious bias.”

    As a keynote for the initiative, Merlo—who has since retired—hosted a conversation with Boston University professor Ibram Kendi, who told 25,000 CVS employees that “to be born in [the United States] is to literally have racist ideas rain on our head consistently and constantly.” Kendi argued that Americans are “walking through society completely soaked in racist ideas,” including children as young as two to three years old. “Our kids are basically functioning on racist ideas, choosing who to play with based on the kid’s skin color,” Kendi said. The solution, in part, is to “diagnose” employees as “racist” in order to help them become “antiracist” and “stop hurting somebody else.”

    Note that Ibram Kendi has deemed capitalism and racism "conjoined twins", but I'm pretty sure he nevertheless brought away some of that filthy capitalist loot from his CVS gig.

    It was recently reported. that CVS is looking to hire 25,000 people; maybe Applicants of Pallor should be warned ahead of time that it's likely they'll be lectured about their racism.


  • I lean toward "tyranny", Bari. Bari Weiss hosts a symposium on Vaccine Mandates: The End of Covid? Or the Beginning of Tyranny? A number of contributors weigh in with diverse views. I found this point by Vinay Prasad pretty persuasive: Let's, he says, break down the country into six groups:

    1. The Already Vaccinated. Nearly 65 percent of the country has had at least one shot. Mandates won’t affect them because they’re already (or soon to be) protected by the vaccine.
    2. The About-to-Get-Vaccinated Anyway. People get vaccinated every day. Even without the mandates, there were those who were planning, before the mandates were announced, to get vaccinated. Then, the mandates were announced, and then, as they had planned, the About-to-Get-Vaccinated-Anyway got vaccinated — creating the false impression that it was the mandates that led them to get the jab.
    3. Those Unaffected by the Mandates. This includes retirees and most everyone under 18.
    4. The Unvaccinated Who Have Been Infected by and Recovered From Covid-19. Getting these people vaccinated won’t move the needle much when it comes to national infection and mortality rates, since they already have a strong defense against reinfection.
    5. Those Who Quit Their Jobs Instead of Getting Vaccinated. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that, of the unvaccinated, 42 percent would quit their jobs if forced to get vaccinated, and 35 percent would ask for a religious exemption.
    6. The Unvaccinated Who Are Persuaded to Get Vaccinated. This is the president’s target demographic.

    Dr. Prasad's gut feeling is that group six is pretty small, and the folks in group five are numerous enough to cause a significant "socioeconomic toll" in both short and long terms.

    But read everyone, and make up your own mind.

    Not that you asked: I'm fully jabbed (Moderna, months ago), I'll get the booster if it's recommended for me (I'm old). I think mandates are wrong. I think the reputable science says (in nearly all cases) that you should get vaccinated if you haven't been.


  • But all the focus groups say people like those words, so… Ben Shapiro notices something about political rhetoric: ‘Pay Your Fair Share’ Taxation Isn’t About Actual Fairness.

    No Democrat seems prepared to define what “fairness” constitutes, other than “a word I use to pander to the rubes, while hobnobbing with the rich.”

    And Biden’s “fairness” pitch has [nothing] to do with good economic policy, of course. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama was asked during a debate about raising the capital gains tax, even if it lowered net government revenue. He answered, “I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” In other words, Obama explicitly stated that he would damage the economy on behalf of a vague, kindergarten notion of equal outcome.

    In the end, the “tax the rich to be fair” notion rests on a simple lie; namely, the lie that income distribution is purely a matter of privilege or luck. It isn’t. In the main, in a free market system, income distribution is the result of successful decision-making that must be incentivized, rather than punished, if we wish to see a more prosperous society.

    [I've added a to-me-obvious missing word in that second paragraph.]

    Like Ben, I wish the people who talk about "fair share" would either (a) share their math; or (b) just admit that they mean "more".


  • Unpopular answer: voters. For electing these clowns. Veronique de Rugy asks the musical question: Who's Really at Fault if the Government Defaults?

    The battle over the federal debt ceiling that's currently being fought by government officials and legislators is yet another example of the political posturing that's so prevalent these days. On one side, you have Democrats, who believe that the debt ceiling should be increased automatically or removed altogether, no matter what level of debt Uncle Sam accumulates, and that it should be done with the support of Republicans. On the other side, you have Republicans, who occasionally remember that they are against big government spending, especially if they're in the minority when the debt ceiling needs to be raised.

    Consider Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., railing against Republicans for saying they won't vote for a bill that funds the government until December and includes a debt ceiling suspension. He accuses them of wanting the federal government to shut down and to default on its debt.

    Failure to raise the debt ceiling would be pretty entertaining. Tax money still comes in, of course. So government wouldn't totally shut down—or it wouldn't have to, anyway. It would just have to decide which bills to pay. You know, like normal people who have been splurging, now forced to live within their means.