URLs du Jour

2021-10-16

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  • As the Amazon Product du Jour says, it's a choice. Bari Weiss writes at Commentary, and I'm thinking I really should subscribe: We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage.

    A lot of people want to convince you that you need a Ph.D. or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the woke movement and its worldview. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears.

    Let me offer the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the Woke Revolution, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon.

    It begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools. And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house.

    So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. And in so doing, persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings.

    Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion.

    In this ideology, speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all. In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about reeducating them in what to think. In this ideology, the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully.

    Last month, I got into a comment-debate at Granite Grok with (since deleted) commenter Bruce Currie, who called Bari Weiss a "sanctimonious hack". Fine, we need more sanctimonious hacks.


  • But I was assured that trade wars were easy to win. Veronique de Rugy at Reason: Trump’s Tariffs Didn’t Work. Biden’s Won’t Work Either.

    The United States is known as the land of the free, but it has become a place where the government decides whom we are allowed to buy from and sell to. For instance, when denied the freedom to trade without paying an expensive import tax, many Americans will find themselves begging our trade overlords for an exemption. This is, I believe, a fair description of the Biden administration's decision to not only maintain ineffective import taxes—also called tariffs—but to re-up the listless exemption process.

    After a monthslong review by her agency, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai recently announced that the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in order to make the Chinese government change its ways have failed. Yet the administration's prescription seems to be more of the same.

    It's a shame. By staying with the tariffs, the administration continues to signal a belief that when it comes to trade, Uncle Sam always knows best. While tariffs are pitched to the public as a way to help domestic workers or boost U.S. competitiveness, they always penalize domestic consumers through fewer choices and higher prices. Many of these consumers are themselves domestic producers trying to secure the goods they need to make and sell fundamentally American products.

    Unsurprisingly, the people that do the best under a tariff regime are those with the deepest pockets and connections to whatever friendly pols are in charge. (Headline reference.)


  • Milton, Thou Shouldst be Living at This Hour. Friedman, that is. Richard McKenzie writes at EconLog of his timeless insight responding to past follies: Milton Friedman and "Zero Cost" Expanded Government.

    President Joe Biden has declared that his proposed $3.5 (or is it $5.5?) trillion “Build Back Better” social agenda will have a “zero” cost—as in $0.00! Why?  Because the added expenditures will be covered by increased revenues drawn from businesses and the “rich.”

    The President and other progressive Democrats, who have parroted the Biden claim, should reflect on the wisdom of the late Milton Friedman, who had a knack for crystallizing stark economic truths.

    During the early 1980s, when supply-side economics was the rage, Reagan Republicans promoted tax-rate cuts as a means of reviving the economy (because the cuts would increase people’s incentives to work, save, and invest), which Friedman believed distracted them from concern about what was happening to government outlays, which continued to rise throughout the decade.

    Friedman framed the fiscal issues of the day differently, and with far greater clarity than anyone else. He admonished everyone (including President Reagan’s advisors), to “Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only: how much government is spending, because that’s the true tax. . . If you’re not paying for it in the form of explicit taxes, you’re paying for it indirectly in the form of inflation or in the form of borrowing.”

    He is sorely missed. His bi-weekly Newsweek column was practically the only reason to subscribe to the magazine. There's no equivalent today, is there?


  • They really should have made a movie with that title. Jonah Goldberg's G-File is headlined "Fatal Distraction." He is obsessed these days with trying to find a path forward for principled conservatism. Democrats are not an option there, of course. But a Trump-addled GOP is hardly better.

    Jonah's Big Idea was to start an explicitly conservative third party. which would endorse acceptably GOP candidates, but run their own against Trumpist loons (like, for example, J. D. Vance).

    Even though I'm registered Republican, I usually vote Libertarian, when that's an option. But I recognize that can seem like an unacceptably wacky option to more conventional voters.

    Anyway, Jonah is here discussing Trump's recent recommendation to his tribe:

    If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.

    Jonah:

    I love this statement so much it makes me want to take off my wedding ring, suck in my stomach, and ask it to go to Bermuda with me.

    All week I’ve been hearing from people—smart people, dumb people, sincere people, performative Twitter jackass people—that it’s bad, wrong, traitorous, stupid, misguided, or insane for me to actively try to hurt the GOP because of my personal obsessions. “Don’t you understand,” friends and foes alike ask, “that you’ll single-handedly give total power to the Democrats and they’ll print a whole roll of trillion-dollar coins, invoke prima nocta in red states, mandate that face masks be surgically sewn into our faces (causing the starvation of millions), make skim almond milk the only legal form of dairy, and give nuclear weapons to the Taliban? Is that what you want you RINO cuck TDS-besotted jackass? Is it?” 

    Okay, I’m paraphrasing and exaggerating just a bit for effect, but you get the point. In all of this, I’m the one who needs to compromise with the “freedom flu” crowd for the greater good; I’m the one who needs to stop relitigating the past; I’m the one putting my concerns ahead of the real issues that affect real Americans; I’m the one who needs to be a sober-eyed grown-up about politics.

    I don't think the third party idea is tactically sound, but I'm in agreement with Jonah that the GOP will be ill-served by listening to Trump.


  • Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. David Zucker writes at the NYPost: 'Airplane!' creator slams joy-killing threat: 'Twitter 9 percent'

    Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the release of “Airplane!,” the comedy I wrote and directed with my brother Jerry and our friend Jim Abrahams. Just before the world shut down, Paramount held a screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, followed by a Q&A in which an audience member asked a question we never used to receive: “Could you make ‘Airplane!’ today?” 

    My response: “Of course, we could. Just without the jokes.”

    They weren't all great jokes. They weren't all good jokes. But the team knew that if you threw enough of them, the movie would be net hilarious.