URLs du Jour

2021-11-27

  • You think government dependence is a good thing? Maybe you should reconsider that. Glenn Reynolds notes the obvious in the NYPost. Common thread in Waukesha tragedy, Kenosha shootings: Government failure.

    When is a racial hate crime not a racial hate crime? When it doesn’t advance the left’s, and the Democrats’, narrative.

    When white teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three white men who were violently assaulting him, it somehow got treated by the press and politicians as a racial hate crime. President Joe Biden (falsely) called Rittenhouse a white supremacist, and the discussion of his case was so focused on racial issues that many Americans mistakenly thought that the three men Rittenhouse shot were black.

    But when a black man, Darrell Brooks, with a long history of posting hateful anti-white rhetoric on social media drove a car into a mostly white Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens, the press was eager to wish the story away. (The New York Times buried it on page A22.) Even when a Black Lives Matter activist connected it to the Rittenhouse verdict, observing “it sounds like the revolution has started,” the media generally downplayed it.

    As numerous people have pointed out: Darrell Brooks was a Hitler fan. But (as I type) Googling shows you'll only learn about this if you watch Fox News or read the NYPost. The "respectable" media don't consider that newsworthy.


  • Also in our "Government Failure" Department… Jacob Sullum asks a question with an obvious answer: Should We Blame Pharmacies or the Government for Opioid-Related Deaths?

    A federal jury in Cleveland yesterday concluded that three major pharmacy chains had contributed to a "public nuisance" in two Ohio counties caused by an oversupply of prescription opioids. The verdict, which represents the first time that retailers have been held legally liable for the "opioid crisis," followed two recent rulings in which a California judge and the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected similar claims against drug manufacturers.

    These cases, along with thousands of other lawsuits by state and local governments that blame legal drug suppliers for opioid-related addiction and deaths, ask courts to focus on one link in a long causal chain. That chain includes decisions by state and federal regulators as well as actions by manufacturers, distributors, doctors, pharmacists, patients, black-market dealers who sell diverted pills, and nonmedical users who consume them.

    In the Ohio case, Lake and Trumbull counties argued that the defendants—CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart—had ignored "red flags" indicating that some of the prescriptions they filled were medically inappropriate. The defendants argued that they had done nothing but fill seemingly legitimate prescriptions for legally approved medication written by licensed and regulated doctors. They emphasized the crucial roles that government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration played in overseeing the distribution of prescription opioids, making them complicit in the supposed public nuisance described by the plaintiffs.

    Cynicism gets you (I think) the right answer in this case: lawyers and demagogic politicians are attracted to deep pockets, actual culpability be damned. Meanwhile, opioid deaths are soaring, and going after CVS et. al. will do nothing to bring them back to earth.


  • LFOD is wonderfully malleable. Granite Geek David Brooks invokes it to support "Right to Repair": Live Free or Die – unless you want to fix something, that is

    New Hampshire lawmakers have always been selective about adhering to our license plate slogan but they’ve rarely strayed farther from “Live Free or Die” than in their dismissal of the right-to-repair movement.

    That loose coalition has been struggling for years against the increasing corporate practice of making it hard or impossible for individuals and independent shops to work on the objects we buy, forcing us to either pay them for repairs or just junk things and buy new ones.

    Repair manuals and required software codes are kept secret, most notoriously by John Deere’s farm-equipment arm; special tools are required for no reason; and devices are designed entirely to interfere with repairs, such as Apple’s outrageous change to the latest iPhone that broke FaceTime if a non-licensed shop replaces a cracked screen.

    LFOD 101: if you have a Willing Buyer and a Willing Seller of a product, government should not prohibit the transaction. It's what Robert Nozick called a "capitalist act between consenting adults."

    But prohibiting certain disapproved products from being bought and sold is what "right to repair" legislation does. It looks over and says, in certain cases: "Tsk tsk. Thou shalt not."

    It's (um) interesting how Brooks (and he, of course, is not alone) tries to hammer LFOD into meaning its opposite.


  • Apologies are not forthcoming. Andrew Sullivan looks back on Russiagate, and the current effort to move the goalposts: It Wasn't A Hoax. It Was Media Overkill.

    There is no question that Trump had countless conflicts of interest in Russia, with his Moscow hotel plans high among them, and had been money laundering for Russian oligarchs for years. No question that he was absolutely willing to accept Russia’s — or any country’s — illicit support, and no doubt he actually asked for it. I saw him do it, on national television, in the campaign. We all did.

    The Russians also tried to corrupt the election through online shenanigans; and Manafort’s delivery of polling data to Moscow was deeply shifty. And everyone lied about almost everything. There’s equally no doubt that Trump obstructed justice in trying to stymie the Russia investigation. Again, he told us so on television. More pertinently, people have been prosecuted and gone to jail for their misdeeds in this whole miasma of near-treasonous sleaze.

    But this was not what the MSM tried to sell us from the get-go. What they and the Democrats argued — with endless, breathless, high-drama reporting — was that there was some kind of plot between Trump and Russia to rig the election and it had succeeded. Investigating this was hugely important because it could expose near-treason and instantly remove Trump from power via impeachment. This was the dream to cope with the nightmare.

    Sullivan notes, plausibly, that the Putin/Trump mythology sprang up for psychological reasons: it allowed blame-shifting for the actual reason Trump won in 2016: his opponent, Hillary.


  • What would we do without consensus? Conor Friedersdorf writes about the latest academic antics: Universities Try to Force a Consensus About the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict. Instead of using the incident and its outcome as discussion fodder, a potentially valuable exercise…

    More than 2,000 miles away, administrators at UC Santa Cruz felt otherwise. Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Judith Estrada issued a statement that began like this:

    We are disheartened and dismayed by this morning’s not guilty verdict on all charges in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse … We join in solidarity with all who are outraged by this failure of accountability.

    UC Santa Cruz is a public institution with roughly 19,000 students and 1,000 instructors who, one can safely say, do not all share the same viewpoints. But Larive and Estrada emphasized their personal feelings and openly pledged solidarity (meaning “unity or agreement of feeling or action,” by one definition) with others based on whether they too feel angry. This is posturing, not engagement with a campus community. I wrote to Larive and asked her to clarify why the jury should have found Rittenhouse guilty, if that’s what she meant by “failure of accountability.” A university spokesperson, Scott Hernandez-Jason, responded, “The campus message speaks for itself.”

    That "statement" is really something else. Students at UCSC (and those at other institutions called out in Friedersdorf's article) who don't wholly subscribe to the Official Theology should probably keep their heads down and move to the back of the ideological bus.

    Good news, though: the University Near Here has not issued any proclamations about Rittenhouse as near as I can tell.