I Went To Nikki Haley's Town Hall in Dover Last Night…


and all I got was a souvenir sign, photographic evidence above. That's OK, it's one sign more than I was expecting.

It was nice, and the crowd filled up the auditorium of Dover's "Restoration Church" (used to be McIntosh College). Failed 2022 senatorial candidate Don Bolduc was on hand (with his doggie Victor), and he did the opening speech and introduction honors. Then Nikki took over, and gave her stemwinding speech, followed by a Q&A session, which ended after three Qs. And I decided not to join in the crush looking to get up close and personal with Nikki, and just headed out.

What, you were expecting a summary of Nikki's presentation? As it turns out, National Review's Brittany Bernstein was also on hand. (I said hello to her on the way out, identifying myself as a subscriber.) She filed two reports, here here. You should read those for details.

Some good stuff: she called out Republicans for running up the national debt when they had control of legislative and executive branches. And also for meekly going along with returning budget earmarks to the already-disgraceful appropriations process. She mentioned entitlement reform, specifically raising the retirement age for younger folks, using a more realistic inflation measure for calculating benefit increases, and (somehow) means-testing payments. (That last bit could be tricky.) She had a big thumbs up for school choice. But see the comment about federalism below.

So-so stuff: she talked about improving school security in the wake of yesterday's mass shooting in Nashville. Also improving mental health care. She pledged to reinstate (I think) Trump policy at the southern border (but I'm pretty sure didn't mention a big beautiful wall).

Unfortunate stuff: her answer to the fentanyl-overdose epidemic seemed to involve turning the War on Drugs up to 11. Or probably past 11. That's a failed strategy. She seems to be a fan of industrial policy (pointing to her South Carolina record of "creating jobs"). Mandatory e-Verify. Banning TikTok. All very bad ideas.

She said school kiddos should recite the Pledge of Allegiance, although it was unclear how much coercion she'd be willing to use to impose that. Generally, she seemed willing to ignore a lot of restraints that good federalists would impose.

As I type, it's still 350 days before the New Hampshire Primary (which could move). If it were to happen today, I'd vote for her.

Briefly noted:

  • Jim Geraghty thinks We Have Bigger Problems Than ‘Digital Blackface’. I agree! And I didn't even know what "digital blackface" was until this very morning! And Nikki Haley didn't mention it last night!

    But she did talk TikTok, and the Indispensable One has thoughts there:

    TikTok, and perhaps social media as a whole, have created an entire incentive structure to spotlight the most abnormal behavior people can imagine, particularly among young people. If you do the things you’re supposed to do in life — love your family, be a good friend, work hard, play by the rules, help others when they need it — the TikTok algorithm just isn’t that interested. Maybe once in a while, your social-media algorithms will serve up something heartwarming, like those two toddlers who were so overjoyed to see to each other on the sidewalk. But by and large, your social-media feed is there to tell you, “This stinks, that stinks, look at this freak, look at what this weirdo is doing, aren’t human beings just the worst, we’re all doomed, the world is going to heck in a handbasket.” No wonder people think social media causes depression.

    Now, look, it’s your life, and you’re free to pick whatever entertainment and news sources you like. (And hey, thanks for reading this newsletter.) A few years back, Tom Nichols was quite irked to learn some people enjoy watching other people play video games. My sense was and is that there isn’t that much difference between paying to watch people play electronic versions of stuff and paying to watch a CGI-filled movie, and that the world is always going to have people who choose to spend their disposable income and free time in ways you find dumb, wasteful, boring, or inane. If they’re not harming others or themselves, let them be.

    But your attention is a valuable thing. Your time and attentiveness are finite, and each thing you read or watch is a choice. You might even think of it as a resource to be invested. Those social-media algorithms are designed to steer you in a particular direction. Contemplate whether you want to go down the path that the algorithms prefer.

    A lot of wisdom there.

  • And I wish Nikki would have read Jeffrey A. Singer before doubling down on the dumb drug way: To Reduce Overdose Deaths, Lawmakers Must Look beyond the News Headlines.

    Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Hill reported on March 26 that teen overdose deaths doubled from 2018 to 2021, mainly due to fentanyl. This alarming and disturbing fact was announced with the headline, “Teen overdose deaths have doubled in three years. Blame fentanyl.”

    Blaming overdose deaths on fentanyl is like blaming gun violence on guns. Readers who glance at headlines but don’t take the time to read the entire article might conclude, as many members of Congress apparently do, that fentanyl is some evil pathogen launched into our country by Mexican drug cartels, aided by the Chinese who supply the cartels with the raw materials to make the drug. Once fentanyl crosses our southern border, it seeks out hosts to infect, addict, and kill, like a deadly virus.

    But, as I explained to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance earlier this month:

    Leaders and commentators often refer to the fentanyl overdose crisis as an “epidemic” or an “invasion.” But these are inappropriate metaphors. Fentanyl is not a viral pathogen that jumps from host to host or a hunter seeking defenseless prey. The influx of fentanyl is a response to market demand.

    But more crucially, fentanyl is just the latest manifestation of what drug policy analysts call “the iron law of prohibition.” A variant of what economists call the Alchian‐​Allen Effect, the shorthand version of the iron law states, “the harder the law enforcement, the harder the drug.” Enforcing prohibition incentivizes those who market prohibited substances to develop more potent forms that are easier to smuggle in smaller sizes and can be subdivided into more units to sell.

    Not for the first time I'll point out that what Singer is talking about is a form of fetishism: imputing magical powers to an object (e.g. guns) or substance (e.g. fentanyl). Once you see it, you can't not see it; it's an effort to shift responsibility from humans and put it on things.

  • Have you ever wondered: How Bad Are Your State’s Occupational Licensing Requirements?. J.D. Tuccille points to a new report that has up to date info.

    If you work in a licensed trade or know somebody who does, you understand the enormous expense and hassle occupational licensing represents, creating barriers to making a living and to moving across state lines where you might have to jump through hoops all over again. Of course, some people like those barriers since they limit the competition they face, but those folks are part of the problem. Reasonable people recognize licensing as a deterrent to prosperity and mobility and so encourage reform around the country. Now, a new report compares state licensing regimes so we can see who is making progress and who needs to try harder.

    New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, ranks right in the middle of the rankings, #23. Unexpectedly, the People's Republic of Vermont is much better in this area, close to the best. Arkansas has the worst licensing burden in the nation, Kansas the best. (I guess that "Ar" makes a big difference.)

    Nikki Haley did not mention occupational licensure in her speech.

  • And an omen of the end times, noted by Jordan Boyd: ESPN 'Celebrates' Women By Denying Their Existence.

    There are hundreds of thousands of talented female college and professional athletes in the U.S. who deserve recognition for their hard work, skill, and talent — but ESPN chose to celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month by boosting the resume of a man.

    Over the weekend, ESPN ran a special segment recognizing Lia Thomas, a male swimmer who invaded women’s sports in 2021. What did Thomas do to land a spot as poster child for ESPN’s supposedly pro-woman campaign? He was the first man to clench [sic] an NCAA Division I women’s championship.

    One of Yesterday's items pointed to a WIRED article claiming that the GOP was attacking "the rights of transgender people". Just to be clear, one of those "rights" is "the right to claim you're a girl and steal some easy athletic victories away from actual girls."

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:19 AM EDT