Have I Mentioned That I Hate Halloween?

Well, yeah, I guess I have. There is an upside, though, it's a hook for this Bragg/Heaton video: Halloween on Capitol Hill:

The trick-or-treaters descended on Pun Salad Manor last night. No drugs were given out, just Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Crunches, etc. I swear that next year, I'm going to turn off all the lights, and read my Kindle in the dark.

Also of note:

  • Update: "Patriotism" is no longer the last refuge of a scoundrel. In fact, I think it's moved pretty far up the list. Now, given recent declarations by our Scoundrel-in-Chief, I'm pretty sure claiming an "emergency" has moved into the lead. James Freeman chronicles Biden’s New Power Grab.

    Americans with deep concerns about the mental acuity of President Joe Biden are being asked to believe he is competent and empowered to direct the country’s technological innovation. Mr. Biden is now claiming emergency authority—without any act of Congress—to seize control over the development of artificial intelligence. Conservatives may be angry with Silicon Valley for a host of reasons. But the country and its future prosperity require them to mount a vigorous opposition to this massive transfer of power from private innovators to public bureaucrats.

    As part of the sell to Do Something, Joe was provided a dog-and-pony show, unfortunately without ponies. Freeman quotes from an AP report:

    “He was as impressed and alarmed as anyone,” deputy White House chief of staff Bruce Reed said in an interview. “He saw fake AI images of himself, of his dog. He saw how it can make bad poetry. And he’s seen and heard the incredible and terrifying technology of voice cloning, which can take three seconds of your voice and turn it into an entire fake conversation.”

    Comments Freeman:

    Arguably the greatest scams of our era are the ones perpetrated by Mr. Biden’s political allies, from the Russia collusion hoax to the false dismissals of what turned out to be accurate reporting on Biden family enrichment schemes. Are we likely to get better results now if this technology is directed by consumers and engineers in places like Austin, Texas or by politicians in Washington reacting to their personal experiences with dog portrayals?

    Although, come to think of it, is invoking an "emergency" really a last refuge? "Emergency" seems to be claimed early and often. Maybe I should start making an Official Pun Salad Scoundrel Refuge List.

  • Ho hum, another "emergency". At Cato, Romina Boccia and Dominik Lett ask a burning question. Specifically, a money-burning question: What’s Another $56 Billion in Emergency Spending?.

    The Biden administration is requesting another federal agency‐sized supplemental. This time, it’s $56 billion in new emergency spending for natural disasters, childcare, and high‐speed internet. With deficits in the trillions and interest rates at historic highs, Congress should stop adding fuel to the deficit fire.

    The administration’s latest emergency supplemental would spend more than the Agency for International Development, the Small Business Administration, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) received in individual funding this year. This request also comes on top of the $106 billion in emergency aid for Israel, Ukraine, and other foreign policy issues the administration recently requested. And don’t forget the $16 billion in emergency disaster aid Congress already approved in a short‐term spending extension in late September.

    Boccia and Lett note the fundamental dishonesty of calling many of the items in Biden's laundry list "emergency".

    Example: $180 million for NASA to “begin efforts to safely dispose of the International Space Station.” Are we expected to believe that NASA folks looked around and said "Holy cow! We forgot to figure out how we were going to get rid of this beast!"

  • Apparently never a member of the Boy Scouts. At the Volokh Conspriacy, Josh Blackman quotes Berkeley Law School Dean Edwin Chemerinsky: "Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now".

    On Friday, someone in my school posted on Instagram a picture of me with the caption, "Erwin Chemerinsky has taken an indefinite sabbatical from Berkeley Law to join the I.D.F." Two weeks ago, at a town hall, a student told me that what would make her feel safe in the law school would be "to get rid of the Zionists." I have heard several times that I have been called "part of a Zionist conspiracy," which echoes of antisemitic tropes that have been expressed for centuries.

    Josh chimes in with his own experiences at other citadels of academe.

    But Blogfather Glenn Reynolds' patience is drained. In reply to Chemerinsky, he quotes John McClane: Welcome To The Party, Pal!.

    Obviously, he hasn’t been reading my blog.  Over 20 years ago I was running a series of posts tagged “Berkeley Hatewatch Update,” tracking hateful and antisemitic behavior at UC Berkeley.

    [After excerpting a few examples from Instapundit…]

    So even in Chemerinsky’s own backyard, the signs have been there continuously for basically the entire 21stCentury to date. If Chemerinsky read my blog, he’d have known about happenings there, and elsewhere throughout the higher education world, that apparently are news to him.

    Well, to be fair, deans have more important things to do than read blogs. On the other hand, well, welcome to the party, pal. Pointing out the flourishing, toleration, and even encouragement of antisemitism in the higher education sector has largely been the function of “right wing” outlets. Mainstream and left-wing media (but I repeat myself) have had little desire to air the dirty laundry in public. And, anyway, they’re increasingly staffed with recent graduates from elite schools, steeped in Critical Race Theory, “decolonization” talk, and the like, who see this antisemitism (along with prejudice against Asians and “whiteness”) as natural and laudable, instead of as what it is, which is evil and un-American. The truth is that support for antisemitism and mass murder isn’t an aberration for the far left that dominates American campuses now. As Ilya Somin notes, it’s baked in: “It’s rooted in a long history of defending horrific mass murder and other atrocities.”

    If there's been any upswing in bigotry at the University Near Here, they're doing a pretty good job of keeping it under wraps. On the News page, the top story (as I type) is from two weeks back and the exciting headline is: "UNH Researchers Investigate Climate Tolerant Buckwheat Crop For Future Commercial Use".

  • If it weren't for double standards… Well, you know how the rest of that saying goes. At City Journal, the redoubtable John Tierney looks at the university a mere fifty miles to the south of UNH: Harvard’s Double Standard on Free Speech.

    After Harvard student groups blamed Israel for Hamas’s atrocities, the global backlash was so fierce that the university’s president, Claudine Gay, released a video statement that in some ways proved even more puzzling. “Our university rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs,” she said. “And our university embraces a commitment to free expression. That commitment extends even to views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous.”


    This was news to the scholars with unpopular views at Harvard who have been sanctioned by administrators, boycotted by students, and slandered by the Crimson student newspaper. And it was certainly news to anyone who follows the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s annual analyses of threats to free speech on campus.

    In this year’s FIRE report, Harvard’s speech climate didn’t merely rank dead last among those of the 248 participating colleges. It was also the first school that FIRE has given an “Abysmal” rating for its speech climate, scoring it zero on the 100-point scale (even that was a generous upgrade, as its actual composite score was -10). That dismal distinction made headlines last month across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia—but not on the Harvard campus. The Crimson didn’t even publish an article in its news section, much less an editorial; Gay didn’t make a statement, either.

    I've noticed a lot of sanctimonious assertions about free expression from people who've never been particular champions of it in the past decade.

  • I noticed this too. At Techdirt, their designated Voice of Sanity, Mike Masnick is perplexed: Google Search Default Payments Seem To Be The Opposite Of What You’d Expect For A Monopoly.

    I have no idea how the current Google antitrust trial will turn out, and frankly, I’m not sure it much matters. I mean, I’m sure it matters for Google, but I don’t see how either outcome will change all that much for anyone else. I have noted, repeatedly, that I’m much more interested in a different Google antitrust trial, regarding how it handles ads. That one strikes me as more akin to a traditional antitrust case, in which it argues that Google used a dominant position in the ads market to be in a position to extract much greater rents from basically everyone.

    That’s the kind of thing you normally see that should raise antitrust concerns: situations where a company leverages a position to extract more money than it would have been able to otherwise in a competitive market.

    And this is why I’m… confused by a lot of people getting really excited about the revelation last week that Google had paid $26.3 billion in 2021 to be the default search engine on Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and in a few other places as well.

    I'm sure it's one of those things Deep Thinkers in the comments have answered. But I suspect if it were Mozilla and Apple paying Google billions for permission to make their search the default, they'd also cite it as evidence of monopoly.

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Last Modified 2024-01-10 6:46 AM EDT