URLs du Jour


  • Just a reminder: Elizabeth Warren is awful. But only because she exemplifies a more general truth, as described by Bryan Caplan: Politics is Cruelty. He notes the emotional theory asserted by cartoonist Scott McCloud:

    Anatomically speaking, there really are exactly six primary emotions: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise.

    Each illustrated by its unique facial expression. Everything else is some combination of the six primaries, in various degrees of intensity. It's interesting! But here's the one on which Bryan discourses:


    … one of the more unpleasant combos. And Bryan finds a textual expression from the recent past:

    [Liz is cruel]

    That bottom "WARREN" is the Verlag typeface. I've always found that to be disturbingly totalitarian. But Bryan is more grounded than I:

    The top slogan evokes joy: “Dream Big.” The bottom slogan evokes anger: “Fight Hard.” Quintessential politics.


    Cruelty is the main emotion that politicians pander to. And cruelty is what every politician strives to deliver. They don’t want to make everyone happy. They want to make their friends happy by making their enemies suffer. Which requires them to not only identify enemies, but create an endless queue of enemies lest they run out.

    Something to watch for in politicians of any party. And then back away slowly; don't, for God's sake, ever turn your back on them.

  • Yay! We're number one again! After a brief dip to second place behind Florida, New Hampshire is ranked as the freest state in the USA by William Ruger and Jason Sorens in Freedom in the 50 States 2021.

    In the fifth edition of the index, Florida had overtaken New Hampshire as the freest state. This time, New Hampshire has regained the crown as the freest state in the Union. In the more distant past, New Hampshire had a huge lead over the rest of the country on fiscal policy, a lead that partly dissipated between 2000 and 2008 because of big increases in local property taxes, which were in turn driven by growth in education spending. It has rebounded quite a bit in absolute terms but has been eclipsed by Florida and Tennessee on the fiscal front. New Hampshire grabs the top spot overall because it does well in both economic freedom (third) and personal freedom (second), something that is also true of Florida but is not the case for Tennessee. It could be a challenge for rivals to catch New Hampshire next time because of policy changes in 2021 in a pro-freedom direction, including tax cuts and the passage of the education freedom accounts program. The “New Hampshire Advantage” could get even stronger within New England. The three states of northern New England pose a stark contrast in economic policies and, for most of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, economic outcomes.

    I'll grant you that other states have better football teams at their flagship universities.

  • If at first you don't succeed… … get some tame government agency to demand another try. Eric Boehm at Reason: NLRB Overturns Amazon Workers' Decision Not To Unionize, Orders New Election.

    Though the election had a clear winner, a small but vocal contingent from the losing faction has spent months pushing wild theories with little supporting evidence about a scheme to fix the outcome. The only solution, they say, is to have a new election where the true winner will emerge victorious.

    And, this time, it seems to have worked.

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered a do-over of a high-profile unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) lost that election decisively in April—by a margin greater than two-to-one—but the NLRB is giving the union a second chance after a dispute that centers on the mailboxes used to collect workers' ballots.

    Why didn't Donald Trump think of getting the NRLB on his side?

  • Meanwhile in Old Blighty… Theodore Darlymple worries about Society Without a Chest.

    That power corrupts is an adage known by all—though how far it is the corrupt in the first place who seek power is an open question. Does the opportunity make the crook, or does the crook make the opportunity? Until a double-blind trial in real life conditions be performed, there is probably no definitive answer to this question; and such a trial will never be performed until the powerful are chosen at random.

    The possession and exercise of power not only corrupts: more fundamentally, it addles the judgment. Sooner or later, the powerful, perhaps believing themselves immune from the normal constraints of human existence, take decisions that almost everyone of merely average capacity can see are mistaken or worse than mistaken. The powerful cease to be able even to act in their own self-interest.

    His examples are from the United Kingdom, but you'll be able to connect the dots to a country nearer you.

    And his title? What's all that about chests? I'm pretty sure it's a shout-out to another Brit, C. S. Lewis, and his essay "Men Without Chests" in his The Abolition of Man. Key quote:

    We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

    I really need to reread that.

  • I would have said even worse, but… At Bari Weiss's substack, Mike Solana tells us the bad news: Twitter Is About to Get Way Worse.

    For anyone who cares about free speech, Jack Dorsey was the villain. But I wonder if this was mostly a matter of aesthetics. Let’s be honest, the guy just always kind of looked like someone who wanted to censor you.

    It was that “#staywoke” shirt he used to run around in, I think. It was the nose ring, probably. Then, I guess it also could have been the last five years of partisan Twitter policy culminating in the deplatforming of a sitting president—I mean honestly who knows. But my sense is, despite appearances, Jack is actually at odds with his company’s drift into authoritarianism, and he’s been quietly protecting many of the values he’s often attacked for debasing. 

    Alas, Monday, he stepped down as CEO of Twitter. Today, what’s left of our open internet is already less safe. 

    Click through, and Mike will remind you about what Twitter did to the New York Post last October. And argues that Dorsey was (kind of) on the side of the good guys back then.

    But now his libertarian influence is gone, and the new CEO doesn't have fond words for free speech. So…

  • I reject David Frum, and all his works, and all his pomps. Looking back at his previous appearances at Pun Salad, I used to like him too. But Charles C. W. Cooke makes a convinving argument that we should Reject David Frum’s False Choice on Trump. (NRPlus, sorry. Subscribe, already.)

    Well, first you might want to read the article that spurs Charlie's reaction: Frum is talking about Russiagate, The Steele Dossier and the New Trump-Russia Denialists.

    Outright pro-Trump people remain deeply invested in those lies. But Trump’s media effort has often relied heavily on people who are not pro-him, but anti-anti-him. And the secret to successful anti-anti-Trumping has always been to fasten onto side issues and “whatabouts.”

    Yes, anti-anti. Here's Charlie:

    In a particularly hilarious passage, Frum clucks that “the secret to successful anti-anti-Trumping has always been to fasten onto side issues and ‘whatabouts,’” before engaging in precisely this behavior himself. “Anti-anti-Trump journalists want to use the Steele controversy to score points off politicians and media institutions that they dislike,” he writes. “But as media malpractice goes, credulous reliance upon the Steele dossier is just a speck compared with — for example — the willingness of the top-rated shows on Fox News to promote the fantasy that the Democratic Party hacked itself, then murdered a staffer named Seth Rich to cover up the self-hack.” Got that? If you are irritated by the mainstream media’s having wasted two breathless years on a phantom, you’re a whataboutist! And, by the way, enough about Russiagate, whatabout that Seth Rich story, amirite?

    Frum’s is a cramped, totalitarian, anti-intellectual way of looking at the world, in which evidence is subordinate to consequence, one’s loyalty to one’s team is absolute, and each and every observer of the scene is encouraged to plot himself on a graph that features our 45th president at its center, and nothing else besides. There is one circumstance — and one circumstance only — in which it makes sense for a person to define himself as uniformly “anti-” or “pro-” a political candidate, and that within the context of elections. Outside of that, it’s creepy as hell. When Donald Trump was president, his most fervent supporters would ask me, “Are you on the Trump train yet?” And I would wonder, “What does that even mean?” My job is to say what I think; it is not to take adamantine loyalty oaths to whomever my political “side” presently considers strategically useful. There is a word for people who commit to praising or criticizing certain public figures, irrespective of the topic, context, or detail, but it sure as hell is not “writer.”

    I imagine, theoretically, someday, I could disagree with CCWC on some issue, but today is not that day.