URLs du Jour

2022-04-16

[How am I driving?]

  • And they let the screen door hit them in the ass on their way out. Jonah Goldberg's recent G-File introduced me to a new word, "popularism". Apparently, the word only applies to Democrats looking to avoid upcoming electoral disasters; Jonah includes Ezra Klein's description:

    All this comes down to a simple prescription: Democrats should do a lot of polling to figure out which of their views are popular and which are not popular, and then they should talk about the popular stuff and shut up about the unpopular stuff. “Traditional diversity and inclusion is super important, but polling is one of the only tools we have to step outside of ourselves and see what the median voter actually thinks,” Shor said. This theory is often short-handed as “popularism.” It doesn’t sound as if it would be particularly controversial.

    But, among progressives, it is.

    So that's what came to mind when I read this NHJournal article: Hispanic Leaders Resign From NH Dem Latino Caucus Over Hassan, Pappas Immigration Stance. Because Hassan and Pappas, with their fingers in the air, now support retaining "Title 42", the policy that discourages incoming border crossings from Mexico.

    Sen. Maggie Hassan may have thought a photoshoot in front of Trump’s border wall was smart politics. But for members of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus, it was the last straw.

    “That was the last kick in the butt for the immigrant community, and all of us as Latinos,” said Eva Castillo.

    Castillo is executive director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees and, until recently, a high-profile member of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus. But on Tuesday she and several of her fellow leaders in the Latino community sent the caucus a joint letter of resignation from the caucus to state party chair Ray Buckley over the behavior of Hassan and fellow Democrat incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas.

    I think that Hassan's and Pappas's newfound respect for "border security" is a signal that they've adopted the "popularism" strategy, at least in part. The NH Journal article goes on to note the freakout from other Democrats, like State Rep Sherry Frost:

    Don't worry, Sherry baby. In the hypothetical future where this "works" and Hassan and Pappas manage to get re-elected, I have little doubt they'll return to the fold, mindlessly rubber-stamping anything their party leaders want.


  • Abolish the FDA. Jacob Sullum notes: The FDA's Rejection of a Major Vaping Brand Shows It Is Arbitrarily Applying a Nebulous Legal Standard.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued "marketing denial orders" (MDOs) for the myblu vaping device and several of its tobacco-flavored proprietary pods. The decision, which the FDA announced last Friday, affects one of the leading e-cigarette brands and does not bode well for smokers who have switched to vaping or might be interested in doing so. The FDA concluded that allowing the sale of the myblu products would not be "appropriate for the protection of the public health," which illustrates how nebulous that standard is and how arbitrarily the FDA applies it.

    The FDA seems determined to ban nearly every vaping product currently available in the United States. As of September 9, 2020, the deadline for seeking "premarket" approval, it had received some 6 million applications—one for every permutation of devices and e-liquids that manufacturers sought to introduce or keep on the market. Although the FDA was supposed to act on those applications by last September, it missed that court-ordered deadline. The agency now claims to have "completed the review of and made determinations on more than 99 percent" of the products whose manufacturers sought approval.

    I'm with Katherine Mangu-Ward on this.


  • I suppose I should keep blogging about this. Or I could get Jim Geraghty to do it for me: Elon Musk Offers to Buy Twitter.

    There is something indisputably delightful about the way that Musk freaks out elite progressives, and the way that his full-throated endorsement of free speech absolutely terrifies them. They have grown used to having the power to shut down voices that offend or bother them.

    (Some of us on the right have a clearer, more full-spectrum view of Musk. There’s a lot to like about his fearless, innovative, Tony Stark-in-real-life style, particularly his view on the First Amendment and his opposition to cancel culture; he asked recently, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” But Musk is also way too friendly with the Chinese government, his businesses are built in part on government contracts and subsidies, and he can be erratic in his decision-making at times. He’s a really intriguing, bold, and imaginative guy, but he’s not Tech Jesus.)

    Geraghty goes on to lecture Robert Reich about the meaning of "free speech". I'm in agreement with his bottom line: "A Musk-run Twitter would be different — and, at least in this [free speech] erea, almost certainly better."


  • I was going to add "5. Resign", but Kamala… Jon Miltimore has some worthwhile suggestions that won't be taken: 4 Bipartisan Steps Biden Can Take to Tame Surging Prices Amid Historic Inflation. He's (mostly) in agreement with Democrat Larry Summers:

    Miltimore replaces Summers' Strategic Petroleum Reserve item with:

    2. Repeal the Jones Act

    The Jones Act is one of those obscure laws most Americans couldn’t name, let alone explain, if their life depended on it. A section of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act is a federal law that regulates US maritime commerce. Among other things, the Act requires all ships that move freight between US ports to be built in the US and crewed by Americans.

    Most Americans were not aware of the country’s port problems until the pandemic, but these problems were not new; they were decades in the making, and they stem in large part from the Jones Act.

    We've been griping about the Jones Act for about four and a half years, back when it was preventing timely disaster aid to Puerto Rico.


  • Paul Ryan also let the screen door hit him in the ass on his way out. Chris Pope recalls the tragic tale of Paul Ryan's Ill-Fated Plan to Reduce Social Spending.

    For most of the past half-century, federal expenditures have been kept around 20 percent of GDP. The cost of existing commitments, however, is projected to grow that number to 30 percent of GDP by 2050—largely because of increased expenditures on health care and Social Security.

    In 2008, Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, estimated that income-tax rates would need to double to fund existing spending commitments. He proposed a “Roadmap for America’s Future” to avert the problem. This propelled him to the forefront of the GOP; he would become Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012 and later Speaker of the House. But only three years into his speakership, Ryan retired from Congress, seemingly yesterday’s man at just 48, and his program has vanished into the mists.

    In the years since, few have proposed alternative paths to Ryan’s, even though staying on the current course is not an option. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the absence of sweeping reforms would cause GDP per capita to decline from 2050 onward and noted that “beyond 2058, projected deficits . . . become so large and unsustainable that CBO’s model cannot calculate their effects.”

    Ryan's plan was characterized as throwing granny off a clif. An ad PolitiFact rated "mostly true."


Last Modified 2022-05-11 7:11 AM EDT