When Republicans Screw Up…

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The complete Treacher quote is: "When Republicans screw up, that's the story. When Democrats screw up, the Republicans' reaction is the story." The AP seems to think Democrats screwed up here: New Hampshire history marker for communist draws GOP anger.

A historical marker dedicated to a New Hampshire labor activist who championed women’s rights and was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union — but who also joined the Communist Party and was sent to prison — has draw objections from Republican officials and scrutiny from the governor.

I guess there's little doubt that the folks behind the initial push for the "labor activist" being memorialized were not Republicans. But a bunch of Republicans had to be asleep at the switch in the meantime.

Briefly noted:

  • But how will we know who's in charge unless they make more money? Andrew Cline looks at the numbers, and says Teacher pay in NH lags the national average despite $1 billion in new spending.

    Teachers unions and school officials regularly advocate for higher public school spending on the argument that teacher pay is too low. In fact, teacher pay in New Hampshire is relatively low compared to other states. But that’s not a product of low funding levels.

    Average public school district spending in the Granite State is is 14.4% above the national average, while our teacher pay is 5.3% below the national average.

    Depressing graphs at the link.

  • If it weren't for double standards… I'm sure you know how the rest of that saying goes. But Jonah Goldberg is pretty perceptive about them, because he's Buzzed on Coffee and Double Standards.

    Public policy and secular debates are drenched in this sort of categorical inconsistency. Smoking is so terrible that even vaping must be banned because it reminds people of smoking, but isn’t it great that everyone is free to smoke as much weed as they want? Racial discrimination is terrible, but schools must be able to take race into account in admissions. The influence of Big Business on government is outrageous and we shouldn’t allow corporate “loopholes” that let corporations avoid paying their “fair share,” but let me tell you about the progressive tax credit I’ve introduced to encourage companies to fight climate change and my new public-private partnership to promote affordable housing. Crony capitalism and “picking winners and losers” is corrupt and antithetical to the free market, but we must protect American industries and make everybody “buy American.” Who are you to say that men shouldn’t identify as women if they want to, but we all know that white people who identify as black, like Rachel Dolezal, are monsters. The one-drop rule was a hideous manifestation of American racism, but we definitely need it for purposes of affirmative action and census taking. Free speech is under assault, but we have to stiffen the penalties for hate speech. 

    Also making an appearance is the Vox article concerned with embryonic pain in chickens.

  • A dreadful story is told by Emma Camp in the latest issue of Reason, and it's out from behind the paywall: How an Ill-Informed Internet Mob Ruined a UVA Student's Life.

    The story went something like this: A white woman pulled up to a Black Women Matter protest in Charlottesville and told attendees they would make "good fucking speed bumps." When protesters confronted her, the driver cried and called the police.

    If you were a student at the University of Virginia (UVA) during summer 2020—as I was—you almost certainly heard this tale. It was repeated hundreds of times, over group chats and Instagram posts and viral tweets. The rumors were given a sheen of legitimacy by local news reporting and were acknowledged by the university administration.

    Camp's investigation makes it clear that wasn't what happened. But the student, Morgan Bettinger, was successfully railroaded by a UVA tribunal anyway. It's a powerful and tragic story.

  • Also untrusted: that kid who keeps crying "Wolf!" Becket Adams explains that the Public Doesn't Trust the Press for Good Reasons.

    There’s a reason the public distrusts the press. It’s very simple: Too many journalists behave in an untrustworthy manner! In the past week alone, reporters at various major-league institutions have produced or promoted, either purposely or accidentally, misleading or utterly bogus information.

    A National Public Radio reporter, for example, falsely accused Twitter, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk specifically, of censoring NPR’s unflattering coverage of the social-media platform. None of it was true.

    And that tall tale was echoed uncritically and unchecked in other outlets.

    To quote the truest thing Marvin Gaye ever sang: "Believe half of what you see, some and none of what you hear."

  • I would have preferred the iceman. Steven Malanga warns: The Tax Nexus Cometh. And there's a New Hampshire example:

    A small, employee-owned New Hampshire outfit, Littleton Coin Company, sells currency through its website to collectors. After the Supreme Court ruled in its 2018 South Dakota v. Wayfair decision that such firms would henceforth have to pay sales taxes on transactions that they made in states where they weren’t physically present, Littleton Coin found itself potentially liable for levies in more than 12,000 state and local jurisdictions—“all with different laws, tax rates, filing processes, websites, registrations, product classifications, and exemptions,” CEO John Hennessey told a congressional hearing last June.

    The bill is a whopper. The Court’s ruling predicted that the technical capabilities to deal with myriad tax laws would soon be in place at reasonable cost; but in 2018 alone, Littleton invested $225,000 to buy approved software to monitor its new tax liabilities. Since then, the business’s compliance costs—including engaging legal experts and technical staff—have added up to another $275,000 to track and pay proliferating obligations. Several states, meantime, have come, hand outstretched, for retroactive sales-tax payments—some for transactions made years before Wayfair. Worse still, Littleton is looking at unanticipated new levies based on states’ aggressive interpretation of the decision, written by now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Three thousand miles away, California has demanded income taxes from Littleton Coin. And Littleton fears that this is “just the tip of the iceberg, of states reaching beyond these taxes into what could become an unlimited number of new areas,” Hennessey warned.

    Wayfair was decided 5-4, with the majority opinion written (badly, the article claims) by Anothony Kennedy. But the dissenters were the usual bad guys: Breyer, Soromayor, and Kagan joined by Chief Justice Roberts.

  • It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Also on the legal beat, J.D. Tuccille is pretty steamed about the Proud Boys going away: Punishing Rioters Is Wise. Bogus ‘Seditious Conspiracy’ Charges Are Not..

    The problem with convicting members of the "western chauvinist" Proud Boys on seditious conspiracy charges is that it wrongly elevates a violent tantrum by a bunch of thugs to the level of an insurrection, and it lets officials who prosecute them puff themselves up as saviors of the republic. Worse, the case took liberties with a statute that is probably best forgotten to arrive at its conclusion when normal criminal law could have punished rioters without putting the criminal justice system through contortions.

    See what you think. You don't have to be a Proud Boys fan to find this odious.

  • The fix is in? Maybe. We'll see. I trust Andrew C. McCarthy when he says On Hunter, Biden Is Re-running the Obama Fix for Hillary.

    With President Biden now unabashedly influencing the criminal investigation of his son — as well as his other family members and himself — how can Attorney General Merrick Garland persist in refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Biden-family scheme to cash in on Joe’s political influence, to the tune of millions of dollars pried from corrupt, anti-American regimes?

    In a friendly interview on MSNBC on Friday, the chief executive made it clear to his subordinates at the Biden Justice Department that he has determined his son Hunter should not be charged with a crime. “My son has done nothing wrong,” said the president. “I trust him. I have faith in him, and it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”

    I hate the "if it were Trump" argument, but I'll say it anyway: if it were Trump, there would be calls for impeachment.

  • Selling the rope. The College Fix reports with a straight face: UT-Austin paid Angela Davis $25,000 for speech bashing capitalism. OK, you know the bad stuff, but I didn't know about the current revisionism:

    Davis, who supports reparations, started the lecture by promoting the theory that slavery in the West did not end because of Enlightenment-era ideas about liberty and equality, but because industrial capitalists wished to engage in more pernicious racial exploitation.

    “The real reason slavery was abolished was because it was no longer of service to capitalism,” Davis said.

    Well, that's certainly … interesting.

    Your relevant University Near Here link: up-and-comer Kate Slater, whose epigraph for her 2020 presentation "4 Steps to Begin An Anti-Racist Education" is from Davis: "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist."

    Kate's also the co-author of the 2021 Anti-Racist Roadmap, featuring a quote that would make Davis proud: "We can’t abolish White supremacy without abolishing capitalism." Eek!

    Puzzled by the "selling the rope" reference? You shouldn't be. (Note apocryphal origins.)

  • Hey, kids! Let's make up our own Constitutional interpretation! Rich Lowry describes The Absurd 14th Amendment Option on the Debt.

    The position of the White House on the debt limit may be shifting from “President Joe Biden doesn’t want to compromise” to “President Joe Biden doesn’t have to compromise under the U.S. Constitution.”

    The heretofore fringe idea that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment empowers the president to keep borrowing and spending as usual even if the debt limit isn’t extended is getting a respectful hearing.

    Back in January, the U.S. reached the current debt limit of $31.4 trillion, which — surprise, surprise — wasn’t nearly enough. The Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to this point to avoid hitting the wall but will exhaust its running room around the beginning of June.

    Hoping the GOP won't go wobbly. But I realize that's a long shot.


Last Modified 2024-01-13 10:56 AM EST

Psych

The Story of the Human Mind

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The author, Paul Bloom, based this book off an "Introduction to Psychology" course he taught at Yale. (He's now mainly at the University of Toronto.) It shows, and in a good way: the text is accessible to the general reader, full of interesting anecdotes, funny asides, and colorful language. An easy read, and you nevertheless find yourself learning things.

He discusses some famed luminaries of the field in detail: Freud, Piaget, Skinner. But most of the book focuses on broad concepts, broken into clearly demarcated, stand-alone chapters: the materialist origins of thought and consciousness; language development; rationality (and irrationality); biases and racism; mental illness; the nature of happiness.

Bloom is a research psychologist, but he's straightforward about the troubles in his own field, and full of healthy skepticism. Thomas Szasz is discussed; Bloom disagrees with his radicalism, but respectfully. He looks at that pesky replication crisis. And, although Bloom's got evidence on his side that psychological therapy works—that lady telling you to "seek professional help" is actually giving you good advice—there's not been a lot of actual progress in that area for a long time. The most damning quote Bloom provides is from Thomas Insel, onetime director of the National Institute for Mental Health: after 13 years at NIMH, spending an estimated $20 billion on research, he admits not "moving the needle" on suicide, hospitalization, or patient recovery.

He's not refunding that money, however.

When Bloom discusses racial/gender differences, he's not that far off from Charles Murray, although not in any way that would cause Yale students to shriek. He notes that formally egalitarian societies can "max out" genetic potential: people can literally "be all they can be". But he doesn't go on to mention (as Murray does) that those racial/gender disparities still persist in the most egalitarian countries. So?

When discussing schizophrenia, Bloom rattles off the symptoms, including "disorganized speech" (the tendency to produce word salad) and "odd and inappropriate actions, such as inappropriate giggling". Gee, I didn't previously think Kamala Harris was schizophrenic, but now I'm open to the possibility. I'll keep my eyes open for other telltale signs.

And Bloom mentions an ongoing mystery: why we behave so darn oddly when seeing cute babies: the urge to pinch, squeeze, and nibble. Prof Bloom, that happens to me all the time. Why? When psychology solves that enigma, I'll be more comfortable calling it a science.


Last Modified 2024-01-13 10:56 AM EST