Campaign Signs Going Up Early

Snapped on South Street in Rollinsford during my dog walk yesterday morning:

Once again, the DC Shuffle in action:

  1. Uncle Stupid takes our tax dollars;
  2. Sends some of it back to us;
  3. Acts like he's done us a favor.

In this case, it's replacement of some antiquated water lines, so it's pretty close to literal trickle-down economics. The funding is specifically credited to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which dumped $1.9 trillion-with-a-t of Federal Funny Money on us. It was billed as a response to the pandemic. Despite the sign claiming "bipartisan", I don't think a single Republican voted in favor.

Specifically naming "President Joe Biden" on the sign is a nice touch, though. Which brings us to Christian Schneider's recent observation: Joe Biden Is a Weird Liar. Recent example:

On Tuesday, shortly after his son Hunter was found guilty of breaking federal gun laws, Joe Biden stood in front of a pro-gun-control group, buttressing his anti-gun position with phony credentials.

“When I was no longer the vice president, I became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania,” Biden said, adding that he had previously “taught the Second Amendment” in a constitutional-law class.

Of course, Biden was a “professor” at Penn in the same way a powdered beef-flavored ramen noodle packet contains filet mignon. Biden — evidently unaware this information is available on the internet — was paid nearly a million dollars to be a “professor” but never taught any classes; he was effectively there as a figurehead to attract donors. In fact, with his degree from the Wharton School of Business, Donald Trump has seen four more years’ worth of Penn classrooms than Biden has. (In fairness, Biden did spend years teaching a constitutional-law class, but it was at Widener University. On Tuesday, he was clearly trying to get some of that Ivy League shine.)

Schneider notes that, like many politicians, "Biden lies about things that benefit him politically." Not admirable, but that sort of, at lease, makes sense.

But most of the time, Biden’s lies are about weird, creepy things for which he actually has no reason to lie. Things that don’t help him with voters but that he seems to think make him more interesting.

The cannibalized uncle. Corn Pop. Semi driver. Rule of thumb. Etc.

Also of note:

  • Speaking of bipartisanship, maybe he could get dog-handling advice from Kristi Noem? In the too-good-to-check department: Biden repeatedly watched his dog attack Secret Service as staff wished each other ‘safe shift’.

    President Biden repeatedly watched his German shepherd Commander attack Secret Service members, who wished each other a “safe shift” as the number of incidents mounted — with one exasperated workplace safety professional urging the use of a muzzle, agency records show.

    The number of dog attacks involving Commander, who the White House said in February was given away after more than two years of terrorizing professionals assigned to protect Biden; and former first dog Major, who was rehomed in 2021 after also attacking personnel; could top three dozen, the newly surfaced records suggest.

    The 81-year-old president reportedly accused a Secret Service member of lying about being attacked by Major during his first year in office, but was present for at least three separate attacks involving Commander, files released to Judicial Watch under Freedom of Information Act litigation show.

    Maybe the Secret Service should stop wearing the Pup-Peroni flavored pants.

  • Tell the truth, go to jail. The NR editors weigh in: DOJ Persecuting Trans-Medicine Whistleblower Eithan Haim.

    Following pressure from GOP state officials, in March 2022, Texas Children’s Hospital publicly announced that it would no longer be offering transgender drugs and surgeries to minors. This was a lie. Behind closed doors — and away from public scrutiny — the hospital continued its medically dubious regimen.

    We know this thanks to Eithan Haim, a courageous resident surgeon who leaked evidence of the hospital’s subterfuge to City Journal’s Christopher Rufo. In a matter of days, Haim’s whistleblower testimony prompted Republican state legislators to pass a bill outlawing the use of transgender drugs and surgeries in pediatric medicine.

    Not everyone was grateful for this public service.

    In June 2023, the day Haim was set to graduate from the hospital’s residency program, two federal agents showed up at his home and informed him that he was a potential target in a criminal investigation relating to medical documents. Concerned that he was being targeted for political reasons, Haim came forward with his identity and the Biden administration’s investigation of him.

    There is, I suppose, reason to be cautious, because we're only hearing one side. But…

  • I'm pretty sure Hunter Biden has no sympathy for Kevin D. Williamson. But KDW has Sympathy for Hunter Biden.

    The Bible tells us we are supposed to pray for our enemies—even the worst of them. Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden—there isn’t an asterisk that says, “… unless they’re really bad, in which case, never mind.” I myself have a hard time not wishing ill on people who use speakerphones in public—or, you know, resisting the urge to take active measures

    Hunter Biden isn’t even my enemy. He’s just a garden-variety dumbass with a very famous father. But it still isn’t easy to be sympathetic. Not for me, anyway. 

    That isn’t something to be proud of. Whatever the madding crowd may try to convince you in 2024, hatred is not a marker of moral seriousness, clarity, or urgency. It’s just a natural itch that it feels good to scratch, and we happen to live in a society that feels the need to moralize its pleasures.

    It's a good lesson, and I hope it isn't paywalled.

  • But I suspect they are not hiding in Washington D. C. A provocative hypothesis from Smart People University: Harvard Scientists Say There May Be an Unknown, Technologically Advanced Civilization Hiding on Earth.

    What if — stick with us here — an unknown technological civilization is hiding right here on Earth, sheltering in bases deep underground and possibly even emerging with UFOs or disguised as everyday humans?

    In a new paper that's bound to raise eyebrows in the scientific community, a team of researchers from Harvard and Montana Technological University speculates that sightings of "Unidentified Anomalous Phemonemona" (UAP) — bureaucracy-speak for UFOs, basically — "may reflect activities of intelligent beings concealed in stealth here on Earth (e.g., underground), and/or its near environs (e.g., the Moon), and/or even 'walking among us' (e.g., passing as humans)."

    Yes, that's a direct quote from the paper. Needless to say, the researchers admit, this idea of hidden "crypoterrestrials" is a highly exotic hypothesis that's "likely to be regarded skeptically by most scientists." Nonetheless, they argue, the theory "deserves genuine consideration in a spirit of epistemic humility and openness."

    There's a link to the "new paper" in the article, but it doesn't work for me.

    Could the cover-up alreadly be in place?

"That Guy. Over There. It's His Fault."

Veronique de Rugy points out a recurring theme: Biden Points the Bill (and the Blame) Elsewhere.

Government overspending, an activity the Biden administration has taken to a new level, has sent the country into an inflationary spiral. Through trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief programs, infrastructure spending, vote-buying student loan forgiveness programs and a political "Build Back Better Agenda," the White House has flooded the economy and decimated consumers' purchasing power. We're paying more and getting less for everything from energy to food.

According to the House Budget Committee, the average family of four is paying around $1,143 more each month than it was in early 2021 for the same goods and services; this includes increased gasoline costs. Rather than reversing course, President Joe Biden is telling voters the private sector is to blame and that he has the answers. He's doubling down by proposing more stifling, job-killing regulations to "fix" the problem — regulations which will inevitably send inflation to new heights.

That's the way I'd bet too.

Also of note:

  • Wimps. Just last month, our local Hamas cheerleaders congratulated themselves in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, for getting arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the office of their (and my) CongressCritter, Chris Pappas.

    At the time, they proudly trumpeted their "willingness to face the consequences of civil disobedience".

    But now‥ not so much: Five plead not guilty to trespassing as they press Rep. Pappas in Dover on war in Gaza.

    Five people arrested at U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas’ Dover office in May after a protest against the war in Gaza have pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass and are scheduled to head to trial in the fall.

    The trial is scheduled for October. So they might be willing to face the consequences, but not soon, and not without a fight.

  • Thank your local mogul. Michael R. Strain writes In Defense of Billionaires,

    Billionaires should not exist,” argues Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has long described himself as a democratic socialist. Indeed, “every billionaire is a policy failure” is a relatively common slogan among American progressives.

    To demonstrate the horseshoe nature of the political spectrum, Strain points out another example…


    Billionaire innovators create enormous value for society. In a 2004 paper, the Nobel laureate economist William D. Nordhaus found “that only a minuscule fraction” – about 2.2% – “of the social returns from technological advances” accrued to innovators themselves. The rest of the benefits (which is to say, almost all of them) went to consumers.

    According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth $170 billion. Extrapolating from Nordhaus’s findings, one could conclude that Bezos has created over $8 trillion – more than one-third of the United States’ annual GDP – in value for society. For example, Amazon has reduced the price of many consumer goods and freed up an enormous amount of time for millions of Americans by eliminating the need to visit brick-and-mortar retailers. Bezos, meanwhile, has received only a tiny slice of those social benefits.

    I understand why political types like Sanders and Bannon despise billionaires: because billionaires provide ordinary people, directly or indirectly, with goods and services that they actually want, as demonstrated by their willingness to open their wallets.

    Government, on the other hand, will only give you what it thinks you should have. And make you pay for it.

  • It helped that Hunter is a blithering idiot. Andrew C. McCarthy disdains The DOJ’s Undeserved Victory Lap over Hunter’s Convictions.

    In the wake of Hunter Biden’s conviction on three slam-dunk felony firearm charges, we’ve now had a victory-lap press conference by so-called special counsel David Weiss, and the predictable chest-beating by Biden apologists about how the president’s Justice Department courageously prosecuted the president’s son without fear or favor.

    Astonishing chutzpah, even from this crowd.

    The crimes found by the jury were committed on October 12, 2018, and were fully known to law enforcement within less than two weeks when the gun was recovered after the defendant’s then-girlfriend — the wife of his late brother, whom he’d also gotten hooked on crack — took the Colt Cobra .38, which he’d illegally purchased while lying on the required federal form, and recklessly discarded it in a trash bin near a school, out of fear that in his drug-addled state he’d hurt himself or others. If the defendant’s name had been Robert Hunter Smith, any normal federal prosecutor would have prosecuted him for these crimes by early 2019, if not sooner — and there’d have been no concerns about the Secret Service mysteriously intervening to make the damning evidence disappear.

    But the defendant was named Robert Hunter Biden and the federal prosecutor was the abnormally political David Weiss, so the prosecution took six years — and if Weiss and the Biden Justice Department had had their way, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

    Not a gifted link, sorry.

  • But I was assured… Speaking of long-delayed justice, Jazz Shaw relates: Connecticut Dems Arrested After Voter Fraud Debacle.

    The wheels of justice turn slowly, as the saying goes. That seems to be particularly true in Connecticut. As you may recall, the mayoral election in Bridgeport, Connecticut last year was so riddled with election fraud involving mass mail-in voting that a judge ordered both the primary and general elections to be rerun. That wasn't the city's first run-in with that sort of cheating. During the 2019 elections, other allegations of "mishandling" absentee ballots were raised, leading to a police investigation. But this week, long after the dust had allegedly settled, arrests were finally made in these cases. Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Vice Chair Wanda Geter-Pataky and City Council Member Alfredo Castillo were charged with unlawful possession of absentee ballots and other election law violations. Two campaign workers - also Democrats - were also charged.

    It might have gone unnoticed, but the alleged perpetrators seem to have been extremely inept.

    The problem with "easy" voting is that it makes fraud easy too. It's claimed there's "no evidence" of widespread voter fraud, but that's because the system is designed to not detect fraud.

Caption This

"If we jump into that limo and floor it, we can be in Mexico by tomorrow morning!" "Wha?"

But let's be serious, by linking to a serious article by Jacob Sullum: Hunter Biden's Gun Conviction Does Not Resolve a Constitutional Dispute That Pits Him Against His Father.

A federal jury in Delaware today found Hunter Biden guilty of three felonies based on his purchase of a revolver from a Wilmington gun shop in October 2018. That outcome is not surprising, since Biden had publicly admitted that he was a regular crack cocaine user around the time of the transaction. But Biden can still challenge the verdict by arguing that his prosecution violated the Second Amendment—a claim that pits him against his own father.

I don't recall seeing this scenario played out on The West Wing. But that may be because I never watched The West Wing.

Ah, but wait a minute, how about 24? Ah, this is much closer.

During Day 1, a political scandal broke out surrounding Keith Palmer's alleged murder of Lyle Gibson. Keith's father, Senator David Palmer, was running for the Democratic Party nomination at the time this scandal broke out. A collective of businessmen responsible for much of the funding of the David Palmer presidential campaign—known as the Latham Group—feared this scandal would ruin Palmer's chances of becoming president. They went so far as to commit blackmail and murder in order to cover it up. Palmer, however, eventually came forward with the truth himself and exposed the conspirators.

Jack Bauer could have cleared things up by shooting a few people in the leg, but apparently that wasn't necessary.

Also of note:

  • Don't believe the some polls. Nate Silver provides his latest Pollster ratings. There's a large table, but I jumped down — way down — to find the Survey Center hosted by the University Near Here.

    Spoiler: the Survey Center is in 291st place, and was awarded a mediocre grade of C+. Interestingly, Nate calculates their "Mean-Reverted Bias" to be 1.9 percentage points toward the Ds.

  • But the Department of Justice isn't politicized. Emily Yoffe with a sign of the times: A Doctor Told the Truth. The Feds Showed Up at His Door.

    Eithan Haim, 34, is at the beginning of his career as a surgeon. He and his wife are expecting their first child in the fall. And now he is facing a four-count federal felony indictment for blowing the whistle on Texas Children’s Hospital, where he worked while a resident.

    At TCH, he discovered the hospital was secretly continuing gender transition treatments on minors—including hormonal intervention on patients as young as 11 years old—after publicly declaring, in March of 2022, it would no longer provide such services.

    The hospital unwillingly backed away from the treatments under pressure from the Texas governor and attorney general. But Haim found not only were the treatments continuing—the program appeared to be expanding. He recorded several online presentations by medical staff encouraging the transition of children—one social worker described how she deliberately did not make note of such treatment in the medical charts of patients to avoid leaving a paper trail. Haim told me, “They were talking publicly about how they were concealing what they were doing. You can’t take care of your patient without trust. For me as a doctor, to not do something about this was unconscionable.”

    HIPAA violations are alleged, but Haim claims to have redacted names and other identifying data from the documents he provided to Christopher Rufo, the reporter covering the story for the City Journal.

  • Also in the censorious eye. James Taranto notes a desperate attempt to make something out of nothing: Justice Alito Stands Falsely Accused of Candor.

    Justice Samuel Alito began the week facing an accusation of excessive candor. Although the charge was leveled by Rolling Stone magazine, it seemed plausible because he is unusually outspoken for a sitting jurist. But it’s a bum rap. In this instance, what Justice Alito had to say was about as interesting as a seminar on real-estate law.

    The magazine claims that Justice Alito “spoke candidly about the ideological battle between the left and the right—discussing the difficulty of living ‘peacefully’ with ideological opponents in the face of ‘fundamental’ differences that ‘can’t be compromised.’ ”

    The “interlocutor,” Lauren Windsor, turned out to be lying to Justice Alito. Rolling Stone describes her as “a liberal documentary filmmaker” who “asked questions of the justice as though she were a religious conservative.” She met him by joining the Supreme Court Historical Society and buying a ticket to its annual dinner last week (and also in 2023), where she surreptitiously recorded the conversations. She posted the audio recordings to Twitter.

    Free legal advice: Ms. Windsor would be in trouble if she tried that in New Hampshire.

Blunt But Accurate

Jeff Maurer takes down a progressive fantasy in exactly 25 words:

Fair play to him. (Sorry, I'm in the middle of reading Tana French's latest.)

Also of note:

  • Blame it on the Bossa Nova. Megan McArdle requests that we point our shaky fingers elsewhere: Don’t blame the Supreme Court for universities’ stunning reversal on DEI.

    After a decade of ever-escalating commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, elite campuses are reversing course.

    Many Ivy League admissions offices reinstated SAT requirements, even though doing so will make it harder to evade stricter Supreme Court scrutiny of racial preferences. MIT rescinded its requirement that aspiring faculty provide DEI statements explaining how they would advance its principles. Harvard’s faculty of arts and sciences soon followed, and the rest of the Ivy League will likely come trailing behind. Harvard also announced it would no longer be taking positions on matters outside the core functions of the university, while Stanford’s faculty voted to reaffirm principles of academic freedom and exercise restraint on institutional pronouncements.

    It's amazing to watch such an abrupt volte-face. What’s even more amazing is how far things went beforehand and how long the correction took to arrive.

    Ms. McArdle oh-so-gently notes that DEI was built on well-meaning prevarication; but as time went on, the lies took on their usual sitcom course, snowballing until the whole rickety structure became unsupportable.

    Classical reference. Why don't they ever play that song in my supermarket? Probably because people would be dancing in the aisles.

  • Why make up conspiracy theories about the Deep State, when the simple truth is so outrageous? James Taranto writes at the WSJ on The Deep State vs. Taxpayers. Quoting a Washington Times story:

    The IRS is struggling to get its employees back to work in person at least 50% of the time, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the agency’s labor union is the chief hurdle.

    In striking testimony to Congress, Ms. Yellen suggested that the department may have to renegotiate contracts to get those employees back to their desks more often.

    “Some of the employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. They are members of a union, and to enforce those rules requires an agreement with the union,” she told the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.

    Apparently, Federal "workers" have been allowed to unionize since the Jimmy Carter administration. That, to put it mildly, was a mistake.

  • Really trying to win Michiganistan, I guess. John Podhoretz writes of four "clarifying moments" that occurred recently: Heroism and the Biden Brainless Trust.

    It was a clarifying weekend both in the Middle East and in Washington. Clarifying in the first place because Israel got some of its mojo back in the staggering rescue of the four hostages in broad daylight from separate buildings in the Nuseirat refugee camp—which is technically under UN control, let us not forget. And one of those buildings was an UN refugee school. In other words, the UN was being used as a hostage prison. So we had four Israelis being used as slaves and household workers in territory controlled by the the world’s “peacekeepers.”

    Those of us who have long advocated literally blowing up the UN buildings in Turtle Bay in Manhattan—one of the first covers of the long-defunct magazine Insight, which I edited beginning in 1985, depicted the UN tower being dismantled, so that’s how long ago this idea has been percolating—now have renewed reason to press our case. The UN pays no taxes. Tear it down and there’s a huge development site in the most desirable spot in the city that could return billions in lost revenue. Meanwhile, the UN could be relocated to someplace that could use its commerce and doesn’t mind how it sheds blood and treasure in the name of Israel-hatred, like Lagos or South Sudan, and where there are no boutiques for the wives of monstrous dictators to buy stuff marked up especially for them. Rid my city of this organization that employs out-and-out neo-Nazis like UN “special rapporteur” Francesca Albanese, a person (I hesitate even to call her a person) whose views on Israel might cause Josef Goebbels to say, “Well, now you go a little far.” Not to mention one of the world’s greatest villains at the moment, UN General Secretary Guterres, a man who demonstrates the way in which a lifelong commitment to socialism now practically requires all-but-open Jew-hatred to maintain its purity as an ideological calling.

    You'll have to click over for the other clarifying moments. JPod's on fire.

  • Confirmed. At Power Line, Steven Hayward notes Facebook Censoring Climate Dissent Again.

    We’ve often cited the work of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado, who science Substack, The Honest Broker, is essential reading. What you should know about Roger (whom I know quite well) is that he is a centrist-liberal Democrat, believes climate change is a genuine future risk, and supports a carbon tax and other measures to fight it. But he also calls bull—- on a lot of climate extremism and exaggeration. His work has been cited by the “official” “consensus” scientific reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and he even forced Al Gore to change some of the claims Gore used to make about thermageddon.

    Hayward requested readers to make a normal FB post pointing to Pielke's Substack article, Climate Science is About to Make a Huge Mistake. That "huge mistake"? Pushing "an outdated extreme emissions scenario called RCP8.5" as the proper one to guide international policy.

    Reader, there is nothing outrageous or dangerous in Pielke's article; check for yourself.

    But, yup, within a few seconds of my posting a link to the article, it got taken down. I have appealed.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-06-12 7:34 AM EDT

Pun Salad Dietary Advice: Don't Eat Anything You Wouldn't Kill Yourself

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

There are some surprising answers to the question posed at Our World in Data by Hannah Ritchie: What are the trade-offs between animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat?. It's an article full of Fun Facts, and here are some of the Funnest (footnotes elided):

Swap a beef burger for a chicken one, and you’ll cut the carbon footprint of your dinner by around 80%. The problem, however, is that you’ll need to kill 200 times as many chickens as cows to get the same amount of meat. An average chicken might produce around 1.7 kilograms of meat, while a cow produces around 360 kilograms.

This is true for other types of livestock, too. In the chart below, I’ve shown each type of meat’s carbon footprint on the right and the number of animals killed to produce one tonne on the left. You can see the trade-off. Bigger animals — cows, pigs, and lambs — emit more greenhouse gases but produce much more meat per animal. Chicken and fish might have a low carbon footprint but are killed in much higher numbers.

The consequence is that many more smaller animals — chickens and fish — are slaughtered. As my colleague, Max Roser shows in another article, every day 200 million chickens and hundreds of millions of fish are killed, compared to several million pigs and sheep, and about 900,000 cows daily.

To give these figures some context, the average person in the European Union consumes around 80 kilograms of meat per year. If all of this came from chicken meat, about 40 chickens would have to be killed per person. From beef, it would be less than one-sixth of a cow. That’s one cow every 6 or 7 years.

But it’s not just the number of lives that matters. The life of an average chicken is likely much worse than a cow's. Nearly all of the world’s chickens are factory-farmed. I’ve written about the painful conditions that many chickens experience throughout their lives. While it is certainly the case that some cattle will also experience poor standards of care, they’re more likely, on average, to have higher levels of welfare.

It is difficult to navigate this tradeoff. Swapping beef for chicken and fish will reduce your environmental footprint but at the cost of more animals living more painful lives.

Hannah has gone vegan, an admirable choice. I've been evaluating my dietary options lately. This article didn't make things easier for me.

Also of note:

  • Irony alert. Exercise for the reader: construct the the Venn diagram showing the intersection of (a) people who shriek about "book bans" when parents gripe about school libraries with copies of Gender Queer; and (b) people who think this sort of thing is just great: The Olympics Create List Of Banned Words For Journalists Regarding "Trans" Athletes. Victory Girls Blog quotes the Daily Mail:

    In a new 33-page document, the International Olympic Committee warned the media against using terms such as ‘born male’, ‘born female’, ‘biologically male’ and ‘biologically female’, which they claim is ‘problematic language’.

    The IOC also urges the press to avoid ‘sex change’, ‘post-operative surgery’ and ‘transsexual’. They said these phrases ‘can be dehumanising and inaccurate’ when describing transgender sportspeople and athletes with sex variations.

    The IOC's document doesn't seem to use the word "ban". I'm not sure what they would do if some renegade journalist committed an act of honesty.

  • Well, that's good news. Andrew McCarthy says Steve Bannon’s Remand Is Consistent with the Law. Ah, but there's a catch.

    There is gnashing of teeth over the federal court order on Thursday that former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon surrender on July 1 to begin serving, finally, the four-month sentence imposed on him nearly two years ago by Judge Carl Nichols. Naturally, much of the caterwauling comes from Bannon himself, who, as our Zach Kessel reports, claimed that the ruling by Nichols — a Trump appointee — was “about shutting down the MAGA movement, shutting down grassroots conservatives, shutting down President Trump.”

    While I am chagrined to see Bannon confined, just as I was to see him prosecuted, there is nothing untoward about Judge Nichols’s directive.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Bannon was guilty of obstructing Congress . . . just as I think Attorney General Eric Holder was guilty of obstructing Congress. The difference is that, in their Trump-deranged norm-breaking, the Democrat-controlled House January 6 Committee — which was rigged to exclude members tapped to serve on it by Republican leadership — referred Bannon to the Biden Justice Department, which dutifully prosecuted him; by contrast, the Obama Justice Department (shock, shock!) chose not to prosecute Holder, Obama’s attorney general, when he provided false information (in connection with the Fast and Furious fiasco) to the then-Republican-controlled House.

    That's a gifted link, so RTWT.

Wallace Stanley Sayre! Thou Shouldst Be Living at This Hour!

Because "Sayre's Law" has never been so relevant.

Sayre is credited with the quip: "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low." The Wikipedia entry generalizes: "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake."

That is what (sort of) came to mind while watching this Reason video from Zach Weissmueller:

Or you can read the transcript, if you prefer: A Power Struggle Consumes the Libertarian Party.

How did the Libertarian Party Convention become a campaign stop for candidates with wildly anti-libertarian views? This year's speakers included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who once called for jailing so-called climate deniers, and former president Donald Trump, a rabid opponent of free trade who added $8 trillion to the U.S. debt.

It's part of a strategy to transform the Libertarian Party (L.P.) into a major force in American politics that's largely the brainchild of political strategist Michael Heise, who viewed the 2016 presidential candidacy of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld as a colossal failure.

"Gary Johnson, 4.3 million votes, highest vote total ever, no lasting movement, no return on investment on those votes," Heise told Reason in 2022 during the party's convention in Reno. "[Gary Johnson voters] didn't stay because they weren't what you might call 'true believers.' They didn't feel it in their bones. It didn't have that same animation to it [as did] the Ron Paul [movement]."

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)
I guess I'd point to Heise's invocation of "true believers" as a good thing as the actual problem here. It's as if he read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer and treated it as a how-to manual. (I finally got around to reading it myself last year. And you should too. Amazon link at your right.)

So, anyway, Sayre's Law definitely applies, as witness the bitter LP infighting. But a different saying would apply to Heise's efforts to turn the LP into a Hofferian "mass movement": actual libertarians, instinctively individualistic, flinch away from that sort of thing. A different, probably Marxist, saying applies: "I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

Our regular Sunday look at the betting odds unsurprisingly fails to include Chase Oliver, the LP presidential candidate:

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 52.6% +1.8%
Joe Biden 37.8% -2.9%
Michelle Obama 3.6% +0.8%
Robert Kennedy Jr 2.0% -0.2%
Other 4.0% +0.5%

Observation: Trump leads Biden in the betting probability by 14.8 percentage points, which is bigger than his lead on the Sunday just before he got convicted of 34 felonies. Funny.

And Michelle continues to impress some of the punters, who, I assume, are actually wagering on an actuarial event.

Also of note:

  • Finally. I was long dismayed by the wild and wacky conspiracy theorizing about the 2020 election. (Example.) But Steven Calabresi has some valid criticism at the Volokh Conspiracy here (but also see here).

    Using the the Covid pandemic as an excuse, the Left in 2020 massively changed the way presidential elections are held in this country. Whereas previously the secret ballot and same day voting was the norm, and one needed an excuse to get an absentee ballot, suddenly the Left declared it was essential to switch to mail in voting, for any reason at all, over a period of many weeks.

    Swarms of Democratic vote canvassers knocked on the doors of thousands of people who had not yet voted "by mail" and offered to "help" them "make their vote count". Ballots were filled in by voters at home. possibly with canvassers or family members, "observing" how each person voted. Canvassers then "offered" to deliver the "harvested ballots" to "drop boxes" saving voters the trouble of turning them in themselves. The net result was that Donald Trump got more votes in Pennsylvania in 2020 than Barack Obama had in either 2008 or in 2012, but he still fell 80,555 votes short of Joe Biden because "mail-in" voting with no secret ballot and canvassers conveying your ballot for you to the polls or a drop box was such a hit.

    Absentee ballots are probably necessary for the bedridden and voters currently out of state. (In fact, I'd prefer, for example, that UNH students paying out-of-state tuition get absentee ballots from their own localities.) But Calabresi makes a compelling argument that routine mail-in voting opens up too much room for intimidation and fraud.

  • She likes the bad boys. Ann Althouse looks at a WaPo article about the GOP Veepstakes: "In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly talked about Rubio, Vance and Burgum, according to people familiar with his remarks...."

    But, hey, what about Nikki? Ann quotes from the article:

    “She’s a very disloyal person,” Trump said, according to attendees [at a recent fundraiser]. He then complained that she backed Marco Rubio in 2016 even after he asked for her endorsement and that she had been disloyal repeatedly to him since. “You have to like the person you’re running with, and I don’t like her. I don’t like her.

    Trump said he was not worried about her voters leaving him, according to attendees. “All those people are going to come vote for us anyway. Who are they going to vote for? … I think if I picked Nikki Haley, it would look like such a weak decision.”

    The primary thing Trump cares about is "loyalty". To him. How deeply do they bend the knee, how much spittle do they leave behind when kissing the ring?

  • A bad day's when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been. Matthew Continetti thinks President Dotard is Slip Slidin’ Away.

    President Biden “shows signs of slipping,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Journalists Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes — no conservatives — spoke to 45 people who have met with the president and noticed his mental and physical decline. They recount, in detail, several meetings over the past year where Biden has been forgetful, confused, and out of it. The president, Linskey and Hughes report, “appears slower now, someone who has both good moments and bad ones.”

    No kidding.

    You don’t need the Journal to tell you that Biden is diminished. You need only to open your eyes. Go over special counsel Robert Hur’s report into Biden’s unauthorized removal of classified documents. Review Biden’s Oval Office meltdown after Hur released his findings. Watch Biden try to sit at a D-Day commemoration in France on Thursday.

    We're only about two and a half weeks away from the first scheduled Trump/Biden debate. A good evening to binge WKRP in Cincinnati episodes.

Recently on the book blog:
Recently on the movie blog:

Why, Sometimes I've Believed As Many As Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Jacob Sullum notes possible evidence for presidential time travel: Laurence Tribe Bizarrely Claims Trump Won in 2016 by Falsifying Records in 2017.

"In 2016," Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe writes, "Donald Trump seemed to pull an inside straight by narrowly winning" Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin "while losing the popular vote by 3 million. We now know Trump committed 34 felonies to win that election. Without these crimes, he seems almost certain to have lost to Hillary Clinton. She would have been sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. She would have filled two Supreme Court vacancies and enacted her legislative agenda."

Since those 34 felonies involved falsified business records that were produced in 2017, Tribe's claim is logically impossible. Yet his gloss on the former president's New York conviction echoes similarly puzzling claims by many smart and ostensibly well-informed observers. In their eagerness to embrace the prosecution's dubious "election fraud" narrative, they nonsensically assert that Trump retroactively ensured his 2016 victory by disguising a 2017 hush-money reimbursement as payment for legal services.

Sullum provides other examples of this temporal paradox promoted by historian Douglas Brinkley, the WaPo, the NYT, Al Jazeera, NPR, and (of course) the prosecution. And expresses surprise "that so many people who should know better have described the verdict in a way that could not possibly be true."

Which inspired today's headline, brought to you courtesy of Lewis Carroll. Some people have gone Through the Looking Glass, and live there now.

Also of note:

  • Among the many things Biden's forgotten… Nikki Haley takes to the NYPost to point out an important one Joe Biden has forgotten what happened on Oct. 7 — but Israelis can’t.

    It’s crucial that Israel finish the job in Gaza, defeat Hamas and return every hostage back home to their families.

    That includes the eight Americans who are still hostages in Gaza, five of whom are known to be alive.

    Yet instead of supporting Israel against the terrorists who pledge Death to Israel and Death to America, President Biden and some members of Congress are withholding weapons, punishing Israel diplomatically and economically and dictating what they want politically instead of what Israel needs for security.

    Worst of all, they’re demanding a cease-fire.

    A cease-fire is the same as defeat.

    It would give the terrorists time and resources to complete their mission, which is the total destruction of Israel.

    True dat. Which caused me to check out the latest newsletter from our local Hamas cheerleaders, the Community Church of Durham. And … yup:

    Any parishoners who have not quit the church in disgust are encouraged to "Join Our Vigil for a Permanent Ceasefire"

    Join us in Dover, outside the office of Senator Jeanne Shaheen in Henry Law Park. Join us for a silent vigil for all who are suffering violence, displacement, terror, and grief in Palestine and Israel. We will implore Sen. Shaheen to join the call for a permanent ceasefire, an end to the Israeli bombardment and blockade of Gaza, and an end to US military aid to Israel.

    The "permanent" bit is certainly irritating, but it (of course) mirrors current Hamas demands.

    And, unless you're a fool, the Hamas definition of "permanent ceasefire" simply means "until we gear up for more atrocities."

  • And going bust. Steven Greenhut notes the recent folly: California Is Doubling Down on Banning Plastic Bags.

    You know those scenes from old Western movies (or Bugs Bunny) where an outlaw fires his gun near someone's feet. The goal isn't to harm the target, but to make him dance to miss the bullets in an effort to frighten, humiliate or exert dominance. Think about those scenes as you consider a set of new pointless plastic-bag-related laws that seem destined just to make Californians "dance."

    Remember all the hoopla in 2014 when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a "groundbreaking" law that would dramatically reduce solid waste by forbidding grocery stores from providing "single-use" plastic bags? It's been a decade since that law turned the grocery-checkout process into a grinding routine as clerks ask consumers how many bags they want to buy and cheapskate shoppers drag out bacteria-laden reusable cotton ones.

    That law's backroom negotiations offer hilarious lessons in legislative sausage-making, as unions, stores, and environmentalists jockeyed for special privileges. A key compromise allowed stores to sell thicker "reusable" plastic bags, which seemed bizarre to me. The "single-use" bags actually had multiple uses. They were so thin I'd keep them to pick up dog poo and line bathroom trash cans.

    Greenhut goes on to note that the state is on trajectory to make things worse.

    Pun Salad has been a plastic bag cheerleader for years: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Professor Pinker provides a free speech tutorial. In an interview with the Harvard Political Review on Time, Place, and Manner. He hits this softball question out of the park:

    HPR: ​In the past, you have criticized Harvard for not doing more to uphold the First Amendment, and you have argued against criminalizing “deplorable speech” such as hate speech. However, you have also written that Harvard should have shut down the pro-Palestinian encampment, which encampment organizers defended as a peaceful exercise of free speech. How do you reconcile those two viewpoints?

    SP: Oh, because free speech doesn’t mean that I get to break into your apartment and spray graffiti on your walls, or to stand outside your apartment with a sound truck blaring propaganda at 3 a.m. First Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that free speech is not a license to use force to break the law nor to infringe on other people’s rights. And so restrictions on time, place, and manner have always been tightly interwoven into defenses of free speech, otherwise they could collapse in absurdity. For example, if a professor offered to trade grades for sex to a student, he would not be able to defend himself on the grounds of free speech. Or if someone threatens to kill someone, that too would not be protected under the First Amendment or any reasonable definition of free speech. So both crimes are inherently committed through speech, like extortion and harassment.

    Reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner, have always been a part of defenses of free speech. Now, restrictions on time, place, and manner themselves have to be carefully delineated and defended; otherwise, they could be a pretext for suppressing speech. And the usual threefold test is: Are they content-neutral? That is, do they apply regardless of what the protesters are actually saying? Are there alternative means by which those opinions can be expressed? And is there a rationale for the restrictions? That is, do the restrictions serve some legitimate institutional purpose? In the case of the encampment, the argument for shutting it down passes all three time, place, and manner restrictions. Namely, it has nothing to do with the content of what the protesters are saying, although I think the content is deplorable, but that’s not by itself a reason to shut it down.

    … and there's more at the link.

Snarky-Tweets-Я-Us III

I try to hit my state's senior senator with a clue bat:

I see many other replies to her in the same vein, which is encouraging. Not that she pays the slightest bit of attention.

Also of note:

  • Probably already marked off on your impeachment bingo card. George Will points out: On immigration, the too-little-too-late president strikes again.

    Polls have concentrated Biden’s mind. On Tuesday, he announced that he will faithfully execute his executive order intended to contain the wreckage wrought by his refusal to perform his core constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” New restrictions will take effect when illegal crossings exceed 2,500 a day. The arithmetic is: 912,500 (approximately the population of Biden’s Delaware) in a year could melt into the nation, as under today’s system. Regarding border security, as when combating inflation or aiding Ukraine, Biden is a too-little-too-late president.

    Presidents from both parties have become geysers of executive orders, imposing tariffs, essentially banning internal combustion vehicles, forgiving student debts, altering the legal status of millions of immigrants, etc. What fun.

    Until it isn’t. Until the public, taught by presidential highhandedness that presidents can do whatever they please, blames them for whatever problems persist. This is both unfair and richly deserved. Today’s Congress, which has been well-described as cable television’s largest green room, escapes blame for the immigration disaster because the public, fixated on the presidency, knows that, for Congress, governance is a spectator sport.

    Biden must have zoned out during that "laws be faithfully executed" part of his oath.

  • I'm not sure they even pay lip service to "fiscal responsibility" any more. But nevertheless, Veronique de Rugy is old enough to remember: The GOP Once Claimed To Be the Party of 'Fiscal Responsibility.' So Why Not Reform Social Security?

    She notes that Democrats would dearly love to delay until the "Trust Fund" almost goes bust, automatic benefit cuts are just around the corner, and force the "reform" they prefer in an atmosphere of panic and demagoguery.

    If Republicans, for much of their history the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility, fail to advocate for and implement meaningful reform before the Trust Fund dries out—or even if they wait until the last minute—they leave the door wide open for Democrats to address the problem in their preferred manner. Historically, Democrats have favored maintaining or even expanding Social Security. Their solution will likely involve raising taxes and increasing government debt.

    Higher taxes could come in various forms, such as increased payroll taxes, higher income taxes, or new taxes targeting wealthier individuals. While this approach might sustain benefits in the short term, it will also very likely slow economic growth by reducing incentives for work, entrepreneurship, and investment.

    Another possible scenario is covering Social Security's shortfalls with yet more government debt. This would mean issuing more government bonds, which the government would eventually need to pay back with interest. Higher national debt levels can lead to higher interest rates, crowding out private investment and potentially fueling inflation. Moreover, the burden of this debt would fall on future taxpayers, exacerbating intergenerational inequity.

    Donald Trump, by echoing Biden's position on Social Security, certainly ain't helping.

  • On the LFOD watch. New Hampshire Bulletin notes some legislation you might have missed, concerning Kangaroo ownership, rodent traps, brass knuckles.

    You can continue pronouncing Concord however you like and use adhesive rodent traps, but brass knuckles remain illegal and you’ll still need a permit to adopt a kangaroo.

    We will soon have to change our state's motto to "You can have my brass knuckles when you remove them from my cold, dead, actual knuckles."

    But (for your own reference), that pronunciation bill would have legislated "New Hampshire" be pronounced ("in accordance with the International Phonetic Alphabet") /nu:'hæmpʃər/ and "Concord" as /'kɒŋkərd/.

    The proposal didn't mention the fun ones: Berlin, Chocorua, Contoocook, Coos, Haverhill, Milan, Piscataqua, Plaistow, Sanbornton, … Some you have to drive to, and ask some old codger "Where am I?"

Talking About Two Different Generations

Recycling Mr. Ramirez's art from five years ago:

Generation Gap

As I said five years ago: "Sorry if that stings a little, kids."

Today, I'd add: "Kids, it's not your fault, and on balance a good thing, that we don't live in times that demand you go off to distant lands and have people try to kill you, while you are trying to kill them."

Still, there may be downsides. Michael Munger points out one of them at AIER: Our Kids Have No Economic Immune Systems. He discusses the "hygiene hypothesis", which contends "humans need environmental adversity for our immune systems to mature and function normally." Could that apply to…

There is some evidence that this “hygiene hypothesis” explains much of the dissatisfaction many young people have with capitalism.  While it’s true that America’s education establishment has been taken over by economically illiterate ideologues, something in the mindset of young people of the past two generations has made them think that capitalism is not (just) immoral, but terrifyingly dangerous.

The odd thing is that our children are the among the richest people who have ever turned 5 years old. Since the mid-1990s, with a stumble in 2007-2012 for the “Great Recession,” median family income rose steadily until the government-mandated shutdown of the economy in March 2020. In fact, so-called Millennials stand to become by far “the richest generation” ever.  Millennials and Gen Z have never known anything except prosperity, in terms of the level of their income, and their access to things — cell phones, the internet, streaming music and movies on demand, improvements in auto safety — that as recently as 1990 could not be had at any price.

This seems paradoxical. The commercial system has delivered, consistently and broadly shared across the population. Yet having to participate in a system where one plans, saves, invests, and designs an individual “pursuit of happiness” is overwhelming the very people who should be grabbing all the new opportunities that the system has revealed to them.

I'm not sure I completely buy Munger's thesis, but it's worth thinking about.

Also of note:

  • Once you've watched The Manchurian Candidate, it's hard to resist deploying this quote. (I should know, I did it myself back in April.)

    We would also have accepted: "Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

    But if you'd like your criticism in slightly less snarky form, Charles C. W. Cooke has you covered, while casting a plague upon sycophants on the Other Side: Nobody Believes That.

    Lest anyone think I’m picking on Biden — or Scarborough — I should note that there is a perfect equivalent of this on the right, in which acolytes of Donald Trump insist that the man is a moral paragon; a devout Christian; a faithful husband; an example to our nation and its children; a constitutional stickler; a man without sin who, like Jesus, has been persecuted for his divinity. I don’t hear this every time Trump’s character is raised — some of Trump’s fans have the good sense to say, “he’s a disaster, but he’s preferable” — but I do hear it more often than I’d expect. And every time I do, I look around for the hidden camera. Surely, it’s a bit? Surely, nobody actually thinks that, right? And, more important, surely nobody expects me to go along with it? When its performative — or defensive — I can grasp its purpose. When it’s sincere, I am utterly baffled. Donald Trump is one of the worst people in America. I can comprehend the argument for voting him nevertheless; I cannot comprehend pretending that he is a good person while doing so.

    And Biden? Biden is senile. Forget “behind closed doors.” Forget “slipping.” The guy is manifestly too old to be president. He slurs. He rambles. He becomes confused about where he is or what he’s doing. He mixes up key details. He makes up stories, and, having done so, he then forgets which lies he’s told before. I can see this. You can see this. The American public can see this, which is why more of them believe that Joe Biden is too old to be president than support Social Security. Robert Hur could see it, too, which is why he concluded that Biden was too old and forgetful to be prosecuted. It stands to reason that, far from being magically improved, Joe Biden is far, far, far worse when he is out of the public eye than he is within it. But even if he’s precisely the same, he is still unfit. When Joe Scarborough insists otherwise — as he does semi-regularly — he is making a fool of himself in exactly the same way as the Trumpies do when they pretend that the only problem with Trump’s conduct in office was that he sent “mean tweets.” Who believes this garbage? Honestly.

    The funny part (for sufficiently small values of "funny") is how we wound up with these guys as the putative major-party nominees for the highest office in the land.

  • As the Firesign Theater foretold: "Everything You Know Is Wrong". Noah Smith wonders: How many of our "facts" about society, health, and the economy are fake?

    Remember the maternal mortality crisis? In 2022 and 2023, a lot of people were wringing their hands about how American mothers were dying at skyrocketing rates. Here’s what the Commonwealth Fund, a health-care-focused think tank that’s generally regarded as one of the top sources of public information on the U.S. health system, told us in 2022:

    The maternal mortality rate in the United States has for many years exceeded that of other high-income countries…The U.S. maternal mortality rate has been on the rise since 2000 and has spiked in recent years.

    And in 2023, the Wall Street Journal declared that U.S. maternal mortality was the highest it had been since 1965. These were only two of many outlets that reported on the trend. Politicians took note. Social media shouters declared one more piece of evidence of America’s rapid decline as a nation.

    There’s just one problem: The U.S. maternal mortality increase was fake. It was a thing that never happened.

    Click over for the depressing details. Including Smith's observation of a more general problem: "[E]xperts will sometimes lie to the public in order to further what they see as the greater good." His further examples, about "falling geographic mobility" and "the teen mental health crisis" are, unfortunately, for paid subscribers only.

  • This may explain why people are shying away from the DEI acronym. Yesterday, I mentioned a couple universities that used non-standard acronyms to tout their wokeness. Could be that "DEI" is (as John Tierney says) too easily thought to stand for "Didn’t Earn It."

    George Orwell despaired at the linguistic atrocities of propagandists, but he did offer one bit of hope in his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language.” While lamenting that “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible,” he noted that some abuses of the language were vulnerable to “jeers” from a few critics. “Silly words and expressions have often disappeared,” he wrote, “not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority.”

    So perhaps a jeering minority will rid us of today’s most egregiously indefensible phrase: “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” It’s a textbook example of doublespeak, the term inspired by Orwell’s 1984 dystopia in which the Newspeak language enables citizens to engage in “doublethink”—simultaneously holding two contradictory beliefs. The words in DEI sound like admirable goals, but the officials mouthing them are working to do just the opposite, as Florida governor Ron DeSantis observed when he banned DEI initiatives at public universities. What DEI really stands for, DeSantis said, is “Discrimination, Exclusion and Indoctrination.”

    That formulation hasn’t caught on, but another one has: “Didn’t Earn It.” It went viral this spring after Ian Miles Cheong, a conservative journalist, and Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist, tweeted it to their 2 million followers on X. Adams, who had fearlessly predicted in 2015—six months before the first Republican primary—that Donald Trump would be elected president because of his skill as a “master persuader,” tweeted another forecast: “Whoever came up with ‘Didn’t Earn It’ as the description of DEI might have saved the world. Normally, the clever alternative names people use to mock the other side’s policy are nothing but grin-worthy. This one could collapse the whole racist system. It’s that strong.”

    Tierney points to one indicator of "Didn't Earn It"'s success: Media Matters has issued a research/study purporting to show it's racist.

I Hear They Have Some Smart People There

no political litmus tests

We can only hope that this is a sign of things to come, as reported by John Sailer at the Free Press: Harvard Rolls Back DEI.

Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS)—the largest school within the university, comprising half of all Harvard students—will no longer require “diversity, inclusion, and belonging” statements for faculty hiring. The news, first reported by The Boston Globe, is the latest indicator that elite universities are moving away from the ideological litmus tests that have come to dominate campus.

This follows the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s decision to end the controversial policy entirely, which I first reported on last month. It also comes after Harvard reinstated standardized testing in admissions in April.

A bit of acronymic trivia: although the FP's headline refers to "DEI", Harvard prefers "DIB" for its TLA, "Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging". Aw, belonging! Sounds a little Hallmark-cardish, doesn't it?

In the meantime, the University Near Here sometimes, inconsistently, sticks an extra A into the basic acronym: DEAI, for "Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion". And their web page pictures three students, one in a wheelchair, so there.

But never mind that digression. Greg Lukianoff and Angel Eduardo are adopting a "fine, but…" attitude: Dropping DEI statements is a great start, but ideological litmus tests are the real issue. (And I've swiped their image for the Eye Candy du Jour above.)

However, we want to be very clear that although DEI statements (and the larger DEI bureaucracy on campus) are absolutely threats to free speech, our primary objection is to the larger issue of political litmus tests — and those can come in a variety of flavors and forms. Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” for example, was anti-DEI but still a plainly ideological attempt to restrict what students or faculty can say, which is why we sued (and won).

What we need are policies that go after the root of the problem: ideological conformity and pressure that threatens free speech and academic freedom on campus. FIRE drafted model legislation called the Intellectual Freedom Protection Act, which the state of Kansas has already adopted, that singles out political or ideological litmus tests regardless of whether they’re from the right or the left. We’re hopeful that more and more states will come to adopt it, as universities continue to recognize how hamstrung the existing policies have made them in pursuit of their primary mission: fostering an environment where ideas can be voiced, explored, and challenged in search of truth.

And speaking of that, there’s a lot more universities can do to ensure colleges stay on mission — beginning with students.

DEI statements haven’t just been a tool for faculty hiring in recent years. They also play a large role in student admissions for universities. If these schools want to get serious about being oases of free thought, they will have to make some changes to the way they cultivate their student bodies.

The University Near Here uses the Common App for incoming student applications. According to this site ("Writing the Diversity Essay"), its request is pretty anodyne:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I can only recommend cribbing Navin Johnson's opening soliloquy from The Jerk:

My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi...

Also of note:

  • What's a small-l libertarian to do? Specifically, in the voting booth come November. We commented on Walter Block's WSJ op-ed last week; now comes Pierre Lemieux, writing at EconLib on Walter Block's “Distance” Recommendation. Block advocated that "swing state" libertarian voters go for Trump. But:

    […] we must not lose sight of a simple but often ignored reality: the tiny probability that an individual vote will be decisive, that it will “swing” anything. It never happened in a presidential election and is unlikely to ever happen. A rational individual will not vote with the intention to change the election’s result. Even if Block’s WSJ piece persuaded 1,000 “swing” libertarians to vote for Trump, any one of them will know that his vote only reduces the hypothesized 1,000-member decisive group to 999. He may prefer to spend his time milking the cows or watching the New York skyline.

    The best a rational voter can do is to vote (or not vote or spoil his ballot) in order to express a moral opinion in favor of the candidate, if there is one, with whom he shares important moral values. (See Geoffrey Brennan and Loren Lomasky, Democracy and Decision [Cambridge University Press, 1993].) For a libertarian, these values will be those conducive to the maintenance of a free society. Moral congruence may not look easier to evaluate than issue distance, but at least it chases a real rabbit. This suggests that the best a libertarian voter can do is to vote for the candidate, if there is one, who shows the moral character most representative of what a politician in a truly free society would be (while of course remaining a generally self-interested human being). We should leave some room for reasonable compromise but, at the limit, we may think of the required moral character for a royal president as modeled on the ideal of the head of state in Anthony de Jasay’s “capitalist state.” The less radical might look at the ethics defended by James Buchanan in Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative.

    In this perspective, whoever is a candidate with an acceptable libertarian moral character, if there is one, it is not Donald Trump.

    Succinctly: you may live in a swing state, but you ain't a swing voter.

  • Punish the monkey and let the organ grinder go. David Harsanyi recommends a course of action: Merrick Garland Shouldn't Be Praised. He Should Be Impeached.

    It’s no accident that The Wall Street Journal ran an “exclusive” hagiographic piece on Merrick Garland’s “by-the-book, play-no-favorites approach” the day the attorney general is set to be grilled by Congress. The administration wants to paint the AG as a fair-minded dispenser of justice.

    In truth, while Garland might occasionally — only when faced with no real options — put the Biden administration in an uncomfortable political position, he has regularly weaponized the agency to target the president’s political enemies, from pro-life protesters to concerned parents to presidential candidates.

    Even as I write this, Garland is refusing to hand over audio recordings of Joe Biden’s interviews with former Special Counsel Robert Hur, despite a congressional subpoena. Even as the DOJ stonewalls Congress, it is prosecuting the Republican Party’s presidential candidate for crimes for which the Hur tape supposedly “exonerates” Biden.

    Garland’s claims of executive privilege are risible. If Biden’s audio can be withheld from the public simply because someone somewhere might manipulate the tape using AI, then any audio of any president can be denied the public.

    Harsanyi provides a long list of Garland's other offenses.

    And, in case you're not a Knopfler fan: Headline reference.

  • Ya think? While we're going after misbehaving government employees, Christian Britschgi has one in his sights: Anthony Fauci Gives Misleading, Evasive Answers About NIH-Funded Research at Wuhan Lab.

    In a now-infamous 2021 exchange with Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Anthony Fauci—the former longtime head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and former chief medical advisor to the president—said that the National Institutes of Health (which oversees NIAID) "has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

    We now know this is not true.

    A treasure trove of documents uncovered by congressional investigators and dogged investigative journalists has established that the NIAID was funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Lab via a grant to the scandal-plagued nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance (which the Biden administration just debarred from receiving federal funding).

    These revelations lead to the inescapable conclusion that Fauci was being misleading at best (and dishonest at worst) about the NIH-funded research at Wuhan. It also has fueled eminently reasonable speculation that that research precipitated a lab leak at Wuhan which caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To quote Hawaii CongressCritter Jill Tokuda: "Thank you for your science."

    She apparently did not add: "Can you science me harder?"

  • Counterpoint alert! Speaking of Covid stuff, yesterday we commented favorably on Alina Chan's NYT article Why the Pandemic Probably Started in a Lab, in 5 Key Points. So I should probably give equal time to Scott Sumner, who accuses Chan of Bad reasoning.

    A recent NYT article provides an almost textbook example of how bad reasoning can fuel conspiracy theories. The author claims to provide five pieces of evidence suggesting that Covid escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. In fact, none of the pieces of evidence are at all persuasive, and some are factually inaccurate. Here I’ll focus on the first piece of evidence cited, the inferences that we should draw from the fact that Covid happened in Wuhan.

    The article shows a graph of the “hundreds of large cities” within about 1500 miles of the bat caves where Covid is thought to have originated […]

    Then we are led to believe that it would be an amazing coincidence if Covid were to naturally emerge in the one city in this region that just happened to have a major virology lab.  But is this claim true?

    Sumner goes on to point out that Wuhan is not just a "large city"; it's a megacity. There are far fewer of those.

    Anyway, see what you think.