URLs du Jour


  • Well good. At some point yesterday, the University Near Here rescinded its indoor mask mandate. (After yesterday's snarky item about them Not Following The Science. Did someone at UNH read it? We'll never know.)

    The Portsmouth Public Library still (ahem, as I type) requires masks for those over 6 years old.

    Hey, I'm (barely) under six in Jovian years! Could I tell the librarians I identify as a Jovian? Worth a try.

  • Now I'll have that image in my head all day. George F. Will, in one of his rare optimistic columns, says: Donald Trump looks increasingly like a stray orange hair to be flicked off the nation’s sleeve. People are noticing Trump's mediocre success in endorsing candidates who have kissed his ass. (My words, not GFW's.)

    Trump is an open book who has been reading himself to the nation for 40 years. In that time, he has changed just one important word in his torrent of talk: He has replaced “Japan” with “China” in assigning blame for our nation’s supposed anemia. He is an entertainer whose repertoire is stale.

    A European war is unhelpful for Trump because it reminds voters that Longfellow was right: Life is real, life is earnest. Trump’s strut through presidential politics was made possible by an American reverie; war in Europe has reminded people that politics is serious.

    From Capitol Hill to city halls, Democrats have presided over surges of debt, inflation, crime, pandemic authoritarianism and educational intolerance. Public schools, a point of friction between citizens and government, are hostages of Democratic-aligned teachers unions that have positioned K-12 education in an increasingly adversarial relationship with parents. The most lethal threat to Democrats, however, is the message Americans are hearing from the party’s media-magnified progressive minority: You should be ashamed of your country.

    Trump’s message is similar. He says this country is saturated with corruption, from the top, where dimwits represent the evidently dimwitted voters who elected them, down to municipalities that conduct rigged elections. Progressives say the nation’s past is squalid and not really past; Trump says the nation’s present is a disgrace.

    Unfortunately, there's an unholy alliance that wants us to pay attention to Trump, consisting of: (1) Trump, (2) Trump fans, and (3) Democrats.

  • A good question. At Reason, Scott Shackford asks: Why Are You Boycotting American Vodka To Punish Russia? He leads off with the Granite State angle:

    New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has decided to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine by ordering the removal of Russian-branded liquor from state-run liquor stores. Governors of Ohio, Utah, and Pennsylvania have also ordered Russian liquors off the shelves. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texas restaurants and shops to stop selling Russian goods.

    It's a weirdly authoritarian response, especially against the retro-socialist background of having state-run liquor stores in the first place. It also isn't going to accomplish what these governors think, unless their only goal is to look like they're doing something, because the economic harms will fall on people completely outside Russia's borders.

    Shackford notes that only a minuscule amount of vodka sold in the US actually comes from Russia. An authoritative source (Pun Son) tells me that Stoli® Vodka (in particular) has been pulled. But it's made in Latvia! So I'm confused.

  • The USPS's "core problem" is its continued existence. Chris Edwards looks at dreadful recent legislation (but I repeat myself…): Postal Service Reform Act Fails to Fix Core Problems

    The bill [passed in the House] bails out the U.S. Postal Service’s retirement health plan and entrenches six-day delivery. That is not “reform,” as it does not fix any core problems of the troubled government corporation.

    The main problem facing the USPS is that first-class mail volume has fallen 49 percent since 2001 because of the rise of email, online bill-paying, and other electronic services. The USPS has a monopoly over first-class mail, so the decline has contributed to more than a decade of financial losses at the government-owned corporation.

    Private companies facing falling demand cut costs and improve efficiencies, but Congress limits the ability of the USPS to do likewise. The House bill relieves the USPS of more than $50 billion in worker retirement health costs at taxpayer expense, but it doesn’t trim the excessive pay and benefits of its unionized workforce.

    The House bill requires the USPS to deliver mail to every address in the nation six days a week, but that is wasteful and unneeded because there are fewer letters, advertising brochures, and periodicals in your mailbox these days, and of the ones that still do come, few are time-sensitive. Congress has also prevented the USPS from closing nearly any of its 31,000 locations, even though thousands of them serve only a handful of customers per day.

    European governments have embraced real postal reforms in response to declining letter volumes. A USPS inspector general study found that seven out of eight foreign systems it examined had cut, or were planning to cut, delivery frequency. Sweden recently cut letter delivery to every second day. Some countries, including Sweden and Germany, have closed nearly all of their standalone post offices and moved retail services into grocery and convenience stores.

    It's a sad story when "democratic socialist" countries in Europe are more willing to bow to economic realities than the US.

  • I'll try to keep an open mind. Joel Kotkin is a decent author; I thought his recent book, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism was a mixed bag. I checked out his recent essay in Spiked Online: The limits of libertarianism. Maybe this will give you the gist of Kotkin's argument:

    Nowhere is the disconnect between libertarianism and its traditional base of small-property owners more obvious than in housing. In their zeal, sometimes justified, to end the worst zoning abuses, the libertarians have allied themselves with two forces, monopoly capital and social engineers (also known as city planners), whose goal is not to expand the blessings of ownership, but to squelch it for all but a few. Their end game is to leave most people stuck in small apartments.

    Libertarians have served as fellow travellers and allies to the hyperactive, oligarch-funded YIMBY (‘Yes in My Backyard’) movement. In essence, as former Cato fellow Randal O’Toole notes, the libertarian right has ‘betrayed’ the very middle class that most supports conservative causes. O’Toole, who had been Cato’s land-use expert since 2007, was forced out in favour of an alliance, as he puts it, working hand-in-hand with left-wing groups seeking ‘to force Californians to live in ways in which they didn’t want to live’.

    I didn't know that about Randal O'Toole, but that explains why he's now blogging on his own.

    I'm not buying into Kotkin's argument totally, but I expect it will get some pushback from libertarians.

  • Inconsistent standards. The headline tells the whole story at the Federalist: Twitter Banned Trump For Decrying Violence, Lets Putin Keep His Account. But I usually excerpt, so here you go:

    Invading another nation, bombing hospitals, and killing civilians is not enough to get you kicked off of Twitter, but calling for peace and order will get you banned.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Twitter account, which has 1.5 million followers, remained active as of Friday, as Putin’s forces continue their invasion of Ukraine and attacks on the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian authorities have reported more than 2,000 civilian deaths, with attacks on residential areas and maternity hospitals. Meanwhile, Putin used his Twitter account to spread propaganda about the conflict, calling the invasion a “special military operation to protect Donbass.”

    The article goes on to note that Twitter accounts for Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and Iranian "supreme leader" Ali Khamenei also remain up and running. But if a US politican, (Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)) declares “women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women"… the hammer comes out.

Last Modified 2022-03-06 5:23 AM EDT