Do You Feel Protected Yet?


I understand this is even better if you're a Beastie Boys fan.

OK, for serious commentary, go to Cato, and read their policy analysis: The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear.

For nearly 100 years, a federal law known as the Jones Act has restricted water transportation of cargo between U.S. ports to ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-registered, and U.S.-built. Justified on national security grounds as a means to bolster the U.S. maritime industry, the unsurprising result of this law has been to impose significant costs on the U.S. economy while providing few of the promised benefits.

"Other than that, though, it's fine."

I should point out that that article is from June 2018, so America has been able to "bear" the Jones Act for the nearly five years since. As Adam Smith pointed out, there's a lot of ruin in a nation. (These days, I'd like to think he'd add "But not an infinite amount, so knock it off.")

On a slightly less serious note, but still at Cato: their 2023 Protectionist Madness Tournament. It's over now, but you can make your own calls as to which lousy policy out of the original 32 competitors might win.

Oh, heck: it was the Jones Act. A lot of stupid things there, though.

And if you ain't depressed enough about the Land of the Sorta-Free, Dan Mitchell has a link-filled article, pointing to a study Ranking Trade Freedom.

Ranking 88 countries best-to-worst for trade freedom, where do you think the United States finished? Go ahead, pick a number between 1 and 88, then click over. Small spoiler: my guess is that you'll pick a too-low number.

Also of note:

  • Sometimes you have to rant to get people to pay attention. And I paid attention to Jerry Coyne, who was paying attention to… Glenn Loury rants, McWhorter apparently agrees. Loury has given up walking on eggshells, at least temporarily. In fact, he's stomping on them. Coyne quotes from Loury's substack:

    Sometimes, when trying to articulate my views on the show, I go into rant mode. This one, from a discussion of the social dysfunction plaguing black America, got away from me a little. I had to admit in the end: I overdid it a bit.

    Still, I stand by the substance of my remarks. I see in the crime statistics and in the rioting and looting perpetrated by black American youth a failure to raise our kids properly. Regardless of the complex historical reasons that led to this failure, we urgently need to do something about it instead of finding new ways to excuse it. History may have gotten us here, but we can no longer afford to let it define us.

    I gave up reading Andrew Sullivan when he went on the Sarah Palin Uterus Patrol. But Coyne liberally quotes from his (paywalled) reaction., and it's sane:

    . . . On the most serious violent crime, murder, the stats are also staggering: in 2021, of all murderers in America whose race was known, a full 60.4 percent were black — overwhelmingly male and young. So if you narrow it down to young black men, around 3 percent of the population is responsible for well over half the murders in America. In Minnesota, African-American males make up 3.2 percent of the population and commit 76 percent of the homicides and 87 percent of the burglaries. That’s a ratio that is resilient and persistent.

    . . . Biden’s woke Department of Justice actually wants to bar law enforcement from using any of these racially specific crime statistics in “making decisions about where and how to focus their activities.” The aim is deliberately to ignore the 3 percent committing over half the murders in the country, and focus randomly on the 97 percent (including the vast majority of African-Americans) who don’t. It’s insane — the kind of racial equity for criminals that leads to grotesque racial inequity for victims. African-Americans are 13 percent of the population and make up more murder victims than every other race combined. In Chicago, for example, 79 percent of murder victims are black.

    The constant fetishistic prattle about "gun violence" is convenient, and uttering it won't get you tarred with a "racist" brush. But just maybe the prattlers should look at the low-hanging fruit. And feed that low-hanging fruit to the elephant in the room.

  • I hate Illinois Nazis. And I'm not fond of New York Commies. Jay Nordlinger's "Impromptus" covers a range of topics, but (given our state's ongoing imbroglio about honoring Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, American Communist), I thought I'd quote this bit:

    Harry Belafonte has been an American icon for a long time. All of my life, certainly. He died the week before last, at 96. Belafonte was an actor, a singer, an activist. He was also one of the handsomest men in America. I saw him in Carnegie Hall once, in his later years — sitting in the audience. I can’t remember who was performing. Belafonte still looked like Belafonte.

    I know a lady who lived in the same building as he in about 1960. She had come from Central America. “Guapo?” I asked her. (“Was he handsome?”) She answered, “Guapissimo.”

    But he had some ugly views and did some ugly things.

    Along with righteous ones. He campaigned for civil rights in America. He aided the King family, financially. Decades after that, he promoted educational efforts in Africa.

    But he was a friend and champion of Fidel Castro, and a friend and champion of that dictatorship. He was a fan of Hugo Chávez. (Lot of that goin’ around.) During a meeting with Chávez in 2005, he called President George W. Bush “the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world.”

    You should judge a life in its totality, if you have to judge it at all. We all make mistakes. None of us can ’scape whipping. But for Belafonte’s Castroism alone . . .

    I mean, I think of all the political prisoners, some of whom I have known personally. I think of all those who were killed.

    It’s hard to get beyond that.

    Don't get me started on Carole King.

Diamonds are Forever

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

The fourth James Bond novel, and it's a step up from Moonraker, so that's good. I don't recall reading it in my younger days. (I do remember watching the movie. It was pretty bad, a waste of Sean Connery.)

Bond gets away from dealing with Russians in this one; he's tasked by M to impersonate a small-time crook who was recruited to smuggle a small fortune in African diamonds into the US. His job is to uncover the participants in the smuggling ring, mostly the mysterious ringleader known only as A B C. He's assigned a handler, "Tiffany Case", who (no surprises here) eventually becomes Bond's love interest. (Kind of a joke name, but she's got an explanation for it.)

I'd say the book is 70% travelogue. I could gripe about that, but I found I didn't mind it that much; it's an interesting look at life in the late 1950s. The first leg of Bond's journey is a transatlantic hop on a BOAC "Stratocruiser", a double-decked prop-powered behemoth with sleeping berths. (Bond fails to wangle a berth, but he smokes up a storm to make up for it.) Then New York, a jaunt up to Saratoga Springs to bet on a fixed horserace, back to New York, then it's off to Vegas for blackjack (also fixed) and roulette. Then to "Spectreville", a ghost town in the Nevada desert. Then back to Britain, with Tiffany, on the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The sights along the way are lovingly described ("They flew over Barstow, the junction from which the single track of the Santa Fe strides off into the desert on its long run into the desert of the Colorado Plateau, skirting on their right the Calico Mountains, once the Borax centre of the world, and leaving far away to the left the bone-strewn wastes of Death Valley.") Also lovingly detailed: the food and drink consumed along the way. (E.g,, scrambled eggs, sausages, buttered rye toast, and Miller High Life at the "The Chicken in the Basket", a roadhouse on the way to Saratoga Springs.)

And yeah, there's eventually action and violence. Bond's survival becomes iffy at one point, but he's saved (spoiler!) by Tiffany.

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